a time to pray to Joseph

Once upon a recent time, I didn’t have a favourite saint. If you know me, like really really know me, you’d know who it is (hint: He’s on the blog title). But it wasn’t always like this.

Five years ago, I felt stuck. I wasn’t exactly miserable. Or trapped. Or unmotivated. I just felt stagnant. A good mate came to visit Sydney while residing in America at the time and after having a little group reunion, he started handing out St Joseph prayer cards, while saying, “Be careful what you pray for.” It wasn’t exactly enlightening but I was intrigued. Little did I know that it was the beginning of my devotion to my man, St Joseph.

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And it came at a perfect time. When my friend warned us, he actually meant it. Not because he was discouraging us to pray, but it was because he believed St Joseph’s intercession is immensely powerful. I was inevitably able to personally witness this in my own life.

“To other saints the Lord seems to have given grace to succor us in some of our necessities but of this glorious saint my experience is that he succors us in them all and that the Lord wishes to teach us that as He was Himself subject to him on earth (for, being His guardian and being called His father, he could command Him) just so in Heaven He still does all that he asks.” St Teresa of Avila

That rut that I felt stuck in was my very livelihood. As I developed my devotion to St Joseph, my confidence in his intercession grew stronger. As the patron saint of workers, I honestly believe that his prayers for me helped me find my vocation. So every time I have a good day at work, I owe it to him (and also a little to my mate, who introduced him to me).

Anyway, if that’s not enough to convince you of his awesomeness, here are a few more reason that make St Joseph heaps cool:

  • He’s unconditionally loving. Imagine finding out your partner is having someone else’s Kid. In this day and age, that alone is enough for someone to leave a relationship. But St Joseph stayed. Thats love.
  • He’s super obedient. St Joseph followed his dreams, literally. Despite the ridiculous and sometimes dangerous nature of those dreams, he still did what the Lord asked him to do.
  • He’s legit humble. And by ‘legit’ I mean, he doesn’t say “Look at me, I’m humble.” He literally doesn’t say anything in the bible. His actions spoke way louder.
  • He’s a hard worker. Think about it, he was the sole human provider for both the Mother and Son of God! He not only worked to work, but he worked to glorify God.
  • He’s great example of a father. This is probably the deeply rooted reason as to why I connect with St Joseph so much. I don’t have the best relationship with my own father so I turn him like my adopted father, just as who he was for Jesus.
St Joseph, Light of Patriarchs.
St Joseph, Spouse of the Mother of God.
St Joseph, Chaste guardian of the Virgin.
St Joseph, Foster father of the Son of God.
St Joseph, Diligent protector of Christ.
St Joseph, Head of the Holy Family.
St Joseph, Model of workers.
PRAY FOR US

Biggest Jojo fan – M. x

 

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a time to wait

Four months ago, in December last year, I felt a heartbreak that I couldn’t comprehend. The very imperfect millennial side of me turned to Twitter and posted a broken heart emoji because I couldn’t find the words. Only recently did I realise why this heartbreak had to happen.

No, this is not a love story. But it is a long one, so sit tight.

Last year I applied for a job that I really wanted for 2018. I was very careful in applying for a full time job in the Education industry because I didn’t want to burn out and quit. But there was a point last year when the stars aligned and I managed to score an interview for a full time Diversity Teacher role, with two really strong references. After almost a year of casual teaching, I had an idea of what I wanted to do full time and Diversity Teaching is the career path that I wanted to take. I pretty much “had it in the bag”. But before going into the interview I wanted to be completely transparent in my intentions, and told the employer that I had plans to go to Philippines for two weeks in February 2018. Because of this, my interview was retracted, leaving me broken hearted.

“Lord, if I wanted it so much, why would You take it away from me?”

Such a human reaction. But eventually I accepted this “retraction” because the reason why I was going to Philippines was to attend the SFC 25th Anniversary ICON. Deep in my heart, I knew that attending this event was more important. But in my mind, I had doubts. Even during the days leading up to my flight, I kept wondering if it was worth everything that I risked.

To this day, I’m still processing my ICON 2018 experience but to keep it short (for now), and a little predictable, it was rekindling. It was exactly what I needed to revitalise my love and service for SFC. But despite the hype from the conference and the very chill post conference hangs, I came back feeling anxious. I kept questioning my career choices and all my doubts and fears soon returned. This was two months ago. Two months ago, I experienced something I knew I was so blessed to be a part of.

But still, I doubted. Why do we do that? Why do we doubt, when we are surrounded by our blessings? It’s because we are impatient. In this day and age, we are so spoilt by instant gratification all around us. So when we have a moment in our lives when we don’t get what we want, we question and we doubt.

So, He asks us to wait.

