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Archive for the ‘new year’ Category

Kung Hei Fat Choi

– means “Happy New Year” in Chinese.

Today is the first day of the lunar calendar, the Chinese New Year.

New Year is the most important holiday for Chinese people. The celebrations usually lasts for 15-days complete with colorful traditions and lots of food symbolic of prosperity, abundance and good fortune for the year. Chinese culture is indeed one of the richest in the world – it is full of traditions and superstitions all rolled in one.

The Chinese lunar calendar is pretty unique in that each year is marked by one of the 12 zodiac animal. Legend has it that lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come to him before he departed from earth, and that only 12 came. So they were rewarded by having to rule a year, in the order that they arrived.

It is believed that the animal ruling the year in which a person is born will have a profound influence on his/her personality because “it is the animal that hides in his/her heart.” In the same manner, the animal and its personality is supposedly a preindication of how that year is going to unfold.

Year 2009, as you may know, is the Year of the Ox. Ox is symbolized as a hardworking, stubborn, strong, honest animal. While I don’t put my faith in the Chinese calendar and its predictions, I can only hope that it is right this time. With the challenges we all are facing, there is going to be hard work involved for sure, but I do pray that this year will turn out to be a year of stability and strength for all of us.

Incidentally, President Obama was born on the Year of the Ox. Pretty intersting, wouldn’t you say?

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Here’s one of the many traditions that we have at home growing up in the Philippines.

For as long as I can remember, my mother had always made it a point to have a fruit basket/tray for the New Year. This basket would contain the very select of fruits that she’s able to find in the market. Soon after Christmas, she would start preparing this basket with a lot of TLC (tender loving care). Her goal is to have 12 different kinds of fruits which are to be ripe when the New Year comes along.

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These 12 fruits were to represent each month of the incoming year, reason why it is important for each fruit to be perfect and sweet. It is a wish for our family to have each month of the year be blessed — and sweet. I call this my Mom’s basketful of blessings.

I made one this year, in memory of my mother.

So with this basketful of blessings, Joe and I would like to wish you a very Happy , Jesus-blessed New Year. May 2009 indeed be a year of expansion, new levels/heights and divine favors for you and your family!!

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A Recap of 2007

Year 2007 is soon to be officially over in a couple of days. As I bid adieu to this year, I know that 2007 will definitely leave an indelible mark in my spirit. This year I have battled and fought, overcome and conquered the many obstacles that life brought my way.

It all began in October 2006 when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, an invasive ductal carcinoma stage 4 which at that time had already metastasized to her bones, lymph nodes and skin. But even this horrible news did little, if anything, to put me down. I knew there would be an uphill battle ahead of me, but I prepared myself. I put on God’s full armor and held on to God’s promises in His word as tight as I could.

So as the year 2007 came rolling in, I was ready. My heart was expectant of the Lord’s miracles to take place in my life and in my family. I even went as far as boldly declaring 2007, being a year ending with the perfect number 7, as the year of PERFECTION – a year when everything in my life would fall into its proper place according to His plans for me. Yeah, just like that. Never did I think that things would get as difficult as they did.

As always, God’s ways are higher than ours. I forgot that in order to achieve perfection, there has to be a process of “perfecting”. And I thought that my 18 years of being a Christian was all the perfecting I needed. I was totally wrong. Just as gold has to be refined through fire, and just as a diamond has to be crushed, milled, agitated, and subjected to countless abrasives and cutting before it can become that priceless, beautiful gem stone – similarly the Lord brought me through intense adversities in my life.

Thus, the Lord’s perfecting process began…. The bad news came one after the other, it seemed.

My mother had mastectomy on March and shortly thereafter, began her radiation treatments. Then one day in April when they were at the doctors for her treatment, some theives broke into their home and stole all the precious antique jewelries that they have. Some of them were from my mother’s teenage years and some even from my Grandmother. There were not a lot of pieces, but it was the world to them. It was all they had. This was a shattering news.

And then on June even before my mother’s radiation treatment was over, my father had a medical emergency of his own. We found out, he has colon cancer. And as if this was not devastating enough, doctors further found out that my dad has a coronary triple vessel disease, a condition that is so delicate that it can cause him to have a cardiac arrest any minute, any day.

