2014: The Year God Tested Me

What do you remember most about 2014?

I’m going to admit that 2014 was one of my not-so-nice-to-remember years. Although, I do remember occasions of unforgettable moments with loved ones, I am thankful to have experienced all of it. Now, looking back, I have realized a great deal of urgency when God first showed me a sign of His ever-so-loving character at the lowest point of my year. It has been an “ebb of a year” not only in my faith, but most certainly in my personal and not-so-personal life, and in my relationships with friends and loved ones. There were multitudes of blessings God showered me with, and recalling the year, I acted a bit ungrateful and unappreciative of His blessings, because I was focusing on all the miserable incidents that was happening to me (i.e. lowest point of my year).

I have experienced tremendous doubt and fear this year. Dreadful moments in school, at work, at home, even in my relationship with the Lord was tested and scorned by the devil. I still recall the moment when the clock turned 12am on New Year’s Day. I was not with my family. It was the first time we did not spend New Year’s Eve together, but nonetheless I claimed that it will be a good year for me, because it will be the year I will be graduating and will be getting a good job. It was a tough last semester of school, and surprisingly enough, I graduated (Woohoo!). It was a vigorous battle of self-assurance and faith in the Lord. Through family and friends, who were keeping me at ease, I survived. (Thank You Lord for the people who surround and assure us!) This was also the year that I was reunited with my family after three long, miserable years we were apart. This was the year when I experienced the agony of rejection, and joy of gaining new opportunities; a year of resolving broken relationships, and forgetting what hurt the most. It was one heck of a year when God tested me excessively and most of the time I have failed Him miserably (but He still loves me the same, how awesome is that!). 2014 has come to an end, and with it came experiences that fashioned me to be the person that I am, and will be this 2015.

Most people will say, forget the hurt, and the pain that 2014 brought you and look forward to what 2015 will bring. Most people will claim that 2015 will be their year (i.e. “New Year, New Me” tweets). Most people will act on the resolutions they haven’t done on the prior years. We see all these, new year resolution lists every year, all these “I will do my best this year to-” claims, all the “Be fit” tags and posts, but we forget that all of these are just mere intentions. We forget that God and only God will hold our year. Our New Year’s Resolution to be the “New-Us” should always be the renewal of ourselves through God, because admit it or not, facing a year’s worth of challenges will not be easy unless we claim that God will be with us.

Until then, I can’t wait to hear all about your 2015: The Year God Was With Me.

Happy New Year and a Blessed Year ahead for all of us!

Advertisements

How Have You Done?

“If you come face to face with God right now what would be the first thing you would say to Him?”

I was caught off guard when someone asked me this question. Honestly, I wouldn’t know what to say. If I come face to face with God right now, I’d probably look like a deer caught in the headlights while trying to recall what my life was worth.

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord, we seem to be extra happy, caring, and loving to everyone around us. We seem to enjoy the company of our family and friends. We feast on good food, and appreciate all the laughs while recalling memories of the past year. We appear joyful, kind, and our hearts seem to be especially healthy. We’re more thankful, more forgiving, and more prayerful. We act as though our struggles never happened and that the birth of our Lord is enough to contain all the problems of the world.

Now wouldn’t it be great if we are all like this whole year-round?

Believe it or not, but the birth of our Lord is enough to contain all the problems of the world. We carry the anxieties of our lives all year-round wishing for a miracle to happen. We tend to overlook that a miracle did happen 2000 years ago. A King was born on a mere stable! Jesus will always be the reason for the season. Jesus is the reason to always be thankful, not just on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, or on our birthdays. God loves you. If He didn’t love you so much He wouldn’t have sent His son! Always remember that we are very blessed and loved, no matter what circumstance we are in.

If I can ask God one thing, just one thing, I would ask, “How have I done?” And hopefully when that time comes, the Lord will say to me, “You have done good, child!”

Merry Christmas and God bless all of you!

God speaks.

When I got out of university (last April), I thought all will be well. I’ve earned myself a degree at the age of 21. I have made my parents proud by walking the stage. I have high hopes of advancing in my career path. I have gotten a job offer even before I graduated. All is looking bright for me. I kept telling myself, the Lord will provide. The Lord will bless me. I know Jesus has got my back. My faith was unshaken. My trust in Him has always been steadfast. My life’s motto has always been “let go and let God.” I kept repeating it to myself, “let go and let God… LGLG.” I know full well that God is preparing something big for me.