Once I settled back into casual teaching work, I just kept my head down and kept working. But, unexpectedly, I started developing friendships at this school I was teaching at. Eventually, I thought that maybe the reason why I wasn’t meant to get that teaching role I applied for last year (which was at another school) was because I was meant to be at this school instead. And for me, that was good enough. I was pretty satisfied. I was getting enough work and I was thoroughly enjoying the perks of being a casual teacher. I was getting exposed to different grades, which came with its own challenges and blessings. Although it was nothing permanent, I was still happy. Don’t get me wrong, I had more bad days than good. But from the support I received from the other teachers, I was beginning to really love it there and I felt at home.

He asks us to wait, not because He is testing us. He asks us to wait so we can learn to be patient. He believes in us that much, that even when something we desire doesn’t go to plan, He knows that we will persevere for His plan – which is better than anything we can ever imagine.

On Easter Monday, I got offered a temporary role at this school that I loved. I was beyond ecstatic! And the cherry on top? It was the exact same teaching role (Diversity Teacher) that I applied for last year, except it was at this school, the school that, through the challenges, support, good days and bad, I grew to love. It was a classic “But I love it, God” moment for me.

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Lord, give me the strength necessary to wait for Your promises. Forgive me for taking Your generosity for granted when I become impatient and question Your will for me. Thank You for always believing in me and for knowing me more than I know myself. Thank You for believing that I’ll persevere and that I deserve better. Thank You for knowing what will strengthen me and purify me. Thank You for loving me and giving me opportunities to grow in my love for You.

 

Patiently waiting, – M. x

a time to reflect

I’ve recently been reflecting on my spiritual progress this Lenten season and I can’t help but feel like I’ve lost my way in the busyness of life. Thankfully, I’ve been employed to work at Catholic schools so throughout this week I was able to witness Holy Week presentations performed by students from Kindergarten to Year 6. As amateur as they were, they were also very heartwarming and always brought a tear (or ten) to my eyes. It was a little hard to keep myself composed because they only went for 10-15 minutes and I had to go straight back to ‘strict relief teacher mode’ as soon as it finished.

But anyway, there was one key message that resonated throughout all the presentations –

love.

In your almsgiving, have you loved? Have you given without reservations? Have you given without keeping some for your own desires? Have you given only because you were aware that others were watching?
In your prayer, have you loved? Have you only prayed for yourself and not others? Have you prayed for what you want and not what I want for you? Have you given thanks in your prayer?
In your fasting, have you loved? Have you abandoned a loved one for the sake of your fast? Have you fasted only for your own benefit? Have you fasted but have also moaned and complained?
For almsgiving, prayer and fasting is all good and well, but if it is done without love then it is done without Me.

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True Love

 

His, – M.

 

a time to be kind

It’s been a busy and difficult couple of weeks lately. Since arriving back from Philippines and ICon, work has been nonstop. Which in hindsight is such a blessing. I still remember my most recent experience of anxiety and depression, which was all triggered by a feeling of inadequacy. It was a really testing moment for me. But thanks to the support of accountable friends, and their prayers, I was able to overcome it. I couldn’t help but feel so grateful for their kindness. I hope they know how much I appreciate them.

Fast forward one month, to today, while driving home after work I realised how fast time has come and that I feel like I haven’t done enough in the lead up to Easter. So five days before Easter Sunday I decided to “take up kindness”.

I can’t help but chuckle at this because it made me realise how hypocritical I’ve been. Almost everyday, as a teacher, I end up giving a spiel on kindness or holding a conflict resolution session for students as young as 5 years old. I remind them why it’s important to be kind and that school is a place where we can practice to become good, decent people. Yet here I was, struggling to remember the last time I was intentionally kind to someone.

So today, I decided that I would. It might have been an indirect effect from reading this article, on random acts of kindness. Or it might have been because I could’ve used some random acts of kindness myself. Or both. But either way I knew it was gonna cost me close to nothing but to someone else, it might just be exactly what they need.

I’m not writing this blog to boast because I literally only did one kind act and since that moment, God totally returned the blessing tenfold.

Story time! I drive up to 2 hours a day to and from work, and it’s probably the only time I have a chance to interact with strangers. So my one kind act was letting someone cut in front of me. This guy on his red P licence decided to skip the long queue of cars turning right into the motorway. I sighed and let him through while copping a couple of angry honks from the cars behind me. Then I see the same guy wind his window down and give me a friendly wave of ‘thank you’. It was a special wave – not an ordinary one. It was kinda like a mix of a hand wave, with spirit fingers and ended with a shaka. And honestly, that’s all I needed. I cracked up and had the biggest smile on my face. But most of all that wave made me feel so appreciated.

