Moved UP

Hi everyone!

I would just like to share that I’ve moved up to a  new platform.

You can read me at www.ninyanerisa.com 

Hope to hear from you!

❤ Neri

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Reading the Bible in One Year

It was only in 2006 when I had my own copy of the Bible and it was only in 2015 when I got to read it from cover to cover. To be honest, there are many portions of the Scripture that are difficult to understand, much more difficult to endure reading until the end. Take for instance the many genealogies or the several enumeration of laws in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy and the Book of Ezekiel were the particular books that I found hard to finish and digest. But I guess just like our journey here on earth, we cannot read and understand the Scripture alone, we need the help of God.

In my journey in reading the entire Scripture, I was able to see new perspectives in some stories that I keep on hearing since high school. An example is the story of Jesus walking on the water. My reflection to this story has always been about Peter and I having small faith and having doubts. But as I read and reread the story, I realized that Peter has in fact a strong faith. Why? Because among the apostles/disciples on the boat, he was the only one bold enough to say to Jesus, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ Who else was bold enough to say that? None. Maybe because all the others were either afraid or not yet believing.

 

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING 🙂

 

My 2016 in less than 500 words

2016 is finally signing off in a few hours. It is during this time when most of us look back on everything that happened including lessons learned and look forward to more goals to fulfill (hopefully). For me this means looking back at my journals slash photo album where I keep my daily musings and photos of some events or memorable situations I was in. 😊

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In the past, I would usually cry during this time of the year. Probably because I hate goodbyes and feel daunted of new beginnings.  But not anymore. Today, I am glad that 2016 is coming to a close.

This year has brought mourning in our family as we lost two dear people – an aunt and our grandfather. They passed away barely a month apart, leaving behind great memories and irreplaceable places in our hearts.

2016 has also made me watch people in my life leave, both for petty reasons and for having frenzied priorities, which I respect and accept.  We can’t have everything, can we?

This year has also brought me into a chaos of anxiety. Questions like ‘Will I have to find another job?’ ‘What will happen to us?’ ‘What are my options’ ‘Why has anyone among the companies I applied for called me back?’ have bugged me and robbed me of peace and good appetite for quite a long time.

2016 likewise forced me to witness and deal with an ‘injustice’ right under my nose, at the expense of my back. It put my character into the fire a lot of times. And I will be honest, I failed many times.

My 2016 may seem pretty ugly (haha) but it actually taught me pretty amazing things.  My loved ones’ death reminded me to make wise use of my time and to treat everyone I meet with respect & grace. I was taught to give my full trust and surrender to the Lord in times of uncertainty. Those questions I allowed to bug me for a long time? Those questions don’t matter anymore today, because my confidence now resides in the Lord. I know He will catch me whatever happens.

I also realized that an earthly ‘injustice’ does not automatically mean heavenly injustice. Meaning, I should never be bounded by the world’s definition of things. This realization also made me see the grace of this ‘injustice,’ that is to mold my character, purify my love and strengthen my endurance.

“Consider yourselves fortunate when you meet with every kind of trial, for you know that the testing of your faith makes you steadfast.”  James 1: 2-3

On top of these precious lessons that 2016 taught me, I welcomed new things in my life as well. I was blessed with new friends, new places and new adventures.

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On my birthday this year, I just chose to be with the Lord in a retreat and He gifted me with these wonderful ladies. Just WOW.
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I got to join a Bible Study/class too and met more wonderful ladies there!

This may not be the best year in review but I hope this makes you also look back with gratefulness and look forward to greater adventures ahead. 😉

Adios, 2016!

 

P.S : Feel free to share your 2016  or blog link in the comments below! I want to read them!

 

 

The Best Position of Prayer

In celebration of the Holy Mass, people get often confused lately on whether to stand or kneel during the Eucharistic prayer, particularly after the consecration during Sanctus (Holy holy holy, Lord God of hosts…) until the Great Amen (Through Him, with Him and in Him, in unity with the Holy Spirit…). I for one am a bit perplexed on which one to follow. You see, Eucharistic celebrations in our office compound practice kneeling until the Great Amen while in the parishes in the province (where I attend mass), people stand after the consecration.

