Sharing this prayer I’ve learned from Redemptorist church when I was young while joining Nanay (grandma) to her Wednesday devotions. Been praying this ever since.
December 16, 2021 was a day we will never forget.
One of the strongest typhoon hit Cebu province and nearby islands. Philippines is no stranger to typhoons, there are about 40 storms passing every year. And Odette has been the most destructive event since 2013 with Yolanda (typhoon Haiyan).
Odette was internationally known as Super typhoon Rai. It brought violent winds that destroy buildings and infrastructures, knocked down posts and uprooted trees. I personally witnessed the strong winds rampaging our compound and we could hear the howling, roof flying and tiles being thrown around.
In my calendar, I marked that day, it was Thursday. We were supposed to close the store in the usual hour – 10pm. But due to the scary weather forecast, we are forced to close by 3pm. I remember clearly that the wind started to become stronger around 5-6pm. The peak was around 7-8pm and electricity was out by 9pm.
I have not seen such catastrophe and it’s like we were brought down to our knees to beg God for mercy. Thankfully, there was minimal damage in our property. But problems persist due to electricity outage. We lived through 6-7 weeks of no light. Water was also scarce, there was long queue in gasoline and water refilling stations everywhere. As if a doomsday scenario, and no this is not an exaggeration.
We witnessed first hand the wrath of Odette and it changed our perspective in life. Due to lack of water, we cherished every drop and bathed using one pail each. Signal was very bad and I wasn’t able to contact my family in Manila for the first 3 days. We lived one day at a time, everything was a challenge including cooking. That prompted me to try intermittent fasting. The inconveniences were too much, many people lost their houses and worst their loved ones.
Still grateful for the people who checked on us and some even offered to send help, I remember them all. My recollection especially during struggles and emotional incidents is at its height. Wishing to repay them someday. Kindness really is contagious.
Months after, and nightmare is almost forgotten but the lessons I’ve learned and the experiences are etched in my memory. I thank the Lord for all of these and for thriving with only our faith as lifeline.
VIA Character Strengths
In my Positive Psychology class by University of Pennsylvania, we are asked to take the VIA Character Strengths. Unlike the popular MBTI, this test is about character, our signature strengths. If you are curious to take it, link is here. It is free with a payment option for extra features.
Big 5 Character Traits
Allow me to share the results of mine –
According to VIA Survey:
- Spirituality (transcendence) – having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.
- Honesty (courage) – speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one’s feelings and actions.
- Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence (transcendence) – noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience
- Fairness (justice) – treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance.
- Curiosity(wisdom) – taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating, exploring and discovering.
Remember that there’s no right or wrong answer. And your character strengths are key elements to living an authentic and meaningful life. Research shows that people who use their strengths are 18 times more likely to be flourishing than those who do not. By knowing and using your characters can help you be happier and more confident, improve areas in your life (relationships), and manage problems and stress.
- Psychology Today
- VIA Character Survey
- Positive Psychology by Prof. Martin Seligman (Father of Positive Psychology – University of Pennsylvania)
A few weeks after typhoon Odette struck Cebu, I’d like to share this prayer that gives hope, strength and peace in times of difficulty.
And here’s the short and my favorite version…
I’ve faced criticisms my entire life. Prior to taking Psychology, I’m already curious about dealing with people – particularly “difficult” people.
But beyond and above scientific knowledge and strategies is the grace and word of God.
Let me share this with you, this has helped me a lot…
Caring for what others think of you stops us from doing God’s will. You’ll be distracted, occupied and worst be frozen in fear.
I want to also remind you that there are mean people in this world. (a.k.a. haters) Don’t allow people to hurt you with negative words toward you. Their words are irrelevant. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God thinks good thoughts about you so think good thoughts about yourself as well.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14 NIV
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
Do not judge or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2 NIV
It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the Lord, you are safe. Proverbs 29:25
The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7
Why do you confuse yourselves by worrying? Leave the care of your affairs to me and everything will be peaceful.
I say to you in truth that every act of true, blind, complete surrender to me produces the effect that you desire and resolves all difficult situations… A thousand prayers do not equal one act of abandonment; don’t ever forget it. There is no better novena than this:
O Jesus, I abandon myself to you. Jesus, you take over.
I finished reading a book – “When Bad things happen to Good People.”(1)
In our lifetime, we experience betrayal even by the ones closest to us. After trusting them, believing them… In the end, their masks fall off & leave. Other “good people” experience physically pain, suffering with incurable afflictions.
It begs the question – Why bad things happen to good people?
One of my favorite author – C.S. Lewis said, “God uses pain to get our attention.”
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains..” (2)
And so we suppose, if God really uses pain to speak to us, in order for us to grow. Are there painless means?
Not long ago, when I asked in my prayer. Sulking in tears, “Lord please don’t be far from me.”
I asked God why things go wrong for good people, like they’re being tested the more. Why is it that after hurting us, they can continue to live a good life, why they can get away with their evil ways…
In agony I look at them, as they continue to deceive more unsuspecting preys with their ill intentions and greed.
These people fool us with scheming ways. Faces in misleading masks, gifting us with their exaggerated generosity that’s actually a strategy to lure our innocence.
I opened my bible app and here’s what He said;
1 Lord, you have seen what is in my heart. You know all about me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I get up. You know what I’m thinking even though you are far away.
3 You know when I go out to work and when I come back home. You know exactly how I live.
4 Lord, even before I speak a word, you know all about it.
5 You are all around me. You are behind me and in front of me. You hold me in your power.6 I’m amazed at how well you know me.