I was still 30 minutes away from home and there was still a lot of traffic to get through. But I swear, as soon as that encounter happened, God intervened. People were intentionally giving way to me on the road, even if it wasn’t my right of way. For those who have never driven in Sydney roads before, THIS IS A RARE THING. So whenever someone kindly gave way to me, I would give them the same special wave of ‘thank you’ that I also received and then I’d catch them smiling from my rear view mirror.

Kindness goes a long way. It is so contagious. Imagine a world where people were a little less selfish and a little more kind. Just imagine.

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“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” – Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Lord, we thank You for giving us opportunities to show Your love to others through kindness. Help us lose ourselves in this act so that our intentions are pure. May our acts of kindness glorify only You and when received, others may see Your face in ours. Amen.

Sincerely His, – M.

 

a time to be aware

In light of #WorldMentalHealthDay – which I found out was today, here’s an old, but still very personal sharing that I wrote when I was 28 for a Sister’s Conference. I recently opened up to a couple of new found friendships about this. It made me realise even more that this is something I couldn’t keep to myself. It’s time to create awareness and it starts with me.



Hi Im Mez and I’m 28 years young.

I’m in SFC where I happily serve as a household head.
I’ve just finished my first year of my Masters in Teaching… and I am happy.

This is my story.

I tell this story not to boast. Not to create attention to myself.
I tell this story because I am imperfect and I am a sinner.
I tell this story because, at times, I feel unworthy. That I am not…. lovely enough.
But most of all, I tell this story because I know that I am not alone.

 Sisters, right now, at this very moment.. I’m content. I’m at peace.
But I haven’t always been like this.

I’ve suffered, and still do, from my insecurities, on the daily. I struggled to feel worthy, to feel lovely, to feel beautiful, to feel good enough, to feel loved by my own father, to feel like I matter. And it is because of these insecurities that I struggled with my happiness.

It came to the point where I just felt nothing. I felt numb.

In 2011, I called in sick for work one day, and I needed to go to the doctor for a medical certificate. I used the usual, “I’ve got a headache” excuse and my doctor happily gave me a certificate. As I was leaving, he asked me if I was ok. And I knew, by the way he asked with a genuine look on his face, that he wasn’t asking about my physical health. He said that I looked hurt, and for the first time in my life, I talked to a complete stranger about how I really felt. He then suggested to do a mental health test on me and later diagnosed me with Depression. He made a few recommendations and strongly suggested I talk to a professional. And there it was. It made it more real. Everything I was feeling, thinking, doubting – that piece of paper made it official. But I was too scared of the reality so until this very day, I never took his suggestion.

I went through a pretty dark time in my life after that, where I contemplated suicide numerous times, but have always been scared at the thought of not going to heaven. Because someone told me that hell is a place without God and I cant comprehend a world without Him.

So I kept going through my life, wearing my insecurities like handcuffs on my wrist, crippling me emotionally. I’d have good days, weeks and months. But I also had terrible days, months, years. Last year I was so unhappy that I went through 7 different jobs, until I finally chose to change my career path and go back to studying… to be a teacher.

2014 for me, started with a lot of anxiety and fear, but also hope and new opportunities. But for those that have experienced depression, or know someone that has, you know it was always around the corner, waiting for me to crumble. And so I kept going back. The evil one kept feeding me with these thoughts. He knew I was insecure. So even the smallest things triggered my depression.

Honestly, one day I’d be ok. But within moments, all these doubts just made me feel so unworthy.

2 weeks before my birthday this year, I had an argument with a family member. It doesn’t really matter what they said, but it triggered a lot of insecure thoughts in my mind. And I was fed up with it and I was fed up with life so I decided that I would end it on my 28th birthday.

I set a date because I knew that if I was to do it in the moment, I’d back out. I planned it to every last detail – where, how, what time in the day, what I would say to my family or my friends if they asked where I was going, and what message I would leave behind. It was set, I was ready.

 The weekend before my birthday, I attended the SFC National Conference in Brisbane. I came into the weekend with no expectations. Feeling empty and dark inside, no longer capable of feeling any sentiment, no longer capable of praying for better days… I saw the weekend as just another 3 days to get through before I would end everything.

 Little did I know, that God had placed me exactly where I needed to be. We got these little conference kits which came with our ids, a pen, a bottle of water and this cross. It’s a called a holding cross and it fits perfectly in your hand like this…

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…so you can have it on you on your biggest trials and your biggest triumphs. (If you want to know what it feels like, Im happy to show you later.)

Sisters, this is my cross. On the Friday night of the conference there was a session with 5 sharings. 5 beautiful brothers and sisters of Christ who shared about their cross and how they overcame it.

