When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means… My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.
If we want to be more like God, shouldn’t we be as forgiving as Him too?
Whenever we pray “Or Father” and say, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those trespass against us,” it’s not about Him forgiving us like how we do. Instead, He is inviting us to participate in the gift of forgiveness. He is inviting us to forgive as He does. Think about it. If God can tolerate my mistakes, shouldn’t I also tolerate the mistakes of others? if God can overlook my mistakes, shouldn’t I also overlook other people’s errors? If God welcomes me as His loving daughter despite all my sins and failures, shouldn’t I extend the same grace to others?
People often say, “it is not fair. He does not deserve to be forgiven.” But, no one who has offended another deserves forgiveness from the one they offended. It is not a right to be forgiven. Rather, it is a gift from the offended to the offender. We forgive not because the offender deserves our forgiveness but because we have been forgiven incomparably more by God whom we have all offended.
God’s main reason for forgiving us is not to absolve us from our sins or cancel our debts, it is to love us and show us His mercy. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is more of an opportunity to experience the unconditional love of the Prodigal Father, who lavishly and readily pours out His mercy, love and forgiveness onto us, even if we feel we may not deserve it, especially when we seem to be repeating the same old sins time and again. Moreover, after feeling His abundant and loving mercy, we would also start to find the strength and grace to forgive those who may have hurt or trespassed against us. We would be so touched by His mercy that we would forgive not simply because the bible tells us so but more so out of the love we have received from God which allows us to offer the same love to others.
Photo credit: Knights and Dames
Actually, the ability to forgive is not a very distant concept from us. It is already within our hearts because God has been giving His mercy and forgiveness (together with grace and love) to us ever since we were born into this world. Nonetheless, as humans, just as we had to learn to love, we also need to learn to forgive. We always say, “forgive and forget” but we usually only forgive but not really forget. According to Mother Teresa, we need both to truly forgive others. She said, we need love to forgive and humility to forget in order to do so like God. Loving, hence forgiving is easy. Its easy to love people, especially family and friends, hence making them easier to forgive. Indeed, when people say, “I’m sorry.” We readily say, “it’s okay. Apology accepted.” Am I right?
But, according to Mother Teresa, unless we forget, we have not fully forgiven. In fact, when we don’t forget, that’s how we hurt each other because we would bring the issue up again when another thing happens. Hence, nor forgetting results in not fully forgiving and as long as we remember, the issue would continue to hunt and burden us. Hence, in order for us to forget, we need to have humility and accept the fact that people are not perfect and we would always make mistakes.
This Lent, let us first learn to seek the Father’s forgiveness not simply out of fear for punishment, but rather in response to the generous love and mercy He wishes to pour into our hearts. Subsequently, we can be more able to not only “cancel the debts” of our brothers and sisters in Christ, but also to become more like Christ in offering others His love and mercy.
Praying is the most important deed for us to get closer to God. Praying is us communicating with God. It’s us sending our earthly thoughts to heaven above.
Sometimes, some people say, “but I am not sure of what to say.” Nevertheless, praying is not about the words you say or how you say it. God already knows what we what’s bothering us, what we want, and what we need. Some people say, “but all I have are worries and complains.” Nonetheless, say it out and offer them up still. You see, God is and will always be bigger than all our doubts and fears.
Prayer is not so much about what you’re praying for. He’s God. He can do anything He wills. It’s a matter of putting our trust in him. Soren Kierkegaard said, “Prayer doesn’t change God. It changes the person who prays.” The thing is, when we decide to pray, we recognise that He is God and we are merely His children. When we pray, we are professing our faith in the most honest and true sense of the word. We are admitting that He IS God. That we believe that He can handle anything. That whatever we need is beyond our human capacity and He is the only one who can fulfill things. Putting our hands in prayer is akin to bowing our heads to our God, lifting up our human inadequacies, and letting go and letting God. Remember when people say, “Ask and thou shall receive.” Yes, God will provide what we ask but first, we need to ask.
