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Posts Tagged ‘Closer to God’


Yeay, happy December friends.  December morning breeze. It’s cold outside.

Did you notice? WordPress has again activated the falling icicles in our posts.  It’s lovely, isn’t it?

I’ve been looking forward to December. I guess it’s actually the best month of the year,  a joyful season to celebrate and to bring joy to others too.  Trite as it may sound and no matter how commercialized the celebration of Christmas has become, it is still the best  season to share, to bond with families and friends  and to remember the sacrifice Jesus has made for mankind.  It’s the season of faith, the season of joy and the season of togetherness.

I remember some old Christmas past. Back in the province when we were younger, Christmas was celebrated solemnly, attending the midnight mass and having Noche Buena later. Although it was way, way different from how we celebrate it today, it was the best. Mom would prepare a simple Noche Buena meal  of pancit bihon, suman and hot chocolate. Dad would bring home lots of apples and quezo de bola and a big box of old clothes donated by the high school students of the university (UST) where he used to work and mom would distribute them to our neighbors. My uncle would cook binungey, a delicacy native to Pangasinan. It’s made of  malagkit (sticky rice) and coconut cream cooked in bamboo and is lined up over fire and charcoal.  I think that’s the best there is in cooking rice cakes. You just have to cut the bamboo in half to get the cooked malagkit inside.

A simple fare of binungey.

A simple fare of binungey.

Back then, we didn’t have exchange gifts at home  but Mom and dad would buy us simple toys to play with.  The grade school days were the same when Christmas comes near. We would find a robust tree outside and decorate it with hand-made paper strings, cut colored paper made into small parols and stars, candies  and occasional plastic decor brought by our teacher. Exchange gifts are of simple things like hand towels, bath soap, pencils  or box of candies. We were happy receiving gifts that way.

Nowadays, celebration of Christmas has become a  little  extravagant. Instead of simple gifts, we give gadgets, expensive toys, and the like. Gone are those days when a box of candies would suffice. Christmas wouldn’t be one without ham, pasta, meat recipes, sweets,cakes and what have you.

I hope we would always remember why we celebrate Christmas. I hope we would always remember the little child born on Christmas day.

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Happy New Year and Merry Christmas!  New Year in the Catholic liturgical calendar begins each year with  the season of Advent.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. We went to mass early and it was cold outside. There was this early morning breeze  while we walked  the distance from our house to the subdivision gate and from the tricycle terminal to the church.  Advent season which begins today and  ends on December 24  lets us  prepare ourselves to receive God’s gift of Jesus. It is a time of “getting ready” for the celebration of Christmas.

advent-wreath-editThe four candles represent  the four Sundays in preparation for  Christmas. The purple color has traditionally been the color symbolizing repentance and fasting.The first purple candle is the Candle of  Hope, the second one is the Candle of Preparation while the fourth purple candle is the Candle of Love. The third candle which is lighted on Gaudete Sunday is called the Candle of Joy. Pink is a joyful color.

November is coming to a close, gently folding its leaves to welcome the cold December days. Ah, the joys of waiting for Christmas! The joys of waiting for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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It’s been  a long night. A lot of my friends and relatives saw the video of my interview last night. Come to think of it, I didn’t even tell them that there was a segment called Magic ng Pasko. I got hundreds of likes and several comments on the album I posted there. A generous friend took shots of the video and sent the photos to me.  It was the first episode in a series I think this Christmas season.  Here’s the hashtag that the GMA network used in this segment.

magic-ng-paskoThey  uploaded it on YouTube. It was done though in Tagalog so most of you won’t probably understand what’s been said. Anyway, I am posting it here for you to see. Not registering so well on TV I think, body fats are aplenty… haha!

Some say they got inspired by the story. Some say they admire the strength I had facing such a predicament. Some say they admire my faith amidst such trials.  I say that God’s graces are immeasurable. I think of what happened as a test of strength, how far one can endure, how far one can go on and how far one can  let the magic of Christmas stay alive in our hearts. It’s been seven long years and I know I am healed.

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praying-that-the-saints-hold-you-in-their-love-and-bless-you-with-their-grace-always-happy-all-saints-day

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I hope it is not too late to say “happy birthday  Mama Mary”. 

