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Thursday, January 26, 2012

I Am Home

More than a year ago, I never would have thought I would be in this place, this place where God has led me to out of the stormy desert of my life.

It's been a year since my son Marti and I joined the Makati Feast and it wasn't an easy journey, filled with growth pains and despite the miraculous turnabout that God blessed my life with through the Feast, I would still sometimes find myself asking why do I have to be there weekly. I've always had an insecurity over belonging so when I begin to feel left out in a place or event, I also start doubting my presence there. And that self-consciousness made our first few months attending the Feast a mighty struggle for me especially when I knew no one there. Marti seemed to fit right away, finding his place at the Kids' Ministry which made me more nervous sitting  alone in a room full of strangers for an hour or so.

But it's amazing how God would simply not let me be disheartened because when I seem to be in those insecure moments, I would feel His encouragement through the warmth and sincerity of the people of the Makati Feast. 

The first step was the hardest but was worth it: I decided to show up every week. In all honesty, my initial intention in coming to the Feast was based on integrity (I always, always keep my promises even if it's just made to myself) and little else. And then I met Tita Eva Relova and everything started to change. 

One night while buying "Feel God, Feel Good" t-shirts for me and Marti, Tita Eva began to talk to me and finding out I was a solo mom, she encouraged me to join the Solo Parents Caring Group. She promised to have the CG Heads contact me for the membership details. Boosted by Tita Eva's concern, I decided to say yes. 

The following week, entering the doors of the AIM Conference Center, a cool-looking dude called out my name "Millicent!" as if we've known each other for so long. It was Brother Monty Mendigoria, he was the first Feaster to add me up in Facebook and to welcome me he asked his wife Sister Yolly to give me a free CD of the Feast's worship songs. It was such a kind gesture from someone I only met on that day.

In the weeks that followed, I came to know Brother Noli Benavent in one of the icebreaker activities then Sister Faye Dondiego who was the second one to add me up in Facebook. The CG Cycle began and I met our CG Head Sister Gail Franco and later Brother Jay San Luis. Becoming a part of MasiPag (Married Individuals and  Single Parents Caring Group) and finding friends among all my CG mates has blessed me a hundredfold---this is a group where we comforted each other in our unique situation as parents and as individuals. The Sunday Feast started and I was warmly welcomed with a hug by Sister Anne Relova whom I had no idea knew me at all.

The last quarter of 2011 was the toughest time for me as a Feaster. The Lord was calling me to participate more in His Ministry and it was such a tall order at a time when I was swamped with financial and family problems. I had heard great things about the Kerygma Conference and after hesitating for a long time, I bought my ticket just 1 day before the event. Of course, I hesitated,  I was going to be alone again in a room of strangers and this time for an entire day! But still I went and turned out God was waiting to bless me more with not just the phenomenal speakers but more with the other solo parent Feasters I came to know and share stories with. 

But my most trying part of that year was at the Makati Feast Christmas party. I had looked forward to this because Marti was one of the 3 Kings in the Nativity Scene and yet on that night feelings of being left out was so overwhelming, I sulked on my chair the whole night without talking to anyone and not even partook in the buffet dinner. I began to question myself again why do I even have to show up here when I still feel alone after all that's  happened? And as I was about to leave before the program was over, a person beside me who also came alone began to talk to me. Her name was Sister Lydia, a widow (another solo parent!) and who was so concerned that I hadn't eaten at all, offered to get me food! I thanked her and politely declined but deep inside I was beaming that the Lord is not only faithful to those who are faithful to Him but also relentless in helping those who have committed to Him.

A year later, here I am: a CG Head apprentice and just signed up to serve in the Set Design Ministry. From someone who was in despair and completely clueless when I came through the doors of the AIM Conference Center for my first Makati Feast, I am now basking in the infinite grace of the Lord who had brought me to a place where my son and I found another family and feel we truly belong--- 

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Not Worth All the Work

Friday night, I saw the guy I liked (gosh, sounding juvenile there) OK, a guy I was attracted to and I suddenly felt so insecure. The last time I felt that way was back in high school and I never thought this would haunt me again in my mid 30s. 

Tried hard to fight it with ego-boosting thoughts but instead, what came into my mind was "you're not worth all the work." Sad. But what's even sadder was I believed that. I mean, for someone single such as this guy I liked to even think of dating me, he'd have to consider my status of being a solo mom, my responsibilities, my age (especially when this guy is younger than me), my career, etc. 

