Archive of ‘Teach Pray Run’ category

40 Day Lenten Devotion (including the 4 Sundays of Lent)

To prepare myself this lent, I decided to start this 40 day lenten devotion. Starting Ash Wednesday till Easter Sunday, I will be writing a simple prayer/reflection that is based on a verse from the bible or gospel reading of the day. I will be sharing them here with you in the hope that these will help you in your own lenten preparation as well. This list will be updated daily.

1. “Lead me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight.” (Psalms 115:35) May my heart always finds its way to you my Lord, for there is where true joy lies.

2.”If you wish to be a follower of mine, deny yourself and take up your cross each day, and follow me.”(Luke 9:23)—Reading the gospel today reminds me of the late Fr. Lisa, former chaplain of Paref Woodrose. He used to say, “With joy, not a single day without the cross.” St. Josemaria Escriva explained it as a day without a cross is a day without God. Our own cross that we bear with so much love, strength, and grace is what keeps us close to the Father. And as we carry this cross, this burden, and follow Him everyday, we’ll be surprised at just how easily His own cross takes it all and how abundant his shower of blessings is on us in return.

3. “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) Dear Jesus, I know that the “little deaths” I experience as I bear my own cross everyday are nothing compared to your own sufferings on the cross. In your grace, may I always find the strength to overcome adversities and through the light of my own faith, see them as opportunities to love and glorify you.

4. “Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands.” (1 Timothy 2:8)—Prayer makes us closer to the Lord. It is in prayer that we cultivate a grateful and a giving heart as well as a heart that desires to give up wordly things for the Lord. Prayer puts meaning and joy into fasting and almsgiving. Without prayer, they merely become actions we do out of tradition. This lent, lets persist in praying. #threepillarsoflent

5. “Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:14)—Lord, help me find ways to show your love.

6. “See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:16)—The hardest question that’s often asked of me is, “How did you get over the pain of losing your husband to death? I am always at a loss for answers when people asked me that because honestly, painful isn’t the word I would use to describe it. I wasn’t screaming or crying because it hurt all over. When it happened, I felt the opposite instead. I felt numbed all over. Loneliness and sadness to this day yes, but pained never. Maybe because the Lord in His wisdom, wrote my name on the palm of His hand even before I came to be. He did so such that when this tragedy finally strikes me, the pain from the wounds that his hands incurred from being nailed down would already be enough to save me from unbearable heartache. He took my pain with Him when He suffered and died on the cross such that I would never feel burdened by it forever.

7. “Your Father knows what you need, even before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8)—Dear God, thank you for always anticipating my needs..for lining up solutions to my problems even before I bring them to you…for being one step ahead of me all the time…for blessing me with so much more…Knowing that you hold my future, that you have complete control of my life, brings me peace.

8. “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me in quiet waters.” (Psalm 23:2)—Dear God, life is tough but, you and I together are tougher. Thank you for getting me through anything and for providing me with the strength I need during times when I feel like I’ve nothing left. I am grateful for your showers of miracles and blessings everyday. They assure me of your presence. I also appreciate your staying with me even long after the storms in my life have passed to do much greater things. You have kept your promise of a life made victorious on the coss. In return, I pledge to keep my heart turned towards you always and to speak only of nothing but faith and victory.

9. “Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth!” (Psalm 86:11)—Dear God, teach me wisdom that I may strive to understand and respond to others only with kindness and respect. Help me grow in maturity that I may to learn to accept others’ preferences, choices, faith, and beliefs even when they run contrary to mine. Show me the way of humility that I may learn not to force my own or insist that mine is better than rest. Amen.

10. “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.” (Psalm 30:7)—Dear Lord, teach me patience so I may learn to joyfully wait for your answers to my prayers. Show me the beauty in waiting so that my faith and trust in your own perfect plan and timing will continue to blossom and grow.

11. “So you see, a person is justified by works, and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24)—Dear God, I know that more than hearing me profess my faith, what will bring you true joy is seeing me transform my faith into actions. Do bless me with your grace so that I may continuosly give life to this faith by doing good deeds that will help, inspire, and touch others.

