Giving Thanks for All God’s Gifts

It’s Wednesday and I’ve been thinking of what to write when I noticed that most posted statuses today on Facebook were expressing “feelings of being blessed.” I do believe God grants each and everyone of us countless blessings, great or small, that come in many different forms. And blessings do not necessarily come in ways that make us happy, joyful or feeling rich.

Blessings are also packaged as pain, sadness, frustration – like an illness, death or separation from a loved one, loss of job – but they are blessings too. Deep in my heart, I just have to be grateful for each blessing I receive in whatever way they come to me.

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

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The recent demise of my Mom has made me realize this more – despite the deep pain and grief of losing her physical presence, comes joy and consolation in knowing she is now peacefully reunited with God in His heavenly home. My faith in God assures me of this, a special blessing for which I’ll always be grateful. Sometimes, we may think we are especially blessed only when we are materially endowed, in moments of plenty, whenever we receive what our heart desires, like a brand new job or car, or traveling to exotic places, yet feel forsaken by God at moments of distress, failures, or want.

Whenever I see postings on Facebook stating someone feels blessed, it is always when something good happens to them and their loved ones. I still have to come across anyone acknowledging they feel blessed because of being sick, or running out of money or being rejected by a spouse or partner and other life’s adversities.

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

We are blessed both in joy and in pain – so most essential is to give God thanks in everything, for everything, for He loves us and gives us each according to what is best for us.God’s infinite wisdom may not be easily discerned by those of weak faith – thus, as Christians we need to focus on how to grow our faith and trust in God, so we can handle each of God’s gift to us with grace and equanimity. And that includes not feeling smug, nor privileged lest we become boastful.
Handling God’s gifts to us with grace and equanimity also means detaching ourselves from things that can hinder us from truly appreciating God’s gifts for the purpose He has given us.

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” (Luke 12:48)

So I should constantly remind myself to make the most of the riches (not only material/temporal) He bestows on me, be positive about each of my gifts. And be ready to share – my time, talents and resources in the best way I can. I strongly believe the best way for me to be grounded about such things as money or fame is to be grounded on my faith in God. Even if for now I do not own such wealth nor fame, I can always prepare myself in the event God chooses to place me in that situation lest I lose myself into them.

My life may not exactly run according to my own plans, yet I trust God He knows what is best for me. I thank Him for everything I am, everything I have now. Life is not perfect, but it is beautiful by the grace of God.

Happy Thanksgiving to All!


 

Tuesday Morning Haikus

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White billowy clouds

Sailing across the blue sky

Telephone’s ringing

Interesting view of the late morning sky from my yard - a stark contrast!

Hint of the sun’s glare

Peeking through the cottony clouds

A promise of Love

Loving Me, Loving Mom, Loving God

Picture this: a thin, brown-skinned girl, not exactly kayumangging kaligatan but darker and taller than most of the fairer mestiza kids in that exclusive girl school, with thick white-framed eyeglasses, black hair pulled into a neat ponytail pinned with a big blue or black silk ribbon on top. This waif of a girl would also speak so softly almost like a hush that her teachers often coaxed her to raise her voice a decibel higher. She didn’t wear boys’ shoes as most of the girls did, and which she too wanted, but always wore her black mary janes to go with her bobby socks trimmed with lace. In other words, she was the 1960s’ version of a school nerd — the odd girl out, so she thought. (Now don’t get me wrong – but my being conscious of my brown complexion was only when I did not know any better; my mother would often tell me my complexion was something to be proud of; as I grew up, I disliked using whitening lotions and the like.)

And that was what made me so terribly shy in grade school. Dare I not join a group during breaks unless one classmate would call me in or was with me. And in the class, I’d often wait for the teacher to call on me to recite even though I knew the answers well.

Yet, in a strange way – my shyness would also lead me, at times, to venture out of my comfort zone, like playing alone in the school playground, or taking fun rides with other kids during our school fairs. Or signing up for a drum and bugle class, a singing group, and a painting class in high school. You see, I could never carry a tune, till now, and I could only splash a mixture of colors on my drawing pad – my idea of being a future Picasso or Monet. But I still surged ahead for I wanted to do these things.

