Tag Archives: marjorie duterte

How to Be Brave

I always find visiting a wake sobering. It puts life into its proper perspective. I’ve been to many wakes before including my dad’s but it doesn’t get any easier even if you knew it would happen eventually. Still I have hope because I know that life on earth as we know it may end, but love does not.

Last Friday, our beloved Tito Rey Ortega died. He was an orphan who built an orphanage, and started many ministries in the Light of Jesus family including Pag-Asa ng Pamilya Scholarship Foundation for the underprivileged youth; Grace to Be Born, a halfway house for unwed mothers; Tahanan ng Pagmamahal, a home for street children; Jeremiah Foundation, a safe place for abused girls; Jesus Christ Cares for Cancer, a ministry for cancer victims, and the Hail Mary ministry for lepers in Abra.

Tito Rey lived a full life filled with love and a generous heart. I truly believe he went straight to heaven having fulfilled his mission on earth. I imagine God welcoming him with a big, warm hug, saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23).

I am personally going to miss Tito Rey’s funny e-mails. Even in his sickness, he can crack a joke or two. His lightheartedness and full acceptance of the suffering he has been given inspires me.

He died to himself every day, so that others may live. I thank God for Tito Rey’s beautiful soul. I believe He is throwing a party just for him! Receive him Lord in your mercy, joy, and warm embrace.

In his life, Tito Rey taught me how to love. In his death, he is teaching me how to be brave.

Sometimes, I am a scaredy cat! There are things that I am still afraid of fully embracing, like diving fully into business, like falling in love, like getting out of my comfort zone. I guess I am afraid to be hurt or to feel pain, or to die. I realized that you could experience death not only physically, but also emotionally, and spiritually, and yes even socially when you experience rejection. Rejection is death. Sometimes we are afraid of being rejected that’s why we don’t even try to love.

My good friend Kirby, who wrote The Fired Up Life, told me recently, “Marj, fear is not compatible with love. It cannot share the same space.”

I held my breath for a moment, and wrote it on a tissue paper so I won’t forget.

Sometimes we give in to fear that’s why we fail to love.

Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

What is more important than what you are afraid of?

I am hoping it is something that you love.

To overcome fear, you must make your love bigger.

If I let my fear of vulnerability or rejection get the better of me, I wouldn’t be able to share my heart with you, and I would have deprived you of what you could learn from my mistakes and failures.

If I remained afraid of what other people would think of me, I wouldn’t write nor speak, and I would have deprived you of insights that could help you live a full life. But I overcome the fear every time by thinking of you who read this. I don’t want my dreams to die with me because I want to give you the love that you deserve.

Our gifts are not ours. A gift is not a gift until it is given away. It is meant for others. So, next time you are afraid to share yourself, and I say this also to myself, make your love bigger than your fear!

Leaving you now with this gem of a song from Josh Groban simply called, “Brave.” I pray that you will reach out, stand out, step out, and find your reason to be brave.

Let’s live life fully and completely! And when the time comes for our own wake to take place, I hope we can all look back to a life well lived, without an urn of what-ifs. I pray we’ll live a full life spent loving God and others every day.

At the end of life, the only question that truly matters is: Did I love?

I believe Tito Rey’s answer was: Yes.

I hope we can say the same. <3

Pearls of Truth

“For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but rather of power and of love…   – 2 Timothy 1:7

“So do not fear, for I am with you;  do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

“There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear.” – 1 John 4:18

“Let love be your highest goal.” – 1 Corinthians 14:1

“Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life!” – Leo Buscaglia

PS. Do not be afraid to die. Be afraid of not loving. It is love that will endure beyond this life.

Finding Your Balance

In a popular coffee shop while writing this entry and there is so much noise 🙁 It is difficult to concentrate. But such is the cacophony of life. We encounter much noise in our lives every day too. There are lots of things vying for our attention, sometimes the essentials are sacrificed; the small stuff overwhelm the things that matter most. It is so easy to get distracted. It is so easy to miss the point.

The past few weeks have been really tiring for me. I have a full time job in an inspiring publications company. In the evenings, I meet with people, attend to freelance work and accomplish other tasks . On weekends, I give workshops and talks and sing  at the Feast. I also blog, copywrite for small businesses, coach others to write their books and edit some of them. Because of all these tasks, there are days that I find myself aching physically, my whole body literally hurts. My energy is depleted.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love my work and the things that I do. 🙂 There are days though when the spirit is willing but the body is weak. I need some rest. I need more sleep. I’m not married yet but I can just imagine mothers who need to attend to their family and children after work. How tired they must feel! Maybe that’s why the number one gift most mothers want on Mother’s Day is no other than sleep, according to a survey.

