confessions of a new mom

“Today… was officially… the WORST day EVER!” I exclaimed after a long day of what seemed like hour upon hour of a fussy, overactive, nap-fighting, teething baby.

I knew I was exaggerating. I knew I was being a drama queen.

But sometimes, that’s the best therapy (for me, at least): to speak in fourth grade level hyperbole. To let that frustration out like a bang.

“And guess what? It was also the BEST day EVER… because we have HIM [our son]!” Matt chimed in.

I smiled. He spoke truth.

“You’re right… you’re SO right.” I agreed.

Recently, I have found myself an ungrateful mother. I may be a saint in the making, but I am no living saint now! (Ha, ha, ha!)

“God, you say you know how many hairs I have on my head? Well, I want to pull out ALL of them right now!” I kept thinking today.

It’s amazing how much of “my life” I have felt that I have “lost” since giving birth to my son. Career plans? What career? Hobbies? What hobbies? Free time? Ha! Ha, ha, ha!

But my husband is right.  When we got married, we vowed that our marriage would be ,”free, total, faithful, and FRUITFUL.” And God sure did deliver (fast!) on that fourth “f” (when he blessed us with the FRUIT of our LOVE: our dear son)!

We said “yes” to being free, total, faithful, and fruitful… we said “yes” to LIFE. Which is actually quite funny. Because while that YES meant gaining the CUTEST, most LIFE-filled baby in our arms, it also meant LOSING *our* lives as we knew them! It is our dear son’s life over ours now. We are called to LOVE by laying down our LIFE for his.

Yet in the end, it’s like a 1,000,000,000^infinity return on LIFE– just a different kind of life. One that is full of suffering, sacrifice, and selflessness. Yet it is precisely that life, I’ve found, that grows… that grows me and my husband as a woman and a man, respectively– and that, hopefully, will make the world a better place one day: via passing on that spirit of sacrificial Jesus-like love to our dear son.

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He ended up tryin’ to eat my Confirmation teaching materials today! This boy’s on the move, and boy is he fast now!

they’re one in the same

Ah, this.

Yes, this.

Silence.

My two boys asleep: my hubby and my son.

Silence! Time to think uninterruptedly. Alas…. alas!

And yet, I am so tired. It is SO late.

Who knew the vocation of motherhood could be so exhausting?! Really, zillions of other women have gone through this?!

And yet, it’s an exhilarating feeling that I am left with at the end of the day. Honestly, I’ve dreamed of being a mommy even before grade school. (As I experience all of this joy being a new mommy, I can’t help but pray even more for those struggling with infertility and miscarriage– I cannot imagine that pain. <3)

All of those moments that I want to bang my head during the day when my son is fussing, screaming, or just being overactive and not napping… they are put to *shame* when, at the moment that my baby finally DOES fall asleep, I pull out my smartphone and peruse my photos and videos of him. Ha! Ha! Ha ha ha ha!

What I am learning about motherhood is this: sacrifice. Isn’t that the single word that comes up numerous times on this blog?!

Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. Whew!

Yet what I am also learning is this beautiful, mysterious paradox: that I revel in this sacrifice. That at the time that I hate it, I also love it, because I know that it is edifying.

Sacrifice and love: one in the same. THAT is what I have been learning. 

I am being edified… refined… purified.

The one event that has made me “grow up”? Having a child of my own. Cliche, yes. But true, so true.

I often wonder if this is how God feels with me as his daughter. He sees me crying, he sees me blindly hurting myself, he sees me confused, he sees me needy, he sees me being just a little bit naughty sometimes (or maybe other times, very, very in the wrong), he sees me THIRSTY… he sees me HUNGRY. AND IN IT ALL, HE LOVES ME! He only wants the best for me! HE SAYS, “COME, DRINK MY BLOOD. COME, EAT MY FLESH.” Oh my! ” ❤

My motherhood is teaching me soooo much about my daughterhood of the King Most High…

But I am exhausted. So, good night for now! 🙂

#tobecontinued

“Look mom! Sushi! Mmmmm” 😛

My great uncle took a candid of us at dinner one day... we never get family shots! Life is going by too quickly. Hope we get another one soon. ;)

A (blurry) candid of us at dinner one day… we never get family shots! Life is going by too quickly. Hope we get another one soon. 😉

rest and why Heaven isn’t boring (zZz)

Alas, some nights we just need rest.

