What Easter Means to Me

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. ”  Luke 24:30-35

Today is Thursday after Easter Sunday. In the Middle East, it was a working Easter. That day being also the deadline for submission of month end reports, I struggled to keep my focus on the image of the risen Christ as I battle emails and phone calls, in between entering data to finish the tasks at hand. To top it all, my colleagues were on holiday and so my work load was multiplied like the bread to feed thousands.

By end of business hours, I was really exhausted but nonetheless, the Holy Spirit helped me through the day. So it happened that we were able to attend the 7pm Easter Mass. The smell of tires being burnt on the road leading to where Sacred Heart Church was located, dominated the festive atmosphere. That did not stop the hundreds who were inside the church compound to pray and praise God. And that was my Easter of 2015.

If the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a one day affair, I would really, really feel bad that a great number of hours on that day was taken up by my earthly duties. But as I continue to “follow” Jesus after He left the tomb, my eyes were opened.

Easter is our daily reminder that Jesus is alive and one day, we shall see His face when He comes again. My eyes were opened, that it is alright to fulfill our earthly duties when it glorifies God and the greater good comes out of it. My eyes were opened, that as we go about our daily lives, the Holy Spirit is ever present. Just like Jesus was, with Cleophas and his companion on their way to Emmaus.

Between life and death, we choose life. Easter is the life after Jesus Christ suffered and died on the Cross. We also died from our old selves during Lent and were renewed on Easter, forgiven of our sins when we repented sincerely. So therefore, let us celebrate Easter everyday so that the sacrifice of Jesus, the sign of His infinite and eternal love will ever be worth it.

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the coconut nut

“Should you then seek great things for yourself?  Seek them not.  For I will bring disaster on all people, declare the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.”  Jeremiah 45:5

fely comes to our house regularly to do the laundry.  she also helps mommy with  stuff.  she runs errands, cleans and cooks too.  sometimes, she just drops by to check on mommy and if there’s anything else that she can do for her.  but at the end of  every day’s work, fely walks to her humble abode to be with her family, for whom she works very hard for.

fely, who did not take an oath, serves our family the best that she can.  with her frail and thin physique, she is able to do things which seem incredible for us to do.  she doesn’t demand to live in our house, much less sleep in the master bedroom.  her husband, who drives their family-owned pedicab for a living, follows simple barangay traffic rules and regulations.  though life is hard, they do their jobs diligently.  and i am certain that they are happy and comfortable with whatever they are blessed with –  jobs to do, family to belong, a small rented house.

fely and her husband are simple people with simple needs,  but that doesn’t mean they live without dignity. 

what is dignity then? it is the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect.  we don’t have to be rich, or pretty, or hold a high government position, or live in a coconut palace to have dignity.  dignity is not something that one should demand from others because it emanates from one’s innate nature of being treated with respect.  dignity comes from within and radiates spontaneously. 

for a newly elected public servant to even consider a grand residence and office for dignity, is an insult to the poor people that he promised to serve, a great percentage of which live in shanties.   we are made to think that our house is what we are.  that thinking only reduces the self-image to inferiority and helplessness. no less than President Noynoy said “Kayo ang boss ko.”  can’t a vice-president also serve his countrymen and perform his functions with dignity if he lives in a modest house in a modest neighborhood? was his predecessor less dignified? now more than ever, it is worthwhile to recall what lolo and lola once said “Mabuti pa ang kubo kung ang nakatira ay tao, kasya isang palasyo na ang nakatira ay kwago.” 

isn’t it ironic that the new president whose official residence is a palace, humbly chose to reside in a small guest house across the river, yet his vice-president asks for a palace with the famous view of the manila bay sunset to be his official residence? if this is a tumor, there’s something benign here that must be treated soonest before it turns malignant.  seriously…

we are all equal in the eyes of  God.  He placed us exactly where we are now, because he has a master plan for the natural order of things. my fervent prayer is that each of us realize what our role in that plan is, in order to fulfill the ultimate purpose of our existence.  otherwise, the tale of the coconut nut in the palace will go down in history.

