Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

25 Day Advent Reflection

Sharing with you the 25-Day Advent reflection I did to prepare myself for Baby Jesus this Christmas.

Day #1: And then, it is December. May we hear and receive the same good news given to Mary: Hope is born within us through Christ.

Day #2: See Christ more clearly, love Him more dearly, and follow Him more nearly.

Day #3: Lets live with intention in this season of waiting. Lets honor the story–the silent night, the angels, the miracle child, the simple birth–with each choice that we make. Lets us be drawn closer and closer to the heart, the beating heart of the story, and not to the glitters, gifts, and parties at every turn, so that what matters most will become clear to us this season.

Day #4: There’s beauty in waiting because that’s when faith, hope, love, and trust blossom. That’s what the Lord wants us to learn to appreciate when He takes His time in answering our prayers.

Day #5: Life is a constant advent season: we are continually waiting to become, to complete, to heal, and to fulfill. May this season of hope be a time transformation, healing, and fullfilment for us.

Day #6: Hope is what gets us through desperate days. If we can just inspire hope in others with our simple words and actions, imagine the many joyful and grateful hearts celebrating the gift of Jesus this Christmas.

Day #7: Are you waiting with expectant faith for the Lord to bless you with that one thing you have been longing to have? Wait in hope, for in absolute quietness, in the most unexpected place, and unexpected ways it shall be given to you. Much like how the Lord gifted the world with the greatest blessing ever known.

Day #8: Today, we celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mama Mary in the womb of her mother. She was born without original sin so she could fullfill her divine purpose of being Jesus’ mother. Until recently, I used to think that my purpose in life was to be a wife then a mother. But then, the events these past five years have made it clear to me what I am exactly here for. Not quite the wife but definitely a mother to my child. Since the Lord has entrusted Bianca in my care, it is my job to see to it see to it that she grows into the kind of person the Lord wants her to become. That’s my God-given mission and that’s what gives my life purpose.

To be chosen as mothers of our children is not an easy task. In fact, it is quite a tall order because in the process of raising our children heartbreak/ heartache is a given. My prayer for us mothers then is for us to be blessed with the same quiet confidence, courage, and grace like Mama Mary so we can fully embrace and carry out our mission of raising God-fearing, God-loving, and God-pleasing children.

Day #9: Advent is the season to give our faith a workout, to exercise our hope and love muscles. Some years make that difficult than the others so I am glad that advent comes every year to give us another chance to practice a hopeful and loving way of being into this world.

Everytime we sing songs from christmas past, put up decorations excitedly, tell inspiring christmas stories, surprise a needy, give lots and lots to charity, and use our special gift to inspire smiles in this season of advent, we honor the sacred story of hope and love that is the Nativity. Everytime we remember that God loves us and how we should extend this love to others in this season of advent, the joy and peace that the Baby Jesus in the manger brought into this world are born within us. So let’s try advent and live advent once again.

Day #10: Wherever you are and whatever you will be doing this week, dare to look for Jesus right there in the midst of it. Dare to find him in all things and you’ll be surprised at how often he’ll shows up.

Day #11: This season I’m letting go of the perfect holiday in my head. I won’t rush to every party, shop every gift, or plan the best christmas trips. Instead, I am choosing love, rest, and grace, affixing my steady gaze not on the glittering lights and extravagant sights but on that bright shining star that would lead me to the true reason for this season.

Day #12: More than our homes, lets fill our hearts with joy and expectation this advent season, for the best CHRISTmas trimming that we can ever display is a smile of great anticipation and gratitude for the gift of Christ, our Savior.

Day #13: In the middle of meditation in the advent recollection today, Fr. Penacoba jokingly exclaimed, “I am glad to see all of you resting there like a sleeping St. Joseph!” Rest is almost impossible these days. We are either chasing work deadlines, running errands, or beating the traffic and the christmas rush. But then, what if even just for this advent, we deliberately slow down or pause, and fiercely fight for our prayer time and quiet time with the Lord? What if even just for this advent, we find our way to a recollection, retreat, or mass, and try to be all there. What if even just for this advent, we choose love, rest, and grace? What a beautiful and meaningful christmas it will be for us.

Day #14: Embrace slow, savor stillness, and seek quiet. Prepare your heart for Him.

Day #15: Today, I got my christmas surprise early and it has reduced me to tears.