No… I take that back.

Alas, all nights we need rest.

I’m not just talking about fake “rest” where you’re worried about all of the things of the next day. I’m talking about really resting in Our LORD, knowing that you’ve done what you could today, and that tomorrow will have its own tasks. Matthew 6:33-34 reads: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

Sometimes I wonder: will there ever be a moment of complete “rest” in married life, from your spouse or from children of whom you take care? Unmarried now, I do have the opportunity to just completely “rest” in the LORD without spousal or parental ties lingering in the back of my mind at all times. This is why I have much respect for the parents of the children and teens that I work with: parenting is a tireless job. And I have respect for married couples without children as well. Keeping up a healthy marriage is no easy feat. It requires constant sacrifice and work.

And speaking of families… do we forget Whose family to which we ultimately belong?

We all need to be a “child” at the end of the day.

Whose child? God’s child.

Every day, we must know how to be God’s child and how truly to rest in Him. We must practice rest and perfect rest in Christ! For this is what we were made for, for all eternity: to rest in Him and to rejoice in Him in Heaven! 

This “rest” will not be a dormant or boring or dreary sleep, however; it will be an alive and captivating and invigorating eternal state of affairsThe “rest” will be from the battle between our will and the Will of God: no longer will we be inclined to turn away from Him, but to truly REST in Him, to Whom we belong!

Nothing up there in Heaven will be of our own will, but only of the Divine Will.

If the thought of Heaven does not strike our fancy today, then what are we even working for here on earth, and why is working here on earth even exciting?

If we do not look forward to “resting” in Heaven, then we must certainly be amiss about the Heavenly ecstasy that awaits us and for which all things on earth should be ordered! I’ve actually told my little cousins that maybe the word “rest” is deceiving, for when we think about “rest” in a Divine sense, it is defined much differently. I told the little cuties that perhaps gravestones shouldn’t say “Rest in Peace” but “Have Fun in Heaven!” Why? I didn’t their little brains to think Heaven was a boring place where people just sleep forever in the presence of God!

Up in Heaven, “rest” will simply mean being fully alive, without our own human sin and worries getting in the way. We will be fully trusting in Our LORD, and having a grand time in ecstatic UNION with HIM and with EVERYONE ELSE up there! We will be praising our LORD with every bit of ourselves, and we will be in perfect love with Him and all of the angels and saints above. We will be rooting on and being prayer warriors for all of the saints in the making on earth (“intercessory prayers” will be answered by us!).

I like to think that Heaven will be one huge, crazy, ecstatic family party; everyone, a child of God. Everyone, united in one purpose: to Love God (and others in His name)  and to be Loved by God.

I don’t know about you, but this vision of Heaven makes me yearn and desire to rest in the LORD today and for all eternity! (And no wonder some of the saints prayed to die early if it were God’s Will: they simply wanted to be united to Him and to all the angels and saints sooner rather than later in that Divine ecstasyanything but boring!)

Well, I have many more thoughts to write about tonight, but hey, I better go rest in Our LORD… at least, for just the night, in my sleep. 🙂

Sneak peak:  I believe that is the #1 thing that I desire after I go to Confession is rest as well: to rest in Christ’s mercy! After every Confession, I realize that I usually sneak over to the Blessed Sacrament to just gaze at our LORD, to smile at Him as I rest in His endless mercy and forgiveness.

