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 stay, fight and give

I watched Wonder Woman today and it was expectedly awesome. I’m not really into super hero movies. I can’t even tell what the difference is between DC and Marvel – or are they the same thing? (I’m sorry comic fans) But I heard a lot of good things about this movie so I accepted an invite from my mum to watch it with her.

Now this isn’t a movie review or anything like that but the movie was legit ace and I’d suggest you go watch it. It pretty much has everything you want in a movie – action, comedy, romance. Plus Chris Pine and Gal Gadot are easy on the eyes so that was a bonus. I couldn’t help but feel empowered when I came out of the cinema. I felt like I could do anything.

Side bar: I’ve been talking a friend a lot lately about how different we both are because she is, by personality, a thinker and I’m a feeler. In fact we have the same Myer-Briggs personality except for that one factor. We often talk about how we think/feel about a certain situation and it’s really interesting how different we can be. I’m not saying one personality type is more superior than the other but we definitely see things differently, even when it comes to the simplest things – like movies. She (ISTJ) enjoys movies for the action, the entertainment and maybe even the technical and scientific details. Where as I (ISFJ) enjoy the different layers of emotion, the moral takeaways and what might happen to the character ten years from now. Which makes me wonder if she loses out by not fully experiencing the movie because to me, the feeler, that stuff is really important.

So I asked this same friend what message she took away from Wonder Woman when she watched it. Her response was (and if you don’t want any spoilers, maybe don’t keep reading.) “Women aren’t always the damsel in distress.” This key message was loud and clear throughout the whole movie. Diana aka Wonder Woman portrays a strong and heroic character which all women probably aspire to be. She absolutely kicked butt in the movie and I’m gonna be honest, she made me want to do the same. Up until (SPOILER ALERT) the point when she was pretty much in the dumps and was almost defeated by her archnemesis – Ares, the God of War.

Here’s where my feeler instincts kick in and find the different layers of emotion into the movie. Diana, feeling defeated, like most of us do at one or multiple points in our lives, observes her environment. She sees that the evil she was trying to stop was moments away from becoming victorious. The world she was trying to save was becoming un-savable (is that even a word?). She feels trapped by her hopelessness. And then she witnesses the love of her life, Steve (Chris Pine) sacrifice his life for the good of others.

“It’s not about (what people) deserve. It’s about what you believe. And I believe in love.” Diana, Wonder Woman.

And it was at that moment when she literally breaks out of the trap she was under and defeats Ares. Love conquers all. Love never fails. I couldn’t help but tear up at this moment because this act of sacrificial love was so familiar to me. You know the one I’m talking about. And then, in the movie Diana perfectly captures my feels and says..

“Now I know, that only love can truly save the world.”Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Although some of us may not be ridiculously good looking, or tall with a well toned body, or talk with a sexy ethnic accent, or be able to do multiple flips in the air while gracefully  using a bow and arrow – I genuinely believe that there is a Diana aka Wonder Woman (or man) in all of us. We don’t need to be a hero. We can just be ourselves. And because we are human, once in a while, we will need to be reminded that while we are called to love, Love has already saved the world.

“I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. And I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. A choice each must make for themselves. Something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know, that only love can truly save the world. So I stay, I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be.” – Diana

So much feels, – 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.

a time for a Good Friday

I’ve been a Catholic my whole life. I was born and raised with the faith and values of a Catholic for as long as I can remember. I consider myself pretty lucky for that. And still, I learn something new about this faith almost every day. A new lesson, a new theological teaching, a new reality, a new revelation. This faith is definitely a learning experience.

But there are a few concrete, unshakeable things I’ve always known and believed. Like the one true Immaculate Conception of our one and only Lord Jesus Christ through our Blessed Virgin Mary. And 33 years later, He epitomises the one true and ultimate definition of love through His sacrifice. Finally, through His resurrection into Heaven, where He joins with our One True God, our lives are renewed, giving us eternal hope. This is all true, right?

But two nights ago, at the Easter Vigil Mass, I was more or less proven wrong. During the priest’s homily, he reminded us that “in every Good Friday in our lives, there will always be an Easter.” At first I thought, how can this be when there is only one Good Friday? But I realised he was talking about all those times in our lives when we’ve been betrayed, let down, left alone, felt helpless, blamed for something we didn’t do, lost someone, betrayed our loved ones, sinned, let others down and so on. He was talking about all those times we’ve experienced how Jesus felt when Judas betrayed Him, when Peter denied Him 3 times, when He fell while carrying the cross, and during His last moments of humanity, when He cries out to His father, “Why have you forsaken me?”. He was talking about the shame Judas and Peter felt, the sorrow Mama Mary felt, and the emptiness the apostles must have felt when their leader had died.