12. “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” (Psalm 51:10)—Dear God, strip me of bitterness, stubborness, laziness, anger, and pride. Teach me instead the way of love, compassion, obedience, patience, and humility so I may become like you.

13. “Let the greatest among you be the servant of all.” (Matthew 23:12)—Over the years, I have met a lot of people who have made it their business to help. People who would graciously and generously offer their time, skills, knowledge, and expertise simply because doing so makes them happy and also because they genuinely care. I’m thinking that if all of us would just transform ourselves into this kind of people, we wouldn’t see a thousand different faces in the crowd. Instead, everywhere we look we would only see one face, that of God’s.

14. “She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” (Matthew 20:21)—Dear God, may I fully learn to entrust my fate and surrender my future in Your hands.

15. “Blessed is the man who puts his trust in Yahweh and whose confidence is in him!” (Jeremiah 17:7)—Dear God, I oftentimes give in to fear especially when things I cannot understand or control happens. I tend to forget that I only have to call on you and blessings and graces will come marching right down in front of me from heaven. When I am beset with worries, bless me with the eyes of faith so that I may always see you at work in everything. When I am consumed with fear, calm my restless heart so I may find rest in your unfailing love. Amen.

16. “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” (Romans 8:18) Dear God, may we learn to find joy in the midst of sorrow and peace in the midst of suffering. May we always see our cross as our way to heaven and our opportunity to live and receive your graces. Amen.

17. The father said, “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But this brother of yours was dead, and has come back to life; he was lost, and is found. And for that we had to rejoice and be glad.” (Luke 15:32)—Dear God, no matter how frequent we break your heart by sinning and falling into temptation, you still contine to love us. Nothing seems to make you love us less. Your love indeed is the only one that is perfect. It remains constant, unchanging, endless, and complete even if at times we are underserving. Thank you for being that amazing.

18. “God called him from the middle of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!” (Exodus 1:13)—Dear God, if there is one thing I learned from the story of Moses, it is that you certainly have a plan for each one of us and that there’s really no getting away from that plan. You will eventually call us and use us for greater things and purpose. Let your spirit drone out the voice of worries, self-doubts, and fears in our heads then so that when you call us to lead or do what you have set our hearts to do, we can boldly and FaithFULLy say YES to you like Moses.

19. “He must become greater, I must become less.” (John 3:30)—Dear Lord, when I start to compare myself with others, please send your Holy Spirit to stop me from doing so. It is because I realized that if this will always be the case, even the big things that I or others do will never be enough to make me happy. Remind me instead to use only you as my measure, to approximate my thoughts, words, and actions with that of yours so I will always stay humble, content, and grounded unto you. You are greater than me and I am nothing next to You.

20. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways, says Yahweh. For just as heavens are above the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts above your thoughts.” (Isiah 55:8-9) —Dear God, I can never out think you. I can never figure out the plans you have for me. No matter how much I demand, dictate, or insist on something in prayer, if it is not what You want for me, it will never happen. This is why I constantly ask you to bless me with the grace to accept and embrace your will as my own so I may learn to take delight in your wisdom and ways.

21.”On the other hand, whoever obeys my commands, and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19)—Dear Jesus, I often wonder why in the gospels, you always implore your disciples to follow you right away, like the time you commanded them to lower down the nets even if they adamantly told you that there’s hardly any fish in the sea. Now, I understand. Had the disciples refused to lower the nets and depended only on their own understanding, they would’ve missed the great catch that awaited them. You are always insistent when it comes to our obedience because you do not want us to miss God’s blessings. Please show us your way then Jesus so that we may know how to quickly respond with obedience at the Lord’s promptings.

22. “Walk in the way I command you and all will be well with you.” (Jeremiah 7:23)—Dear God, please continue to bless me with an obedient heart that longs to please you so that I may continue to live the blessed life that you have promised. Amen.