That said, praying also calls for meditation. Imagine having a friend confide to you about their problem yet refusing to listen to the advice you’d have to say. Same thing goes for God. When we ask our Father to take care of things, we need to allow His Holy Spirit to guide us through our thoughts, words, and actions. Sometimes, we keep on praying but complain that He isn’t answering our prayers. But, did we ever stop and think that maybe it is us who aren’t listening? Perhaps, it is already out there but we are just not looking. Henceforth, after pouring ourselves to Him and asking for His help, we need to sit down and listen. Listen to His words of love, affirmation and encouragement. Listen to the lessons He want us to learn, the path He wants us to take, or a new plan He wants us to follow. Listen to His words of wisdom and enlightenment. Because when we ask for something, He’d surely have blessings to provide as well. Perhaps it is not what we asked for or not when we asked for it, but it’s His blessing still, with a purpose bigger than ours. The question is, are our hearts and minds truly willing to achieve them?
So, recently, I’ve been praying to God to help me see, feel, and listen to the Holy Spirit more easily.
Well, I’m proud to say, that I have been more in tune with His voice and guidance. I have been finding it easier to hear words of encourage when I’m feeling anxious and doubtful. Plus, once in a while, when I need to make some decisions, big or small, I would suddenly hear some bible verses out of nowhere.
Nonetheless, I prayed for more. I mean, He’s the loving omnipotent God. If we ask Him to flood us with blessings, He’ll (supposedly) bless us abundantly indeed! Am I right?
So, this afternoon, during my bus ride, a middle-aged man sat beside me. He was wearing a white shirt and was trying sooo hard to fix his tie. Guess what?!? I couldn’t help but notice that the diagonal patter on his tie says the words “Holy Spirit” repeated numerous times!!! Coincidence, much?
With such an obvious sign, I just couldn’t resist striking a conversation. Hence, I offered to help him with his tie, then I assured him that the tie’s all fixed and he looks good. Apparently, he’s on the way for evening mass at the Church of the Holy Spirit. So, I guess he’s an usher in the church — that explains the tie. Haha! So, within a span of 5 – 8 bus stops, I found out that he’s single, he helps out in RCIA, and he teaches Sec 2 catechism. He even offered me to try it out, esp because he’s church is short of catechist. I said, I’ll check it out. As usual, I didn’t get his name but, well, let’s call him Mr Holy-Spirit-Tie.
After Mr Holy-Spirit-Tie alighted, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself and think what a comedian God is! A dark red tie with “Holy Spirit” “Holy Spirit” written over and over again? Really?! That’s a freakin’ funny sense of humour, big guy! hahaha 😀
Okay. Fine. Message received, Sir!
PS: Thanks! (:
Photo Credit: jesus-generation
So, I wrote this quote on my friend Fritzie’s wall a few monthsss back to encourage and affirm her. Guess what? On friday (my birthday) Fritzie tagged me on this post that her friend posted, quoting me! I was so shocked! Imagine! My wall post inspired and touched Natalie such that she felt the urge to share it and again, inspire at least 15 of her other friends along they way. I need to add that Natalie is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan and she met Fritzie when she previously came as an exchange student in Singapore.
How powerful can a few kind intention and modern communication channels are, huh? How far these thoughts of encouragement have reached! I am not even gonna start on how long ago Kubler-Ross wrote this. And the wonderful thing is how my intention have pervaded time, distance, continents, and have gone one full circle and returned back to me. What goes around really does come back around, huh?
It was even more special to find out about it on my birthday, on top of so many birthday greetings I have received. I believe that it was God affirming me and showing me His love, a thing I’ve been praying for. It was like the whole universe was conspiring to tell me how much the world appreciates having me around. All those greetings, especially this post, affirmed me that my actions can make a difference in the world. It seemed like He was showing me the people who I have touched in one way or another and the potential I had if I were to do more with what I have.
And, it reminded me of Matthew 5:13-16,
13 ‘You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, what can make it salty again? It is good for nothing, and can only be thrown out to be trampled under people’s feet.