After being out of school for a good number of days for medical reasons, functioning literally with just 1 healthy lung for weeks, and dealing with a mountain of missed assessments when she finally returned back to school, she still managed to snag this.

Ginapang. Pinaghirapan. With single-minded focus, she painstakingly completed her missed assessments alongside the current ones, on one occassion even taking both midterms and finals on the same day; determinedly approached her teachers to request for coaching and one on one; laboriously poured over youtube tutorials and other internet resources to understand lessons she did not get to learn first hand; and even carefully planned her work schedule at home so she can finish her homework and meet my non-negotiable 10:30 pm bedtime. All this while recovering and healing from what to her was her most traumatic medical experience ever.

She is not the smartest girl but she has always been mentally tough, emotionally resilient, driven, and persistent. She has always been extremely motivated by this immense desire to rise above every challenging situation that comes her way. Life has never been easy for this girl but by God’s amazing grace, she always pull through, beautifully.

I am proud of you Bianca Angela for having the guts and the grit to go after your goal this year despite the odds. If there’s one person who truly deserve to be in this list, it is you. If in the future you begin to doubt your ability to achieve your goal or get past a difficult situation, you have this to remind you that you can and you will.

Day #16: It was still dark when I left the house this morning, rushing to make it to BCBP’s simbang gabi and breakfast in Alabang Country Club. In my haste, I didn’t get a chance to give the car a quick once over.

When my morning activities were done, I was itching to go home because I knew that Bianca was waiting for me and her friends I am bringing along for a sleep over in our house. Trisha, Bianca’s friend was already with me when Phoebe arrived. When her car pulled over at the driveway, I quickly ran to her mom to request for us to be dropped off in the parking lot. Normally I do not mind walking the short distance but for some reason this morning, I wasn’t up for it.

When we reached my car and were about to exchange goodbyes, the driver of the car beside me quickly lowered down his window to say, “Maam, iniintay ko po kayo kasi flat yung gulong nyo sa likod.” Unfortunately, I do not know how to change tires and doesn’t even have the tools for it. Good thing, Phoebe’s driver readily changed it for me. Good thing that at the last minute, they decided to bring him along. Good that the car beside me decided to park next to me or else I wouldn’t have noticed the flat rear tire. Good thing it happened when I was already parked safely and not when I was speeding along Daang Hari.

Clearly, this is God’s pattern. He always plans everything so well. He always rescues. He always saves. He always shows up at exactly the right time.

Day #17: Jesus wasn’t born into a perfect family. Before he came into this world, his parents had to deal with a lot of issues. Mary’s surprise pregnancy, Joseph’s initial fear and reluctance to assume the responsibility, and maybe their financial readiness too. But I guess in the end, what made them decide to work things out are two things: faith and love. They believe that building a family together is what the Lord wants from them and they love each other enough to rise above their personal issues. Although it wasn’t the most ideal situation, they made the best out of it by working hard to build a good life. May these two things guide us too as we face the many challenges of raising and keeping our families together.

Day #18: Amidst the whirlwind of christmas parties, get-togethers, reunions, special events, and shopping, my fervent prayer is this: Lord, unrush me.

Day #19: May prayer tonight: Lord, may I find the time, space, and energy in this busy season to prepare my heart for the coming of Jesus.

Day #20: Where did Baby Jesus go? I feared that the world had forgotten him.

I have always had this dream of making Christmas special for my students and so this year with the help of my colleagues in the level, I dared myself to achieve it, through service learning. Today, our Grade 2 students surprised the dedicated Outsourced Staff of our school from the auxilliary, security, and canteen department with gifts that they wish to receive this Christmas. Gifts as simple as pang noche buena, bagong helmet para mapalitan na yung sira, disenteng T-shirt, wall fan, laruang pambata, gift certificate sa isang restaurant para makakain sa masarap ang pamilya, nebulizer para sa 3 month old baby na kailangan pang ibyahe at dalin sa ospital kapag hinihika, at madaming pang “kahit ano po basta bukal sa pusong” hiling ngayong pasko.

To make Christmas special for my students. That was the dream, that was the plan and today, we achieved it. It became special because for a change, there was a reversal of roles. The ates and kuyas who provide them help, care, and protection in school everyday were the ones at the receiving end. They were the ones smiling from ear to ear, squealing in delight, tearing up in joy, not quite believing that the simple yet deepest desires of their hearts this Christmas were granted by the Grade 2 students. Special because for a change, it puts Christmas in a different light. My student, Neena, sums up the exprience beautifully when she said, “We did not get any gift from them. (Instead) We gave them gifts, (yet) it also feels soooo good. My partner keeps on thanking me and I (just) keep on smiling and smiling (at him) because I am thinking, I might have given him the best Christmas.”