I remember one talented young boy in that painting class asking me why I was there. He was right – I didn’t have the talent for drawing nor painting…so what?

The spirit of that young girl from way back still lives in me — as I pursue my passions with a mix of confidence, audacity and spunk. And that is what I love most about myself – because it’s what makes me unique, what gives me the courage to learn new things, cultivate new interests like blogging…a late bloomer in the field of writing.

That lakas ng apog  was sparked by my Mom’s own passion for living, for she indeed was a woman oozing with confidence and grit, inspiring in me and my siblings to achieve our goals, test new waters and scale the heights. And that is what I love most about her, my dearest Mom, even if she’s no longer with us. To her I will forever be grateful for this, and whatever I achieve, to God be the Glory!

 

Be Thankful of Our Blessings, Great or Small

I’ve just come across a news article reporting that Jack Ma, the founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has admitted in a US television interview that being so wealthy is actually causing him “great pain”.

Whew, it blew my mind because I was thinking if I were in his place I’d be so thrilled as I’d no longer have much to worry about the things I’m anxious about at the moment and that I’d have the freedom to be able to do what I’ve always hoped to, if I were just as financially wealthy as he is. And there’s also one teeny weeny bit of irritation or perhaps envy lurking somewhere inside me as I think that this person should have the luxury of saying that.

On one hand, I understand when he said “Maybe the stock goes so up, maybe people have high expectations on you, maybe I think too much about the future and have too many things to worry about,” — I could imagine such pressure, likewise what he said about “people looking at him differently when he walked down on the street.”

Let us be thankful of all our blessings, great or small...

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Yet how I wish he’d also be thankful for the financial blessings he now has, and be more positive about it, albeit the pressure and changes that go with his new economic status.

But I do not know anything about this man, nor the context by which he spoke about his new-found wealth, so I should just empathize with him, pray for him, and hope his life will indeed be more enriched, not necessarily through his money because indeed fame nor wealth can never buy happiness. I also hope he realizes that others especially the least fortunate in society can be enriched through his good works and projects for them.

“Do not indulge in dreams of having what you have not, but reckon up the chief of the blessings you do possess, and then thankfully remember how you would crave for them if they were not yours.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

 

Life Is Too Short To Be Making Excuses

Life is too short to be making excuses; no time to waste. But alas, so many times we make up excuses for not doing the things we want or ought to do as the opportunity for it comes along, thinking we’ll be able to find the proper time for it.

How many times do we say to people who matter to us “Not now, I’m busy…next time, ok?” Or when we ought to do a task, like responding to a writing prompt or challenge, we tell ourselves, “Not now…will wait for the proper words, for the right mood, and so on…”

One regret I painfully carry in my heart is not being able to visit my sick Mom this year as much as I could, and now sadly, she’s no longer here. I know I can always console myself with the fact that I’d been with her in her last days, in her last hours, but nothing can bring back lost time. So I treasure that special moment when I hugged her tightly and told her I loved her one time on my home visit to them a few months back.

Take time to smell the flowers while we can...

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Telephone calls or sending messages to our loved ones is not enough and can never replace the unspeakable joy of making the people we love most happy seeing us in the flesh, bonding with them in person, carving out a special time for them amidst our busy schedules.

We may love them as much as we feel we do, but if we are always too busy to sacrifice a few precious moments with them means we do not care enough.

Life indeed is too short to be making excuses even for passing up on golden opportunities for personal growth, bridging friendships, making a positive difference in other people’s lives, creating a better world in our own small way, or even just simply smelling the roses…

No time to waste. The time is NOW.

 

Summoning Willpower for November

November has rolled in, so has NaBloPoMo 2014, for which I’ve signed up for the first time, yet here I am, one week behind, and getting cold feet. The prompts have been given out, yet I still have to answer to even just one. Seems my main challenge has always been finding the right mood, the perfect momentum, the best impetus for me to be able to write down anything. Times when words are already forming in my mind, yet it takes a long time for these to see print.