But, despite all this, what came/comes after Good Friday is a beautiful renewal of hope in our lives – Easter. This is one of the reasons why we celebrate Easter every year. To remind us that, through our faith in our one true God, death could not hold Him, nor could it hold us.

“But God raised him up, releasing him from the thrones of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. For David says of him: ‘I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’.” Acts 2:24-28

In this time of feast and celebration, please join me in praying for those who have not been fortunate enough to celebrate with us –  the poor, sick, lost, forgotten and those who have passed. Especially, beloved father and grandfather, Xavier Pereira who has left us in this world and joined our Father in His Eternal Kingdom. May His soul rest in eternal peace.

A blessed Easter to you all! x M.

a time to eat your vegetables

It was 6pm and my stomach was growling from hunger. I could smell a familiar scent coming from the kitchen downstairs. It was that beautiful combination of garlic, onion and oil – three staples in every filipino home. I was so excited to see what my dad was cooking. What could it be? Adobo? Corned beef? …other filipino dishes that I don’t really know the names for but tastes really good.. lol.

After patiently waiting for half an hour, I hear my dad loudly tap the edge of the pan twice *bangbang, which was a universal signal (or maybe just for filipino households) that dinner was ready and you better get your behind to the kitchen asap otherwise… well, I never really found out because as far as I can remember, I always came to dinner.

I race downstairs from my room, and to my utter disappointment, dinner was – alampaya (with some minced pork) which is Tagalog for, bitter melon. Which tastes exactly that. Except not melon. So, just bitter. Yeah… Gross. This is probably second on my list of food that I hate the most. The first being coriander, or cilantro, depending which part of the world you’re reading this from. #ihatecoriander

Anyway, you’re probably thinking this is an over reaction. And it totally is. But here’s why. There’s a subconscious reason as to why I hate finding alampaya for lunch/dinner. You see, every time this is dished up by my mum or dad, they never fail to remind me that I should be forever grateful for this vegetable because it saved my life.

Yes, my life. When I was really young, I almost died due to a “complication” (we’ll call it that coz I’m not exactly sure what it was) that I was born with (I think). And apparently eating this vegetable saved me. Being naive and proud when I heard this story countless times, I never really asked my parents for any details. All I did was roll my eyes, sucked it up and ate the damn vegetable to shut them up.

But this time around, I was an adult, and I could finally say no to this vegetable without feeling guilty. So when I saw what was for dinner, I, the 30 year old, said, “Ew. Yuck. Gross! I don’t wanna eat that!” Hahahah. Queue dad’s – “Hey, you should be thankful for this vegetable. It saved your life!” – line. And seriously, word for word, that’s what he said. To which I responded with a quick laugh and responded with a “Yeah yeah..” *rolls eyes. However, he continued…

Apparently, when I had this “complication”, I was really sick and lacked a certain type of blood cell. It was pretty critical. The doctor’s first opinion was for me to go into surgery. If the surgery was successful, there was still a high chance of me becoming paralysed for the rest of my life. My parent’s didn’t like the odds of that and got a second opinion, which was to get a blood transfusion and eat a whole heap of this life saving vegetable.

Can you imagine, had my parents gone with the first option? Had I survived, I probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy the many things I love and simple things I take advantage of in my life. Like, playing with my nieces, playing basketball #ballislyf, walking up to 10 kms a day during travels, having long random conversations with good friends while driving, and, dancing. Oh man, dancing. #dancingisalsolyf

I couldn’t help but contemplate on all the things in life we don’t want to do, but need to do. If only we could fully comprehend how much it’ll benefit us (and others) in the long run. Like, going to that meeting, driving your sibling to work, staying up another hour to apply for jobs, staying home, running errands, having that dreaded but needed conversation, doing that last set of reps, eating our vegetables and taking up our cross.

So for dinner that night, I happily ate my dinner, without picking out any of the alampaya off my plate, like I used to do.

What are you picking off your plate?

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,* take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-26

Eating my vegetables (except for coriander), – M.