Sunday, April 13, 2014

Lenten Retreat 2014

Saturday before Palm Sunday, a retreat for our community was perfectly held. Retreats like this are like breath of fresh air. It would have been perfect though if it was held in a retreat house by the beach, white sand, overlooking the crystal blue waters, with seagulls flying by it, inhaling the fresh ocean breeze and of course, if we're served with sumptuous meals. But that would have been expensive for sure. This retreat in our local church was free so can't be anymore grateful! :)    

Wishful thinking :)

The retreat was awesome nevertheless. One of the activities we did was to reflect on the story of Zacchaeus. We were given a few minutes to go out of the room, find a quiet spot around the church and reflect on the story. I decided to go inside the church, in front of the crucifix. I knelt down before Jesus and after saying my prayer, I felt like He whispered in my ear. 

Jesus: Joselle, write it down. 
Me: But Lord, I don't have a pen with me.
Jesus: Joselle, get your cellphone from your pocket and type it down.
Me: Oh yeah okay. (Jesus is techy! hehe)

In a few minutes, I was able to write my short reflection and when we got back to the room, we were asked to share it to the group. In my head, I said, "Lord thanks for telling me to write it down." 

After lunch, a sweet and gentle woman approached me and she asked me to send her a copy of my reflection and so this entry is for her. It is always an honor for me to share God's word.     

Zacchaeus the tax collector- Luke 19: 1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. 

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” 

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” 

 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Was there a time in our lives where we had an urge to seek Jesus like Zacchaeus? Perhaps we were curious to the wonders he's done to other people and we wanted to be blessed like them too. Or perhaps there's emptiness in our hearts that no material things can suffice but only a genuine relationship to a great man. A man who doesn't judge us rather sincerely accepts us for who we are. Why do you think Zacchaeus was touched by Jesus? Because Jesus lovingly acknowledged him as a friend rather than a sinful man like the rest of the people did. In our lives, we try to live as comfortable as possible and live a good life. We find things that would make us happy and that would fill up the missing piece in our puzzle of life. But no matter what we do, our search for happiness never ends. Our earthly hunger is like a drug that temporarily satisfies us but never lasts.  Still nothing is able to satisfy our human desires. Zacchaeus was wealthy and if he will, could care less about this guy named Jesus but what made him seek the son of God? Perhaps it was the pure acceptance of Jesus and a genuine relationship that  He offered Zacchaeus. I don't know Zacchaeus much but maybe he's been longing for someone like Jesus in his life at that point. People regarded him a sinful man and casted him away so Jesus accepting him must have pulled a string in his heart. He must thought though Jesus was poor, his kindness and his amazing works were what drew people near him and made him the talk of the town. On the other hand, Zacchaeus was rich but never felt accepted and welcomed by people. Interesting. It just makes me realize that money can't buy everything. I liked how Zacchaeus repented from his sins and turned towards Jesus and that Jesus embraced him and saved him. 

I must admit that I was like Zacchaeus few years ago, I guess. Though I wasn't rich like him, my pocket was very rich in sin and made me hard to see Jesus. I felt like as if I was standing with the people in the crowd too short to see Jesus because the things that blocked my sight was way too tall. Things like jealousy, pride, selfishness, bitterness, bad relationships, bad media, vices,  and what not. I was amazed of how this simple man named Jesus was able to make a crowd go crazy over him. I was curious. What will it cost me to take a peek at this guy? So I climbed up the tree. I decided to go seek Jesus profoundly and joined a community. In order to climb up that tall tree, I had to let go of the things that weighs me down. I had to let go of the bad things so my climb up would be easier. And so I did. And when I reached the top and my vision of Jesus got clearer, I was filled with joy and peace that nothing can ever describe. He embraced me, loved me and asked me to stay in my heart. 

Speakers: Deacon Gerry and his wife


Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Back To Back Self Examination

What an interesting Monday had passed! I had to contrastingly examine two things in myself. 

First-- my conscience.
Second-- my job performance.

Examining ourselves can be compared to examining a car. When my car reached 100,000 miles/mark, I had to bring it to a mechanic to have it serviced, checked, replaced what had to be replaced, added some type of fluids to ensure smooth drive, and when I drove it, it felt like a brand new car again. It's same thing with us, we have to be assessed at some point in our lives. We need to be aware of what things we have to change and to improve on so we get better and keep on doing a good job. Anyway, back to the 2 things.

My conscience.

In our Catholic church each year, a group of priests hold a mass confession to prepare us and cleanse our heart, mind and soul for holy week. I'm so guilty of not going to monthly confession as what our church encourages us to do. I only go and confess my sins during Lent and Advent season. It's embarrassing and I really need to work on this. That was one thing I had to confess. hehe. 