As I was hearing mass the other day in a chapel within a mall, I also notice both of these practices among the faithful.  This made me remember a particular story I read about the best position of prayer. Allow me to lift the story from the book and share them with you here:

A story was told of three pastors arguing about the best posture of praying. One said, “The best posture of praying is standing and lifting up our hands to God in prayer.”

The other said, “No, the best posture for praying is kneeling before God in prayer.”

And the third pastor said, “I’m sorry, but you guys have got it all wrong. The best posture of praying is prostrating yourself on the floor in humble contriteness.”

Just then, the telephone repairman who was listening to all these arguments spoke up. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help overhearing your discussion. I don’t know much about prayer,” he said, “but I think that the best posture of prayer is hanging upside down.”

“Hanging upside down?!” the pastors asked incredulously. “What kind of prayer posture is that?”

“Well,” said the telephone man, “once I was repairing the phone lines up a telephone pole. I slipped and I was hanging upside down. Knowing I might fall any moment, I prayed, ‘Lord, save me!’ and he did. That’s the best prayer posture of all.

We may laugh but we get the point. The best posture of prayer is the posture of the heart.

The story was on point. No matter how we are positioned or where we are, the best position when praying is the position of our hearts. We may say too many words or no words at all, we may stare or sob or cry before God in prayer, it is our hearts that HE will look into. It is our hearts that bring us to God’s presence and embrace.

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How is your heart?

As we begin our novena masses for Christ’s birth, I think it is apt to examine our hearts to fully receive the graces that this season brings. Let us let go of anger, resentments or fears and allow God’s joy, love and hope remain.

And this examination of hearts also falls into the most opportune time – the closing of another year. We might as well ponder on how our hearts was changed by this wonderful year, how the trials and joys of 2016 made our hearts ache and leap.

As we join thousands of faithful in waking up before dawn to join Simbang Gabi, may our hearts be pure and joyful in celebrating the birth of our Savior and be full of anticipation of the best that is yet to come.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

P.S. Kneeling or standing? What’s the real score? You can read Bishop Soc’s account here. 😉

Does God play favorites?

Isama mo ako sa prayers mo, malakas ka sa taas e.’ (Include me in your prayers, you have strong connections UP THERE.)

I would often get this remark from friends or schoolmates at the height of my service in our parish when I was in high school and college. And though I made an effort to include these people in my prayers, I did not believe them that I have stronger connections in heaven.

If I was God’s favorite, I would have gotten the very single wish I made which was a complete Harry Potter book set then. If I was God’s favorite, then I should be going around here on earth unscathed which is never the case because I have already been bruised, wounded and hurt. I may never have broken a bone yet, but I have broken my own heart.

Saying and believing that God plays favorites is like expecting Him to bless us when we perform good deeds and punish us when we do bad things. It paints a picture of a God who records wrong, counts noble acts, and blesses us according to what we are able to give. If God operates on that premise, life would seem like a computer game where we need to collect as many coins to level up or buy a new weapon or candy or whatever.

But life is more than collecting coins to level up, much more, God’s love is more than a list if there was ever such.

God’s Love

When I was younger, I was always hitched at the back of my father’s motorcycle while he drives. One evening as we were going somewhere, I was fondly looking up at the sky and noticed the bright moon and a huge halo around it. I asked my father, ‘Is that how big the earth is?’ He said, ‘No! The earth is much way bigger than that.’ I asked again, ‘how big can the earth be?’ And he only said, ‘malaking malaki’ (enormous/ gigantic)

Just as my father had a hard time explaining how big the earth to a seven year old me, I am also lost for words in explaining how huge the love of God can be. The love of God is incomparable. We can never say that it’s as huge as the stars or the sun, nor as vast as the universe. God’s love is more than those! As the song says, ‘WE CAN’T CONTAIN IT.’

And though we can never measure the size of God’s love, the Scripture gives us a lot of passages that say how God’s love works.

“For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16

We all know this passage too well, but let me paint a picture of this through a book I read when I was in high school. The book said that God sending His only Son on earth is like a human person being asked to become a worm. Can you imagine yourself transforming into a worm just to save the ‘sangkabulatihan?’ That’s how Jesus loves us, He was God and everything is at His dispense but He chose to be a man to save us and lavish us with love.