It wasn’t long when all the trials started to arise. The job that was offered for me earlier in the year has gotten reconsidered and I was lost with no job after graduation. I brushed it off, because I knew God is going to bless me with another. After a couple of interviews, I was blessed to find another job that fit perfectly for me. I thought to myself, “I knew God would not let me down. God is good!” However, the work that I have received became a burden to my service, and I had to choose to resign. Yet, the worries did not come. I prayed and hoped that God is faithful and that He will provide another. After months of searching, going into multiple interviews, I had no calls. No follow-ups. No experience in the work that I wanted to pursue. I had nothing. Regret started to fill my mind and I started to ask God what He wanted for me. I felt like Job (refer to the Bible: Book of Job). 

I put off finding work and started focusing on serving. My life after graduation revolved around my community life. On my 22nd birthday (August), I offered the day of service for the Lord, and asked Him fervently, “Your will not mine.” Student loan mails started to come, and my grace period is almost up. Worries started to arise. The overwhelmed feeling of a student after graduation began. Bills started to pile up and my savings started to decrease. Parents started to question my career choice, and friends kept asking me about my job applications. All I could say was, “pray for me.” I badly needed prayers, because fear began to develop in my head.

A sister once said, “Once you let worries in, you let the devil in.” I guess being human and all, you cannot help but worry for what the future might hold. I’m almost out of patience for the Lord, and sometimes I question the decisions I have made and would ask Him, “Lord, why?” I guess you could say, I am not like Job at all, because I’m failing this test of faith miserably. I am rushing the Lord even though He already vouched for me. I had no intention of letting the devil in. I had no intention of letting my worries or fears in. I just couldn’t help myself.

They say that everyday, God speaks to us in many ways; whether it be through someone, something, or a situation that impacted our day. We ignore those messages or affirmations of God’s love as if we have forgotten Him during moments of trials. It is as if we blindly acknowledge our desires instead of God’s desires for our lives. Everyday I let worries come into my life. I struggle to see the big picture that the Lord has set upon me. I fail to open my eyes and my heart to the messages He constantly tries to reveal to me. You see, it’s not always easy. I take pleasure and joy in serving the Lord. I am at most happy, most joyful when I am serving Him, but through serving Him, through the prayers and sacrifices, through the actions and words that come out of my mouth–are but an ordinary human being with faults. The devil comes in all shapes and sizes, he comes in what is most pleasing to the eyes. And because you are serving, faithful, and committed, that’s when the devil lures you in his temptations disguised as your irresistible desires. It is difficult to trust the Lord, because everyday you have to constantly fight the battle within. It is difficult to patiently wait for the Lord… but I guess that’s a struggle I am still trying to overcome.

Lord, I humbly come before you as your child. I ask you for strength, for peace, for more love, more patience and more trust in You. I desire to follow You, but it’s difficult. It’s difficult because I am weak. Make me strong, provide me the strength. Continue to increase my faith because through that faith I know I will be able to trust You fully. Your promises, Your plans, Your love should be all I’ll ever need. Give me the grace to surrender myself to You. Amen. □

The Battle Within

The struggle comes when many of our day to day challenges start to haunt us and would constantly linger in our heads trying to capture us in our weakness. The conviction to fight the battle within is continually diminishing because we let ourselves be filled with all the negativities, all the worries, and with doubt just around the corner, it suffocates us that we let bitterness control us. Our faith life suffers because our trust in the Lord is regularly attacked with lies constantly telling us that we are insignificant. Regrets fill us and shape us to grow weaker, and we ourselves become a distinct reflection of Peter walking on water with Jesus beside us saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt (Mt. 14:31)?” Everyday becomes a journey of self-assessment, self-assurance, and continual appraising of self worth. We become mere images of Thomas as he doubts (John 20:27). We forget to find peace within us because we forget Jesus resides in us. We forget to remember that the battle within cannot be won when we let our fears consume us. “Fear not (Is. 41:10)!” Jesus would say over and over, but still fear devours us and our hope falters evidently.

What happens next?

It is all up to us. It is up to us to constantly fight, no matter how difficult, because at the end of the day it is Jesus who puts our hearts back together. It is Jesus who constantly reminds us that in Him we will find peace (cf Jn. 16:33). The battle is not against the world, it is against ourselves. When we realize that our faith is bigger than our fear, we come to realize that Jesus is everything we ever will need.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:1-5

Five Books Every Lukewarm Catholics Should Read

1. The Bible

2. Rome Sweet Home – Scott and Kimberly Hahn

3. Ordinary Lives Extraordinary Mission – John R. Wood

4. Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic – Matthew Kelly

5. The Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis

My faith grew, and the passion I felt, after reading these books definitely changed my life’s perspective. Of course, there are tons of books out there that can be added to this list.  I especially would like to commend authors such as Peter Kreeft, Curtis Martin, Allen Hunt, Fulton Sheen, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI (Read their books y’all!) All these authors shaped me to become the better version of myself, inspired me to create this blog, motivated me to share my faith, influenced me to save souls, and to find my life’s purpose–to become a saint. We can’t be lukewarm Catholics anymore, if we are to do this, we are to do this right, and we have to start with ourselves. Saint Catherine of Siena once said, “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!” 

