Saturday, January 17, 2009

Word for the Day

From today's reading:
Hebrews 4:12-13

Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.

I find it comforting that God through His word can hear the real "reflections and thoughts" of my heart.  That I can be naked before Him and feel no shame.  That He can penetrate all my walls and pretensions and see me for who I am, my weaknesses and faults, my dreams and desires.  It is good to have a God who loves us this much, all of us, individually, and as a whole.

I needed to hear this today, for I am busy with many good things, and surrounded by people whom I still tend to want to please.  It can get tiring and burdensome to be after others' happiness.  So it is a huge comfort to know that there is one who is looking after my own heart, and who is listening to what I'm not saying.  He is the Audience of One that I look up to, and whose approval I seek.  It is to Him that "we must render an account" anyway, and He is not as demanding as we perceive Him to be.  This gives me rest this weekend.

Our God is an amazing God.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Changed From Within

I wrote my previous post hurriedly and did not have time to elaborate on the outcome of my amazing Day of Prayer in U.P. last Friday, January 2.

What I am realizing as each day of this new year unfolds is that I am experiencing all things new. The time to embrace life once more, in all its fullness, has come. I am being called to step out in faith again, for my time of rest and, to a certain extent, hiding, must come to an end.

Last year, I prayed for freedom and healing. I was beset by many trials, most of them personal, unexplainable, and recurring. I withdrew in my personal shell and just kept going, one day at a time. Although I was not completely enveloped in darkness, I experienced less of the amount of sunshine that I was used to. I was in transition, and felt every twist and turn.

For 2009, I wanted to do a Day of Prayer and invited the BNP choir to join me in UP campus. Since they had not done anything like that, I had to prepare a short exhortation, lineup the songs, lead the worship, and give the input for prayer. I had little time to do all that, but the LORD amazed me a hundredfold. The kids knew how to prophesy. They said that one hour of silence was not enough to listen to God and write in their journals. The picnic was fabulous, and the sharing was fantastic. My kids were growing in faith to and love for the Lord, and my heart expanded. The cool wind made our prayer time even more intimate, as if God was there embracing us. I sat in the midst of the trees and felt something, certain, tangible, and unforgettable: I WAS HAPPY.

The wind blew the leaves all around me. I was grateful.
Everywhere I looked, I could see green grass. I was thankful.
In the distance, I could hear the strumming of a guitar. I was joyful.
I looked above me, at the clouds in the sky, and instead of grayness, I saw beauty. It was blissful.

I saw where the Lord had taken me. It was to a place I hardly expected, to a ministry I never planned, to a state I had not even dreamed of. Truly, if we put our trust in Him, if we wait on Him, He will deliver us from our fears. I felt God's loving presence during my time of silence, and it was enough to bring me unabashed happiness.

The joy was overflowing that I shared it immediately with all the people I came into contact with. One friend commented that he had never seen me like that before. Another friend said that I had always been like that, and he was amazed.

If there was anyone who was surprised at this turn of events, it was I. For just last year I was filled with anxiety, depression, and fear. But after two weeks of rest, a few months of retreat, and a whole dose of love and support from friends and family, I felt strong enough to face the world again.

This is a preview of what is to come in 2009: a time of harvest. A time of peace, love, and joy. A time I had been waiting for for so long.

I stand amazed at you, Lord, for what You have done in my life. I have no words to express it.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Day of Prayer 2009

I couldn't start the New Year right without having a Day of Prayer to sit quietly listening to God's message for me for 2009, so I set aside some time for it, and invited my friends from the BNP Choir to join me.

We went to the UP Lagoon and brought packed lunch, leftovers from our New Year's party last night.  We prayed against rain and we were grateful that it was granted.  We had a cool, windy day, and a whole campus to ourselves.  Joggers ran around the Academic Oval, but not many people went to the theater/ lagoon area.  

We spent the first hour in praise and worship.  We sang and exercised our spiritual gifts.  That early, we already heard from the Lord, through Scripture passages that we shared to the group.  Then we contemplated creation, using our senses to appreciate God's love through our chosen part of creation.  After that we had our individual time of reflection, where we answered some questions about ourselves, our goals, and plans, and then read different verses that went around the theme of serving God through the talents and gifts that He had given us.

Then we had a lovely picnic, where we had more than enough food, before proceeding to our group sharing.  One by one, we shared what we heard, felt, and decided during our individual prayer time.

I reflected on John 15, and marveled at the simplicity of Jesus' call for me in 2009.  It is to be His friend, and to bear more fruit.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Dance 2009 in; Kiss 2008 Goodbye

I will remember 2008 as the year when I (in no particular order, as you will observe):

  1. Took the Retreat in Daily Life and met a new Spiritual Directress;
  2. Enrolled in a gym again and paid for a Personal Trainer;
  3. Bought my first Macbook;
  4. Reunited with a friend in need;
  5. Went to Cebu five times and to Davao two times, for work;
  6. Said goodbye to good friend and former spiritual director Fr. Geoffrey Coombe, mgl who went home to Australia;
  7. Played the piano again;
  8. Took a bold first step and did not regret it;
  9. Made Serendra/ Boni High Street my newest hangout; and
  10. Deepened my friendships with the people who mattered.
I am having the worst cramps ever so it's very difficult to write coherently.  But I thank God for the many lessons of the past year - in handling my finances, in relating to my parents, in performing at work, and in acting on my feelings.  It was a difficult year but I survived.

I do not know exactly what 2009 brings, but I approach it with hope that God has already gone before me and I only have to hold on to Him, and to never let go, so my steps will be sure.  He has allowed things to unfold so that I have work cut out for me, relationships defined for me, and challenges waiting for me.  I am not going to fuss over every detail; instead I will take it one day at a time and enjoy the ride.

After all, 2009 is the year when I will turn thirty-five. ;)

Now Playing: The Perfect Year

The Perfect Year
Andrew Lloyd Webber/
Dina Carroll

Ring out the old, bring in the new
A midnight wish to share with you
Your lips are warm, my head is light
Were we in love before tonight?

I don't need a crowded ballroom everything I need is here
If you're with me next year will be
The perfect year.

No need to hear the music play,
You eyes say all there is to say
The stars can fade and they can shine
'Long as your face is next to mine

I don't need a crowded ball room everything I need is here
If you're with me next year will be
The perfect year.

We don't need a crowded ballroom everything we need is here
If you're with me next year will be
The perfect year

It's New Year's Eve and hopes are high
Dance one year in, kiss one goodbye
Another chance, another start
So many dreams to tease the heart

We don't need a crowded ballroom everything we need is here
And face to face we will embrace
The perfect year
Oh, we don't need a crowded ballroom everything we need is here
And face to face we shall embrace
The perfect year
Ahh, the perfect year...