14 ‘You are light for the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden.
15 No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house.
16 In the same way your light must shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven.
And, it hit me. To at least try and pay Jesus back for all the things He gave me and glorify His name, I need to spread the love (more) and shine my light. I need to stop hiding, questioning myself, and diminishing my value. I need to make myself “salty” and spice things up. I am God’s daughter and he created me to be a light for the world. So, this little light of my life, I’m gonna make it shine. (:
It was a long day of fun-filled adventures today! Little India food tripping, board games shopping, board games playing (duh?!) and bridge, and visiting the magical world of Incanto! 🙂
However, at the end of the day, I was super exhausted that I was just begging for a chance to sit on my way home. Unfortunately, as everyone rushes home, the train was super crowded so I had to stand. Hence, I stood in the middle of the carriage, between the rows of seats, in anticipation of someone alighting soon.
Fortunately, a few stops later, a couple in front of me alighted. However, instead of sitting down, I offered it to a 55-year old lady who was carrying a couple of bags. She sheepishly sat and continued to offer me the other seat. I said, “It’s okay. Seems like other people are more tired than me anyway.” Within a split second, other people simply took the seat.
The lady, then told me and my friend, “Next time you want to buy health supplements, come to my shop at Novena Gardens.” She fumbled around for some brochures and continued to explain to us what she sells. In the middle of a crowded train on long tiring weekday, I bet people were judging us and wondering why two young people are talking so loudly with an auntie. Nonetheless, I continued talking to her, engaging her in the conversation. I asked for her name (Ruth) and she asked me mine. I even asked whether she’s in the shop everyday so that I can bring my mom to “see-see.” It was heart-warming to see her excitedly talking about the products she sells as though it was the beginning of her day and I was her first customer. (Remember, we are still in the middle of the train at 1030pm).
Eventually, she told me, “I don’t offer this to everyone but since you have such a good heart and you let me sit, when you come and visit, I give you 15% discount, ok? Actually now got discount but if next time you come, I give you my member discount and points.” In addition, she shared to me how she like selling the health products (because she used it previously too) . She said, “now, that I’m 55 (that’s how I got her age), I want to help young people especially good-hearted ones like you to take care before it’s too late. Before your body pain here there, must take care, ok?”
Isn’t that just so touching? It didn’t take too much effort for me to offer a seat, neither did it take her too much effort to offer a discount. Yet, the act of charity was exhibited there and then, between two strangers, in the fullest sense of the word.
Then, when we finally reached my destination, I told her, “I have to go now but see you okay? You take care. (big smile)” And, she said, “You too. God bless! (even bigger smile)” <—goosebumps moment right there!!!
Then, as I walk out the train doors, a huge wave of relief and happiness filled me.
Learning from the prayer of Jabez (1 Chronicles 4:10), I have been asking Him to “expand my territory.” In other words, I was asking him to send me someone who needs my help every now and then so that I can spread His love and glorify His name.
And, as I walk away, I knew that was my prayer being granted. That was Him blessing me with a “territory.” And, looking back, He has been giving me someone to help (or touch their lives) in the simplest smallest ways, every single day this week.
Today, as that woman told me “God bless,” I knew that it was God himself blessing me at that point in time. Amen. (:
Photo Credits: cleanheartsyou
Always keep your arms wide open and welcome people as they walk into you life.
Some people may only walk in once and stay forever. Open your arms and hug them and never let them go. They will be with you through good times and bad. Keep your arms wide open to always be ready to receive and give much love.
Some people may walk into your life momentarily and then, leave forever. Open your arms. You’d want to experience their purpose in your life so let them. Similarly, give them as much love as you can. Open your arms and hug them before they go out of your life. That’s the best souvenir or token of appreciation for someone who ain’t coming back.
Some people may just be on the sidelines. Open up your arms such that it says, “Welcome! Please come in.” Hoping one day they will so that they can also experience your love. Otherwise, it’s just always nice to let people know that love is all around.