The last time I seriously dated was 9 years ago and my last serious relationship was 12 years ago (Marti's Dad) and when people ask me why I'm not dating, it's like adding insult to injury so out of politeness I'd usually answer that I'm too busy with family, career and service. In the first place, although my life views have changed drastically over the years, I still believe that the "asking out" should still be a male responsibility. Second, most of the men who ask me out are either too old (as old as my Dad or even older!) or too married or worse, both! 

It's not as if I'm not open to dating. Just a few days ago, talking over the phone with my cousin Paola, I replied to her question that of course I was ready for marriage. Her comment was "you may be open to marriage but you should be open to dating first." That was quite insightful but it made me think about the blind date I went on almost 3 years ago. As I strode into the restaurant and approached the table where my blind date was, I reached out to shake  his hand with the warmest smile I could give and the first thing this guy says  to me is "Naku mukha kang mayaman (oh my you look like you're rich)" Wow, this guy hasn't even heard a word from me and he already thinks I'm too much work! OK, the guy may have self-confidence issues but the experience somehow made me think that dating, at least for blind dates, could take a backseat for the time being. 

Looking back now I realize, that's just it, I AM a lot of work. Simply because I have put a lot of work in myself. I've worked hard  on my self-confidence so much so that I hold my head up high when I say I'm a solo parent to a wonderful son. So if you're insecure, I'd be too much work. That I've learned to celebrate my curves and make peace with my physical flaws. So if you're narrow-minded, I'd be too much work. That I've reached the pinnacle of my career on my own, continue to be a voracious learner and even find time to serve the Lord in the best way I can. So if you can't handle that, I'd be too much work. 

As one of my favorite authors, Dr. M. Scott Peck says, "the antithesis of love is laziness" therefore if a man thinks that I'm not worth the work then he's not worth the love. 

One last thing, to Mr. Nice if you think I'm sorta aloof because I keep looking away when you're near and you're not going to find out why (it's because I like you, silly), then it's your loss :D

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Becoming Brave

Suffering from dysmenorrhea and migraine, I spent the day home instead of the many social commitments I had last Saturday: St. Paul Makati's 1st Grand Reunion, St. Paul Pasig High School Grand Reunion and a night out with my Grade School batch-mates. 

It's probably the stress taking it's toll on me again. Stress from overwhelming bills, expenses, pressure from everywhere topped off with stress from my job. Don't get me wrong but I really, really love my job especially my boss and his wife who are like my parents otherwise I wouldn't have lasted for 7 years there. But the imminent management transition has gotten me nervous about my financial security or more importantly, my family's (that's me and Marti) future.

It's just that I promised myself that this would be my last job, that I would just wait til my bosses retire then I would be my own boss, going full-time with my Virtual Assistant job, expanding my handmade accessories business and finally finish the book I've been working on. Being a voracious reader of financial and business books lately had drastically changed my goals and motivations in life. I don't want to look forward to retirement and a measly monthly pension. That way of life has done nothing good to the elders in our family and I swore that I will not have the same situation when I reach their age. I know deep within my soul that I was not meant to be a mere employee but someone who can reach her maximum potential. As T. Harv Eker says in his book, "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind":
By the way, if you don't have the time to do things you want or need to do, then you're probably a modern slave.

But being a parent, especially a solo mom, it would seem a selfish act to choose to pursue one's passion when you're the only one who brings home the bacon. Problem is whenever I try to stopple the creative juices, the suppression manifests physically. So here come the occasional migraine and a bout of depression and lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling, I began asking God again of the question I always ask Him in my weak moments: what else would You have me do? Yeah, despite my renewed faith, I still have flashes of self-doubt and despair. 

But it is in these moments that God would choose to answer me in the simplest of ways. While browsing my latest addiction Pinterest, I came upon this success story about a handicrafter mom

I started to cry. I cried because I felt the hardships and the despair Jenna Sue went through. And I cried because I realized that although I have been brave as a daughter and as a mother, I have never been brave for myself. I had to tough it out when my Mom got sick because I was the only one who could take care of her since my Dad had to work and my sister was still in medical school. Against all odds, I chose to be a solo parent knowing that I would be alone in raising my child despite the love and support of my family. I've always wanted to be a fashion designer--- it was my dream since I was 8---yet I didn't pursue it thinking that it wasn't a college degree so I took the next best thing which was interior design but I was never happy and to this day I have not practiced my degree. If only I was brave...

Coming across Jenna Sue's story, I believe God is telling me that it's never too late and that His plans for me are yet to unravel. So from now on, I will silence the voices that feed my fear of fulfilling my goals in life and let God take over the wheel. After all, He's a much better driver in taking me to the road of fulfilled dreams!

"Begin to weave and God will give you the thread~German Proverb" 
 (Got this from the Facebook page of co-Paulinian  Bernardita Regina)

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