My job performance.

At work each year, we fill out an employee self-evaluation at end of fiscal year. It is the perfect time to put our performance on paper and show off the hard work we've accomplished for the year. It has to look nice and impressive especially if we hope for a raise or promotion.   

I'm not gonna lie, in my employee self evaluation, I sounded quite conceited. I always do each year. Although I have been honest with my evaluation and my supervisors can attest to that, I don't know why at this time of year, I feel so stuck up. Who doesn't want a raise? Who wouldn't be static to get an excellent rating? They validate our performance and our worth to the company. It is good to be great at what we do and to utilize our God-given talents but it just doesn't come out naturally in me to give glory to myself. When I started to accept Jesus in my life, I learned to give Him back all the praises I get for He is the source of everything. At the end of writing my evaluation, I felt so consumed.

On the other hand, in examining my conscience, I had to strip myself from all vanity, glory and looked deep down my faults. It is not the most comfortable thing to do whenever I admit to a priest the repugnant and ugly things I've done but dude the moment I step out of the confession room, I feel so light and clean! I need not to uphold and display my strengths and my weaknesses and still I am accepted and loved by His grace! God loves me even when I don't deserve it. All He asks is for me to reconcile and repent! 

How divergent. 

This made me realize the difference between heaven and earth more.

We live in a world where we like to put ourselves on a pedestal. We love it when we're praised and when people value us. We like getting multiple likes in our IG and Facebook status. Everything has a price tag. We long for status, power, and wealth. In order for us to have all these, we basically have to earn it. We need to study to get the job we want, we need to work hard if we want to get our goals in life, and sometimes, when push comes to shove, we got to sacrifice some important things that blocks us from our success. We will do whatever it takes to reach the top of the world. But that is in the world. 

In heaven, we get there simply by accepting that Jesus is our savior. That simple. We don't need to write and elaborate all the good and bad things we've done because He is all knowing. No pretensions. We already have earned His grace by Jesus' laying His self on the cross. We just need to acknowledge Him, confess our sins and turn away from them. In doing so, we are humbled and He is lifted up. When we are heartily sorry for all our sins, we try to live a righteous way of life that pleases God, and if we believe in God the Father almighty, then we definitely have the key to unlock a reward bigger than we could ever have imagined. Eternal life. To God be the glory!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Wife's Prayer

I was so thankful to God for calling off our prayer meeting last night. Not because I loathe going to our weekly gatherings but it paved the way for me and my husband a time to sit down, spend time and talk through FaceTime aka a virtual date! Times like that that have become very rare recently. Since he went back to a full time job, our communication has slowly been on the ebb. When he arrives home from work, I would just reach our office and when I come home from work, he would just reach his office. The routine we've been miserably putting up with for half a year now has been like a dagger in my heart. 

A typical day text exchange:

Hubby: Hi Angel, tadaima! (I'm home)
Me: Hi Love, okaeri! (welcome home) How's your day?
Hubby: Exhausting
Me: Could you hold on a sec? I am working on a project.
After a few minutes...
Me: Still there?
Hubby: Sorry nakatulog ako (I fell asleep). Been a long day.
Me: Okay. Get some rest. Good night. Sweet dreams. 

Sometimes I wonder if I'm being the gracious wife God has designed me to be. There were times when I feel that I'm not worthy of my husband's love. When such vicious thoughts spur, I drown myself quickly in prayer and it magically goes away. I'm blessed that my husband has always given me an Agape kind of love. A love that is unconditional and unselfish. He knows why I cannot be with him yet and he understands. He doesn't force me to do things beyond my will and it's funny that he never uses the ever famous "wives submit to your husbands" bible verse on me. hehehe. I'm blessed that his fidelity is unquestionable and he would always tell me he cannot imagine to be with anybody else but me! 

Besides my husband, there's only one guy who mirrors this kind of love and He is the reason why our marriage strives continuously. He is no other than God through Christ, the center of our marriage. His mercy and grace for all is wondrous! Without Him, all these are impossible, trust me! 

Grace- treating others not as they deserve but as God wishes them to be treated- with loving kindness and mercy. -Don Schwager

Many times I have disappointed God but He's always been kind to me nevertheless. I give him plenty of excuses and justification of my sinful actions and yet I am showered gracious plenty of his provisions. 

God is so good and my love for Him just intensifies my love for my husband! As God anointed my husband to be the leader of our home, not only I have to love him but I also have to respect, honor, and delight in him as I love, respect, honor, and delight in the Lord. No matter how far, I try my very best to be the gracious and modest wife God designed me to be. By praying daily for him, somehow fulfill my role as a wife. I pray that the Lord directs his decisions and his plans according to God's will. More than praying for him to be successful, I pray that he would be successful in living in the glory of God too. If my man loves God, I know he will love me more than I could imagine.  