My cross is my insecurities. That night I was told something profound. Something I’ve never heard before. Everytime I spoke to someone about my depression they would say the usual. “I’ll pray for you”, “It’s going to be okay”, “Just make a choice to be happy and you’ll be happy”.. I appreciated all of these things but it never went away.

But that night, I was told to LOVE my cross. My cross. My beautiful sisters. I’ve always wished I didn’t have these insecurities. But for first time in my life I was told to love them. Because loving them meant accepting what God built me for. Because loving my cross meant that I would accept my struggles. And these struggles is what’s going to bring me closer to Christ.

Sisters, that was a life changing weekend for me. Literally. I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for that weekend. I stand before you as a witness of His Love.

And so I am here. To tell you this story. To let you know that you are not alone. To encourage you to talk to somebody. Before it’s too late.

This is real. This is happening right now, either to you, or someone you know. Go and TELL SOMEBODY.

Too often in our lives we hear about a friend, or a friend’s friend, or a friend’s friend’s friend who sadly took their own life without anyone what they were going through.

We never hear enough success stories of people overcoming depression, or thoughts of self harm or suicide. This is my success story!

I want to end with a beautiful quote from a book that a dear friend lent to me. It’s called The Five People You’ll Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom…

“No life is a waste. The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.”

 


 

I also ‘wrote’ a blog a few of months ago while I was going through an episode of Depression. In it were some helpful links for those who want to understand Depression a bit more, or for those who are going through it themselves. Here are the links:

  • “Living with Depression” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ_S5Rjt_iI&feature=youtu.be
  • “What I wish people knew about Depression” – https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/soul-seeing/what-i-wish-people-knew-about-depression
  • “Here’s how I battle the Depression I suffered for years” – http://www.ncregister.com/blog/pattyknap/heres-how-i-battle-the-depression-ive-suffered-for-years

Here are some hotlines (for dem aussies):

  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Suicide Callback Service – 1300 659 467
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800

Lastly, feel free to talk to me, or a friend, or a friend in me if you’re feeling down. I’ll do my best – at the very least, I can lift up a prayer for you. But I strongly encourage you to talk to a health professional, who can guide you through all the resources available to you.

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“This too can serve Him.”
xo – M.

 

 

a time to know

I used to consider myself as an avid shoe shopper. I liked my fresh sneaks, my leather boots and my hipster office shoes. It was only in the past year that I had to let go of this “hobby” and fully realise that I only needed a good pair (or two) of each. Honestly, it still takes a massive part of my self control to tell myself “You don’t need it Mez, DON’T BUY IT.” And most of the time, it works.

But there are times when I really fall in love.. with a pair of shoes. I do my research and read reviews. I always need to justify the cost by its value. But no matter how many articles you read, or reviews you compare, or YouTube videos you watch, you will never really know until you try it – and then you’ll know.

“When you know, you know.”

It seems so simple right? Like, duh, when you know, you know! But this never really made sense to me when my bestfriend used to say it about her boyfriend. I still remember her telling me he was “the one” #dawun. And I always asked how she knew and she always responded with “I just know.” I could only fully relate to it when she used “finding the right pair of shoes” as an analogy.

Today my bestfriend turns 28 and it also happens to be 2 months until she marries her, now fiancé, the one that she just knew would be #dawun.

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A few of months back we went on a search for her wedding dress. After some research, I picked out three shops based on reviews (my usual process) and I just had to trust this “When you know, you know” instinct that she had. It wasn’t looking too promising after the first and second shop, so when we got to the final shop I just hoped we would find the right dress otherwise we’d have to do this day all over again. But alas, after a few dresses, we found it. We really did find the one. We just knew that that was it. I was almost in tears. And then eventually the tears rolled down because I realised that the feeling of knowing you found the right dress must be nothing compared to the feeling of knowing you found the right person that you’re going to spend the rest of your life with.

Happy birthday to you, my best friend. I am so incredibly happy for you. I can’t wait to see you walk down that aisle. Thank you for choosing me to have front row seats to the beginning of the rest of your life.

I’m sure he knows how blessed he is. Your love for him is so unconditonal, it sometimes makes me cringe #grossaffectionandstuff. But I know that love could only truly come from the best example of Love that He showed us.

Nae nae, I’m so glad you finally found the one. I honestly can’t wait to fully comprehend “knowing”. But until then, I’ll take your word for it. 😉 (And I hope he’s spoiling you with that corn and cheese that you requested. :))

Happy birthday! I hope this blog makes up for my absence during your birthday this year. ❤

MOHMEZ. x

“I found him whom my soul loves.” Song of Songs 3:4

Ps. I may or may not use this for my MOH speech.

Pps. Sorry readers, long time no blog. Too busy with life. God is good. 🙂

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.