Back To School Quote:

"Outside your comfort zone is where growth happens."


For The Record,

After the family reunion at the property for 50 people,
I still made it to the 9 pm mass at the Oratory last night.

I was most grateful for:

-1 very successful and fun-filled weekend.
-all the hard work the men put in that made the place more fun.
-1 house that slept 22 out of the 50  people.
- 5 tents that kept 13 people out of the few hours of rain.
(including me! I conquered camping in the rain!)
-The wilderness environment (bear sounds) that woke 1 person up.
-Everyone's safety.
-The ability to be patient and as neutral as possible despite a couple of challenging personalities.
Truly only a couple. Out of 50, that is not bad. But human nature makes us linger on the few smudges even if most people were very pleasant and enjoyable.

Once we got home, I invited my family to come with me to church but I had no takers.
Before I left, I told Steve that I wanted to attend mass to give me insight on how to deal with human porcupines.
The homily was tailor made for what I was needing.
It didn't even seem related as the Gospel reading was about the Canaanite woman who asked Jesus to heal her sick daughter and then Jesus replied something like... how it is not right to give the children's food to the dogs and the woman replies, yes but even the dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall from the table...
The priest explained the history and the standing of the Canaanites, etc. But I was so surprised to hear that his bottom line was:
we are called "to be a witness" and to be loving towards everyone. 
He said this is hard to do around difficult people--especially when at times the annoying personalities are people we are related to!
(!!!!!! was he reading my mind??!)
What are the odds that he was somehow able to link that story to what I needed?
(yes, I know, Steve would say: 1 in 3)
He said although it is challenging, the Holy Spirit can and will help us.
We will be given the grace to answer God's call to be saints. Saints??!!
I will be the first one to say, no way.
But I can surely try my best.
Luckily I am not around difficult people very often.
And that is something I am thankful for.



Pronounced  "buy-uh-nee-hun," bayanihan is a Filipino word derived from the word 'bayan'  meaning town, nation, or community in general.
"Bayanihan" literally means, "being a bayan," and refers to a spirit of community and cooperation.
When people stop what they are doing to help build or move a house--that's called bayanihan.

Right now, Steve, his brother Tim and their friend Mike W are working on the property.
All three guys have taken off from their respective jobs and used a precious week of vacation to work on making the place more enjoyable for a family reunion that is going to take place there this coming Saturday.
Wiffle ball, anyone?
Ever since last friday they have been working non-stop wiring, digging, installing, creating, hanging, constructing, designing and implementing.
The amount of work they have put in is amazing.
They are amazing.
Then there's another friend Doug who has been using the tractor on...well... I am not exactly sure.
A guy named Dan who is a friend of Mike W, who I surprised one afternoon during a run.
I snuck up on him while he was chopping firewood.
And an eccentric neighbor Pete (whom I have not yet met) he mowed vast opened fields for us,
just because.

Who knew that the Bayanihan spirit was alive and well in the bowels of Mahaffey?
DZ and JB and family visited the prop last weekend.



A random Lady Gaga day
Singing for a crowd.
In a dress she made out of duct tape and wore to a school dance.
There is a price to pay for this kind of wiring.

Last night I was settling in for bed when G called out:
"nanay, (that's mom in tagalog)...I accidentally pierced my ear."
She had always wanted a third ear piercing.
Steve said he would take her but just never got the chance to do it.
So she took matters into her own hands and used an old earring from those ear piercing places at the mall--and gave herself a third hole.
I guess when she said "accidentally" she meant, she didn't think that she would be successful--
and not that she tripped and fell onto an earring that pierced her ear.

I felt a bit queasy after I heard what she did. (I kind of freaked out)
I asked her if by chance she happened to disinfect that earring before she decided to pierce herself, and she said: "noooooo."
Then with a straight face she said that she was going to pray that her new self inflicted hole would not get infected.
I agreed but added that in tandem with prayer, she should keep the freshly pierced area clean with alcohol.
She asked me, "with vodka!?"
With clenched teeth I responded, "No, Isopropyl Alcohol."

K comforted me: "Nanay, do not act as if it is already infected. We don't know if it will happen. Calm down."


Robin Williams' Death

I was jolted by the death of Robin Williams.
A depressed comedian.
A sad entertainer.
A creative person uninspired to keep on living.
Depression can cause substance abuse and substance abuse can cause depression.
Depression and substance abuse together, can make people do impulsive things to attempt to remove pain.
Although I won't claim to know exactly how this feels,
I get it.

I feel for him and for his family.


A Letter I Sent At 11 PM To Someone I Care About

So here are some ideas that I would like you to ponder:

What God wants is very simple. 
God wants us to believe that Jesus is the son of God.
I never really understood what that all meant until this year.
Historically, before Jesus came, people routinely sacrificed animals as a peace offering when they wanted to be forgiven for their sins. But God decided to end that practice by sending his son Jesus to become a man and to become the ultimate sacrifice by dying on a cross.
He did this to bridge the relationship between God and man.
(Kind of extreme, but He is God and He can do whatever he wants. I guess you have to research on how people were thousands of years ago to get it) 
Did God create Jesus? I am not sure.  
All I know is that God somehow spliced Himself into three Holy parts.
I think God was tired of the fact that the people He created and gave free will to, became out of control. 
But instead of just offing everyone and starting from scratch-- He came up with a scheme to draw people back to 
Him through their belief in Jesus, and their choice to become Jesus' followers.
God said that Jesus will come back during the end of the world to judge everyone. (living or dead)
But the time is now to turn to God through Jesus.
While we are alive.
After Jesus died and then rose again--God sent the Holy Spirit to everyone who believes that Jesus is the son of God. 
The Holy Spirit helps people follow Jesus.