23. “You make known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)–Dear God, I woke up today with the same set of problems and worries. The pile of work that I need to finish did not disappear overnight like how I wished they would, and my family and life struggles still remain. But for some weird reason and despite all these, I woke up feeling happy. If this is what it means to live in your grace Lord, with gladness, I look forward to everyday. Thank you.

24. “Let us strive to know Yahweh.” (Hos 6:3)—Dear God, sometimes we get lucky and meet friends who’ll make us feel like we just had the best conversation with you after being around them. It is because when they speak of the faith, their words ring with sincerity, wisdom, and truth. They live out the faith with so much passion also, they radiate joy. I just want to say thank you Lord for blessing my life with this kind of friends. Friends who help me grow in faith, and make me appreciate and love you.

25. “Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure, remember to whom you belong.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)—Dear God, you’ve been attentive and faithful to my every need, how can I not feel loved by you?! When I feel small and insignificant, your grace moves me to do great things. When I feel discouraged, your spirit fills me with joy. When I feel worthless, I only have to look at you on the cross and I’m reminded of my value. Your sufferings and death alone show just how important I am to you. Clearly, I belong to you and for that, you have my heart forever

26. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her.” (Proverbs 31:25-28)—Dear God, with your grace make me into this kind of woman everyday. Firm yet loving. Strong yet compassionate. Fearless yet wise. Gentle yet tough. Turn me into this kind of woman who is not afraid to fully embrace triumph and defeat, and joy and sadness in her life. Inspire me to be this kind of woman who deliberately work at creating for her family a home of quiet refuge, where faith, hope, love, and charity thrive.

27. “Unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” (John 4:48)—Dear God, teach me to find miracles in the mundane and ordinary so I won’t have to demand big things from you before I believe in your capacity to meet my needs. Train my eyes to see the blessings that you so generously give everyday so I won’t need convincing of how a great a Father you are to me. Open my heart and mind so that I may understand that the wonders and signs of your love aren’t always spectacular. In fact, it is nothing but simple and poignant, you dying on the cross to save us.

28. “Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)— Dear God, teach me how to demonstrate love in big and small ways. Teach me how to value people the same way you value me. Teach me how to show genuine mercy and compassion towards others so they may always see and feel your love through me.

29. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)—Dear God, help raise a visionary child. Help me mold my daughter into the kind of person who can dream big things, desire good things, and do great things not only for herself but for others as well. Bless me with your grace so I will be able set good examples to her on how to be God-seeking instead of self-seeking in her pursuit of happiness and success in life.

30. “Led by mistaken reasons they think, “Life is short and sad, and there’s no cure for death.” (Wisdom 2:1a)—Dear God, when Nan died I was so consumed with grief I thought I will never be happy again. I’m grateful that you’ve met every occassion of sorrow in my life with grace until there’s nothing left for me to feel but joy in your presence. Thank you for making me see everyday that though life is short by human standards, every second of it is still worth living and that the cure for death is simply a whole lot of prayers and faith.

31. “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)—Dear God, train my eyes so I will learn to see the beauty in others. Train my tongue so I will learn to speak only the language of love and respect. Train my mind so I will have nothing but good thoughts about others. Train my heart so I will learn to forgive and understand easily their shortcomings and mistakes. When I thread the path of self-righteousness, Lord, let your Holy Spirit enlighten and lead me back to you.

32. “You know all things even before they come to be.”(Dn 13:2)— Dear God, you clearly own my tomorrow. I have complete trust in your great design for me. I know you always have my best interest at heart. You’ve brought me this far so I am sure that you have prepared a bright future for me as well and that, you’ll take me even farther than my hopes and dreams.

33. “Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.” (Psalm 116:2) Dear God, when I want to do little else but pull my hair out or throw my hands up in the air in frustration, I am glad there’s always heaven to look up to and you to call on. Thank you for being my 24/7 hotline and lifeline.

34. “As for God, his way is perfect.” (Psalm 18:30) Dear God, amazing how everything falls into place when it is your plan. I’m sorry if I allowed doubt to creep in and fear to grip my heart when I was trying to work things out on my own. Forgive me because I tend to forget sometimes that I need not do things alone because I always have you to run to.