To be continued…

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Me, my grandma who taught me to live life as a prayer (since I was a baby), and some of my cousins a couple of years ago during her 86th birthday celebration. She raised 8 kids, and I wonder how she ever found time to rest in the LORD! Her mother had 8 kids as well, and was a third order Carmelite. Crazy!

two ABSOLUTE needs: rest and family time

Building, building, building the Kingdom. We cannot do this task unless we also take time to rest, rest, rest in the Creator.

Even that phrase, “building, building, building,” makes me a bit anxious. I’d rather rest three times as much as I build. Why? Because to build the Kingdom of God is an arduous task, and to do build well necessitates resting in God. By rest, we refuel with Christ’s grace, and we are able to take His tasks for us to completion.

Catholic teens and young adults, as tenacious and zealous as we may feel at times, we must remember that we are merely co-creators.

Our LORD is the Creator and builder of His Kingdom; we his little children are merely the co-creators of the Master Architect. After we do our best helping to build the Kingdom, we need not worry and keep on working. We need to place our anxieties in Him, and… relax. God will complete His works on His time, even when we feel that they are unfinished. We must rest in God.

For just as we were designed to work for the greater glory of God…

We were equally designed to rest in the sweet shade of God Our Father.

We were equally designed to rest in God’s meadow, in the rays of the brilliantly shining Son.

We were designed to rest in the cool breeze of the wind, in the Holy Spirit, truly Our Comforter (John 14:26).

Recently, I watched a bit of Dr. Edward Sri’s “Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love” series. (side note: Awesomely, my mother, a “semi-practicing”Catholic, was hooked on the spot!) Dr. Sri was talking about how when we truly love someone, we make time for them.

As I reflect upon our need to rest in the LORD, I also realize that we need to rest in Him with those whom we love. If we don’t make time for them, will we ever have time for them?

We should never let our building of the Kingdom turn into anxiety-causing “busyness” that takes us away from fulfilling our primary roles of child of God, spouse, husband, mother, father, boyfriend/girlfriend, daughter, et cetera. If married with children, the #1 task of our vocation (besides our own holiness) is to lead our spouse and our children to Heaven! How can we do this if we make work outside the home our #1 task? 

We should always beware of tactics of satan such as careerism. Let’s not make this world one of absent mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, daughters, and sons. The work of the “domestic church,” the family, is infinitely more important if we are called to the vocation of married life. And that work needs equally as much rest, in the form of family time together.

Let us always prioritize our resting in the LORD; we need this in a one-on-one, intimate way. And let us joyfully seek Him in holy recreation with those that we love! This, too, is a priority too important to miss.

Resting in Our LORD, and also resting in Him with those that I love: could there be anything sweeter in this life?

My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat, and my mouth praises thee with joyful lips, when I think of Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the watches of the night; for Thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to Thee; Thy right hand upholds me.

My favorite psalm, Psalm 63:6-8! It speaks of wonder in God and true rest in Him.

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Even Jesus rested! My boyfriend’s comment: “St. Joseph is tired!” LOL. But, really, in Scripture, it is apparent that Jesus often rested. He liked to start His days alone with His Father, praying on a mountaintop: intense, most likely– and restful, for sure.

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My family always makes time for one another. We meet every other week for a family dinner, and we even go on crazy excursions like this one where we took on Disneyland (this isn’t even all of us). Crazy, but restful– truly appreciating and enjoying one another’s presence. 🙂

no greater love than this

Family life, and all of its struggles, has taught me about Christ’s sacrifice for me, His love for me, all of these years. In a family, sacrifice, patience, and humility are key to surviving.

During various times of my life, I have grown used to living in a single household of 8 to 10 people. Things are just bound to go wrong with numbers so high (and even with two people, you have two very unique individuals who are bound to disagree about something). But we never gave up, and we continue to never give up.

Not only that, I come from a large Filipino clan on my mom’s side– and we have certainly weathered it all. My extended family has also taught me what a true “all for one and one for all” spirit looks like.

