Sigrid Undset Once Said,

And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans–and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused–and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.

tumblr_my9bshuAUM1qb4hv5o1_500Photo Credit to fairycandles

Merry Christmas, everyone! (:

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Brennan Manning Once Said,

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.

– Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
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Micah J. Murray Once Said,

I worry that saying ‘Be like Jesus! He’s cool cuz He hung out with sinners!’ actually ostracizes ‘sinners’. He never labeled them as such. It was disapproving religious folk who said Jesus was a friend of sinners. They were insulting Jesus by lumping him with ‘dirty people’. If we feel good about ourselves because we hang out with ‘sinners’, we’re elevating ourselves in a Pharisaical hierarchy. Jesus didn’t tell us to love sinners. He told us to love our neighbors [and our enemies]. So no, don’t ‘be like Jesus who hung out with prostitutes and drunkards’. Be like Jesus who saw people as names and faces and stories, not sins. When religious people point at you and say ‘Don’t you know this woman has a past?’, Jesus smiles and says ‘I know she has a future.’

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Our crosses

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“Why should it frighten you that you cannot bear His Cross without weakening? On the way to Calvary Jesus fell three times; and you, a poor little child, would not be like your Spouse, would not fall a hundred times, if need be, to prove Him your love by rising up again with greater strength than before your fall.”

-St Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

Knowing God

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Photo credit: /foolme

When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him. And, in fact, He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others—not because He has favourites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition. Just as sunlight, though it has no favourites, cannot be reflected in a dusty mirror as clearly as in a clean one.

– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

 

Prayer for Faith, Hope, and Charity

Faith, Hope, and Charity are the three supernatural virtues.

They are called “supernatural” or “theological” because they have their foundation in God, and are directly related to God, and are the way by which us men can reach God directly. As bestowed by God, theses are genuine powers that a person can develop and consolidate with the grace of God so as to obtain “the abundant life.”

An Act of Faith

Faith is the power by which we assent to God, acknowledge His truth, and commit ourselves personally to Him.

“O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine Person, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; I believe that Thy Divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived. Amen.”

An Act of Hope

Hope is the power by which we firmly and constantly long for what we were placed on the earth to do: to praise God and serve Him; and for our true happiness, which is finding our fulfillment in God; and for our final home in God.

“O my God, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.”

An Act of Charity (Love)

Charity is the power by which we, who have been loved first by God, can give ourselves to God so as to be united with Him and can accept our neighbour for God’s sake as unconditionally and sincerely as we accept ourselves.

“O my God, I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured. Amen.”

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Photo credit: harmonyandblissjewelry

Forgive and Forget

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.

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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.

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Prayer for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

“O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven,
did promise to send the Holy Ghost to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples,
deign to grant the same Holy Spirit to me
that He may perfect in my soul the work of Your grace and Your love.

Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom, that I may despise the perishable things of this world
and aspire only after the things that are eternal;
the Spirit of Understanding, to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth;
the Spirit of Counsel, that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven;
the Spirit of Fortitude, that I may bear my cross with You
and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation;
the Spirit of Knowledge, that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints;
the Spirit of Piety, that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable;
the Spirit of Fear, that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him.

Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples
and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.”

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Photo credit: shalala-love

Talking to God

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?

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How Alycia met God at the salon.

Meeting God does not have to be explicit nor grand. In fact, He is with us everyday everywhere all the time. We can meet Him anytime anywhere, even during our daily experiences, if we open your heart and mind to that wonderful possibility.

Today, I’d like to share how my friend, Alycia, met God at the salon.

All the words from here on, will be according to how Aly told the story on her facebook photo album. Enjoy! 🙂

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This was inspired by our friend, Christine, who said that she offered up her seminar as a prayer.
It made me think of how I could offer my hairdressing experience as a prayer.

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I, Alycia, have been thinking of doing something to my hair for a long time.
I knew the change would be good, but I never got the courage to do it.

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Thankfully, I had friends who encouraged me to make the change.
Some friends said, “Go for it.”
One friend even said, “But you’re someone who will never do it.”
Though some of them had not intended to encourage me,
the things they said gave me the courage to make the change.

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This is May, my hairdresser.
I’ve never seen her before.
And even though she’s the hairdresser, which means she knows her stuff,
I found it difficult to trust her.
I was scared that I would walk out of the salon with a silly-looking hairstyle.

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May went on to cut my hair and added some highlights to my fringe.
She told me she would continue cutting my hair after the dye had set.
But I grew worried.
It was a work in process, and it looked terrible when incomplete.

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May set the timer for the dye to set, and walked away,
giving me some time alone.
During that period, I had some silence to reflect and think.

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When the timer beeped,
May returned and brought me to the sink to get my hair washed.
It felt refreshing.

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After the washing, we went back to the seat,
and when she finished drying my hair, the cutting continued.
I began to see that things were looking brighter,
and it gave me hope.

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When she was done, I looked in the mirror and
the change was much better than I had expected.
I never thought that I would make this change, but I did.
Happy with my new look, I quickly found my friends to show it to them and they shared my joy. 

I made this change, thanks to my friends and May.

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Well, I’d have to tell you the story from the beginning again.

As I sat in the chair in the salon wondering how I could offer my hairdressing experience as a prayer,
I realised how it reflected my journey to be a better person.

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I know I’m a person of many sinful ways, and I really want to be a better person.
But sometimes, there’s some inertia.
I don’t have the courage or will to make the change,
even though I know it’d be good.

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Along the way, friends encourage me.
Some friends patiently urged me to continue trying, even if I fail at times.
Some may use “tough love”.
But I am encouraged, nonetheless, to make the change,
and I saw that the change would be good.

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I realised that God was my hairdresser in life.
He knew better than I do about my paths, my future, which road is the best for me.
But sometimes I don’t trust Him, because it means giving up the stirring wheel in my life.
I was scared to do certain things, like giving up my pride and selfishness.

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On the road to being a better person, I have to remove things in my life.
This is the most painful part for me.
For example, once, my friends told me off, and it really hurt.
But the change was incomplete.
It was difficult to see the end- how I would be a much better person,
and that my friendships with my friends would improve.

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Sometimes, God gives me time to reflect, to get over the hurts and pains in my life.
He’s always nearby, like May was in the salon,
but He knew I needed time alone to give me the opportunity to grow.

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During the process, I often cried.
It was part of the healing.
Even though it was painful at times, these tears helped me heal.
It was refreshing, in a way.

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Over time, the hurts and pains diminished.
God would continue with the final touches, slight adjustments and tweaks to make me who He created me to be.
Things began to look hopeful, and I saw that it was good.

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It takes a long time to overcome each sin,
and I’m still struggling with my sins today.
But I know, that I am a much better person than I was years ago.
I can see the change in myself, and so can my friends,
and they share my joy.


I am a new person today, because of my friends, and more importantly, because of God. (:

God and His sense of humour

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! (:

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Photo Credit: jesus-generation

My 24th birthday candle

 

Natalie Langenderfer

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. (: