Tag Archives: Christmas

To Forgive is to Give

As the saying goes, we cannot choose our family.

Loving and giving are Christmas components. Although we say that everyday should be Christmas, it is never easy to be loving and giving especially to individuals who continue to push the wrong buttons, rub us the wrong way or have a whole different value system compared to ours.

But sometimes, we fail to realize that if they are a work in progress, so are we! It is really a (physical) conscious effort on our end to embrace diversity, and be loving (and forgiving) particularly to people we don’t see eye to eye with.

To fore-give is to give grace ahead of time and grace undeserved, hence forgiving is giving: forgiving a parent, forgiving a sibling, forgiving a spouse, forgiving a friend, and even the grace of forgiving one’s self.

We may not have the ability of choosing our parents, family or present circumstances, but we have the ability of choosing forgiveness either of past pain or of future hurts, simply because we value the person more. Despite the many flaws of the relationship, we value the hidden heart of the person.

This may be the last Christmas I will be spending with my grandmother before I loose her completely to Alzheimer’s disease but I am thankful that I got to see her in her prime and had the opportunity to see the person she has become: a gentle, kind and happy soul who has never failed to smile at life’s setbacks while embracing with open arms her severely flawed children and grandchildren. The ability to fore-give and be gentle is courage in itself. My grandmother is the warrior woman personified.

As we hold our breaths in anticipation and celebrate another Christmas with ‘strangers’ we can barely stand, it is the mere act of forgiveness that makes us ‘family’.

Thank you Grammy for teaching me this not through words, but through your life.

Have a Merry Christmas everyone!

Expecting the Unexpected for Year 2014

Tomorrow I will be leaving with a friend for a hiking trip.

It will be a first for me and I am nervous to the core. I have to admit, I am not much of an “outdoor person”. When I say “outdoor”, I mean camping/hiking/mountain trekking. Though I thrive on biking, running, and swimming; mountain trekking and camping, to put it subtly, is not my cup of tea.

I did camping once in high school and I never did it again. I couldn’t sleep because of the mosquitoes, the uncomfortable little rocks hitting my back when I slept, and the bad food. I remember vividly that we had to cook a crudely opened can of corned beef that was supposed to suffice as dinner! We also had to share a commode which was not exactly the best experience for a cleanliness obsessed young girl. I hated camping and I still secretly do. It brought back memories of aching joints, holding back pee, and morning breath.

But there were other ways of entertaining oneself, and camping, thankfully, was just a shadow of the past (or so I thought). I prefer the leisurely and comfortable way of seeing the world: Hotels, concrete itineraries, warm beds, nice showers, a functioning toilet, creature comforts — things that camping or hiking will never offer.

So why the change of heart? It got me thinking that maybe I am not fully embracing God‘s abundant provisions in my life because I am constantly stopping or limiting myself. To add more to this enlightenment, I got this in my email today – God has no shortage of resources. In terms of receiving God’s provision, I sometimes have to remind myself to expect the unexpected.”

To expect the unexpected. I didn’t like it one bit. Obviously, I am not a fan of surprises. I like routine, structure, plans, and ofcourse, my delicious addiction – a sense of being in control.

Just a little after Christmas, I reminded myself to make a 2014 plan. What I wanted to achieve in the year to come on a per month and per quarter basis (told you I was a freak).When I pulled out my excel sheet, I just stared at it. I didn’t have anything substantial to put in. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have a plan. What is wrong with me? (Must be the chicken from Christmas eve dinner).

Usually, when I do my planning, numbers was a great way to start. Putting in actual figures gave a sense of control, of targets, of something achievable. But now my brain drew blanks.

Don’t get me wrong, the year 2013 was a great year for me. My annual planning was effective, but I didn’t achieve everything to the letter. And the best parts of my year was thanks to the little unexpected surprises that sneaked their way in. Odd isn’t it?

This year, I am going to do something radical. For 2014, it’s going to be different: I will not lead me, the Lord will. I am letting Jesus Christ take the reins from here on. Whatever His will, I will accept it, and be thankful for them regardless of the circumstances. No more of me. This time, this year, He will be in control. The question is: do I have the courage to fully embrace it?

It may be a tall order for an obsessive-compulsive, controlling, neat freak such as myself but with God’s grace, it’s a humble start. I am offering all my plans, hopes and dreams to Him because He promised that if I trust and obey, He will follow through. For this year, I will brazenly challenge that promise. I know the Lord will forgive me for going this extreme in my faith but I don’t think He’ll mind. I am, after all, His child.

And this is in great hopes that my trip will be the first of many adventures to a new and improved Miss Tolentino for 2014.

Have a wonderful New Year everyone! 

Finding Solace on Christmas Day

It’s only a couple of hours before Christmas day, and right now, the house is a complete standstill. Everyone’s in their rooms resting in preparation for tonight’s festivities.

And this is just the opportune time for me to think thoroughly why we are celebrating this occasion. The company of family is heartwarming, parties with friends are good as well, gifts are nice to receive and give. Everything feels good right now. But there are some people I know who will be celebrating alone. Right now, this very instant, alone on Christmas eve.

My friend, this post is for you.You are not alone. You never have been.

Christmas offers many truths, but surely this is one: You are of great worth to God.

Taking these cues, I bring you a prayer and a blessing:

To all who’ve been dismissed or tossed aside;

To all who, made bitter by the cracks in your story, now tremble or seethe at the mention of ”love”;

To every weary-boned parent saddled with regret or loss or despair;

To every child, grown yet still yearning for tenderness and acceptance;

To every one of us who compulsively judge our reflection in the mirror or replay conversations over and over or carry every criticism to a dark, dark place;

To each of us who are ashamed of our fears and our machinations and who hide the fact that in our own sophisticated ways we still have to leave the light on at night.

I pray that you will know, these beautiful days, the profound worth of your soul, the sturdy weight of your being. There is an astounding splendor in you—and I know this because the God of all beauty and power has called you into existence. And God delights in the sheer presence that is you. – Winn Collier

The Lord is closest to the struggling, the empty and especially the broken. Today, rejoice. You are not alone. You don’t have to be. Jesus’ very birth is the reason why those who are in their darkest can find solace and comfort in the fact that He was born to us.

Smile my friend. Our Saviour is born.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a  manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  - Luke 2
And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
– Luke 2

A Man is at his Finest…

Lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans

At Christmas, a man is at his finest towards the finish of the year;

He is almost what he should be when the Christmas season’s here;

Then he’s thinking more of others than he’s thought the months before,

And the laughter of his children is a joy worth toiling for.

He is less a selfish creature than at any other time;

When the Christmas spirit rules him, he comes close to the sublime.

― Edgar Guest

This statement encapsulates my thoughts, experiences and being for the 12 months that passed: A little less me and more of WHO what God wants me to be. I am truly grateful and thankful for the opportunity to live this life, be a better human being and to be able to share my gifts with others.

Though still struggling with so many things, I am still hopeful for bigger and better things ahead.