For those of you who read  my blog regularly, you might have noticed that since 2011, I’ve been getting upward spike every time I blog about Mama Mary’s birthday and the bulk of views comes from my country. I love Mama Mary.  Yes, every September 7 and September 8, I get notifications from  WordPress. Last year was the highest so far with a total of 4,893 in one day alone.

WordPress has sent me notifications  since the other day and again I am amazed by the amount of views I got until this morning. This one is the latest so far with this message:

Your blog, DREAMS AND ESCAPES, appears to be getting more traffic than usual! 303 hourly views – 6 hourly views on average
A spike in your stats.

wordpress

Your blog, DREAMS AND ESCAPES, appears to be getting more traffic than usual! 303 hourly views – 6 hourly views on average A spike in your stats

Translated into numbers, I got 2,020 views the other day and 2,713 views as of this morning. It is still moving upward. Thank you Mama Mary, my blog posts about you are instrumental in these numbers.

May you all be touched with everyday blessings.

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It’s a wet and cold morning and it’s been raining on and off since the start of the weekend.  Hanging habagat  (southwest monsoon) is definitely here. It was a busy weekend though. It’s a good thing we were able to finish some gardening chores early.

When you are forced to stay at home because of the weather, you either keep busy or you relax to your heart’s content.  I did both…haha! Aside from gardening, I was able to find time to read two books over the weekend and to watch two movies on YouTube.  Yes, you heard it right.  For the first time in so many years, I caught myself finding some inspirational movies that would lift the soul and strengthen faith. The Song of Bernadette did just that. I could not remember the last time I watched this movie. I found a version in Blu-Ray. The Song of Bernadette is a 1943 drama film that tells the story of Bernadette Soubirous, a young visionary of Lourdes  who later became a saint. From February to July 1858 in Lourdes, France, she  reported eighteen visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This  film is based on the true story of Bernadette Soubirous, and adapted from the book written by  Franz Werfel.  What a lovely, lovely way to spend two hours straight infront of my computer and see this film.

Lately, I was lucky enough to find more books on faith and redemption and how beautiful life could be  despite the treacherous journey  and the unfaithfulness of mankind.  Alicia Ruggieri  is new on my list  of authors  and I like her writing style. She writes grace-filled and Christ-centered fiction. If you have time, try to read her A Time of Grace trilogy. The first book made me really cry and think of life, it’s beauty and its angst. The Fragrance  of Geraniums is such a beautiful book.  I am in the middle of reading the second one entitled All Our Empty Places  which picks up the story where it left off in the first one. I wonder if I’ll be able to find the third and the concluding book in the trilogy. I am not really into trilogies but this one is worth it. There are those stories that make you feel they’re real and you get into them like you would a story of a friend or yours, you feel the sadness, the triumphs and the pain. You feel that hope is not a dead thing but a journey that makes you look forward to another day.

A friend  suggested another writer and poet. The blog is truly inspiring. I searched the link. You may visit it here.

It’s raining still  and I am caught with these words, we are all special in God’s eyes.  God’s grace overflows.

 

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WOW!

If there is a rating more than five stars, I’ll give this book a six. It’s one of the best books I’ve read to date, my 70th out of the 100 books I challenged myself to finish for  Goodread’s 2016 Reading Challenge. I am afraid my review would not be enough to describe the beauty of this book, how well-written it is so I won’t even attempt to write one. Suffice to say, this book is beautiful, inspiring, awesome…..beautiful, inspiring, awesome. Truly a masterpiece. Lisa Wingate is a gifted writer.

prayerbox-standingcover I didn’t know I was on the last page when I read these lines.

“None can contain the magnificence of a wave kissing sand or the perfect spiral of a shell drying translucent in the sun or the fire of morning over endless water.

Or the beauty of a hummingbird as it hovers just an arm’s length away, mysteriously out of season on the day before Thanksgiving, it’s wings stroking air,rapid, invisible, powerful. Frozen in time for only an instant.

And then it flies away, growing smaller and smaller against the blue of an endless sky. Until finally it disappears into heaven.”

There are so many lovely quotes that I found in this book that  I copied  to my journal.  The prayer box reminds me of another blog post I wrote exactly a year ago. My  thought box is a discarded chocolate tin which contains  square  scratch papers of different size and color (filled with words, quotes, single lines, messages and reminders) which I have to sort out again  whereas the prayer box is a treasure trove of  inspiring words and letters religiously documented over the years.

When a book touches  you where it matters the most, it is certainly a winner.

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