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“As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him.”  Matthew 7: 11

My earthly father is not perfect but he does his best. He was the one who brought a pizza to our class in grade 2 when we were learning fractions. He was the one who stayed up all night to make me the best pompoms during grade 5 cheering squad competitions (while my classmates had improvised pompoms out of crepe paper or that shiny foil, I had the REAL one made of straw!). He was the one who made me a crown made of real flowers in first year high school when I joined a dance interpretation competition (while my classmate who played the Virgin Mary had fake flowers).

Can you also look back to that one special thing that your parents or a loved one did to you, or sacrificed for you? If our earthly father or mother or a person in our life loves us so much that they’d do everything, how much more our Heavenly Father loves us!

 

“God is patient and kind. God overcomes anger and forgets offenses. God does not take delight in wrong but rejoices in truth. God excuses everything, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. God will never end.”  1 Corinthians 13

God is love and love is God. Every time I seem to forget this truth, I always go back to that famous portion of Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth. I hope you can also find comfort in these words.

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So, does God play favorites? I don’t think He does. He has overflowing love for each one of us. That love that hand-knitted us into our mother’s womb, that love that gave us distinct features among all creation, that love that blesses us with different circumstances every day which shapes us into better versions of ourselves.

The next time you think that God plays favorites, think again. Maybe what you need is not another blessing, but the eyes to see how He has been good, gracious and generous to you. 😉

Let’s count our blessings? 😊

 

 

(I will really count my blessings for the year and put them in another blog. While I work on that, why don’t you share your blessings in the comments below! 😊 )

What is Death?

Death has visited our family once again. And so here I am today, grasping for words to make sense of this grief. After I wrote Memento Mori and Love, Life in tribute for my departed, good looking cousins, I never thought I would write about this subject again. But that’s exactly what death is, unexpected like a thief in the night.

I remember when I delivered my speech Memento Mori in front of an evaluator in a club I was used to be a member of. She said that my subject (death) is kind of inappropriate since I was not an expert on the subject. I was dumbfounded! Who can ever claim that he or she is an expert in death? Who can ever say that death doesn’t hurt him or her anymore? I was still grieving at that time and I really wanted to be mad at her. But I chose to be the bigger person and let it go instead. *sigh

Going back, will you allow me to pay tribute to my Tita?

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The Best Cook Ever

My Tita Vicky, wife of my mother’s brother, is the best cook of our extended family. Her family lives in San Ildefonso which is an hour or more drive from where we live, but she travels to our home on special occasions to cook food. Every mother in our family consults her for cooking tips and recipe.

Her cooking is always as good as and maybe even better than your caterer. Some of my most favorites among her dishes are pork humba, relyeno, pininyahang manok and her most recent innovation, halaya with less sugar but as yummy as Good Shepherd’s. (Ooooh, tears started falling in this part. I remember the time when she gave me an extra lanera of halaya while everyone only gets one. I think she gave it to me while saying ‘don’t tell anyone.’)

She was the one who cooked dishes on my 18 th birthday which all my guests adored. She made sure that my handa was not the typical menudo or kaldereta. Tita Vicky made an effort to prepare me more elaborate recipes.

 

The Best Teamwork

I am hurting because of her passing and I am hurting even more because of the pain that her family goes through at this moment, especially for my Tito. My Tita Vicky and Tito Roland have the best teamwork I have ever seen. They didn’t need to tell the other what to do; they just do things for each other. My Tito does the laundry while Tita cooks. My Tito cleans the porch on early mornings while Tita fixes the home. The two of them were always present in our extended family’s difficult moments. Like when a cousin was fighting for his dear life in the ICU in 2013, Tita Vicky and Tito Roland was there first to give solace and financial assistance.

Actually, I am not in the best position to give testimony on how their marriage was a success, only their kids can do that. But I want to remember Tita Vicky not only as one of the kind-hearted persons I know, but also the best wife and mother.