Some people may walk in and out of your life. Open your arms and continue loving them still. They might have fallen along the way due to some heavy burden. They need no judgment or persecution but your understanding and love. Give them the benefit of the doubt and be welcoming. Realise that there might be something about you that keeps drawing them back.
Sometimes, you may feel like a swinging door with people constantly walking in and out of your life that it starts to hurt. Keep your arms wide open still. Love was not meant to be easily angered. It perseveres. Even the sinners love those who love them, but only the children of God can turn the other cheek and continue to love those who’ve hurt, crushed, and trampled on one’s heart. Love was not meant to be measured. You just give all you have in hopes of receiving them back too.
So, keep your arms wide open for anytime someone would need them.
Photo Credit: thisisdiana
“As it is, these remain: faith, hope and charity, the three of them; and the greatest of them is charity.” – 1 Corinthians 13
Subsequently, “believing in charity calls forth charity.” If one really believes in God, it should manifest in their actions. Their actions should show love and grace just as how He loves us. “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us” (1 Jn 4:16), I observed that “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction … Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere ‘command’; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us” (Deus Caritas Est, 1).
And, if we are able to give charity to everyone and anyone around us, that is the greatest work of evangelization. No words and preaching can be much stronger than actually extending out charity to spread His love and glorify His name. We need to continuously reach out to those who continue to grow in faith, to those who yet to accept the faith, and to those who are distanced from the faith and the church. Set your life as an example. Open up to those who feel left out. Understand those who need support. Listen to those crying on their own. And with every act of charity we commit, we improve upon the faith of the church but within us and beyond us. Isn’t that just wonderful?
To spread charity, we need to things: to stay connected to the church and to be courageous and bold.
If you think you are not ready yet, perhaps, it is time to strengthen your relationship with God. Because if you truly open up to Him and establish a close relationship with Him, I’m certain that you will be so touched that you would want to share the good news with others. You would want others to experience what you have. You would want others to feel His mercy, love and grace too.
Now, it will be scary so you have to be bold. People will question you. You will be like sheep being sent to the wolves. But, spread the good news of the Lord either way. As written in Sirach 34:16, “Those who fear the Lord will not be timid.”
Photo Credit: Prowriting Aid
Recently, I have been changing my eating habits.
Nope. I don’t mean changing what I eat but, rather, how I eat my food.
You see, previously, I usually eat my food while watching tv. I mean, it’s my break time and what better company to have than Sheldon Cooper or Jessica Day, right? Plus, Max’s cupcakes in 2 Broke Girls can be such an awesome dessert treat too!
But, now, I’m trying to remember that food is a blessing and learn that it should be consumed without distractions.
After all, each and every one of our meal is a blessing from God. Every moment moment we pray “Give us today our daily bread,” that’s what we were asking for. Shouldn’t we give it its much-deserved respect now that we’ve received it?
Indeed, before our meals, we always pray, “Bless us Oh Lord, and these thy food, which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, through Christ, Our Lord.” We not only asked for Him to bless the food but to bless ourselves too! Plus, praying is not just in the words but in our actions. How can we show that we appreciate the food if we only treat it as a side-dish for an activity? How can we fully absorb all the blessings we wish for if we are too busy laughing at some joke on tv? or studying some concept? or reading some book?
If you want some company, seek for the company of some family and friends. Share His gift with others. For all we now, the blessing we ought to receive from our food is much more than the nutrients it provides. Maybe, the time we eat it and share the meal with our family and friends is part of the blessing too. Eating meals may be meant to bring us all together. God always loved feasting with the apostles, the laity and even the tax-collectors. Perhaps, we should aim to do the same.
Henceforth, the next time you eat, close that book, shut down the computer and turn the tv off. Give your meal its much-deserved respect and attention. (:
Photo Credit: Etsy
Of the Holy Trinity, I believe that the Holy Spirit is an entity that needs more credit for His work.