Out-of-balance and overwhelmed with a long to-do-list, I am reminded of what is written in Ecclesiastes 1:1 — “There is a time for everything. An appointed time under the heavens.” I felt God reminding me to go back to the basics, to know what’s important and what’s not, to let go of the unnecessary and to prioritize the essential.

Sometimes I forget that I am a human being and not a human doing. I forget that I am a daughter, a sister and a friend too.

Life can be very busy indeed with tasks and things to do. How do we manage it all without breaking down? I think the right question to ask ourselves would be, what are we busy with?  Do we have time for what’s truly important? How’s the state of our relationships? How is our relationship with God? With ourselves? With our loved ones?

I believe you also wear many hats.

Life is a constant challenge of finding your balance, juggling all the balls you hold in your hands. Maybe it’s your work, studies, membership in an organization, your time with family, colleagues and friends. When you don’t have balance in your life, you get over-fatigued, burned out, and sick emotionally, mentally and physically!

Here are some valuable tools that helped me manage my time, which I hope can help you also manage your life and restore your balance.

When you feel out of whack, you may feel there’s just too much going on and things are in a mess. Papers get piled on top of the other, the books are in disarray, clothes are left unwashed. You feel overwhelmed. The first thing to do is to put things in order. To remember again what goes on top of the list.

What are your priorities?

Identify your priorities. If the list is 100 items long, even 10 each day, then you’re not really prioritizing. For me, it helps to list three up to five priorities each day, those things that impact the important areas of my life — spiritual, emotional, financial, intellectual, and physical.

To help you identify which you should prioritize, here’s a clip that clearly illustrates what you should consider as your rock, pebble and sand.

Schedule and Plan Ahead

It helps to carve a time in your week, maybe an hour or two every Saturday or Sunday, to plan your week ahead. Schedule your rocks for the coming week. They should include your non-negotiables such as your weekly date with your loved ones, prayer/quiet time, hobbies  (doing something that you love to do, those activities that give you life and bring out the best in you). Schedule time for exercise, it can be as simple as walking for 30 minutes or running before going to the office or school.

Learn to Trust Others and Delegate Tasks

Trust and delegate things that other people can do, who can in fact do it better than you. Identify those things, which you cannot delegate, those things that you alone can do. For example, you cannot delegate being a wife, husband, sister, brother, daughter or best friend.

After scheduling your rocks, ask yourself these three questions developed by John Maxwell, which have been particularly helpful to me in making decisions. Maxwell shared that before deciding where to invest his time, he asks himself three important things. I got these questions from his book, Today Matters:

  1.  What is REQUIRED of me?

“Any realistic assessment of priorities in any area of life must start with a realistic assessment of what you must do. For you to be a good spouse or parent, what is required of you? To satisfy your employer, what must you do? If you lead others, then what must you personally do that cannot be delegated to anyone else? ”

These are the priorities we must make time for.

  1.  What gives me the greatest RETURN?

“As you progress in your career, you begin to discover that some activities yield a much higher return for the effort than others. After determining requirements, focus on choices with a high return on investment.”

I believe that relationships are the greatest investment of our time as well as responding to our calling or mission in life.

  1. What gives me the greatest REWARD?

“If you do only what you must, along with what is effective, then you will probably be highly productive. But you may not be content. I think it’s also important to consider what gives you personal satisfaction.”

We must also make time for joy, for the people and things that renew and recreate us, for the things that make us whole and balanced.

Someone once said, as we schedule our work, we must also schedule our rests.

We must make time for rest and play and not just work. We need to set time for our most important relationships because at the end of our lives, it’s our relationships that will matter most.

The Need for Focus

May I invite you now to think about your dreams? What is it that one thing that if you did it would make your 2016 unforgettable? What is your most valuable priority for this year? Allot 90 minutes of focused work to it once a day. Let that be one of your priorities.

Learn to say No to other things so that you can say yes to that one thing that God has called you to do. De-clutter your life. Let go of the unnecessary. Allot only a certain time to check your messages and newsfeed on Facebook. Social media can be a time waster if you don’t control your use of it.

Where does your Worth come from?

Sometimes we do too much because we want to prove ourselves. Sometimes we can’t say no because we want to please people and we want them to like us. We need to examine our hearts, the reason we do the things we do. Is it really what I want to do? Is it my passion? Or am I doing it so that others will accept me?

It is difficult and dangerous when we place our identity on the work that we do. I’ve realized that my identity is not dependent on my tasks and the roles that I play. Ask yourself, what if those things are taken away? Would you lose yourself, too? Even if those things are taken away, you can start again. Your worth is inherent. It is in you.

