Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?

Also known as: I am loved by a generous God who delights in fulfilling my dreams :)
Missed the other Europe entries? Here they are: WYD1, WYD2, WYD3, WYD4, Madrid, Geneva, Paris, Vienna

This time three months ago, I just got home after an amazing two weeks in a place I only dreamed of going to. It’s been three months, but sometimes it felt like a dream, and sometimes it hits me out of the blue that I still can’t believe it happened. To me.

Every time I pray in the morning, I look back at my journal entries for this year and I smile every time I see my prayers for Europe in my handwriting. Please bring us to WYD. Please let us go to Madrid. Please give us our visa. Please help us fix our papers. Please give us airfare. Please, please, please bring us to Europe. Blessed John Paul II, pray for us. So many prayers, so many masses, so many sacrifices. And God was generous enough to hear it and give it to us. To me.

I still don’t know what I did to deserve all of it.

Back when I was still fixing my documents for my visa, I was planning to submit this essay to answer this question in the information sheet: Why do you want to attend WYD 2011? They said we can attach extra pages if needed, so I thought of writing a longer explanation, even if I never really got to submit it. I was reading through it earlier while thinking of this entry and I thought I would share the last paragraph:

I’d like to believe that this time, I’m better prepared to go to WYD. Maybe the “no” I thought God told me before wasn’t really a “no” but really a “wait”. I learned during my job hunt a few years ago that God sometimes makes us wait before He gives us what we ask for because He wants us to experience His blessings in a fuller sense, as well as prepare us in all aspects so we would be able to receive the blessing well. This time, I think I am more financially able to support myself for WYD, I am more prepared in terms of requirements, I have more focus and I have a bigger reason to attend this event. It may not be as big or as noble as others, but I’d like to believe that God delights in His people when they go out of their comfort zones and try reaching higher than they ever reached before, and this is me doing just that. Maybe this time, God will finally give me a “Yes.”

What a humongous YES that was, don’t you think? :) It’s been three months, and I’m surprised I’m still having a hard time writing about this because I should have digested it all now. I should have. But I still get overwhelmed with just how good God is. How awesome and how generous He is. And how blessed I am to be loved by such a good and generous God.

There’s really no doubt about it — my Europe trip could not be possible if it weren’t for God’s generosity. And when you know and believe and have seen that fact, how can you even say no to Him?

It’s been three months since Europe, and I still say thank You to Him. I also thank Him for new friends, new brothers and sisters and for all the experiences I had on that amazing two weeks. I know that maybe five, ten years from now (or even next year), there will probably be some other experience that will top this one (especially since I know God delights in surprising His children!), but I will never ever forget these amazing two weeks in August when I was drenched in God’s awesome grace and generosity. I dared to dream and He just didn’t dare to give — He gave SO much that I cannot help but be blown away. If He can grant a dream like this, can you imagine what else He is willing to give?

So as I end my Europe series, allow me to quote Lifehouse and say sing: Would you tell me how could it be any better than this? :)

I am loved by a God who delights in making dreams come true.

And He loves you, too. :)

“Courage, it’s me. Do not be afraid.”

Also known as: Seeing God in the rain

I know I said I’d blog more, but I didn’t. But now I am, so yay!

Last week, we experienced another one of those super heavy rains that was caused indirectly by a typhoon, directly by an increasingly weird weather system here in the country because of global warming (so they say). It was the second time that it happened in this rainy season, but the difference this time around was I was still at home when the deluge of rain hit. I also just recovered from a 48-hour bug that rendered me sleeping all weekend and a mother of all headaches caused by an ear infection. As if that wasn’t enough, I was also worried about all the things I need to prepare for my upcoming pilgrimage, and being stuck at home for another day is not really the best way I see myself preparing.

So naturally, I was semi-freaking out that Tuesday because of so many things. Funny how I always freak out before settling down for my daily prayers. Of course, the Gospel just had something for me that day:

As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

(Matthew 14:22-27)

Stress on this, please?