I mean, He is part of the holy trinity who is always with us. He is our constant companion. He is the one who enables us to recognize God and His presence in our lives. He is the one who helps us through times of difficulties. He is the one who tries to direct us away from sins and grievous mistakes. He is the one who equips us with courage and strength.
Even when we don’t understand the Father’s power or the Son’s sacrifice, He is the one who never leaves us on our own. Even on days when we don’t see ourselves in the image of God, at least realise that the Holy Spirit is that little piece of God within us. That even in our darkest days, there is hope; we are not alone because He is with us. He is within us. He is a part of us. We can choose not to listen to Him but His voice will always resonate in the deepest recesses of our souls. Even when we feel like heaven’s too far or the world’s too damaged, by remembering that the Holy Spirit is within everyone around us, isn’t that like a little piece of heaven on earth as well?
Well, at least He can do all that. The question is, do we allow Him to? Do we welcome Him into our daily lives? Do we let Him dwell and grow well in us?
Knowing that we have the Holy Spirit within us, having God always a part of us, how do we take care of Him? “Do you not know that you are the Temple of God, and that The Spirit of God dwells within you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) And, if we really value the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t we keep our body pristine and pure? We should try our best not to damage it. This goes from eating healthily, exercising, not smoking, not cursing, to not using our body as an instrument for gossiping or lustful activities. Would you want your Father to feel unwelcomed in the body of his own creation? Would you want your Father to be living in a rubbish dump filled with garbage, bad thought, and malicious acts? Instead, we should aim to make our body worthy of a place where God can reside. We should ensure that our body is always ready to accept and welcome him. We should be able to hear Him while He should be able to do His miraculous works in us.
To strengthen our relationship with God, we need to learn how to communicate and channel the Holy Spirit more. I mean, He’s already within us. How difficult can it be, right? With just a little more prayer and meditation, we can stir a stronger relationship with the Holy Spirit within us. We can ask Him and allow Him to always guide our thoughts, words, and deeds. Let Him always be is our conscience, our morale compass, our inner light.
Photo credit: All Voices
It’s so inspiring to be surrounded by stable loving couples with a God-centric relationship. Not only does it show that it’s possible, it’s also shows that putting God as the foundation of your relationship makes it that much stronger.
I used to like “bad guys” because I thought they’re the ones “with balls” and be more able to protect you. But I’ve been realising that God’s our protector and having a God-loving guy with God in his side would be the greatest coolest thing ever. So, find a man who loves God before he even knows that you exist. A man who falls to his knees, with tears in his eyes and hands held high, without a care to the world watching him. A man who knows that God is the best foundation in your relationship. A relationship that brings you each other closer to Him.
Imagine! The man who loves Jesus will respect you. He’ll pursue you and treasure you. He won’t pressure you or control you, but gently walk beside you and lead you. He will appreciate you as the gift and beauty you are, and remind you of it every day. He will worship with you. He’ll pray for you and pray with you. He will lead you with strong hands, stand up when you can’t, but remind you that God will always be there. That would be an everyday reminder that God loves us! Since he learned how to love from God, he’d love you according to 1 Corinthians 13. He would love you as God loved us. He’d draw his love from God and that love would be genuine and overflowing. He’d offer your love to God by spreading it to others, especially your children. God is love – that’s where love should begin and end.
Easier said than done huh? To begin with, how do we even find such a person? Imagine when you’re in a dance, what do you do to finally get that perfect dance? Would you dance around in search for the one? How tiring that might be! According to my friend, dance with God instead. Spend your time getting to know Him. Some people may approach and ask for your hand along the way. But, with God there, He’d ward off the “wrong boys” until the right one comes along. Then, He’d let him cut in and take your hand. Subsequently, you’d always put God in the middle of the relationship and always run to Him, for good times and bad. Together, you’d fulfill God’s purpose and do things that glorifies His name. Isn’t that a wonderful love story to tell your future children and the world? (:
Henceforth… for now, until further notice, God is my boyfriend. (:
Photo credits: Alycia Teo