“Don’t let yourselves be shaped by the world where you live, but rather, be transformed, through the renewal of your mind. You must discern the will of God: what is good, what pleases, what is perfect.”
Before we put Bianca in Woodrose, we made it clear to her that we have our own way of doing things in our family and our own set of rules which may be different with other families. It was important that she understands that what maybe the norm in some households, may not be in our own. It is very difficult to raise kids nowadays especially that the dynamics in certain families they are in close contact with are changing.
I guess as parents we should never get tired of teaching or reminding our children of the timeless family values and virtues we’ve learned as a child. This way, no matter how totally different the dictates of their own generation are from what the family upholds and practices, our children will not find themselves confused. Instead they would automatically decide and act based in what is good, what is pleasing, and what is perfect for God.
Whenever I feel sad about my life, I ask God to give me a good reason to smile. And it never fails, being the great cheerleader that He is, He sends out the most outrageous perk me ups. No husband to talk to at night, He gave me a free iPad. Feeling the blues on my first Valentines’ day alone, He sent Bianca and I packing for an all expense paid trip with pocket money to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Missing having someone who makes me feel beautiful, He had me walking the runaway at a fashion launch abroad and had us featured in a magazine too (nevermind if I am a scoliotic case with a back hump the size of Mt. Everest and pimple marks resembling the craters of the moon). Wanting to do more and be more, He had my writing career in full swing. Dreading the empty days ahead, He instantly sends either crazy conflicts or crazy friends to occupy my time. And my list can just go on and on…Amazing how God has gone to great lengths just to see me smile and laugh again. Yes life has been unkind these past two years but God more than makes up for it. He sends out positive vibes my way all the time so that in the end, I can see clearly that the good far outweighs the bad, always.
Last Saturday, I met a fellow widow in a gathering. When she learned about my own status, she pulled me aside to engage me in a conversation. She immediately asked me, “Nung nililibing na ba ang asawa mo, nafeel mo ba yung gusto mo na ding mamatay, yung tipong gusto mo ng tumalon at sumama sa hukay?” I was so surprised with her question, I only managed to look at her in horror and say, “Noooooo!” a little forcefully. She seemed disappointed with my answer and so she tried another one, “Me days ba na parang ayaw mo na bumangon at harapin ang mundo kasi wala na sya.” This time, I really cannot help it, I gave out a laugh. She looked at me miserably and jokingly said, “Siguro di mo mahal na mahal ang asawa mo no kasi tuwang tuwa ka pa dyan!” Now, that had me doubled up in laughter. Maybe I became a little insensitive with my reaction back there but I was thinking, someday she’ll look back at everything that’s happened and be able to smile, that’s what grace do to you. Anyway, no, I didn’t die a thousand death when Nan passed away or even wished that it was me istead of him (hehe) who died. What happened in fact was quite the opposite, I felt the need to get more out of life, to live it more fully after he died. It is because I realized, I want to live life the way Nan did. I want more time to, like him, love deeply, give freely, and live with gratitude completely.
And so the story goes that on the fateful night of August 1, 1978, when Manila was being battered by the worst storm ever, a mother gave birth to an eight month old, scrawny little baby who weighed no more than 4.5 lbs. As the baby came out of the mother’s tummy, the light too in the whole city went out. And so the baby lay there in the dark nursery, illuminated only by the nearby emergency light. The grandpa who was waiting anxiously in the corridor with the father, when he heard the baby cried, cannot helped but uttered in silence, “there goes the little light.” My name Blanca, said my lolo, means little light. And yes, that baby is me. Everyday for the past 36 years, I strive to live up to the name given to me. Even during the most difficult time in my life when I see nothing but complete darkness, I struggled for my flickering light to continue to shine. It is so easy to live in the shadow or fade into the oblivion that darkness offers but life or rather God doesn’t always include that in the many options he always presented to me. I guess because He wants the light within me to help fire the world up with His love. And so here I am today, stil trying to live up to the challenge that comes with my name, still trying to light up (your) the world, through the big or small roles that I play in your life. Thank you for giving me the chance and the opportunity to do that everyday. And for the warm greetings and heartwarming birthday wishes too.
