2016 Christmas Letter

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I have only one desire, and that is the desire for solitude—to disappear into God, to be submerged in His peace, to be lost in the secret of His Face.

~ Thomas Merton

“Matthew, can I visit you?” Sr. Marijo was on the other end of the line.

“Sure, Sister! I would love that.”

A flood of wonderful memories crossed through Matthew’s mind as he told me that we were going to have a visitor. He remembered this verse from Thomas Merton who has largely influenced his life.

Sr. Marijo introduced Zen to Matthew almost 40 years ago. With a small group of friends, they would regularly visit her and sit in meditation together. Needless to say, it was a life changing experience for them. Since then, Matthew shares to me how Zen has helped him deepen his Christian faith and how it has helped him cope with the challenges of life.

I really enjoyed listening to their animated conversation and as Matthew describes it, “It’s as if the conversation just stopped for a while and we took off from where we left off.”  I guess these are just the stuff that real friendships are made of.

This year, Matthew and I were quite busy.  We became godparents to the highly energetic and lovable  son of Alex and Robe Ann.  We were also able to attend the 50th Golden Anniversary of our godparents, Tito Peter and Tita Dory. It was so much fun to meet and catch up with many people we’ve not seen in a long time.

Also, this year, our endeared godparent Tito Tony passed away. We are saddened by the loss of one of the most generous persons that we have ever known. Thank you, Tito Tony for everything.

Of course, we cannot end this letter without mentioning our blog. Now on its eighth year, we have grown to have 319 followers and have reached a whooping 404,265+ hits! We are happy because people are  visiting our blog, liking our posts and our cyber community continues to grow.

May the Blessings of Christmas be with you, May the Christ Child light your way, May God’s holy angels guide you, and keep you safe each day.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

Matthew and Jojang

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CHRISTMAS LETTER 2015

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It has been a tumultuous year for Matthew and myself. We had a roller coaster ride of highs and lows which felt like it would never end. You see, for the past two years we were carrying a burden which seemed unsolvable. Suffice it to say that we tried everything we can to find solutions, but we always end up sad, stressed and frustrated. Quite recently, in the most unexpected way, our prayer was answered miraculously.

God is good indeed.

Like how our life has been for the past 13 years since we’ve been married, the Lord has never failed to reassure us that our life is indeed in His hands. Each time He reassures us that our seemingly insurmountable challenges are actually faith building experiences that brings us from glory to glory.

God is good indeed.

Of course, we cannot end this letter without mentioning our blog. Now on its seventh year, we have grown to have 283 followers and have reached 300,258+ hits. It’s edifying to know that many people appreciate our posts, and our cyber community has grown.

2016 is a new beginning for us. As God leads us, we trust that He will continue to be with us every step of the way.

May the forgiving spirit of Him to whom we dedicate this season prevail again on earth.
May hunger disappear and terrorists cease their senseless acts.
May people live in freedom, worshiping as they see fit, loving others.
May the sanctity of the home be ever preserved.
May peace, everlasting peace, reign supreme.

We pray that Christ will be alive for you this Christmas and all throughout the New Year ahead.

–Matthew and Jojang

Christmas Letter 2014

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Waiting is a mystery, a natural sacrament of life. There is a meaning hidden in all the times we have to wait. It must be an important mystery because there is so much waiting in our lives.

~ Fr. James F. Donelan, SJ
“Mama, please help me find a spot in the house where I can pray?” Matthew asked me one morning.
Surprised, I said, “Okay.”
The request was music to my ears because it was a healthy sign that Matthew is well enough to be able to practice what he loves most. Meditation and Contemplative prayer.
Gone are the days when our days, weeks and months are measured by the number of times he is rushed to the hospital. Gone are the days when a foul smell is enough to trigger an asthma attack.
Indeed, waiting is a sacrament because the last time Matthew was able to sit, meditate and pray was twelve years ago…
Thank you, Lord. You are so good!
Although Matthew has not fully regained his old health back, nowadays when he is not feeling well, we already know what to do and shortly after he is able to recover and bounce back. Of course we still need to be careful and avoid situations and places that may trigger him. But we have gone a long way off from before. Slowly but surely, we hope that he becomes even stronger than when he was before.
We would like to thank Dra. Chona who patiently and lovingly take care of us throughout all these years. You are God’s angel for us.
Lastly, we cannot end this letter without mentioning our blog. Now on it’s sixth year, we have 240+ followers and have reached 252,400+ hits. A wonderful reaffirmation that we must be doing something god and are far reaching out to so many people. We appreciate our cyber friends who regularly keep in touch. And even those that drop by once in a while.
Let me end this letter with a Christmas Prayer (not my own). It echoes what we have in our hearts….
Christmas Prayer

Meister Eckhart once said: ‘What good is it that Christ was born 2,000 years ago if he is not born now in your heart?
Lord, we do far too much celebrating your actual coming into our hearts. I believe in God, but do I believe in God-in-me? I believe in God in heaven, but do I believe in God-on-earth? I believe in God out there, but do I believe in God-with-us?
Lord, be born in my heart. Come alive in me this Christmas! Amen.