Where did Baby Jesus go? My students have not forgotten him. In fact today, these kids just gave him the best tribute.

Day #21: Bianca woke up excited this morning because she’s going to spend time with her bestfriend, Cathy, today. They rarely see each other since Cathy goes to another school now and lives far from our place. They miss each other so much that each time they part ways, they would start counting the days till their next sleep over. They would both wait in joy and in quiet anticipation for that day to come, and when it finally does, I imagine, it must probably feels like Christmas for both of them. Are you waiting for Christmas the same way too? Four days to go before this much anticipated occassion, are your hearts ready for Baby Jesus?

Day #22: My fervent advent prayer: May the lost and missing find their way home. May their angels bring them safely home.

Day #23: Advent is a season of waiting and waiting is one thing we are never really good at. We often wonder, why do we have to wait long before we get the answer to our prayers? I guess sometimes God forces us to wait to remind us that it is His story, His plans, and His promises. He forces us to wait so it is clear to us that He is in control. He forces us to wait so we may learn to fully trust that He will deliver and save, as He promised.

Day #24: Tonight, I raise a glass of warm chocolate milk in holiday cheer and wish you and yours a very merry christmas. If you are lucky enough to be blissfully celebrating this special occassion with your whole family right now, I pray that the Lord will continue to bless and keep you together. If, on the otherhand, you are miles away from them, longing, or still grieving over their loss, or even lacking in want or in need, I pray that you find completeness, joy, and peace in Jesus. May He be enough for you this CHRISTmas and may you allow His loving presence to fill your heart with so much joy such that there will be no room in it for anything other than endless gratitude and love. Have a bliss/blessFULL CHRISTmas everyone.

Day #25: The birth of Jesus Christ, next to His crucifixion, was the most momentous event in the history of the world. It became the focal point of all history. Everything before Christ looked forward to His birth, and everything since then looks back at Him. It was such a crucial event that now all the world numbers years according to it. B.C. means “before Christ”, and A.D. means “anno domini,” “in the year of our Lord.” (John MacArthur Jr.)—His birth, which we know now as CHRISTmas, changed the world. Happy birthday, Jesus.

Do You Know Where Santa Is?

When I was a child, as soon as the calendar hits Dec. 1, my sister and I would be giddy with excitement. We would choose the oldest, tackiest work socks of my dad, and we would hang them by the window and wait in anticipation for morning to come. True enough, every morning till christmas, there would be treats inside our socks–chocnut, tirador candy, piso etc. “Santa” always delivered the “goods.” But then, we never caught Santa in the act, just like the rest of the humanity. It was when we saw my dad one night, drunk and all, and struggling to put some candies in our socks that reality hit us–there was no Santa Claus, there were only sweet daddies who would willingly go to great lengths just so their children can have the best magical christmas experience.

Though disillusioned by the whole Santa thing, the sight of the big old guy in full red get-up still never fails to excite me even up to now. Every year, my first glimpse of the big red guy in department stores or anywhere marks for me the beginning of christmas. And up until now, I still wait with batted breath for the Coke christmas commercial to air on TV because they always portray Santa the best. And no fail, I’d still get same warm, fuzzy feeling everytime I watch it.

Last weekend, I discovered this nice place in Imus, Cavite called Majical Store that sells great Santa stuffs. You can just imagine how giddy I was the whole time I was there. They usually open their Santa store as soon as it hits October. Their Santa miniatures are made of fiber glass and colored with automotive paints so you need not worry about Santa getting wilted and paint getting washed off of him after a night or day of rain if you choose to place him outdoors. Their prizes are reasonable too, small ones starts at 300 and the big ones range from 1,500 to 3,000 depending on the size and design. They have small Santas and big Santas, swinging Santa and flying Santa. You name it, they have it. Here are some snapshots of the big old guy in red:

bookworm Santa

Santa having a good time with Rein (deer)

string of Santas

Ponsettias in different colors

Big and small Santa

Santa checking if you are on his list

they sell candles and lots of cute stuffs too

If you happen to live in the South and is out on a hunt for the perfect Santa for your home, check out Majical Store along Buhay na Tubig in Imus, Cavite. This is where you will find lots of him, in all shapes and sizes. He definitely is Ho-Ho-Ho ready to give your home the best magical christmas experience.:)