The Helper

“I will ask the Father , and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;  that is, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you…But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”  John 14:16-17, 26

once a year, OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) usually take a month off from work.  most choose to go back home to relax, and rekindle relationships with family and friends.  

during this period, it is a treat to have some household help around to do chores for us.  because while we spend eight hours a day saturdays to thursdays at work in the foreign land, we also spend after-office overtime in the kitchen to cook and do the dishes, do the laundry, clean the bathroom, vacuum the carpet, pick up groceries.  the list is almost equal to the number of hours in a day.

but back in our homeland, a helper is willing and happy to do all that and more, at a comparatively lower monthly fee than what the dry cleaners and the friendly neighborhood carwash boys charge on a per job basis. 

Fely is small and petite, but there is no question that she’s a lot stronger than anybody may perceive her to be.  she’s almost like a superwoman.  besides, she maintains that cheerful disposition no matter what she does and when ever her call time is.  you see, she is not a maid who stays in the house 24-7.

Fely is our on-call helper.  and she’s always available when ever we need her.  for that, we are especially grateful to her.  not only because she does things for us.  she enables us to spend precious thirty days with our family without the hassles of usual household chores.  she makes our holidays more worthwhile, stress-free and special.  so that when we go back to our workplace, we are recharged, rejuvenated and renewed.

our souls also get tired and weary.  especially when we live against the Lord’s teachings.  when temptations come our way and we give in, our spirits experience the artificial “high” which eventually does not last long.  when troubles come our way, our souls get quite a beating that leave them bruised and battered.  and so like our physical limitations, we realize sooner that our souls need help too.  

before Jesus ascended to heaven, He promised to give us a Helper to quench the thirst of our weary souls.  a Helper to guide us through the highways and byways of life to never lose sight of God’s mansion where rooms are reserved especially for us, His children.  a Helper to teach us all things, when our foolishness gets the better of us. that Helper is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity. 

today is Pentecost Sunday, fifty days after the Passover, and seventh Sunday after Easter. this was the time when the Holy Spirit came down to the men in the upper room after Jesus’ ascension to heaven.  as had been promised, a strong wind filled the house and tongues of fire came to rest on each of them and they all were filled with the Holy Spirit.

since then the Holy Spirit dwells in our midst, always within reach, within us. with utmost humility, let us all acknowledge His presence and seek His guidance in every aspect of our life.  especially in times of distress and tribulations.  we can always depend on the Holy Spirit, our Helper,  to strengthen our faint and sagging spirits with His seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel (right judgement), fortitude (courage), knowledge, piety (reverence) and fear of the Lord (wonder and awe).

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Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Pray: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Your love.

V. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created,

R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O God, Who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of Your faithful, grant that by that same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

message sent

“And the angel said to her ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and you shall bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom, there will be no end.’…

…And Mary said ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:30-33, 38

have you ever wondered how simple misunderstandings result to  severed ties, destroyed friendships, couples split-up and broken families?  how about workplace foul-ups?  ha-ha, now tell me about it.

yesterday was my lucky day.

a corporate volcano spewed verbal pyroclastics and an emotional flow of  utter annoyance  from the intense heat had taken place.  if  i had given into temptation, a full-blown eruption could have ensued.  but thank God,  i was able to hold my composure, and my joyful nature prevailed. 

it all started with a simple email, the response of which should have been the answer to my query, or a simple idk ( i don’t know).  but instead the recipient confronted me asking me why i sent him the email, that he was not the right person to send it to, that he doesn’t have any idea of what i was asking for.  i tried to reason out with him but instead his voice took on a higher and angrier tone.  i was dumbfounded because i have absolutely no idea where all that furor was coming from.