So last night ended well. We had fun catching up, didn't notice how late we stayed video chatting and I kept him till I fell asleep. We prayed together and he sweetly sung me a lullaby as I melted into my dreams. Nothing in the world feels so comforting than in the arms of my husband. Cannot wait to be in his arms physically soon! Thankful for another answered prayer! Stay tuned! :)

The husband of a good wife is a fortunate man; he will live twice as long because of her. A fine wife is a joy to her husband, and he can live out his years in peace. A good wife is among the precious blessings given to those who fear the Lord. Whether such men are rich or poor, they will be happy and always look cheerful. ~Sirach 26: 1-4

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Truthfully, I am guilty of having quite a few unnecessary baggage in my life. Useless, purposeless, inessential, baggage that brings no good results and furthermore weighs down my relationship with God. This lent, I'm giving up that baggage and surrendering it to Him. Instead of carrying them around, I decided to ditch them for a while. I can't promise that I can do away without them forever but this would help and would yield to something better. 

One spring time, I was looking for something in my closet and somehow I found myself cleaning up my entire closet. I threw away all the things that I no longer needed and boxed up some of them for donation. After putting away all the clutter, I was surprised to find an extra space in my closet. I didn't realize that I had that amount of unnecessary possession that took all that space. I also felt great cause my closet looked so much better and organized!

In my recent post, I talked about needless worry and that's one of emotional clutter that I learned and still trying to let go. Random Reflection #1

May it be material or emotional clutter, we've gotta learn how to let go and surrender it to God. We cannot do things on our own, but by His grace, we would be able to.  (John 5:30) Fortunately, for the Lord, no matter how messy and countless our clutter are, he loves us all the same. His saving grace is amazing! 

This lenten season or even spring season calls for a perfect opportunity to declutter our lives. 

Let's call it spring cleaning. Are you down for this?

By finding some quiet time with God in prayer, we can hear His message clearer. By letting go of unnecessary baggage, we can travel light and move with ease, we can simplify life and we can have more room for things that we need or are more important in life like peace, joy, and love.   

The rain bid goodbye while the sun chummily said hello.
The flowers are in bloom and the butterflies rejoice.
I rejoice too cause spring finally knock the door!
I love spring and the happiness it brings.

Happy first day of Spring!


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

Random Reflection #1

Scripture of the day: Matthew 6:24-34
24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon. 25 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more  value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O  men of little  faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?' 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. 34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day.

LET GO OF YOUR NEEDLESS WORRIES. That's what I took home and what I wrote in my heart today from church. To worry is normal because we are mere humans, we were created that way by God, but when we soak up ourselves too much from all our worries, it leads to despair and depression. Truthfully, to worry is unnecessary and it strips us away from trusting in God's goodness and faithfulness to us. So if that's the case, then why did God had to incorporate this kind of state of mind in humans? For me, more than being anxious, He wants us to trust in Him fully. He wants us to have hope and confidence that He is all good and He loves us very much. He cares even for the creatures beneath us like the birds and the flowers so imagine how much more love and concern He has for us, His children. To worry is to doubt in God's divine providence. Next time we worry, let us not dwell on it too much. Let's try to overcome it quickly. Let us do what needs to be done and then leave it all up to the Lord. If He answers our prayers, it means our will is coherent to His will. But if not, then He might have something better for us. Cheer up! Positivity must be our best buddy. 

Honestly, like all of you, I have my own anxieties whom I only share to certain people in my life. I am at a stage where sometimes I end up in oblivion. Confused on what is going on in my roller coaster kind of life. However, one way I lessen my worrying is I seek counsel and wisdom from people who can lovingly and spiritually help me. There is our church who gives free counseling. There is my family who has my back and my best interest in life. There is our community, CFC, whom I can always count on as my spiritual warriors. I have my friends who make me feel better. And lastly, my husband, who helps me carry my load and assures me that everything will be fine as long as we have each other. I'm grateful and blessed to be surrounded by people who keeps me sane. 

I prayerfully hope that God will take us out of all of our worries and give us peace of mind. 

It's way past my bedtime now and I worry for my poor dark under eye circles and what craziness is waiting at work tomorrow on a Monday! Pfff! That's an example of needless worry. hahaha. What I need is sleep. Goodnight dear readers!   


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Our Wedding Day

Sharing with you snapshots from our best day, ever! 12.29.11

Photos by: Bokehbug Photography