When I used to think of romantic love, I would very much idealize it. I would fail to take into account all of the sacrifice, patience, and humility that would be necessary in a future relationship– the same kind of virtues that I was learning about growing up in my family.

Now that I am in a courtship with a wonderful young man, I am constantly reminded, from my own past experiences with my family, how I cannot run away from Cross of Christ, even in this most exhilarating experience. (Yes, he is my first boyfriend. Shocking!)

In dating, there will be crosses to bear, most especially if we are to marry and start our own family too, one day! Namely, our own two crosses, which we are discerning uniting under the one Cross of Christ for life.

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My dashing boyfriend and I in front of the Memorial Church at Stanford University. I am learning all about how to give pure, brave, Christ-like love with this young man. 🙂

Christ Himself told us: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)

Well, I consider my boyfriend my best friend. No wonder love can get hard sometimes. There’s no greater love than to lay your life down for a friend– let alone the person who is nearest and dearest to you.

I can confidently and conclusively say…

It’s a challenging task, to love.

And yet, every day, in little and big ways, I discover that LOVE is truly that “thing” for which God has designed me! After all, He is Love (1 John 4:8).

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Perpetual Adoration of Our LORD Jesus Christ– He who models Perfect Love for us–  in the middle of hippie town. Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco. My boyfriend and  — and my best friend, our tour guide– took a visit!

am I just the girl he’s looking for?

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Some awesome young adult Dominican sisters at WYD 2011 Madrid. (c) WordOnFire

Warning: #CatholicNerdingOut.

And the more she ignores me
The more I adore her
What can I do?
I’d do anything for her…

‘Cause she’s bittersweet
She knocks me off of my feet
And I can’t help myself
I don’t want anyone else
She’s a mystery
She’s too much for me
But I keep coming back for more
‘Cause she’s just the girl I’m looking for”

–from “Just the Girl” by the Click Five

I randomly happened to listen to this song tonight. Brought me back to my college days when I’d plug into my iPod while walking to and from class, as it was a favorite.

The lyrics got me thinking… Is this how God feels about me? The more I ignore Him… the more He adores me? How lovely, how enamoring. That He would pine for me that much.

I also got to thinking about vocations in the sense of married life versus consecrated life. I know, I know. I have a boyfriend. But sometimes I wonder. Though I have met someone who I could envision marrying, I am still trying to be open. After all, it ain’t a thing till there ain’t no ring! 😛

I bolded the lyrics that especially struck me as translatable about how God really pursues me and wants my heart.

I really admire sisters and nuns and consecrated religious. Their love for Our LORD must be so strong, so pure, so deep, so eternal.

I admire friends who are married too– and heck, those married in my family. I know the LORD is present in their lives too, strongly and beautifully so! And working with kids, teens, and families, I can see how married life truly is a vocation filled with grace.

Yet I can also see how religious life truly sets one apart for the LORD in a very special, unique way. As a consecrated religious, you are already living like you would in Heaven, like the angels who are already fully consecrated to our LORD. For instance, if a sister, you ARE the bride of Christ… or, if a priest, you ARE the bridegroom of the Church.

Does God want me to marry? Does God want me all to Himself? These are questions all Catholic teens and young adults should ask themselves. I know that my boyfriend and I ask ourselves these questions occasionally still.

If God does will me to marry, I know He’s still pursuing me. I feel that every day. But how in tune am I to that? And what should my response be? Am I doing enough? I want to love Him to the best of my capacity! Receiving and resting in His love, yes. But giving back my entire self to Him: I’d like to do that too!

It’s truly a beautiful gift to be a daughter of God, to be one of God’s creatures– but still to be  pursued as a complete “mystery” to Him, whom He would like to unveil!

Like the song says… no matter what God has in store for me…

God adores me, He’d do anything for me, He doesn’t want anyone else, He thinks I’m a mystery, and I’m just the girl He’s looking for.

Well, now.

I’m completely flattered.