God knows how much patience kept my tolerance to a manageable level.  until finally the guy got tired, probably because he did not get the reaction that he expected.  he started to walk away.  as he did, when i realized he already let his guard down, i told him with poise and dignity intact,  “your reply could have been just a simple yes, no or i don’t know.  no more, no less.”  we could have spent our time in more productive endeavors, and preserved a bit of whatever is left of the wee respect that we still have for him.

the trouble with people is, sometimes we tend to read between the lines instead of accepting the message at face value.  we are always suspicious that maybe, we are told with what was meant otherwise.  if we keep living in doubt, then where will we find certainty?

today is the feast of the Annunciation.  when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she will be the mother of God, indeed she was full of grace, she had enough faith to believe.  just imagine if she did not say “let it be done unto me according to your word”

Jesus is the message sent by our Father for our salvation.  let us then, pray for discernment.  so that when we respond, it wouldn’t rot in the outbox.  but rather, by our acts of faith, we would be able to forward them.  and through us, that same message of  God would be sent.

war in the workplace

“Forebearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any:  even as Christ forgave you, so also (do) ye.”  Colossians 3:13

office quarrels“war erupts in the workplace”  definitely an odd headline in the newspaper.  but it sounds familiar; and it happens especially when tensions builds up and stress factor arrives earlier than the rest of the office staff.  instead of bombs exploding and guns firing, what you get are intermittent sound of banging folders and box files, uncomprehensible murmurings and sharp gazes.

it is amazing how we managed to get through these quite dangerous exchange yesterday.  though there were no physical injuries, emotions went up and down like roller-coaster and everybody held their breaths waiting for the next barrage of surprise attacks, leaving us all emotionally exhausted by the end of the day.

the cause of the conflict was really petty and immature for professionals.  something like unequal work distribution. something like getting more than the fair share.  (hello, is there ever such a case as equal work when there’s no such thing as equal pay?)…and following the job description to the last detail (hello again, can we no longer do a little bit office criticismmore for the team without expecting something in return?) you see, though all of us are educated, we have different personalities and characters. and as such, different attitudes and behavior when it comes to work.  most are dedicated. but some, though hard-working, are calculating and dissatisfied.  they constantly see themselves as better than the rest.  they are as driven in doing their jobs, as well as looking intently at how the others are doing theirs.  and they are jealous whenever somebody else was appreciated for a better performance.  they also see to it that their assignments are directly proportional with their salaries.  as i look at them as human beings, i see sad souls trying to do what they are tasked to do, but never really knowing why.  like dogs running around in circles trying to bite their tails.  these are the kind who believes they are working their butts out to get to the top, so that when they reach it, then they will no longer be servants.  but masters.  ahhhh such pride!

cheerful workeron the other hand, there are those who are cheerful doers.  they are usually the meek ones who are quite often taken advantage of, simply because they are good followers too.  they often do the work, which the more aggressive ones boast and claim that they did.   they are content with the position that they have, because they are somehow afraid of  ‘heights’ and vast responsiblities.  they are ready to assist, and oftentimes pleased with themselves that they are able to lend a hand.  their needs are simple, and therefore, content and thankful that they are fortunate enough to have a job that provides them a paycheck by the end of each month.  imagine what joy a bonus can bring to them!  the aura of these kind of people exudes a bright atmosphere to a war-torn department and  neutralizes the moral ambiguity and negativity that the other kind brings forth.  these are the kind who serve with humility. who believes there is nothing shameful to be of  service to others.

so you see, we don’t have to be in a war-torn nation to feel terrorized.  but then again our positive perspective towards work can make a big difference in our life.  just like yesterday.  consider it as an opportunity to activate virtues of patience and perseverance.  we wouldn’t know the level of tolerance that we have unless we are tried and tested.  and if we are, it is always the best weapon to get back to basics and ask how God would have wanted us to retaliate.

it depends really on what side we are.  if we belong to the mean group, the kind that sows terror and horror, well maybeoffice purgatory we need some spritual revolution to jolt us out of the trap.  like quicksand which entices us to box our way up the corporate ladder, never mind who gets hurt.  but instead sucks us in, until we choke and drown into our own foolishness.  bear in mind that, however others may trick us into thinking otherwise,  it is always lonely at the top.

0c638b2af87abaaeand for those who are always put down and looked down, there is consolation in the fact that when you’re at the bottom, there is no way but up.  and there is joy in doing the task at hand, no matter how trivial it may seem.  if it’s done for the glory of God, then it must be worthy and significant.