35. “The Lord is my strength and my shield, in whom my heart trust.” (Psalm 27:6)—Dear God, thank you for turning my battlescars into victory marks. Wounded, blessed, loved, and healed. That’s me after you took over my fights.

36. “Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:14)— Dear God, today I realized that even the little things that you called me to do have meaning and purpose. And that, when done with the same amount of love and effort as the big important tasks, they become my simple yet significant way of loving and glorifying you.

37. “Faith is the way, and all is given, by grace.”(Romans 4:16)—Dear God, my faith is what allows me to move forward despite life’s many setbacks, and your grace is what connects and propels me to the greater things that you have in store for me. Thank you for the gifts of faith and grace, I’m truly blessed beyond measure.

38.”He humbled himself by being obedient to death, death on the cross.” (Philippians 2:7)—Dear God, today I realized that what will bring me to heaven is not so much the gravity or weight of my own cross but the way I carry it with so strength, cheerfulness, and grace. Make me like Jesus Lord so I may learn to lovingly accept and embrace my own cross everyday.

39. “Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes.” (Isaiah 30:20)—Dear God, though it may seem like I’ll never recover from the blows of life, I realized that I can. I can heal from the ache, bounce back from the hurt, and get up from a fall. If I just draw near you, if I just live under your shadow and bask in your light, I can.

40. “I went to those who were not looking for me, I was found by those who sought me not.” (Isaiah 65:1)—Dear Jesus, there are times when a cross appears without my looking for it. When this happens may I recognize that it is you seeking me out. May I learn to fully embrace this cross and offer my own “little deaths” on it for your glory. May I learn to serve and save others in my own unique way as well and make your death on the cross truly worth it everyday.

41. “And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me, is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)—Dear God, thank you for making me realize that, though the cross often signifies death and suffering, it actually means so much more. A shot at heaven, a chance at my own resurrection, and a way to show my deep love for You. So even if my cross is heavy, even if it pains me, I will try my cheerful best to embrace it with open arms, close to my heart. Truly, my cross is sweet because if I allow it, it will open a lot of opportunities for me to live and receive your graces.

42. “O all you that pass by the way, look and see, was there ever a sorrow to compare with my sorrow.” (Lamentation 1:12)—Dear Mama Mary, I never really knew how painful it was for you to see Jesus suffer on the cross until I stood beside the recovery bed of my own suffering child after her surgery. My sorrow even then was nothing compared to your sorrow. As I watched my child cry in pain, my heart broke into a thousand pieces. I can only imagine what your own heart must have felt like seeing your own child die on the cross to save us. As I venerate the cross today Mama Mary, I venerate you as well for giving birth and raising our reedemer, our savior, Jesus Christ. You are the perfect example of deep courage, humility, and trust. May I learn to be a perfect handmaid of the Lord like you. May I learn to carry grief and sorrow gracefully, and may I learn to submit myself and surrender my child graciously to the will of God like you.

43. “But the men said, “Why look for the living among the dead? You won’t find him here. He is risen.” (Luke 24:1)—Dear God, your easter message is not lost to us. There is no easter surprise like what the easter egg hunt or some easter bunny has been claiming about only an easter promise fullfilled. The promise of a new beginning after that somber ending. We will make sure to rejoice in that.

44. “The women, deep in wonder and full of joy, lost no time in leaving the tomb. They ran to tell the disciples. Then Jesus met them, stopping them in their tracks. “Good morning!” he said. They fell to their knees, embraced his feet, and worshiped him.” (Matthew 28:8-9)—Dear Jesus, I am still able to smile despite difficulties because you, my Lord and my Savior, has shown me that at end of each season of suffering comes resurrection. Victory is indeed ours, thanks to you.