 

The Last Memory

I regret that I wasn’t able to be with Tita Vicky even in one of her dialysis session. But I never regret to play the ‘madre’ of the family again on our last meeting. You see, I am called ‘sister’ (madre/nun) at times by my extended family ever since high school because of my active participation in church organization/activities. It’s not that I don’t like being called as such, but I would prefer if I wasn’t called sister because I don’t think I am called for that vocation. Haha!

In May of this year, Miguel, my inaanak (godson) and Tita Vicky’s apo (grandson) celebrated his birthday. Instead of bringing a gift for the kid, I brought with me a prayer pamphlet of Saint Padre Pio and holy oil for Tita Vicky. I handed it to her before leaving the party and told her that Saint Padre Pio is a miracle and healing worker. She smiled and said, ‘yung madre talaga namin o.’

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All smiles for Miguel’s birthday. My tita is in white, seated at the center. 

What is death?

My tita’s passing made me ponder on what death really is. We know that death separates us from our bodies and our loved ones. But what is it really? I searched for answers in the Scriptures and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) for my own peace of mind. Here’s what I found.

Death is a consequence of sin (CCC 1008). God designed man to be with Him in paradise forever and death was never in His grand plans. But when sin entered the world, when the serpent sowed doubt in Eve’s heart, death became the consequence of sin.

St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians also called death as an enemy, the last enemy to be conquered by God (1 Corinthians 15:26). But he also mentioned in his second letter that death is not our normal state, for we shall soon reunited with God in a heavenly dwelling not built by human hands (2 Corinthians 5:1).

“My desire is to depart and be with Christ.” – St. Paul

While it is true that death can be ugly and heartbreaking and sorrowful, its meaning has been transformed by Jesus Christ when He became man. CCC mentions that with Christ’s obedience to embrace death to give humankind salvation, the curse of death has been transformed into a blessing. To have now a Christian death is to die with Christ and live with Him in paradise.

Remember the last time you stood up in church with your newest inaanak? The priest mentioned that through baptism, we have already died with Christ. I think this means that by embracing our faith, we have already chosen to take part in Christ’s suffering and death. And our physical death just completes this ‘dying with Christ’ and also completes our fellowship with Him. (gosh ang lalim ata)

The other night while I was seated in front of my tita’s coffin, I was looking around the house while saying ‘this home will never be the same again.’ I guess death is like that, inflicting permanent wounds and damages, leaving holes in our hearts. But when we look on what death really is as mentioned above, we realize that death is not the end, death is entering life.

 

Dear Fear

It’s been two weeks now since I wrote my well-received blog, Brave Goals. How did I know that it was well-received and read? Well, aside from the number of visits in my blog site, I also received a lot of remarks that went like, ‘Uy, yung number four!’ hahaha! Apparently, I wasn’t the only one waiting for that to happen, there’s multitude of them. There are also friends who shared with me their own brave goals and their sharing brought me inspiration again.

The truth is, the list of my brave goals was just at the back of my mind. I only put them into writing when I started the blog and it’s actually not limited to four. Other goals include conquering my fear of the waters, speaking before a big crowd, finishing my own book and a lot more. But before I could make a sequel to my brave goals, something familiar started to creep inside me – fear.overcoming-fear

What have you done?! Fear asked while I stare on my published Brave Goals. It was mean that it made me want to take down the blog and take my promises back. Are you serious?! Travel alone? Oh My! I almost gave in to Fear’s demands but I’m glad I didn’t. Though it has always kept me feeling safe in my comfort zone, I know it has also prevented me from becoming who I want to be.

My writing for instance, has been hampered by fear for the longest time. While growing up, fear made me think that I was not a good writer enough, that I will never be like those people I look up to in our school paper, that what I am going to say through my pen has already been said, that I will not be taken seriously, that there will be no one to read me. I could actually make a litany of all the other things that fear taught me.

Thank God my curiosity on what lies out there set me free from my fear. I started writing more often, friends started reading. And though I have to convince myself every single day that writing is my gift, I walked past fear on this area of my life.

But here it goes again!

 

Fear is Normal

Fear is good.

Yes, I said that, you may now pick up your jaw from the floor.

Fear keeps us alive. It is the one who prevents us from jumping off the rooftop of a high rise building or from swimming through the big waves of the ocean. Fear is the one who whispers in our ears things like, ‘it’s dangerous out there’, ‘don’t go beyond this point,’ or ‘you can get killed when you do that.’