It was just the middle of the year, but by this time, I felt like I was drowning in the ocean of helplessness. The strength I had in my spirt at the beginning of this year was slowly ebbing away. In my natural eyes, I saw a situation that was hopeless. Both of my parents have cancer. My mother’s was a terminal case and my father’s life was tethered between life and death. And with all the medical bills for my parents piling up and the several trips I had from US to the Philippines and back, our finances were dwindling as fast as the blinking of my eye.

Then while my father was still at the hospital, an ultra-sound of my mother’s revealed another malignant growth in her other breast that was not detected earlier. In the meantime, her skin ulcers were spreading so much and so fast througout her upper body, contributing to her increasing discomfort. This was on July.

Through it all, I stood my ground and continued fighting the good fight of faith. But there were times that I felt it was all too much and I allowed myself to question and to doubt. Especially when my mother’s situation took a worse turn.

On August, my mother had another hormone treatment and another round of chemo, but nothing worked. She had grown tired and weary from all the medical interventions that seemed useless, and so she began refusing treatment – adamantly so – until the early morning of September 20th when her body finally gave out and she went home to be with the Lord. My mother’s death was a major blow. It was the hardest to take and it challenged my faith, but yet God’s peace held me.

Then I thought that after my mother’s death, we would be able to take a breather. Wrong again. In October, only a couple of weeks after my mother’s funeral, my father had to be hospitalized once more as he needed surgery on his heels. His wounds developed an infection and became gangrenous and he was at the brink of needing leg amputation. Between him mourning the loss of my mother and his hospital confinement for a week and the succeeding physical pain he had to endure due to the operation, my father became depressed to the point of insomnia, loss of appetite and of course, loss of weight.

And then just last month (November), I received a news that the girl taking care of my father had to go home, because her very own mother was fighting for her life. That means my father would have to be left alone to fend for himself, which at this point is not possible at all. My father needs assistance on a lot of accounts and definitely cannot be by himself.

Whew! To others, it may seem like we had NOTHING but tumultuous events this year. But I can tell you that in the midst of despair God was working His miracles in and around us. For one, my parents came to know the Lord. Both of them accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. I’ve prayed for them for years and years and if only for their salvation, it was worth going thru all those hardships. Second, my father survived his colon surgery when he had little to no chance of doing so. This alone is a miracle on its own. Third, God’s financial provision flowed through friends and family and favors kept pouring in. One of them was when my boss kept my position in the company despite having been away from work for a total of 5 months this year. Fourth, I felt God’s incredible love and comfort through my spiritual family and in times when I was weak, it was the prayers of the saints that kept me. I got to know who really are those friends that care and am grateful for them who have gone out of their way to be there for me and our family. Fifth, I have grown to love my husband even more, if at all possible, and I believe the testings have served to strengthen our relationship some more. Sixth, I am still standing strong in the Lord Jesus. I have proven to myself that indeed His strength more than matches all my troubles. I now have a deeper knowledge, and in a more intimate way, of who God is to me as MY Father, MY comforter, MY stronghold, MY peace, MY comforter, MY joy, MY strength, MY Saviour — MY ALL IN ALL.

So to wrap up– Year 2007 was the dawn of inward perfection. I am definetely not the same person as I was a year ago. He has taught me how to abandon myself in Him, and had given me more compassion than I ever had towards those who are going through health challenges. God is not finished yet, but I know that He is breeding greatness within me out of the worst situations that I’ve never imagined I’d go through. He is pushing me toward my destiny. And the Lord knows exactly the pressure I need to get me to the place where He wants me to be. He knows the kind of pressure that will take for me to birth what He has in store for me in the future. I don’t know what weight of glory that I carry within that God should process me this intensely. I just believe that it must be something HUGE.

As we leave 2007 behind, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you again, my friends and family, for being there for us all through out our ordeal. Thank you for making us a part of your lives. And as we meet 2008, I pray that you and I will have bigger blessings and countless breakthroughs in the next 365 days.

Happy Jesus-blessed New Year everyone!

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