This ends my 40 day lenten devotion, thank you for praying with me. Happy Easter.☺️

Updated: March 27, 2016

Awesome

Dear Bianca Angela,

This is mommy’s way of saying…don’t just do what makes you happy. Instead, do what brings you great joy no matter how uncomfortable, hard, scary, or even crazy it may seem to others. Remember that you can only become amazing when, with bold faith and purpose, you do something that others won’t even dare to do. So when you find yourself wanting to make a dream happen or to relive a dream again, listen only to yourself. When your heart says YOU CAN and your gut screams DO IT, GO FOR IT! You owe yourself a second (or even third and a fourth) shot at awesome.

Love,

Mommy

For the love of running

I welcomed 2015 with the right attitude…motivated, inspired, and eager to make my dreams come true. I had my eyes set on finishing my first full marathon at that time so I had something to look forward. The image of myself crossing that finish line and earning my first full marathon medal were what psyched me and kept me on my toes. And, run and finish it, I did. It was an exhilirating climb towards that goal, that dream. I knew with all certainty that I would reach it and yet can’t quite believed myself when I actually did.

I thought it was enough to make me love running more but sad to say, it wasn’t the case. Somewhere along my recovery period, I lost it, the heart to run. I didn’t listen to logic and reason. I didn’t give myself enough time to rest. Instead, I pushed myself to the limit. I let the desire and lust for running get the better of me. I hurt myself in the process.

It took awhile before I was able to run again and when I did, it wasn’t the same for me anymore. I was back to square one and after having gone through the struggle, I detest doing it all over again. The mere thought of investing long hours (again) just to get my speed back, just to get my strong back, tired me.

Somewhere along my recovery period, I also lost it, the drive to run. I found many excuses not to. Even fate seemed to agree with me because everytime I think of running, as if on cue, I get sick (or feel sick). I am ashamed to admit it but I let the bed get the better of me as well. Many mornings, I simply ignored that nagging little voice, telling me to get up and run. I didn’t listen to my body crying out for exercise.

I remember it clearly, that one afternoon when I rocked a baby and felt a snap on my hip. I tried to dismissed it as nothing until the pain became persistent. The doctor put me off running for weeks while I was nursing that hip injury. What I hate most about it was, I didn’t have a choice. It was forced on me. I have never felt more weak and sick in my entire life. The thought that I would never run again scared me. Suddenly, I miss everything about the sport, the adrenalin rush, the burn, and that sense of pride and accomplishment after completing even just a short run. At that time I realized, I would give anything just to get back on my feet again.

Simply running, that’s what makes me love the sport more because it is pure, unadulterated bliss to do so. It wasn’t the marathon. It wasn’t race to the finish line. In fact I realized, the competitive spirit of the sport makes me hate it. A steady run on a quiet morning or chilly afternoon…a wild, crazy run while beating the sunrise or chasing the sunset…a long, invogorating run after half-consciously dragging yourself out of bed….a slow, rusty run that ends up in a smooth stride…these are what gives that warm, wonderful feeling of being truly alive and strong. Now, if this isn’t love, I don’t know what is.:)

Maybe it is not running for you. Maybe it is something else like yoga, swimming, or biking. Whatever it is that makes your heart skip a beat, I hope you never take it for granted because every single chance to do so is a gift in itself.

Happy new year! Now, Go out there and, RUN! (or swim…or bike…or yoga…)

CHRISTmas

“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)

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This morning, I went to visit an orphanage with Bianca and there, we found the baby Jesus in the persons of 3-week-old Agnes, and 1-year-old Marge, Margaux, Jason, Ashley, Angelo, Precious, and Krisha. I feel blessed to be in the company of such happy, loving kids and honored, in fact, to feel needed by them even for just a day. It was a joy to breathe in their baby scents, to cradle and wrap them in my arms. A delight to hear them laugh, see them smile, and feel them reach out for my hand. I may not have personally witnessed the Nativity scene or paid tribute to the King of all Kings with gifts of gold, incense, and myrh but this morning, in that small room tucked in the corner of that little orphanage, where dreams of a permanent home hung thick in the air and hope for a family they can call their own lingers, it truly felt like, I did. 😌

Dear Mrs. Dela Cruz

My students love to give me presents. They are a thoughtful bunch. But then, more than the material gifts, it is really their letters that I always look forward in receiving every year. Whenever I begin to question wildly if I am in the right profession or not…when I want to do little else but pull my hair out or throw my hands up in the air in frustration (yes, teaching can do that to you), their letters keep me sober and pull me back. Here are some of my favorite ones, from the most touching to the downright funny and insane…

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imageIn my students’ eyes, I have become a legend….