Wayne’s time to go

“He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer saying, “‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will’.” Matthew 26:39

 it was a very ordinary morning in the office.  but after the brief meeting with the boss, it turned out to be one that would that would change not only the mood for the day.  but the general outlook in the office for days to come. 

 after the new year, we were all in a “fresh start” mode.  the past one was not as good as the previous years in terms of business, so they all say.  in fact, in global terms, it was disaster.  though the company was already starting to feel the crunch, our team is exceptionally determined and hopeful that we shall brave the stormy weather.

Mr. Wayne's Moody KSA family
Mr. Wayne's Moody KSA family
our team is a merging of different nationalities who blend together on a common vision.  it embodies the ideals of each individual employee.  and despite differences in opinions and disagreements on certain minor issues, at the end of the day, these diversities are molded to form a strong bond to which the company leans on during times when it needs support the most.

but what really holds our team together is the company’s best asset.  his name is Wayne Allen

Mr. Wayne
Mr. Wayne

and this morning he announced that he would soon be leaving.   

first reaction was shock.  we never saw this coming. 

and then, concern.  in our minds, we were all asking the same questions ‘why?’ 

then, anxiety.  his leaving would greatly affect the team.  but how?

and finally, that lingering sadness.

it’s only been three months since i first joined Moody.  the first impression that Mr. Wayne had on me is how simple, straightforward and intelligent he is.   and during the months that followed, the first impression proved to last. 

he always remembers to express his appreciation even for the smallest deed, or simplest instruction that we followed.  and he would always praise us for reports  well done and on time.   he is gentleman enough so as to refrain himself from saying !#*!?^$&@#?!+=^  words during meetings because ladies were present.  he is always ready to listen to whatever we had to say.  no matter how silly it may seem,  he would still like to hear what’s on our minds. 

he calls our attention for our inaction.  he scolds us when we do wrong, but he is humble enough to apologize when he thinks he had already scolded us too much.  well most managers do that too.  but these things he does in a way only Wayne Allen can.

Mr. Wayne with Mr. Hussein, Nelson, Bong, Riyaz and Rehan
Mr. Wayne with Mr. Hussein, Nelson, Bong, Riyaz and Rehan
he is a good boss.  but as for me, considering the numerous companies that i had already been with, he is the best boss that i ever had.  but on top of that, he is a good man.  he brings out the best in us. he inspires us.  he moves us.  he cares for us.  he is special.   he is one of a kind.  he’s one great, cool guy.  that’s what sets him way above the rest.

in this lifetime, we are fortunate enough to come across extraordinary people like Wayne Allen.  and we are all overwhelmed with sadness, because our journey with him is soon to end.  but the seeds of  kindness that he planted in our hearts shall bear fruits to do our jobs the best we can with pride.  it’s the least that we could do to remember him by. 

though the office would be gloomy for quite a while after he leaves, we shall also be happy that somewhere in some part of the world, others shall be as blessed to know him and work with him. 

It is always an honor to have worked with you.  We will be missing you SIR WAYNE!

frozen

“The earth is the Lord’s, and all it holds, the world and those who live there.” Psalm 24:1

ice

just a while ago, i was watching good morning america, but i was not really paying that much attention.  the hosts were somewhat discussing about past Christmas gifts that they had received.  robin, who has breast cancer, had received a dressing room makeover to make her feel better. what really hit me was the the statement printed over her window, i think ?!?!?   like i said my attention span was really erratic.  i was half-watching, half-thinking.

my mind had been preoccupied the past weeks with just about too many stuff ranging from the more pertinent to the most petty.  it’s been more than a month ago since i started working again in a regular 8 to 6 working environment.  and adjusting from working on my own time wasn’t as easy as i thought it would be.  i had to juggle between my duties as a wife and mother,  the care of the house, the meals, my new job and my writing and stuff.  i have been there before.  but minus my writing which i just recently discovered is my greatest passion.  i also do stuff like paper art.  but the greatest fulfillment comes from putting what i have in mind on hard copy and inspiring others with what i have to share.

so you can just imagine how uneasy i had been feeling not being able to write for one whole month.  and how excited i was that we get a four day vacation during hajj.  that means bonus time for me to do the things that i needed to do in the house and the things that i love to write in my blog.