 But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

It’s funny how often I forget that even the rains come from God. And even if it is a deluge of rains or caused by global warming, or brought by a typhoon, it is still from Him, and He is infinitely more powerful than any of that. And even in all that hardship and destruction and wet feet and commuting pains, God is in all of that. And because of that, there really is no reason to be afraid.

Taking a step further, if God is all-knowing, all-seeing and just basically in control of everything, then I can imagine Him saying that to me all the time, in every uncertainty in life: Courage, it’s Me. Don’t be afraid.

Like last week, when I’m having all these weird sick feeling after recovering from the weekend, and I know I can’t be sick because I’m flying to Europe soon. I’m scared and worried. Courage, it’s Me. Don’t be afraid.

Or when I am worried with the things I’m leaving for my two-week trip. I don’t know how to handle everything. Courage, it’s Me. Don’t be afraid.

Or when I am faced with the possibility of something BIG, something I have never encountered in my quarter-life existence, a possibility of something I’ve been praying for for the longest time, but the very thought of it scares me silly that I just want to run and hide. Courage, it’s Me. Do not be afraid.

So why should I be afraid when everywhere I turn, there is God? And no matter how bad everything is, no matter how undesirable the circumstance, and even if it is a good and new and exciting thing, He assures me that He is in every little thing that surrounds me, and because of that, I have no reason to fear? God is bigger and stronger and more powerful than anything else in this world, and yet He chooses to comfort  me and remind me that it is Him and there is no reason to be afraid — I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel loved and humbled at the same time.

Take heart. It’s Him. Do not be afraid. :)

Pero enseguida Jesús les dijo: “Tengan ánimo, soy Yo; no teman.” (Mateo 14:27, nblh)

 

Wait.

Also known as: I ramble because I feel like I need to post here. And some Black Saturday thoughts.

You’d think I’d write more here now that we’ve settled into the new-old house and had our Internet set up and all that. Yeah, I thought so too. But alas, life has caught up with me and I find myself not having words to write here. I’ve been busy with work, reading and generally trying to stay healthy after a slew of allergies and asthma attacks got me in the past weeks.

I wish I could regale you with more words, really, but I’m caught in this weird funk. Strangely, I can write tons about the books I read, spout random bursts of emo-ness and even attempted to write some pieces of fiction. It’s not really lost — I’m just at a loss for words here.

So excuse me for that.

On another note, Holy Week 2011 was very interesting. It was quiet, hot, and it crept up to me with surprises that got me blubbering like a grateful and loved idiot in the middle of the night during Good Friday. It’s good, remembering the story of ALL stories, and remembering that I am not just a spectator but a part of that story. Interestingly enough, I think I found this year’s lesson for me on Black Saturday, the day in the Holy Week where really, nothing happens.

I’m not sure why it resonated with me…except maybe I can relate to the nothingness of Black Saturday. To the waiting. The holding of the breath. The wondering in what happens next. I must thank Matt Maher for his Holy Week reflections, especially video #6:

To quote:

Imagine what that must have felt like…the combination of anxiety and excitement and fear…you know, the kind of hope where you like, “I don’t even want to hope this is real because I can’t even handle the let down if it’s not.” And so…I don’t know if there are areas in your life right now where you’re kind of sick of waiting and you’re trying to find easy solutions, or you’re trying to find quick ways around the waiting. But I want to encourage you today to wait. To let those moments sit. Like they do on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday…give yourself some space to wait, and to let God move. And I think you’ll be surprised at what He can do with a little bit of time.

That definitely made me think. Thoughts on waiting require more than one post, so I would spare you from that. Let’s just say that right now, I feel like I’m being asked to just…wait. I definitely have that feeling of “I don’t even want to hope this is real because I can’t even handle the let down if it’s not.” Believe me, I do. My defense mechanisms are starting to think of scenarios on how I’d handle that let down if it happens, and a part of me is wishing really, really hard for it to choose another way. I don’t know, really. Except for that — I’m being asked to wait. Let God move. Just like how He did on Black Saturday.

THIS.

So yeah, this may be some kind of holding pattern. So I will wait. As for what I’m waiting for…maybe I’ll share next time. Maybe.