Fear is good and so I will never advice for anyone to try to be fearless. My favorite writer and brave soul, Elizabeth Gilbert said that the only fearless people on earth are toddlers and psychopaths and those aren’t good models for anyone.  Imagine living your life patterned to a three year old, you’ll just cry when you don’t get what you want.

 

The Fear that You Don’t Need

Although fear is good and normal, we all know that we don’t need it in pursuit of our passion or purpose or creativity.

So here’s what I’m going to do to the fear that confronts me now after my brave goals, I will tell fear these things:

            Dear Fear,

My reference to you as ‘dear’ is only because of our long-time relationship which unfortunately prevented me on becoming who I am supposed to be. Never assume or think that you are a dear in my life. You have actually tried to ruin it along with my dreams. Good thing, the universe is full of chances.

Thank you for keeping me alive. I want you to know that I acknowledge your presence in my life. From now on, that’s just about it, I will acknowledge your presence but I will never give in to your demands. You can talk but I will not heed your advice. You can come with me but you cannot stop me. You can try, but know that I will always defy. *wink

Neri

 

Don’t Listen to Fear, Listen to the Word

I am currently enrolled in The Feast Bay Area’s Bible Study just so I can learn how to pray a prevailing prayer through knowing God more. But it’s only just the third session last Sunday and I think I am getting more than my reason for enrolling.

Last Sunday, we talked about Abraham’s story. As you may know, God called Abraham out of Ur to save the His people (Going out of Comfort Zone #1). When Abraham came to the land that God showed him, there was famine (Going out of Comfort Zone #2). To be able to eat and stay alive, he and Sarah had to stay first in Egypt. But Abraham thought, what if the Egyptians find Sarah beautiful and kill him (Going out of Comfort Zone #3). After the famine, they went to Bethel where an argument arises among the herdsmen of Lot and Abraham (Going out of Comfort Zone #4). Abraham was generous enough to offer Lot the choice of the best land. But that is not the end!

After a while, a four-king coalition conquered Sodom and took Lot as captive (Going out of Comfort Zone #5). In the end, God prevailed and helped Abraham win the battle with 318 men. (Beat that! Oh, I think someone else in the Bible went in a battle with 300 men  versus 300,000 enemies. Who was that again?)

Did you think that Abraham’s testing of faith ends there? There’s more! Please realize that ten years have already passed since God first called him and promised him that he will be blessed and be the father of the earth. After 10 years, he remains childless. (Going out of Comfort Zone #6)  And so here comes Sarah with her servant, Hagar to bear them a child.

God spoke again, ‘I wfaith-versus-fear2ill give you a child through Sarah.’ Abraham laughed. Sarah is barren and we are too old, how can we still have a son, Abraham thought. BUT – yeah, you know the story – after a year, Isaac was born.

WE all know what happens next, God asked Abraham to offer Isaac to Him. (Going out of Comfort Zone #7) When Abraham was about to thrust the knife unto his own son, God intervened.

What am I really trying to say here? What I would like to emphasize are 1.) We can all draw inspiration and faith from the Scripture and 2.) Armored with FAITH, Abraham surpassed every trial and testing he faced.

All we need is faith in God that He will be with us along the way. And faith in ourselves that we can succeed in the things we dream of.

Let’s not feed our fear, but fortify our faith!

 

 

 

Brave Goals

I learned cutting classes as early as six years old. 😁   I was a transferee then in St. Mary’s and so when I arrived in school earlier than usual one day, I decided to explore the whole compound (all four buildings, I guess. Even the garbage dump of the school!).

It was too late when I realized that classes were already starting! I was gone too long that recess has already passed! What will I do? I was afraid to go back to my classroom where my teacher was already discussing the lessons. Will I pretend that I just came out from the comfort room? I don’t know what and how to explain to my teacher.

Peeking through the door of our classroom, I decided to just roam around the school that day. But when I turned around to run away, my teacher caught me, scolded me and asked me to go inside. 😰

Seven years after that incident, I found myself crying towards the gate of the same school. My classmate embarrassed me in front of our classmates. She accused me of so many things just because her cousin who is in senior year asked me a favor instead of her. I did not do anything wrong but I remained immobile while listening to her insults. I couldn’t defend myself.