it was frustrating that on the third day of holiday, my to do list was only about 50% accomplished and i have only one day left.  what’s worst, i can not get myself to write even a single sentence.  how i wanted to, but my fingers just froze on the keyboard.  so last night, i just let it go.  maybe there’s really nothing worthwhile to share.  maybe some other time, and the passion would come back again.

until i read that statement over the window (?) of robin’s dressing room.  BE STILL, MY DAUGHTER!  THAT JUST unfroze me.  that same moment, i knew i just have to go back and rekindle my passion.  that same moment, i began to understand. that same moment i decided i would write again.

you see what we thought we all have, whether time or money or talents, they are not really ours.  everything is the Lord’s.  during  times when our plans don’t work out, it’s because God has a better plan.  when money comes pouring in, He lends it to us so that we could use it for His purpose.  when I really wanted to write so much but can not, the Lord has His reason why.  though it would seem to be beyond comprehension, i believe  it is always for the best.

there are time in our lives when we just can’t do anything.  like being paralyzed,  we just sit in a corner motionless.  though we have that burning desire, circumstances would not allow us to go any further.  the Lord is always sending us messages, and most of the times, we are not paying any attention at all.  do we need to wait until He himself shouts FREEZE! for us to focus our attention to Him?  if somehow we are experiencing one such frozen moment,  think about the Lord and what He has to say.  maybe He is teaching us what to do next or where to go forth.  and maybe when we listen hard enough, His words would melt the ice in our hearts and defrost us to the warmest human beings we could ever be. 

acer1writing is God’s gift for me.  with that gift comes a schedule of moments when i can write.  a schedule of diverse trimmings of inspiration and colorful vocabulary that automatically unwraps in His perfect time.

rainy days and paydays

I say ,then; live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.” Galatians 5:16-17 

hangin’ around, nothin’ to do but frown, rainy days and mondays always get me down…that’s a familiar line in a classic Karen Carpenter’s song that i often used to hear when i was still growing up.  but that familiar line would have been written differently now. other than rainy days, there’s a certain day that is most looked forward to, yet dreaded by most at the same time- that is payday.  and no one understands this last statement more than those who are employed and get their paychecks on a monthly basis, and in some cases every 15 days. 

time was when payday was a day to look forward to.  simply put, it is the day that we get paid for what we have worked for.  it is the day when we receive the salary needed to pay for essentials like food, clothing, house, transportation and more, depending on one’s lifestyle.  it means a day when efforts are finally compensated, and the need for fulfillment is finally satisfied.  to some wise few, this is a day when savings deposits get a boost. 

but in everyone’s life, change is a constant. we get married, build houses, have kids, send them to school and provide for their needs.  the paycheck that was once a whole big chunk for only one, is now chopped into bits and pieces. for those married couples who are fortunate enough to be blessed with prime jobs and fat paychecks, budgeting is no sweat. but for the majority of the ordinary workforce who are not trained enough to manage finances well, it is a hurdle.  the once upon a time, treasure of a paycheck is no more.  it is already spent long before it is even received.   and therefore, the payday that was once looked forward to is now the dreaded payday in another sense.  it is now a day when we need to pay what we owed, leaving us with nothing to take home anymore.  and at this credit card age and borrowing generation, when we live in a mentality to spend now and pay later, we live the next days on borrowed resources until the next dreaded payday.  and the cycle just goes on. and on and on.

this is the sad reality.  except for love, nothing strikes us swak in our cores as money problems does.  whether it was because of the economic meltdown, the wrong management of our own personal finances, the bad investments, or even swindlers stealing our hard-earned money under our noses, one time in our lives we experience the crunch.  no one is spared.  and i thought, if such financial turmoil could happen to the goliaths of wall street, then it surely is inevitable to happen to the davids of main street.  

it is easy to put the blame on anything and anyone other than ourselves.  sometimes, bad things just happen.  oftentimes we don’t see them coming.  but finances are only one fragment of our lives.  although it plays a vital part to make us whole, it is not the be all and the end all of our existence.  the depletion of our finances makes the other fragments of our lives more vivid, and makes us think about what is really important and what really matter to us.  paydays may dictate what our lifestyles should have been in the first place, but wisely, paydays must not dictate the quality of our lives in general.

right now, we may all be in a gutter… but we must keep looking at the stars.