Top Ten Worst Christmas Gifts

Christmas is coming.  I can feel it in the air.  The cool breeze that greets me each morning clearly spells christmas.  I am starting to get giddy with excitement.  I am excited to put up that christmas tree, hang that capiz chistmas lantern, set-up the belen, plan the christmas menu and  of course hit the malls and different bazaars for my christmas shopping.  Over the years my list has become shorter and shorter.  Not because I’ve become stingy at this old age but because giving gifts for me has become short of something special.  Hey, I’m no Santa Claus, I am more likely one the reinders cursing Santa for putting us through those long agony of delivering presents all over the world if I had ever lived during his time.  Anyway, back to my stinginess, I mean my reinvented gift giving.  I used to give everyone I know gifts. I used to spend my whole christmas bonus buying gifts.  I would buy things in bulk and give them away, you know, whatever is cheap in bulk in divisoria so I can give everyone gifts.  But after receiving the same items that i gave away for christmas myself one christmas, I started to feel aghast and question my whole point of christmas gift giving.  And so I lay down the rules for myself, i would only give gifts to people who are very dear to me and I would only buy gifts for them that I know they would truly like and love.  I don’t want them to feel disappointed every time they open up their gift after tearing the wrapper in excitement only find the top ten worst christmas gift ever..that’s truly a heartbreak…so if you really, truly care about the person you would give gifts to this christmas, do not give them these:

10. Fruticake…Whoever invented this cake, I want to strangle him/her.  Every year we receive a lot and not even one we eat coz we suspect that these things called fruticakes are just doing the rounds because not everybody wants it.

9.  Rosary…I mean everybody has one special one so why think that he/she needs another one.  We only need one to be able to pray the rosary.

8.  Scented Candles…no imagination at all, the giver of this.  The regular brownout is long gone so people don’t really need this, it will definitely just stay in one corner until given away as recycled gift or will be used to shoo away the flies during a party. Sad.

7.  Handmade Soaps…let’s face it, not everyone will experiment with their skin and use these handmade soaps all at once.  Besides, anyone I know has already his/her own brand that he/she absolutely swears on.

6.  Picture Frame in plastic, in wood or in cheap crystals...not everyone is a picture display addict.  Now, they would rather store it in there notebook/laptop and click it at their own convenience.

5. Handkerchief/face towel with name…man! this is so last year! or worst so last decade! I mean the person you’re giving it to would totally not forget you–that is everytime he/she wipes his/her sweat or blows his/her nose..ew! you don’t want to be remembered that way, believe me!

4.   Silver/gold Parker pen…it is so unimaginative and boring, unless he/she has this peculiar way of collecting these kind of pens.  It is for people who can’t waste time in thinking so they resort to the most convenient gift–pens.

3.   Chinese coin purses..if you give this, the ones in divisoria or in the streets of baclaran…you have this word written all over you—MAKUNAT a.k.a STINGY.

2.  Planner/calendar…you are in deep danger of becoming a relly boring christmas gift giver if you resort to giving away this one.  You will not be the only one giving away a calendar or plannerr to that person believe me.  By the end of the year, that person will have 2 or more of those calendars and that person definitely will use only one unless he/she puts them in every corner of the room.  So unless its something chic, unique or personalized, scrap this from your gift giving ideas.

1.  Mugs...if you give this away as gift you definitely are makunat (stingy), unimaginative and boring rolled into one.  Absolutely no originality and creativity in his/her bone.  You will be at the lowest level in the eyes of your recepient, a total crass.  Why? because you gave away something he/she already has since he/she graduated from the bottle and learned how to drink from the cup! Each person has one special one that he/she uses from his/her milk guzzling years down to his/her beer guzzling moments now.  Replacing his/her special mug is unthinkable.  So, your mug will just do the rounds like the others after the usually hypocrite “oh, so cute!” because nothing can replace the goo ol’ mug that a person’s mouth has been used to.  Shame on you for even thinking about it!:)

So if you want to be remembered in a nice way, do not give these gifts to your loved ones this christmas.  They say it is the thought that counts.  For me, it is not only the way the person remembered you that matters,  but add to that also are the exta mile that that person willingly went through, and the thought that that person put into that gift just so that he/she can give you the perfect one also matter.

Happy christmas shopping!:)