I used to have no identity of my own. I used to please others so that they wouldn’t leave me. I wanted to be accepted. I did not love myself. Until I realized by God’s grace, that my worth and my identity wasn’t based on outside circumstances. It is already in me. I am worthy simply because I am God’s child.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God, and such we are!” (1 John 3:1)

When I realized that I am God’s beloved and discovered my true identity in Him, I felt that my inner being was strengthened. I felt my identity was set on solid rock, that no outside circumstance could shake it. Knowing this, I feel relaxed, calm and peaceful. I can rest in this truth. It gives me a stress-free life because I don’t need to try hard to prove my worth. I am already worthy. And because I know I am worthy, I come from a place where I do things because I want to love, I want to give.

Learning to love myself by knowing my true identity in Christ, and coming from a place of love, I can give without expecting anything in return.

I know that you and I are capable of doing great things because we are made in the image and likeness of God who made the stars, the oceans, the Universe and all that’s in it. I am great because my God is great!

Take Care of Yourself

Sometimes we can attend to many people’s needs that we get depleted. It is important and essential that we also rest and replenish ourselves. Even batteries need to be recharged.

Each morning, we need to receive love so that we can give it away. In my experience, prayer in the morning recharges me. It sets the day. God loves me so that I have His love to give to others.

It’s so important to find time to rest. Please don’t wait to get sick to find time to rest. Make time for those hobbies that give you life, that re-create you again. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You did your best, now reward yourself and celebrate.

I realized that if I don’t take care of myself, I wouldn’t be able to take care of others. I would be resentful and I would be needy. But if I took care of myself by doing the essentials like eating healthy, getting that much needed sleep and exercise, I am able to give more of myself and I’d be happy doing it.

If I am happy about myself, I can share this happiness with others. But if I am filled with insecurities, I would project my insecurities to them. That’s why it’s so important to take care of yourself and to accept yourself, all of you, including your strengths and weaknesses. Do your best and then rest. Reward yourself too.

“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.” (Max Ehrmann)

Lastly, do not worry. Worry is the greatest time-waster. Nothing good ever happens when you worry. It just snowballs into fear and anxiety. Pray instead.

St. Paul counsels us: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6-7

Friend, Love yourself and you’ll be able to love others better too!

Forward 2016

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Happy New Year! I find this verse so timely as we find ourselves in 2016.

Two words stand out from these beautiful words from St. Paul which give us two valuable actions for change: Forgetting what lies behind and reaching Forward to what lies ahead.

The past is over but sometimes we can find ourselves stuck in it. I understand this very much because I used to make it my home too. One day, God asked me to move to a new address, to Freedom Street where love and joy were found.

I had to leave the past behind, to let go and allow God to heal it. Today, with His grace, I am free from the shackles of the past.  He wants the same for you too.

St. Paul teaches us to forget what lies behind. Our past sins, negative memories, circumstances that hurt us, people who’ve caused us pain, those things we need to surrender and forgive, our past regrets, mistakes and failures.

We forget the past except for valuable lessons learned which would help us build a better future.

This year, we turn our heads and face forward.

Where exactly should we be going?  St. Paul tells us to press on toward the goal.  In other words, to focus.  You cannot move towards any goal or reach it, if you’re not even looking at it or are always distracted. What are you eyeing on this year? Will it bring you closer to your true home?

St. Paul encourages us to press on toward the goal.

We are headed toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God. Where is that?  Heaven. What will lead us to heaven? Love. Who will lead us there? Jesus.

Amidst the many goals we have set for ourselves this year, let us aim for the ultimate prize, play to win for the things that what will last forever.

This year we are encouraged to leave the past behind because God’s plans for our future is filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

We may not be there yet but thank God that we are not who we used to be. Thank God for making all things new.

This year, let’s keep moving forward! May you press on toward the goal of your upward call. May you follow the path that leads you to the ultimate prize.

In the end, it’s the only thing that matters.

Pearl of Truth

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Cor 9:25)

Are you Humble?

This topic is close to my heart. I used to be really confused about what it means to be humble. Until one day God enlightened me through the wise words of my godmother, Sr. Rafaelie.  She said, “True humility is walking in the truth.”

Simply put, it’s being who you really are.

Recently, I was reminded of this again when I read Fr. Rudy Horst’s reflection on a Gospel reading. He also said that, “Humility rests on truth.”

“When Jesus teaches that ‘the one who humbles himself will be exalted,’ He does not say that the ones who shall be exalted are the ones who say they are ugly, not intelligent or uneducated when that is not the case.”

