Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 - A year in review

I am taking the opportunity to relax and reflect while staying here in New York.  I had a stress-free week and I'm thankful. Of course, I would not let the year pass without recalling all the blessings and highlights of the year for me and my family, here goes:

1. My sons turned 12, 7 and 5. They grew up so fast.
2. Lito was transferred to Ministry of Health.
3. I was given an opportunity to do another role in Learning and Development.
4. Mama and Dadilo extended their stay in Canada, went home in September.
5. Winter - toured around New York City via circle 42 bus without the kids.
6. Spring - Saw the beautiful tulips in Ottawa, visited Kingston and Montreal.
7. Endless Summer - camping in Finnegan lake, Moffat and Sibbald Point.
8. Bonding with Tita Josie, Jo and the Ochoco family at Marineland and Fallsview Waterpark.
9. Reunion with former office mates from SGS and RFM.
10. Lex receives a band to do big kids slides when we went back to Fallsview Waterpark in Niagara.
11. Workshop with the SCM YUNIC at Sibbald Point. A major milestone for my Christian life and ministry.
12. Bonding with my high school closest friends and barkada RAJGILC online, planning for a Florida reunion next year.
13. My kids went to DVBS - daily vacation bible school at Church on the Queensway.
14. Kyle went to music school and learned how to play the piano, while Aloysius plays the trumpet in school.
15. We continue to learn and grow in the knowledge of The Lord. Our cell group is increasing and the  victory of God over our life's challenges, problems is evident. We are grateful for the Lord's workers for making it happen.

Thank you Lord for 2013 and we look forward to more blessings, protection and guidance in 2014.

Friday, 27 December 2013

From Empty to Full

How time flies, it's the year end and I couldn't even add more posts to this blog. I still want to capture and share valuable information here. I just remembered what we discussed during the last bible study. Pastor asked us what is the happiest and saddest Christmas celebration we had. My answer was the time when we didn't celebrate it. This happened when my dad just started to work as a temp and I had  only one sibling. I was very excited when he came home on Christmas Eve because I thought that he brought food and gifts. But he came empty-handed, I asked, "Paano na ang pasko? (How are we going to celebrate Christmas?) My mom just told me to sleep, "Matulog ka na! Walang pasko." So I was disappointed and asked dad, "bakit walang fried chicken?" This is his reply, "kahit walang handa, may pasko, ipinanganak si Hesus." (even though we didn't have food on the table, Christmas is still here, Christ was born).

He was teary-eyed when he asked us to pray and the prayer goes something like this. "Dear God, sana po Eto na ang una at Huling pagkakataon na wala kmi pag Pasko.  Salamat po sa inyong anak na si Hesus." (Dear God, let this be the first and last time that we won't have any at Christmas. Thank you for your son Jesus Christ).  Before I slept, I cried because I didn't have any gifts, but I also learned at a very young age how to be full when you're empty. I think that's the first time that I prayed hard too, from my heart. I believe that God comforted me and I was able to sleep. When I woke up, I have a Christmas stocking with chocolate coins in them. I think a neighbour gave it. That simple gesture made a small girl happy.  I knew that my prayer worked and that God is really true.

Indeed, my dad's prayer was answered. The following year, blessings upon blessings arrived in our household.  Mom gave birth to a very cute Wendy,  Dad was hired full time at United Laboratories (a very progressive and generous company) and on the Christmas Eve of that year, Dad brought a very big Christmas basket with lots of goodies in it like ham! cheese! chocolate, spaghetti everything you need to complete a Noche Buena feast. My wishes came true and God granted our prayer because we never had an empty table on Christmas ever since. God was very good because more blessings came not only that year but year after year until now.  God is really faithful to our family and we are forever grateful.

So if you think you are empty, do not lose hope. God will make it full. Just believe.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas Greeting 2013

May the gift of Faith
The Blessing of Hope and
The Peace of His Love
Be yours this Christmas and Always.

From our family to yours. Merry Christmas!

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Are you a selfie?

I learned that Paris Hilton is being pursued by a dictionary company to let them define the word "SELFIE" that apparently she created. I'm not sure if any of this is true but I know that many people have used the word including myself. From what I learned this is how most of the people define the word - a photo of yourself or taking a picture by yourself usually with a mobile phone when no one is around to take it. I hope I'm right because that's what I see in captions of photos of my friends I see in Facebook. The recent and most significant one is President Obama doing the selfie while at the Nelson Medela memorial event.

Even before the cameras and mobile phones were invented, the word although in a different form already existed. The root word is SELF pertaining to self - focus on one's self, "it's all about me", "Me First" or "Only Me" attitude. They all mean the same thing - SELF-CENTERED.

As I am writing this, it dawned on me that this topic leads to a deeper root cause analysis on why human sin.  It is really about being focused on yourself instead of God.  If we go back and think about what could have happened if Adam and Eve didn't focus only on themselves, then there won't be any unhappy human being.

What about Christmas?  It is just around the corner and one of the elements is gift - giving.  When we give gifts, we also think of receiving gifts. I admit that I also think the same.  There are times that I only wanted to give to certain individuals because I know I will receive something from them.  We wanted to receive the expensive or biggest gift.  The word "wish list" was invented because we wanted to receive the gifts that we like, we will use, the gifts that are attached to "brands" or the "IN" thing (USO). These gifts we will brag about the next day because we only think about ourselves and what we recently acquired.  For some people, they think that the more gifts they receive, the more important they are. It goes back to - ALL ABOUT ME, MYSELF and I.

I remember someone asked me what to give to a person who is rich and only wanted to receive branded or expensive gifts.  He even looked down on him because his gift was wrapped from the store he bought them from.  "Sa SM mo lang binili?" was the remark.   I advised him not to give anymore if he thinks his gifts are not appreciated. Isn't Christmas supposedly about Christ and pleasing Him and not men?

This is God's word on gift-giving:  "For if you give, you will get. Your gift will return to you in full and overflowing measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over.  Whatever measure you use to give - large or small - will be used to measure what is given back to you." Luke 6:38

The reason why we are celebrating Christmas is because of CHRIST.  He is the perfect illustration of selfless giving because of God's love for us (He loved us so much -> John 3:16).  Now when we look at where he was born - it was in a simple manger.  The times have changed at how Christmas is celebrated and how gift-giving evolved but when we look back it's really that simple - no fancy ribbons, no expensive gifts, it's not about the size, or quantity, not even brands.  We just need to honor our Saviour.  It is about HIM, His gift of Love, Joy, Peace and Salvation to us so that we will be with Him.  He wanted us to be selfless and be filled with His Spirit. 

Philippians 2:4 says "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."  It's very clear - do not be a "Selfie",  not SELF-CENTERED but GOD-CENTERED.

Merry Christmas to all!