Chloe

When I took this little girl under my wing a few years ago, I knew right away that she’s totally different. She was grade 2 then. For one thing, she can’t sit still or stay inside the classroom for long. She’s quite something else too. She had no qualms speaking her mind, didn’t care one bit about her classmates or teachers’ opinions, and worst she would cry and beg every morning for me to send her home because she misses her mom. She was like this for 3 straight years.

Her teachers would often find themselves at their wits end trying to figure out a way to make her sit, listen, follow, and focus in class. Her fourth year in school was almost the same minus the crying episode. While the rest seemed to have given up on her, her mom and I never got tired believing that one day, she’ll make a complete turn around. Faith, hope, and love, we gave her a lot of that.

And my dear Chloe, she did not disappoint. On our fifth and last year together as mentor-mentee, and on her final year in grade school, she made it happen. She managed to make herself be what her family and I hoped and prayed for her to be. Clearly not perfect but right enough to make the Lord equally proud and happy too.

My Chloe, she has since moved to high school. I thank the Lord that she made her different than the rest because through her I witnessed yet another one of those amazing miracles that would make me continue to believe that no matter how uncertain things may seem at the start, with faith, hope, and love, all shall be well in the end.

Saturday Reflections

“What we are, is God’s work. He has created us, in Christ Jesus, for the good works he has prepared.”

I remember when I was a kid, I dreamt of becoming big someday. At least that somebody whose very presence is admired and sought by many. I envisioned myself many times conquering the stage, the courtroom, the boardroom. Well, I must say that reality is actually a distorted version of fantasy. One that is really quite funny if you think about it but also a bit enlightening in a way.

One of the things I am proud of in my 37 years of existence is that, I have managed to become that somebody at least to my loved ones. I am Mom to Bianca, Mrs. Dela Cruz to my students, and wife to Nan. I have conquered many places too, the stage as Bianca’s stagemom, the classroom as the funny SS teacher, our home as the former wife of Nan who is now resting in peace with the Lord, the road as the running mama, and the publising world as a writer/contributor for parenting magazines.

I have become sought after too. Kids come knocking at the faculty’s door looking for me when I am running late in class. And my very presence, well, it isn’t lacking in admiration especially among grade school children. A simple dance routine in clubs or an intersting powerpoint presentation in my class are enough to earn me a standing ovation. People, 7-9 year olds to be exact, call out my name, stop to say Hi, and even request for a picture.

When we find ourselves living a life different from what we imagined or taking a path different from the one we originally planned, know that it wasn’t accidental, we didn’t make a wrong turn. This is actually all part of the God’s grand master scheme for our life. We are exactly where God wants us to be right at this moment because He believes that this is the best way we can carry out His mighty plans. So where ever you are, whatever you have become, live out God’s amazing purpose for you.

TBR Dream Marathon: RACE DAY…I Become My Dream

My first TBR Dream marathon was everything I imagined it to be. Hard, painful, but oh so worth it. As I stood waiting for the gun to go off, the scenes of me training for this marathon came racing through my mind—me waking up at the break of dawn, dragging myself off from bed, driving in the dark, running alone in a deserted Memorial Park under the heat of the sun to clock in 2-3 hours of run. Me religiously doing planks, crunches, and weights every night to prepare my body for this grueling excercise. As I stood there waiting for the race to start, I cannot help but think to myself, this is it, this is what I have been working hard and putting all my heart and efforts on.