“People who deny their qualities are making God a liar because He gave them those qualities and they say they do not have them.”

I could not help but agree with Fr. Rudy. I realized that humility is not humiliation. Being humble is not about putting yourself down and thinking worse things about your self. It’s not about debasing yourself and ignoring your gifts. Rather, it is being true to them.

False humility is saying you are not talented, intelligent, or amazing, when the truth is you are. It is good to be reminded that to be truly humble is to be true to who you are.

But it does not end there. That’s just one part of the equation.

The crucial part of humility is acknowledging that the goodness, gifts and talents that you have actually comes from a Source. True humility is acknowledging the Source of the good that is in you.

What is the attitude then of a truly humble person?

Fr. Rudy continues, “The humble person will say or think: I am good-looking, thanks be to God who gave me my looks. I am bright, thanks be to God who gave me my intelligence. Humble people rejoice in their gifts because they see themselves truthfully as they are. They are great in the eyes of God.”

For me, the true model of humility is Mama Mary. When she learned that she was chosen from among all women in the world to be the mother of Jesus, she humbly accepted her precious role and she rejoiced in her Maker! Consider her Magnificat:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness. Behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:47-49).

True humility is rejoicing in the God who made you so wonderfully. Acknowledging the Source of the goodness that you possess is the mark of a truly humble person.

Here are things we can reflect on today:

Are you truly humble? Are you standing on the truth about yourself? Do you praise the One who gave you all the good that you have  – your gifts, roles, possessions, mission/purpose? Do you give credit where credit is due?

Pearl of Truth:

Realizing the good that we have been given, let us rejoice with humble hearts like Mama Mary did, “The Mighty One has done great things for me and holy is his Name!”

Our Prayer:

Dear God, help us to see ourselves the way you see us. May the good we find in ourselves turn to praise for You. Glory to You now and forever! Amen.

 

Seize Your Day

The day is almost over! Where did the hours go?  “Time flies so fast” won’t be a cliche if it weren’t so true.

Just how exactly do we redeem the day? How do we make our days more fruitful, more purposeful, more seized?

These three questions developed by John Maxwell have been particularly helpful to me. Just wanted to share this with you 🙂 He shared that before deciding where to invest his time, he asks himself three things, the 3R’s for Decision-Making. I believe if we consider these questions we will be able to use our time more wisely. The following are adapted from his book, Today Matters:

 

1.  What is REQUIRED of me?
“Any realistic assessment of priorities in any area of life must start with a realistic assessment of what you must do. For you to be a good spouse or parent, what is required of you? To satisfy your employer, what must you do? If you lead others, then what must you personally do that cannot be delegated to anyone else? ”

These are the priorities we must make time for.

2.  What gives me the greatest RETURN?
“As you progress in your career, you begin to discover that some activities yield a much higher return for the effort than others. After determining requirements, focus on choices with a high return on investment.”

I believe that relationships are the greatest investment of our time as well as responding to our calling or mission in life.

3. What gives me the greatest REWARD?
“If you do only what you must, along with what is effective, then you will probably be highly productive. But you may not be content. I think it’s also important to consider what gives you personal satisfaction.”

We must also make time for joy, for the people and things that renew and recreate us, for the things that make us whole and balanced.

Someone once said, as we schedule our work, we must also schedule our rests.  So true.

There’s another  valuable insight I learned from  a good friend,  Reyna Francisco-Tio, the creative mind behind Creative Styles on Shapes Inc. who designs and manufactures artisan jewelries from the Philippines to the world.

She said, “No matter how much our toil, if God does not bless it, we will only be grasping winds.”

“I  agree that we ought to do the steps now that would lead us to achieve what we hope for in the future. But more than this, I also believe that God is the ultimate author, the beginning and the end. The finisher of our fate. What would be best though is to ask God to align our plans, hopes, dreams and efforts to HIS will and plan.”

This is the true secret to success. I think it’s one of the best advices I’ve heard that can help us as we seize and make the most out of each day.

May God bless the plans of our hearts and the work of our hands! Carpe Diem!

Our Pearl of Truth: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3)

 

Special thanks to http://alcpdx.com for their wonderful photo.

Dare to Dream

When I was young, I wanted to become an astronomer but this dream faded away like a comet gone too soon. Maybe you wanted to be one too? I feel you! Perhaps most dreamers always want to aim for the stars. 🙂  And there is nothing wrong with that. 🙂

Yet back on land, I realized that there are those dreams that do not die in our hearts, persistent as the sun, no matter how old we grow. These are the dreams we must pursue for they are aligned to our mission in life.

