Be Grateful

So it’s almost the end of January, and it’s only now that I’m blogging my 2017 word. Talk about late? I don’t have any excuse, except that it’s a combination of laziness, busy-ness, and part wondering if I should even keep at blogging for the nth time.

This always happens, you know?

But okay, better late than never.

So 2016 was the year of bold prayers. At the start of the year, I held onto this, in the midst of all my complaining (and believe me, I complained like crazy), prayers held me up and accompanied me in all my struggle to be still. Of course, sometime in the middle of the year, I struggled with prayer itself. Not that my prayers were ever empty, or that it felt like no one was listening to me. It just felt like I wasn’t praying bold prayers, and that was a crucial part of my word/phrase in 2016. It took me a while to hit my stride again, and by the end of the year I realized that maybe the point of praying bold prayers is not so much in me making those bold requests to the Lord but having the wisdom and the grace to notice when He answers.

Because let’s be honest: more often than not, we don’t notice those answered prayers because we don’t make ourselves aware of it.

 

Sometime early last year, when I was going through some sort of personal crisis in my day job, I had one prayer: Lord, teach me to be grateful. It was so hard to be grateful when all you want to do is complain, when everything feels so unfair, when you want to quit (but can’t, for some reason). It’s hard to be thankful when you have to do something uncomfortable, something you didn’t choose to happen to you, or when everything at work, in your life and in the world feels like a never ending source of stress.

And yet, we are called to be grateful.

So there’s my word/phrase: 2017 is the year to be grateful.

Gratitude is a word that has made made its way into my life in the past years, but I never really paid much attention to it. It felt like an extension, an effect of whatever word I chose, but now this year I want to live that word. In my year of bold prayers, I discovered that gratitude is the one integral part that is often overlooked. And now after 5 years of choosing a word for my year, it feels just right to give gratitude the attention it deserves. Gratitude deepens the faith, brings you joy, requires your courage, and opens you to love

Here’s to a grateful year ahead. ❤

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:17

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)

Faith

On November 23, I wrote this post that started with this:

Sometime around last week, I started to feel this tiny little worry because my word for 2015 hasn’t found me yet.

What I didn’t write after that blog entry was that my 2015 word found me soon after posting that.

I can’t remember how I found it, or how it found me. The thing is, the word has been with me ever since I started writing my second book, but I didn’t really notice it because I was too worried with too many things, and I was struggling too much with Delight. I was torn between wanting to find my next word and thinking that maybe I should focus on the word that I have now before moving onto the next. I figured that my word will find me, or I will find it; I just needed to give it time.

But like I said, soon after I wrote that post, before December rolled around, I found my word for 2015.

Faith.

By “finding it,” the word has been sort-of literally staring me in the face all this time, in the form of my next book‘s title, Keep the Faith. I just had that moment: why can’t FAITH be my word for 2015?

And then all the struggles I was having at the end of the 2014 started to make sense. With how I was being asked to wait, and how there were some things that were totally out of control that was driving me nuts…all through that, God was asking me not just to choose His joy, but also, to have faith.

I haven’t completely figured it out yet, but soon as 2014 ended and 2015 came in, I kept on holding onto that: to have faith. In the midst of the struggles, the confusion, the chaos. In the midst of the feeling that I am disappointing people, or in the midst of all the little inconveniences. In the midst of happiness, and the fatalistic feeling that comes after that asks, What if this doesn’t last? In the midst of the anxiety of the new year, and the things I will say goodbye to and the things that will start, and the moments in between that I am desperately wishing wouldn’t be so hard. In the midst of good people and difficult people. In the midst of these thoughts of what people will think, or what they will say or do about certain decisions I will make. In the midst of uncertainties and certainties, I always come back to these words:

Have faith.

I knew from the moment I found this word that this isn’t about me finding out what I believe in, or looking for faith that I have lost. This faith is about realizing and recognizing God’s faithfulness in my life – every second, every minute, every hour, every day.

Faith is about trusting this faithfulness that I have known and experienced, knowing that He has got this covered, and He will not let me fall.

Faith is also me being faithful to Him just as He is faithful to me. It is about me being faithful not just in the big things, but also (and especially) in the small things, because these are all gifts from Him, and I should be a good steward of them.

Faith is about bringing my current faith into a new level, because He wants to take me deeper, and He wants to make it richer. There is so much more I don’t know about my faith, and this is the year to learn about it, and experience it.

If I could be totally honest, I’m a little bit scared of this word. Somehow, Faith reminds me of Courage, and I am feeling the things that I felt when I declared the Year of the Brave.

But we know how all that turned out, right? So there’s no need to be scared.

Perhaps this scared, apprehensive feeling is already a lesson on trusting God’s faithfulness. Because when was He ever not faithful to me?

So 2015 is my year of Faith. I don’t have quotes from blogs or authors about this word, which is just as well, because I think the best thing to go about this is to go to His Word, which has more than enough stories of faith than I could ask for. :)

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 (NASB)

I like that word, conviction.

Have a great 2015, everyone! May we all see, recognize, and experience more of God’s faithfulness in our lives this year. :)