We pray that Christ will be alive for you this Christmas and all throughout the New Year ahead.
~  Matthew and Jojang

Let It Go

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An oft repeated song the past months is from Disney’s movie, Frozen, the song “Let it go”.

I know it’s not easy but if only we could have an attitude of “Let go and let God” I believe our lives will be much easier (I’m preaching to myself as well here).

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. ” Proverbs 3:5-6

When I was single, I often prayed (or begged) that the Lord will give me a lifetime partner. Frustrated was a mild word to describe how I felt, because age was catching up and all my friends were getting married, except me. When I reached 40 years old, I sort of thrown in the towel. I gave up my “dream” of marrying and flew off to the US to live a happy, single life at the Big Apple. After a while, I felt in my heart that this was not “the life” that I wanted so I came back home and went back to work where I used to. There, I rekindled a friendship with an old chum which blossomed to a love affair. Shortly after, we got married, and the rest is history.

God is in control.

Oftentimes, we make plans but they fail and we get hurt and frustrated. Later on, we realize that it wasn’t meant to be in the first place. Life is a journey of letting go.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22 :42

Lent is a beautiful season of grace. During this time, we are encouraged to pray and reflect about our life’s pilgrimage and hope that in the end, we shall have eternal joy with God.

 ~ Marisa

2013 Christmas Letter

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“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

~ Isaiah 52:7

This verse keeps repeating in my mind as I contemplate on the lovely Cordillera mountain from where I sit at a coffee shop situated on the top floor of a mall here in Baguio City.

Where does this serenity in the midst of turbulence come from?

You see, the past year has been a tumultuous year for Matthew and I. We were faced with so much stress that it has taken its toll on our health.  Twice, Matthew had to be confined in the hospital, while I suffered some setbacks as well (weakened by my hospitalization around this time last year).

However, although unpleasant, this difficulty we recently faced turned out to be a faith building exercise for us. We stand witness to God’s faithfulness as big and small miracles happened… before we knew it, our concerns were being addressed… issues resolved and very slowly but surely problems solved.

To say that we are awed and humbled is an understatement … Thank you, Lord!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our doctors who patiently and lovingly take care of us. In spite of Matthew’s stress related hospitalization, he recovers much faster now than before — a marked improvement.  I, on the other hand, am grateful for my home based work wherein I do what I immensely enjoy doing.

I cannot end this letter without mentioning my blog with my husband which is a source of joy for us (please refer to this link:  http://mattandjojang.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/christmas-letter-2013/) .  As of this writing, we have 135 followers and have reached 193,542 hits. All in a span of 5 years. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine that we will be able to reach out to so many people through this blog. It excites us that we have developed friendships on cyberspace too.  We got to meet like minded individuals who share our beliefs, convictions and interests. A wonderful blessing!

Let me end this Christmas letter with a quote from one of Matthew’s favourite authors:

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.

~ Meister Eckhart

And we say, “Thank you, Lord” … Indeed, you are good!

Here’s wishing you a meaningful Christmas and a grace filled New Year ahead.

Matthew and Jojang

Questions

Photo: Google

Photo: Google

…have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainier Maria Rilke

CNN Statement About The Filipino People

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Thank you, CNN, for honoring the Filipino people during these difficult and trying times. Thank you, too, for setting up this website: Impact Your World – to help…

The Slow Work of God

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I have to admit that more often than not, I’m impatient with myself, others, God and life in general. I already want to arrive without going through the painful process of the journey. No one wants pain, especially me who have such little tolerance for it. But with so much that I have gone through, I have learned that more than the results, the pilgrimage is more important. At the end of the day, I have to learn to trust because my life is not in my hands… it is in His hands.

~ Marisa

The Slow Work of God

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.

Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

 

He is the Great Provider!

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My Dear God

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Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon. The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing. . .

~ Flannery O’Connor