When we pray and turn to him, God becomes pleased. 
He likes us to depend on him. 
So if you find yourself praying only when the going gets tough--know that you have created a relationship with God that is only existent during times of trouble.
So remember to pray not only during the lows but during the highs too. 
Because I am beginning to think that God tends to give us whatever will keep us in a close relationship with Him.

God listens to all prayers, but seems to respond much quicker to people who do not bear grudges or who have forgiven others. 
The prayers of good people seem to get fast tracked. 
So be loving. Be forgiving. 
Have faith that He hears your prayers and responds all the time.
All the time.  
When you don't get what you pray for, it must not be His will for you because if it was, you would have gotten it.
You just have to ask, and namedrop Jesus' name while you are at it.
You always get what you pray for if it is His will for you. 

Why is it that some "obviously bad" people get away with murder?
Well first, judge not and be not judged. 
Second, never assume to know the whole story.
And third--let's just say you are not judging but merely observing obviously evil actions (like well, murder or stealing or slander or adultery...)
know that it is not your place to see to it that they get what they deserve-- It is God's decision. 
You never know when and how God chooses to call or teach every person He created. 
Remove your irritation and/or focus on that person.
It's not your business.
Focus on the good that is around you.

How do you "follow Jesus" when there are people in your life that you don't care for?
Co-workers, road-rage strangers, relatives, neighbors, frenemies, negative people you are exposed to?
Do not take anything personally.
Love them anyway. And if that is too difficult, work on being neutral.
Pray for them and if you can't do that--pray for yourself.
Ask that the Holy Spirit helps you be patient and kind.
Each time you conquer the urge to lash out or withhold love, you lift your own spirit.
You experience peace.

When you mess up, God always forgives when you confess it.
He knows what you've done anyway, so you may as well be honest.
When you confess, He also knows if you are really sorry.
He will help you lead a truly Christ-centered life if you ask for help.
The Holy spirit will help. 
I have experienced this firsthand.

God wants us to glorify Him.
Use your life on earth to lead people to God. 
Is God's presence in your life obvious?
Examine how you live and work on moving towards a life that is an advertisement for God.
Be healthy. (monitor what you consume, not just physically but also mentally)
Commit to a daily prayer time. Read your bible. 
Clean up your language and your thoughts.
Purify your motives for success.
Be productive.
Control your tongue.

Have faith.
God is with you.
Experience the peace that a God-centered life can bring you.
Pray all the time, thanking Him for everything with a grateful heart.

When you suffer, know that it will not last forever.
Use your suffering to bring you closer to God.
It will pass.

God wants us to be happy.


Upward Facing Dog


Sometimes You Get Answers Immediately, Other Times You Have to Wait Eight Years.

In 2006, we went on a extended-family (Steve's family) vacation to the Outer Banks.
Everyone went except for our eldest niece.
She was then entering high school and wanted to try out for the volleyball team.
The try-outs coincided with our week of vacation.
When I first found out that N was not going, I remember feeling confused about why volleyball trumped the family vacation.
Also, I was sad she was not going, since I was kind of close to her.
I also felt so removed from the possibility that one day, my own child's desires may not jive with my idea of what is best. (I did not know that was even possible.)

Now that I am a mother to a teenager, I suddenly get why N's parents allowed her to skip the family vacation in order to try out for volleyball.
They were allowing her to hatch a bit in preparation for an independent life in the future.
While she did not end up playing high school volleyball, she did grow up to be a mature adult,  ready for a life on her own. (She just graduated from college)
Only now am I realizing how important it was for her parents to listen to her and to support her aspirations.
I wonder if N appreciates that? (I must ask her)

Eight years later, K, entering her sophomore year of high school has decided to quit running for the cross-country team.
Despite the fact that I associate running with mental health, we have been supportive about this decision.
She says that she enjoys running but hated having to run.
Ever since she quit she seems to be a happier person.
I get that.
I wonder if K will appreciate our efforts to force her into certain things (like piano, the scholarship pageant) and our support of her decision to quit XC?

Today I took K to her first day of high school tennis.


The Migrant Workers of Qatar

I get swept away by the everyday concerns that are right in front of me.
Being back home from vacation, I was bracing myself for the incoming school year and other issues concerning the life of my family when something else hooked me before going to bed last night.

The plight of the migrant laborers in Qatar who are working on building the venue for the FIFA World Cup for 2022.
People from the poorest countries in South Asia are lured to work in Qatar with the promise of decent wages.
Unfortunately due to a corrupt, dishonest, and an uncaring system-
workers end up becoming modern day slaves, living in unbelievably horrendous conditions that they can not just walk away from  (their passports are immediately sequestered upon arrival).
Super poor people, just trying to improve their life and support their families--are not getting the deal they signed up for.
And there seems to be no end in sight.

Google it and find out for yourself.
It seems so hopeless and helpless, I find myself thinking of them and being embarrassed about the things that concern me on a daily basis.
How can I even pray for my small life and my "discomfort" and worry when I read and watch documentaries about real human suffering?
While God is powerful enough to listen to the entire universe's prayers--
I feel sheepish about the concerns of my heart.

(Will edit this when I get to a computer.
I grabbed my cell phone to write this right after I finished praying and reading Romans chapters 8-12 this morning.)


Sisterly Bonding