Gospel Reflection: “The keeper opens his voice; he calls each of his sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them and the sheep follow him for they know his voice.”—As a class adviser, I have this thing about names. I call my students not by their nicknames but by their real names. At the start my students would often go crazy because I am the only one doing that, they would insist on me calling them by their nicknames but eventually they learn to love it. In fact, after a while, they would feel funny whenever I will call them otherwise. So Bea is Beatrice in my class, Fides is Teresa, Mika is Monica, Gabby is Margarita, Maria is Maranatha and Sam is Samuelle etc. ‘Cause you see, when they get to my class, they have to leave behind their old self and the labels that they carry with them. When they become part of my flock, they get a fresh start. I am the sheperd in my class, I want that amidst the noise and the distractions around them, each of my sheep hear and recognize my voice when I call them. I want that in the middle of all the confusion, each one of them follows to where I will lead them. And it never fails, at the end of the year, all my 27 sheeps make it to that place where I want them to be. And what’s more, they manage to live up to the goodness and the promise behind their christian names.
I am happy to share that my daughter and I are in this month’s issue of Working Mom magazine. In this article, I shared a letter I wrote for my daughter, Bianca, when she celebrated her 13th birthday last month.
To know more about our story, please grab a copy. It is available in National Bookstore, Book Sale, Watsons, and Ministop stores.
Gospel Reflection: “What shall we do? What are the works that God wants us to do?”—I’d like to believe that God is not a complicated God. He is not one to demand outrageous things from us. All he wants is for us to simply do GOOD. Nothing else. In fact, in His effort to help us do good, He gave us clear sets of guidelines in which we can measure up our actions. He gave us the ten commandments and shared to us the golden rule. If we stick to what’s written in His book or rather His tablet (hehe), we will never go wrong. 🙂
“Brothers and sisters, you call upon a Father who makes no distinction between persons, but judges, according to each deeds; take seriously, then, these years which you spend in a strange land.”
I remember years ago, I had this Grade 1 mentee who came up to me and whispered conspiratorially, “Mrs. Dela Cruz, did you know that doing good deeds is the easiest way to get to heaven?” I couldn’t help but play along and so I whispered back, “Really, so what good deeds have you done so far?” To my surprise, she straightened up, looked at me squarely in the eye and announced triumphantly, “I’ve decided that I’m going to heaven the hard way!” And with that she left me in a huff laughing helplessly after her. My friend and I have a challenge between ourselves, that is to do at least one unique, definitely not the usual, really-go-out-of-your-way kind of good deed everyday. Honestly it was quite hard to do at first especially when your instinct tells you to do otherwise but surprisingly, I realized it is possible. It is just a matter of training the heart, hands, and mind.
Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me but afterward you will.”
When Nan died, I became really serious in my intention to end up in heaven. Nan without a doubt has already earned his place there for having been a good man during his lifetime. Bianca might have a sure spot there too with the gentle and kind way she’s living her life now. When my end comes, I want to be in heaven too like my family but with the rate things ( i.g. impatience, temper, naughtiness etc.) are going for me, it might take me forever to reach heaven. In fact I’m already having visions of myself looking up at the puzzled faces of Nan and Bianca looking down at me from heaven! Kidding aside though, Jesus has already set an example on how we should live our life so we can reach that place that God intends for us, all we have to do is try our best to follow his lead. I know, I know, easier said than done…operative word: try.:)
“Give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good measure, pressed down, full and running over. For the measure you give will be the measure you receive back.”
I can still remember clearly the day the doctor called me to his office to break the news that Bianca’s lump was positive for malignancy. I was in daze the whole day. Later that night I found myself crying to the Lord not because I was scared that Bianca might die of cancer (because I know she will not) but because I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able raise the money needed to put her in surgery asap as what the doctor advised. Our health insurance didn’t cover the cost of all the medical tests she had to do prior to surgery and this has left me financially drained. But of course the Lord, amazing that He is, responded instantly by sending forth His band of mighty angels in the form of friends and relatives to help me make sure Bianca receives the best medical care. In a span of five days I was able to raise more than enough money to cover not just the surgery but the radioactive treatment and all the others tests that folllowed as well. Relatives, close friends, and people I’ve met during the course of my work as a teacher in Woodrose generously offered their support and expert services. Though I know that God clearly had a hand in all this, I would still like to think that these people readily extended their help because at some point I have given them something of myself too, probably my time, attention, affection, or service and that they are simply returning back kindness for kindness. And as a recipient of such abundant generosity and blessings, this time around I will have to pay it forward too by doing the same good deeds to others so the cycle will continue.