This is me; I am always too afraid and never brave.

If I could spend a day to think of the many instances where I wasn’t brave enough, maybe I could fill this blog up more with similar situations above.

But then remember when someone wise says that whatever we focus on grows? And so instead of magnifying my mistakes and not-so-brave moments of the past, I resolved to focus on what more I can do today. Specifically, what brave thing I can do from now on. ☺(OMG, this is fun! This should be fun!)

So far, I listed down four brave things for me to do. Wah!!! Here are they:

  1. Travel Alone

I have never loved traveling so much than today, I mean this moment of my life. (Big thanks to my job and to my boss! :D) When I was younger, I get motion sickness and so traveling never excited me. But growing up, I was able to conquer each motion sickness after the other. Suddenly, I found myself to be a travel addict! I love seeing new places, talking to locals and eating their delicacies.

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.

-Francis Bacon

For my brave goals, I decided that I will travel alone soon. I wish to visit Vigan or Bohol later this year and maybe South Korea next year? Hahaha! (Lakas ng loob oi!)

 

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Stride through the Haji Lane (SG)

 

 

I CHALLENGE YOU: For this brave goal, I am also challenging people who have been through a break up recently (though I didn’t… OR maybe I did! :D) and the people who are in search of meaning (well, you can read Viktor Frankl, but travel should do you good). Maybe for the longest time, you have always been with someone – dining out, playing sports, watching movies, eating ice cream with that someone, then suddenly, the moment’s gone. TRAVEL ALONE too! (And tell me about it! Maybe I can blog you! :P)

 

 

 

  1. Go on Fasting even when it’s not Lent

Catholic teachings dictate that Catholics aged 18 to 60 should fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday while people aged 14 and up should abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. Yes, Catholics are just asked to fast twice a year and yet most of the time, I fail here.

My brave goal from now on is to be faithful in fasting in these two important dates of the Church calendar and to fast more often to acknowledge that God is supreme above all my earthly desires. (Takot kasi akong magutom lagi.)

 

The purpose of fasting is to loosen to some degree the ties which bind us to the world of material things and our surroundings as a whole, in order that we may concentrate all our spiritual powers upon the unseen and eternal things.

– Ole Hallesby

 

I CHALLENGE YOU: For this brave goal, I challenge the people who are seeking God’s answers or those who have special intentions. Deny yourself to yourself and witness how God will reign over your circumstances. 😉

 

  1. Lead a Light Group/Disciple Group/Caring Group

I have always evaded leadership posts ever since I can remember. In school, I would usually be selected as a leader and I hated it. That’s why in situations when I have a choice, I choose to just follow and not lead.a22f6f6ece3f206d4e8f5c2defdb711b

Now that I’ve grown up, I want to blend the wisdom I gained over the years to a braver version of myself. And I want to do this while glorifying the Lord through leading a light group.☺

I CHALLENGE YOU: For this brave goal, I challenge everyone to belong to a light group! C’mon! You can’t do this journey alone, you need friends. 😉

 

  1. Fall in love

Just a heads up before I proceed further:

  • Putting this item on this list is a brave thing for me already. But I know you won’t be all convinced if this remains to be on the list forever. Hihi!
  • It’s actually and supposed to be ‘walk in love.’ I read somewhere that we don’t fall in love because everything that falls breaks. We walk in love. 💛

This brave goal was not forced on me by anyone else, much more by myself. I put this here on my own will after my own decision. Haha!

Seriously, when I think about allowing a person other than myself to know everything about me, stick with me through thick and thin, and grow with me, I feel daunted.

But it dawned on me that as long as I’m doing every step out of faith and out of reverence to the Lord, it is not impossible. If the Lord shall put me in another season, I realized, I can only thank Him for bringing me here, for molding me into what I am today, and for continuously working in me to fulfill His grand plan. And as you may know, if He puts us in it, He brings us through it. Right? 😉

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I CHALLENGE YOU: For this brave goal, I challenge everyone to give love every single day – to your family, friends and even to strangers. I believe we all have a love in our hearts that can accommodate the world. Whether it’s a sandwich for a street kid or a smile to a fellow commuter, give your love away. ☺

Once I’m done with each brave goal, I promise to share them here, so you better return on this site! Haha! If you want to create your own brave goal or if you want to suggest a brave goal for me, please let me know through the comments below.

Let’s be brave? ☺

 

 

 

Another ‘F’ arrives in CAMANAVA

No classes. Will there be an announcement of ‘No classes?’

The rain poured hard the previous day and so my classmates and I were exchanging text messages inquiring if there will be suspension of classes. After all, our university is no foreigner to floods and inaccessible roads. However, no announcement came and we all knew what it meant – we still have to go to school.

In school, a short conversation ensued between me and my friend:

Catherine: Kumusta Nerisa? Binaha ba kayo? (How are you, Nerisa? Was your house flooded?)

Me: Hindi kami binabaha, yung ibang barangay lang na malapit sa ilog ang binabaha sa’min. (We do not experience extreme flood in our area, only those areas near the river get flooded.) How about you?

Catherine: Well, hindi naman baha sa bahay namin, duon lang sa dinaanan ko, hanggang bewang ang baha. (There’s no flood in our house but on my way home, I got to traverse to a waist-deep flood.) But there’s this cute guy who assisted me to get through (giggles).

Me: (Though I want to be interested with the cute guy, I have to ask first -) Waist-deep flood? Is that even real? Where is your house located again?

Catherine: Valenzuela.

 

My good friend Catherine was the one who introduced me to extreme flooding in Valenzuela and in its neighboring cities, Caloocan, Malabon and Navotas.

Collectively called as CAMANAVA, the cities have low-lying flat terrains and are frequently affected by interconnected rivers like the Tullahan River. The cities are also located in the northern part of the Metro Manila Bay. All these factors contribute on how CAMANAVA is almost synonymous with the word flood. However, there are some other good things that can be found in CAMANAVA.

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A bus braves waist-deep flood in Marulas, Valenzuela, after the nearby Tullahan River swelled due to heavy rains brought by Storm Maring. PHOTO BY MARK CAYABYAB  (Photo and caption from Google: valenzuela.gov.ph)

I no longer remember the occasion, but an officemate went to work with large pizza-like boxes one day. (It wasn’t her birthday, maybe she got a raise.) When I opened the box, I thought I was going to see slices of pizza. But what I saw is a rice cake swirled in circle and has different colors! I ate it and it tasted good as its looks!

If you’ve tasted it already, you know that I’m referring to the delicious and colorful Dolor’s Kakanin of Malabon!

My officemate introduced me to ‘Dolor’s’ which happens to be my favorite already ever since I was younger, I just didn’t know the name. haha!

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Photo from Google (casaveneracion.com)

CAMANAVA does not only have the famous Dolor’s Kakanin and the pansit but also boasts of famous nooks for food lovers like Phetron Restaurant in Navotas, Little Beijing Chinese Cuisine in Valenzuela and the City Cake Coffees and Pastries of Caloocan.

Nonetheless, CAMANAVA does not and will never begin with floods and end with foods just like that. Something bigger and better will invade this densely populated area of Metro Manila.

 

Starting September 3, 2015, The FEAST, the weekly Catholic gathering of The Light of Jesus (LOJ) Family, will be embracing CAMANAVA to bring inspiring talks, lively worship and God’s joy.

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With this additional family added to the LOJ community, I can’t help but reminisce the first time I attended the Feast in our town in Bulacan in 2010. (It was also the first day of The Feast!)

It was July 2010, more than a year since I finished College and also a year since I started looking for a job. I just also came out then from the hospital, physically, emotionally and spiritually drained. I felt hopeless after so many job interviews and job hunts. I felt helpless that I was already jobless and yet incurred another expenses to our family.

The Feast helped me get through my situation, little by little. As every series ended, I kept on asking a servant if there will be another series. Will there still be a Feast next week? was my question to the servant e-v-e-r-y Saturday. And the servant just keeps on saying yes. The Feast in our town keeps on coming every weekend until I was able to stand on my feet again and earned my first job.