I think it’s time for me to summon willpower – not just the creative muses – for my November writing goals, most especially for NaBloPoMo!

My notebook follows me anywhere I go, the paper kind, – one that requires trees to be cut down – not exactly a ‘green’ idea – but I’m still fascinated with the scent and feel of paper. My present journal is one made of recycled smooth, slightly scented paper bounded in red cardboard; it has at most times induced the creative in me, letting me fill its pages so easily with no other thought than to simply express myself, or record to memory ideas, insights and events.

My ubiquitous notebook that follows me wherever I go...

Though nowadays, I also have taken to drafting in my laptop – time to get hi-tech I believe –  and so I maintain my so-called Writer Pad – my digital journal if you will where I type randomly — when the perfect “time” catches me. Yet, another challenge is silencing that critical voice up there, judging every word or phrase or sentence I jot down. Before I know it, time has flown, and the page before me still empty, leaving me frustrated.

But the desire to write is as strong as ever – am never one to give up easily. Besides, I’ve sort of made it my personal motto this particular quote by the novelist Harper Lee: “I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” A thick hide, or face, indeed – an advice worth following for me, or else I rut.

I also remember one little girl, not yet 10-years old. Though shy she was in front of many people, she possessed a certain bravura and guts, unafraid to be different from her peers. She’d rather play alone in the school playground than be with classmates who’d only tease her; she’d rather have fun with other kids not her friends if that meant trying something daring, like riding the ferris wheel with them on college day fairs. That little girl was me.

So mustering my childhood self-confidence, regaining my newfound courage to share with the writing community of bloggers at BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo, and WP’s The Daily Post, and gathering all the willpower I can, I charge headlong into the rest of November’s writing challenges.

CHEERS to myself, and to all…

“Be daring, take on anything. Don’t labor over little cameo works in which every word is to be perfect. Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind.” – Joyce Carol Oates

 

A Début Like No Other

In my time, (until today), most Filipino young girls dreamt of having a fabulous début, a special kind of party with all the splendid trimmings to mark their “grand entrance” into the world of adults, celebrated when they turn 18. A social rite of passage.

Just like many of my friends in school, I also had that kind of dream — yet as I was nearing my 10th birthday, somehow I felt a débutante’s ball would not be feasible, what with my mother about to give birth to the 9th and youngest in the family.

But surprise of all surprise, on my 13th birthday, my parents threw me a simple get-together with my friends at home. For me, that already corresponded to my dream of having a ‘coming out’ celebration, making me tickled pink, my heart overflowing with love and gratitude. My wish fulfilled.

... tickled pink, my heart overflowing with love and gratitude...

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Thus each birthday since, a début was no longer part of my girly wish for my special milestone because for a wallflower like me, except for the music, dancing and the like were not exactly my slice of cake. Having a boyfriend was more like it!

Yet, mine was a début like no other, for it was a simple day out with my mother as we ventured on a food trip out of town. So that meant riding on a commuter train. And being the 2nd time ever in my life, that sent me into visions of the train rolling luxuriously across the metro, with landscapes blurring past us.

Even so, the ride itself was not particularly impressive; more grown up now, since I first took the train when I was still a child, it just felt like being transported on a bus, not on a plane – so nothing really special about it at all.

Yet the thrill that filled me plus my fanciful musings were enough to kick off with much anticipation my bonding time with Mom on that day I turned 18. As the morning  breezed into the late afternoon sun, and as we feasted on the variety of local foods from different regions of the country, the more I felt it was my best birthday ever – my tummy full, my heart overflowing with happiness, and it didn’t matter that I still felt like a little girl inside.

Time has flown into my golden age, my days will in a few more years become the colors of autumn, my beloved Mom now recently passed, yet – rather, especially because of her- the memory of my eighteenth birthday will forever be lovingly, hauntingly etched in my heart!

How about you, did you ever have a debut, or a ‘coming-of-age’ party? Tell me about it in the comment box below.