The first 21 km was a breeze. Adrenalin, excitement, and a fresh burst of energy brought me to the turn around. Since the route was new, I took in all the sights…the unfamiliar places, curves, uphills, downhills, and the TBR tents/water stations. I was completely into the moment as I ran alongside equally psyched up runners and dream chasers who generously shouted words of encouragement. The next 21 km, the second half, on the other hand, was something else. It was a real test of strength, endurance, and spirit for me. It is true what they say about the final 21 km, you run it with your heart. At the 34th kilometer, I hit what runners would call “the wall.” Just after the 2 km never ending uphill. Fatigue and pain in my left knee that took a hard beating on those killer hills began wearing me down. Good thing my friend Jon, a 7 time marathoner and dream chaser, was there to give me the final push. Along the way, we met Abi, who was more disheartened than me. We ran the last 8 km together, with Jon telling us all the “tricks” he knows about running and with me giving Abi all the peptalks and words of encouragement that I can think of. They were what kept my eyes and focus on the goal. They were what kept my heart on the race. Jon and I predicted that I will finish the race at 6:30, 30 minutes over and above my target. But in the end, I finished it at 7:06 because it didn’t feel right to leave Abi behind. When I dreamed of finishing this marathon, I didnt dream of finishing this alone. God in all his goodness, gave me these two great people to celebrate the joy, pains, and fullfillment of reaching the end.

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When we were a few meters closer to the finish line, I decided to slow down and let Abi go first because there’s really nothing like seeing one struggling runner bask in the glory of reaching her goal. I stopped and stood there for a moment to cheer and root for Abi. Heartbeats away from the finish line, I allowed myself to be filled with joy at the sight of her celebrating victory, before I went ahead and claimed mine.

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My family was waiting for me at the finish line complete with a super big banner to congratulate me. Seeing them made my happiness complete.

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Now I can, with all pride, say that I am a runner and a marathoner at that. I never thought I had it in me to run a full marathon. Sometimes you really just have to boldly go out there, make things happen, and become your dream.

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Here’s what I told my daughter after running my first full marathon: My dear Bianca Angela, this race is more for you than for me. I hope this proves to you that mommy isn’t just randomly quoting Disney when I say that dreams do come true. And that in fact, it doesn’t really take a genie or a fairy Godmother to make things happen for you. All it takes is YOU. You with your persistence and determination to succeed. You with your willingness to sacrifice comfort and go through all the pains and troubles to achieve your dream. Always remember that our life is a good story. It does not end with the loss of daddy or with your battle with cancer. They are just significant chapters in our life story that call for us to press forward, rise up in faith, and fullfill our God-given destiny. They connect and propel us to the greater things that God has prepared for our future. A good story always ends in victory and ours is that kind of story.

TBR Dream Marathon: Day 6

Two days into the marathon, here I am feeling under the weather. I woke up this morning with itchy throat, eyes, and nose. It didn’t help that the weather does not seem to cooperate. It has been cold these past to nights making my throat ache painfully. Quite ironic because these past few days I have been sleeping early and trying to get enough rest. I guess my body doesn’t take kindly to rest.

But then again, these might be a classic case of jitters. My body is reacting to the stress in anticipation for the big day. A while ago while I was reading the bible, I came accross Psalms 46:5, it says “God is within her, she will not fail.” Yes I believe so. God has been with me since the moment I conceived this dream in my heart. He was beside me when I was trading an extra hour in bed for a run at the break of dawn. He is with me now that the dream is almost at my fingertips. I will make this happen. We will make this happen. Me and my God. I will get us to the finish line, sans sweat and colds.

TBR Dream Marathon: Day 5

My friend’s text to me this morning was, “Blancs! Did you know that Manila to Malolos is 38kms? Mas malayo pa yun run mo sa Sunday! ? Oh my gosh!” I never really thought of it that way. I never really map out how far 42 km. is. All this time, to me, it is just a number. Four 10 km and an extra two. Sometimes I measure it by time, 6 to 7 hours on the road. But to really see how far it is from the starting to end point, I’ve never really done that. It is because I do not want to start questioning and doubting myself. I don’t want a whole stretch of road. I want to take it by minutes and hours with the Lord. I do not want to focus on the destination but the journey because I know if I do it that way, I will surely get me to the finish line.

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