hello30

Thirty

I turned 30 yesterday.

To be honest, it didn’t seem that much of a big deal now that I got there, not unlike how I was freaking out back when I turned 29. Maybe it was the anticipation of it that made me freak out, which proved that sometimes we really do over think things when it’s not so scary after all.

But it still felt a little bit surreal now that I’m officially in another decade of my life. I’m trying to remember if I had saved any blog post ten years ago, in 2006, when I turned 20. I was still in college, then, and if I remember correctly, I was in school, to do a project and to attend a YFC event. I remember that I wanted to be surprised, then, because I have never experienced a birthday surprise. I think I got pretty disappointed after, because I didn’t get what I wanted, and then that night, it felt like God was teaching me a very important lesson on humility.

It’s kind of hard to believe that those things happened ten years ago. That’s such a short time in the existence of the universe, but a long one in a lifetime of a person. In the past ten years, I have…

Graduated from college. Got my first job. Joined SFC. Switched jobs, twice. Disappeared from SFC, and went back. Joined a book club. Head the NaNoWriMo group. Organized conferences. Attended conferences. Lost a phone. Killed my phone with saltwater. Attended n weddings. Attended n christenings. Survived a major flood. Earned lots of money. Spent lots of money. Traveled to Davao, Subic, Camarines Sur, Quezon. Bohol, Cagayan de Oro, Puerto Prinsesa, Cebu, Coron, El Nido, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Camarines Norte, Pangasinan, Pampanga, La Union, Baguio, Zambales, Aklan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Spain,  Switzerland, Austria, France, Guam, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Indonesia. Saw two Popes. Slept outside with more than a million people. Danced in the rain. Consumed lots of sweets and alcohol. Baked my heart out. Gained weight, lost weight, gained it again. Trekked to a volcano. Shared onstage at a CFC event. Taught kids how to read. Wrote several stories. Published a book. Became a sister-in-law. Became an aunt. Lost touch with friends. Made awesome new friends. Said yes. Said no. Fell in like. Got disenchanted. Fell in love. Got my heart broken. Forgave. Forgiven. Learned that I am loved all along.

I wonder what the next ten years will bring?

* * *

 

I like that my birthday comes so close to the New Year, so it feels as if I had another chance of a new year after whatever mess-ups or whatever I missed in the first two months and 16 days of the year. So I take the time to pray more and to listen harder, in case I haven’t been listening enough before.

And He never fails to tell me something, too. Last year, it was all about being a source of life. I can’t really tell if I was able to do that, save for some moments when I was the sane one during times of distress at work. The other year, it was a full life that runs over. The year before that, was about “…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead.” (This was super fitting, by the way.)

I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant,to be God to you and to your descendants after you. (Genesis 17:7-8)

The word faithfulness echoed all throughout my prayer time yesterday morning. The assurance of it made me smile – it was as if God was already setting the tone of my 30th year, reminding me that just as He has been faithful in my 20’s, He’s definitely going to be faithful in my 30’s, too.

And all I needed to do was to let Him love me.

Pretty mind blowing when I think about it.

So that’s what I’m going to try to remember in this thirtieth year of existence, my fourth decade in this world and all that. I have this tendency to forget, I know, but I’m going to keep trying. I’m going to keep on praying, so I may keep remembering God’s goodness in my life, and in the life of the people around me. :)

Remember His wonders which He has done,
His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth. (Psalm 105:5)

Cheers to 30! :)

jesuit

Blessed are the poor in spirit

The Sermon on the Mount is one of those Gospels that I tend to gloss over, because of familiarity and because let’s admit it – it’s kind of hard to understand. It sounds very nice, as well as very difficult, because some things there are not the things you’d want for yourself. Poor, mourning, persecuted. I mean, really.

It’s been a bit of a struggle at work lately, not because work is too hard or I have too many things to do. It’s just these questions of what happens next, the resistance of doing some things you were asked to do, and really, the general uncertainty if what you’re doing for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is even worth it. I can already imagine my dad telling me, “Everyday is a Friday!”, which he started quoting to me back when I was super stressed in my previous role. Maybe it’s a millennial thing to keep on asking.

Yesterday, out of desperation and an attempt to keep my life in order after what felt like a terribly unproductive day, I heard God tell me: Consecrate your day to me, my daughter. I’m not a stranger to consecration, but I neglected to think of that: consecrating your day to Jesus. More so, consecrating your day to Jesus, through Mary.

So I prayed yesterday, and told Jesus I’ll consecrate the day to Him. And yesterday was a way better day for me, and I went home feeling happier and productive that I was able to do a lot of things. Nothing like checking off items from your to-do list, right?

I prayed the same prayer today, but at the back of my mind, I was a little doubtful. I mean, just because I consecrated the day to God doesn’t mean everything will be fine and dandy, right? I could have another terrible unproductive day.