Psalm 139 🙏
I think this sums up everything.
God answered, this verse was His reply. He knows and sees right through us. Relieved, I know that God will never be misled. He hears the righteous and forsaken.
I believe in Him.
Bad things happen, but God is working for the good of those who love Him.
Let us not be bitter in wondering why good people are being examined and tested in endless ordeals.
God sees everything. And He knows each one of us.
- (1) When Bad Things Happen to Good People: Harold S. Kushner
- (2) Problem with Pain: C.S. Lewis
- Bible NIV
whether I leave behind a year of joy or of sorrow and disappointments.
I pause to give thanks. Thank You for being with me everyday of every year. Thank you for making all things new and for giving me the grace of fresh starts & beautiful new beginnings.
Remind me of your presence in the days to come. Especially when I’m distressed, pained, confused or anxious.
I pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit and call upon Jesus, Your Son, our Lord, for His intercession, His guidance and light to shine our path, this new year and always.
Still in cloud-9 days after my church wedding. Another dream came true all to God’s glory… It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, sky was clear, weather was fair. Even the notorious Manila traffic seemed to be cooperating and so we arrived in Basilica Menór de San Sebastián 40 minutes early. Long enough to finish praying the rosary, simultaneously I talked to the chauffeur and coordinator assistants. I convinced myself not to cry, “yep this is nothing” anyway Dadi is smiling down from heaven and I’m sure he is very happy for me. Finally this day came, after twelve years of anticipation…
I wrapped the rosary around my wrist like armor to strengthen me.
I thought I was equipped not to cry,
I thought wrong.
The antique steel door slowly unclosed. I was instructed to count 5 seconds before making the first step. The door flung open, and there my poor heart started beating rapidly. So fast that it felt like my heart leaped off my chest. My hands were shaking. The coordinators kept on reminding to walk slowly, I heard them faintly for my heart was much stronger ~ it desired the man standing in the altar waiting for me.
“love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust.
Love still stands when all else has fallen”
1 Corinthians 13:7-8
I looked way pass him, still trying to stop the welling of my eyes. Yet, it made me more emotional. To see the image of the blessed Mother Mary (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel) was the best reminder of this dream that was about to unfold. All attempts failed and I wept, using up the tissue prepared in my hidden pocket. At that moment, everything else was blurry in my sight, I didn’t mind looking terrible and drenched in tears.
Then, I looked at the right of the altar and saw a familiar cross with the sacred image of Jesus. A similar crucifix as that of Lourdes, France. The church is such a perfect setting, everything seemed so surprisingly wonderful and surreal.
Little trivia: The church is the only all-steel church in the Philippines, made by a French engineer – Gustave Eiffel who also made the famous landmark Eiffel Tower in Paris.
And it hurts because a year ago my father died suddenly and unexpectedly, missing him in the most significant day in my life… I would have wanted him to be there even in wheelchair. But, the turn of events were tough, became even more difficult when my father-in law was again hospitalized and placed in ICU and my mom-in law needing to stay with him. And so both my in-laws and my Dadi were missing, it was painfully sweet and special.
The wedding was almost perfect, maybe perfect, because everything was God’s gift to me and Erik.
I opted for a simple one and specifically asked the photo/videographer to capture raw, candid, real emotions. I skipped many traditional scenes and the reason for this is that my life has too much melancholy and sadness already. No need to be fancy and dramatic. Masking the blues with laughters, giggles and smiles. At the back of my mind, I’d wished for Dadi to be there, handsome in his Barong Tagalog. Maybe, a chance for us to bond and to be a little vocal of how we actually feel. I missed the opportunity to tell him I love him, a goodbye never said, a guilt that affects me and regret that changed my life then on.
This post is to honor the memory of my dad, for my late brother as well. Taking opportunity to remember with love those who are no longer with us, they are in our hearts forever.
Happily ever after continues on next post…
Thank you to these awesome people/team ♥️
P/V: Thee Creation Media http://www.theecreationsmedia.com
Wedding Coordinator: Events by Miss P https://www.facebook.com/eventsbymissp/
Ceremony: Basilica Menor de San Sebastián
Reception: Casa Roces Malacañan
BridalCar: Don Robert
Florist/Stylist: Amelia Blossoms
Gown: Jun Escario http://www.junescario.com
Need Protection? This is what you need. Because evil is everywhere, comes in all forms, working on your downfall, conniving for your defeat.
Prayer For Protection Against Evil
Heavenly Father You have promised that when we dwell in the secret place of the most High and shelter under the shadow of Your wings you will guard and guide us, protect us and keep us – for You are our refuge and our fortress and You alone are the one in Whom we place our trust.
Thank You Lord that no matter where I go Your hand leads me, and Your right arm upholds me.. for You are before me and behind me, You are above me and below me You are at my right hand and also at my left. And You are within me.. indwelling in my heart by the power of Your Holy Spirit, Who is my ever present Help in time of trouble.
Father I pray that You would protect me and my family from all the evils that are lurking nearby and from those that would seek to harm us. Uphold us and keep us safe from all the evils that encircle our lives. Put Your hedge of protection and safety around us we pray, and place a guard at our doors and protects us from all that pass by our gate. And Father, keep our hearts from fear but rather fill us to overflowing with Your perfect peace that passes all understanding. Thank You that You are indeed our refuge and strength. You are that ever present Help in time of trouble – therefore in Your strength we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the middle of the sea. – for You are with us wherever we go. Thank You in Jesus name,