You will know these deepest dreams because you have the raw materials to make them come true — your passions, interests, talent, things that move you.

God has has planted beautiful dreams in your heart and has already given you what you need to fulfill them. Your job is to discover them by listening to those persistent directions in your life.

What is that dream that never goes away, the one that tugs at your heart? Maybe it is building your own business, having your own home, writing your own book? What is that one dream that if it happens this year would make you feel happy and fulfilled?

I have found it helpful in making my own dreams come true  to begin by thinking of the end in mind. What would you like to happen, to have, to be, nine months from now?

Identify that one big dream that you would want to accomplish this year. Share it with someone who will remind and support you in achieving this. Make your miracle happen by allotting at least 90 minutes a day to do it. Make it a priority. Have a plan and stick to it. Surrender your dream to the Lord in prayer and do your part.

And when challenges and doubts set in, remember Mama Mary. When she received the message that she would conceive a child, she wondered how it would come to be but she believed because she knew that God is faithful. Angel Gabriel revealed to her the secret to making dreams come true: “For there is nothing impossible with God,” (Luke 1:37).

I believe that our dreams are also children born of the Spirit, with God’s guidance and blessing, all things are possible. What are you waiting for? 🙂

It’s About Time

There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15)

I knew of someone who brought a timer to work. It’s the one that you mechanically turn the dial and the alarm sets off when it’s time. She would allot a time block for every task she would need to accomplish. Because she went through a severe illness and recovered, she learned how to use her time wisely. Perhaps, she somehow knew that her time on earth was limited. Twelve years later, she died in her 50s when the illness recurred. But no regrets for her though, she had lived a full life. It was wise of her to keep time and use it wisely.

At the start of the year, we’re given a fresh 525,600 minutes to spend. It seems too many to count but as the cliché goes, time does fly really fast. It is our most precious resource. You know how sometimes moments and opportunities pass us by. But perhaps it wasn’t time for it to happen yet. Thank God that we now have new beginnings, we now have new chances to spend our time wisely from now on. Every time used to love is time well spent.

God has an appointed time for everything in our lives. Though we many not know the exact hour nor day when our dreams will finally come true, we can sense its fulfillment.

Jesus says, learn a lesson from the fig tree. “When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. “ (Matthew 24:32) You can feel it when something good’s about to happen. This year will surely be an exciting time for growth.

How about you? What would you like this year to be? It may be a year to finally make the dream happen, start that business, move to another place, or finally find the one. Just two things to remember — trust in God’s perfect timing and “Let all that you do be done in love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13).

 

 

 

Moving Forward

“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13-14)

This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Two words stand out in this beautiful teaching from St. Paul that suggest for us two valuable actions for change: Forgetting what lies behind and reaching Forward to what lies ahead.

The past is over but sometimes we can find ourselves stuck in it. I understand that very much ‘cause I used to make it my home too. But one day, God made me realize that I had to leave the past behind, to let go and let Him heal it.

What should we forget and leave behind? Our past sins, memories and circumstances that hurt us, people who’ve caused us pain whom we need to surrender and forgive, our past regrets, mistakes and failures. Forward is where we are headed.

I remember someone say, we may not be there yet, those things we want to become, but thank God we’re not who we used to be. Thanks be to God who makes all things new!

We forget the past except for valuable lessons learned which would help us build a better future.

But where are we headed? Another key word in this verse is to press on toward the goal, in other words to move forward and Focus on where we are going. We are headed toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God. Where is that? We are headed towards heaven. What will lead us to heaven? Love. Who will lead us there? Jesus.

Today we are being made new. We are encouraged to leave the past behind because God’s plans for our future is filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11). Let us focus now on Him who will bring us there.

I am thankful that God is the God of new beginnings and that our future in His hands is good. From despairing to hopeful, God’s love transforms us to who He wants us to be. Let us Follow Him.

Heart Song: Israel Houghton’s Moving Forward

A New Chapter

the+book
Photo courtesy of Instituto Cervantes

 

Life is like a book and we are its authors. We create our own stories and make our own plot. The ink that writes the book of our lives is unchangeable and permanent. An error that has been committed cannot be erased. It is forever written in the leaves of the past.

Yet we can always reread what has happened in our lives and learn from our mistakes. And then, rest for a while, as a good writer does, contemplating on the lessons of yesterday, hoping to make a better story tomorrow.

This is a time for new beginnings, new experiences, and new doors. Today, as in any day, when one finally decides to change, is an opportunity to create a bestseller.

Allow me to turn the pages of my life and share them with you.

To God, our lives’ Publisher, be the glory and honor forever! Only He can help us write a classic. Welcome to the pages of my life.