Over breakfast, I was reading Fr. James Martin, SJ’s The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, and I was already at the chapter about poverty. Lately, I’ve been thinking that sometimes you pause and read certain parts of a book at a certain time because you’re meant to read it at that time. (Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic had that effect on me, that’s why I haven’t finished reading it yet). As I was reading, I had this feeling that there was something in the next pages that was going to speak to me.

And they brought me back to the Sermon on the Mount. At least the part of it.

Poverty of spirit means accepting that we are powerless to change certain aspects of out lives. “We are all members of a species that is not sufficient unto itself,” [Metz] writes. “We are all creatures plagued by unending doubts and restless, unsatisfied hearts.”

Well what do you know. As I read the next pages, I felt the Holy Spirit tell me: Pay attention. And I did. I forgot that I was eating as I read the next pages, and reread them again, I can’t help but laugh, and maybe tear up a little bit at the affirmation that I was heard, and that I wasn’t really as lost as I thought I was.

Poverty of spirit does not take away joy in life. Quite the contrary. It is the gateway to joy, because it enables us to surrender to ultimate reliance on God, which leads to freedom. “Paradoxically, then, we are truly rich,” writes Fleming, “with an identity that only God can give and no one can take from us.

Reliance on God may sound like a recipe for laziness, as if you needed to do nothing on hour own. But the reality is the opposite. It is a practical stance that reminds you that you can’t do everything. Many things are not within your power to change. Some things, outside of hour control, need to be left to God. Spiritual poverty frees you from the despair that comes when you believe that you can rely only on your own efforts.

Maybe consecrating your day to Jesus through Mary isn’t about having great days. Maybe it’s just about learning how to be poor in spirit, so you can learn how to rely on God more and be free from despair.

And I could really use more of that.

* * *

Somewhat unrelated:

I meant to blog more the past few weeks, and I had drafts of posts here for Valentine’s Day and Leap Day and thoughts on turning 30 (7 days!!!), but a lot of it remain drafts because I can’t seem to find the words or the point. It’s quite possible that I’m over thinking things, so yeah. But in case the few of you who are still reading this is still reading, I’m still here! (I also opened my author site, so yay.)

On that note, I do plan to write something on my birthday. I’m thinking of what to write that day, to make it a little different, and to make this personal blogging thing a little exciting again. I found that ever since my life has calmed down, it’s like the words stopped coming, too, and I kind of don’t want that. Words are friends.

Maybe you (one of the few readers of this blog, heh!) can help? Is there any specific thing/topic/answer to a question that you want to read here? I’m far from a life expert, but I figured there must be some things I know that could help someone out there now that I’m almost 30. :D

2016prayboldly

Pray Boldly

My 2016 word found me around mid-November, during our SFC cluster’s Christian Character Weekend retreat. It found me, unsurprisingly, after the talk about courage (hello there, old friend). I remember talking to a friend about this that weekend after I was done with Confession, and I told her that I had several variations of this in my head, but it seemed like the word demanded that it be a verb, not a noun or an adjective. And I figured that it might as well be, because action words require, well, action. 

It wasn’t until two weeks later, at our Sector Assembly, that one of the speakers said this:

And I was all: Well, thanks for the affirmation.

So my 2016 word is PRAY. 

The first time I picked a word in 2012, I admit that it didn’t feel as heavy and it didn’t really make me feel as committed to it. 2013 changed all that, obviously, as well as 2014. 2015 brought me to a slightly different and quieter ground. Having the word FAITH felt more like a display of God’s faithfulness in my life, as if He was saying, Look at what I am doing in your life, look at how much I love you.

So it seemed just right that my 2015 word would lead me to pray.

“What’s your next word?” This has become a usual question to me from other friends, and when I told them about PRAY, they asked, “What more can you learn about praying? Don’t you already pray everyday?

I do, I pray. But what do I pray for? What do I really know about praying? You grow in your relationship with God when you pray, but is my relationship with Him growing with every prayer I say? With every mass I attend, with every time I open my journal to write my prayers down? Or am I going through the actions?

Do I really understand what it means when I promise my prayers for people? Do I really know how it is to intercede, to knock on heaven’s doors for this world that sorely needs prayers? Do I really know what it means to ask for prayers from the saints, from Mama Mary?

When I pray, do I expect God’s answers? Do I approach His throne with humility? Am I confident that God will answer me, or do I shy away from praying for some things because I’m afraid of letting God know (which is kind of useless because He knows, anyway), and I’m afraid that He will not answer. Why am I so afraid to give God what’s inside my heart by asking for it?

So see, no, I don’t know much about praying. Even if I pray everyday.

So, PRAY. I’m not going to call this easy because the days leading to the New Year already showed me a struggle with my prayer time. Heh. But by God’s grace, I am looking forward to where this word – and all the prayers – will bring me in 2016. :)

Here’s to bold and brave prayers for 2016. :)

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. – Philippians 4:6 (The Message)