The Feast introduced me to Jesus more. From then on, my life, no matter how hard it can get at times, remains beautiful and worth living. 😊

I was jobless then and it seemed like no company would like to have me. An insurance company even rejected me twice! (I applied again after six months because I thought they made a mistake. I mean, how can they not take me? Hahaha! I forgive them now. haha!)

Today, I work for and with the topmost official of a corporation, as in President and CEO. How is that for a story? 😉

 

I am excited to hear and write more stories of victory, love, joy and mercy with The FEAST CAMANAVA at SM Sangandaan!

I am excited to witness how lives will change in these cities!

C’mon everyone, let’s taste and see how the Lord is good and faithful. See you on Saturday, 5:30 pm at Cinema 4 of SM Sangandaan.

Spread the news!

 

 

 

Why do you worry?

A few days from now, it will be another month and it will be the start of the countdown to Christmas already. And I haven’t written anything yet for this month. The truth is I have been writing and deleting paragraphs for a few weeks now. I wanted to tell a messy and ugly story but I don’t know how to make it appear organized and pretty. (haha!😁)

The dawn of a new administration in the country came with a huge probability that my boss will be replaced with a new chief. Change, after all and as they said, is coming. This would mean that my officemates and I, who are the persons of confidence of my boss, (the President of the corporation) will have to look for other jobs somewhere else. Maybe someplace where politics don’t exist. (haha!😁 joke lang)

Although I have an option to stay in the corporation with an environment-friendly position (in our Watershed Management Department. Haha! I’m not complaining, you know. I could really use my skills for the environment!), I still felt uneasy.

This is when the ugly part came – I worried and worried a lot like a madman.  😳

I tell you it was really ugly. It was as if I was sentenced to death, deprived of hope and the will to move on and blind of the many good things that happen around me. The moment was too low that it blinded me of my purpose and path! Gosh. (Thanks to my friends who kept me in their prayers.)

Today, though I feel lighter and better, I ask myself this question, ‘why do you worry?’

 

Control

In the long weeks that I was worrying, I was also hastily looking for other jobs online. I wanted to be in control in every detail of my life. When I say every detail, I wanted to be able to tell myself what and where I will go next. I wanted to plot each day of my life from where I was standing. I guess you would agree with me when I tell you that there’s nothing wrong with what I was trying to do. Anyway, we should really be the ones to be in control of our lives.

My mistake, however, was that I forgot about my sovereign God who is in control of everything. And if He could just rebut my thoughts, He would probably say,

When I say I control everything, I mean all of my creations from the smallest dust to the biggest galaxy, from your smallest zit to the biggest detail of your life, from where you are in my thoughts before you were born to where your soul will be after this lifetime.

This is when I thank God for not being sarcastic but always loving. I thank Him for reminding me this truth through my heart and not with pushing me to the stairs just to drive home His point.

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Certainty

I was also worrying because I am stubborn and I wanted to see the entire journey and not just the next step. I wanted to be certain about every direction, bumps, and crossroads of my journey. But I realized that if I would know everything about my life, I will no longer be allowing God to be my God.

If I knew about every details of how my days will unfold, God will lose His place in my life. I would be doing things based on my own capabilities which are limited and I would be depending on my own confidence which will never suffice.

I realized that God is teaching me to trust Him more. I realized I was being taught on how it is to totally surrender and look at God’s grace with expectant gaze.

 

Concrete Plan

Lastly, I was insane and worried because I wanted to create a concrete plan and plot it on my calendar. And I wanted to make this plan work so bad.

Then again, I recognized that though I may have plans for myself, I should create a space for the grander plans of God in my life.

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There you go. I worry because I wanted to be in control, I wanted to have certainty/clarity and I wanted to create a plan.

But I realized that worrying will never ever do me anything good. It just steals my good sleep, healthy appetite and wonderful mornings.

As Baz Luhrman said in his famous Sunscreen speech,

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.

 

I no longer worry today. I am going ALL IN to the Lord.

I may not have control, clarity and a concrete plan. What I have today is far more meaningful and essential – my Sovereign King, trust in Him and to His majestic plans in my life.

 

P.S.

Indeed, HE alone can turn messy and ugly things to order and beauty. Galing no? 😉