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” – Revelation 3:15-16

Rome Sweet Home

rome

Written by Scott and Kimberly Hahn

This is a book written by a couple converting to Catholicism, sharing their difficulties and struggles into finding their way to the Catholic Church. It is written in first person point of view, alternating between the two couples in each of their own perspectives.

This is the first ever Catholic book I have read, given to me by St. Albert the Great Church last April of this year while I was fulfilling my Lenten obligations to attend daily mass for the 40 days of Lent. For the past years, I have given up material addictions, things, and favourite pastimes for Lent. I hoped that by attending daily mass, it would be more spiritual and more uplifting to experience this journey with the Lord. It was a fulfilling 40 day journey. Although I did not read this book until the month after Lent, this book definitely increased my love for my faith and the importance and purpose of being a Catholic.

As long as you’re open and willing, this book will definitely help you embrace the desire to share your faith of being a Catholic. The number of empty churches and parishes today are alarmingly increasing, and more and more young people are leaving the church. I hope this book will inspire more people to share the faith.

“It is the Church about which Christ spoke: “I will build my Church.” She is not your Church, nor she is mine; she is Christ’s. He is the builder; we are only the tools.” -Scott Hahn □

Why don’t you pray?

My dad once told me, “If you’re prayerful, it will show.” At the time I did not think much of this. I thought to myself, “I’m good enough. I go to church. I serve in my ministry. I pray often…” So when my dad told me, “If you’re prayerful, it will show.” I shrugged it off in a rather “I-knew-that” kind of response. Now I was faced with the dilemma of living up to that phrase. “If I am prayerful… what will show?”

To be honest, my prayer life has been a series of roller coasters. A series of waves–a never ending battle of ups and downs. I have my own struggles with daily meditation and I find that most of us struggle with prayer because of the need and the constant reminder to pray that it seems like a burden for many. Though there will be other hindrances, for most people the three concerns below tackle the struggles in praying.

1.  People do not know how to pray.

People often forget that praying is not only an act of asking, thanking, praising, and repenting. Praying also determines your relationship with the Lord. How often you come to prayer, and how often you open up to the Lord about your life determines the kind of relationship you have with the Lord. Sometimes it is difficult to keep a relationship with someone you can’t hear, feel or see, because most of the time we’d rather spend our time in ways that will benefit us throughout the day… like for example: sleeping. How many times have you fallen asleep praying? Now, how many times have you fallen asleep gossiping? The odds are you were probably more awake listening to gossip than your actual conversation with the Lord. One thing I learned when praying is that you can say anything you want, because what is the point of suppressing your thoughts when God hears and knows everything. There will be times when you are angry and that’s okay. Let it out; be angry with the Lord. There will be good and bad moments, just like having good and bad moments with our other relationships. The difference is that, although there will be difficult times; the Lord will always provide peace when we come to Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

2. “God never listens anyway.”

You cannot simply complain about how God never hears you or how God never answers your prayers. One obvious reason for this common misconception is that when you pray, you only hear yourself. Prayer is a two-way communication where you talk and another listens, and another talks and you listen. You may think, “What am I listening for? It’s not like God is talking to me.” By simply thinking this phrase, you have denied yourself of praying. Of course God is talking to you! You simply do not want to listen because you have filled your ears, your minds with all the other noises of this world! Simply listen with your heart and your mind will follow.

Isaiah 65:24 “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”

3. “I have no time for that.” 

I am guilty of having no time to pray, and I have noticed that the more we consume ourselves with the worldly desires, the less we feel the Lord in our lives. In C.S. Lewis’ book of The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape (a senior demon) mentors Wormwood (a junior tempter) by giving advices and methods, through a series of letters, on how to lead a man away from God. In one of his letters he said, “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” We fail to realize that the more we desire, the more we want, and the more we consume ungodly things, we forget our purpose, our goal, our mission. In Matthew Kelly’s, Rediscover Catholicism, he suggested to offer the things we do as a prayer, either a prayer of offering, thanksgiving, and/or praising. We all have time to pray, it just takes a little nudge in the back.

Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

Now my question to you is not to ask you if you are spending a decent amount of time with the Lord, but rather to ask you your mission. What is your mission? What are your struggles? Being fully aware of our mission and struggles will help clear our minds of the noises. By simply letting go you let God in. □