Saturday, December 28, 2013

Books Are My Crack

I probably shouldn't use the hashtag "booksaremycrack" because I've never been a crack whore. (<---THAT was a joke, people.) 

I mean, yes, I've been addicted to ecstasy and mushrooms in the past but saying "books are my ecstasy" implies a sexual innuendo while "books are my mushroom" doesn't impart the intensity of my abject addiction to books.

How else can I convey my gluttony and ravenous hunger for books in all shapes, sizes, and forms? 

My friends constantly contemplate the cool factor of time travel but I couldn't imagine living in the 1600s reading books by candlelight. With today's technology my gluttonous self gorges on three books simultaneously: Jesus Feminist on my Nook app, Love Does on my Kindle app, and 12 Years of Slave in book form. I'll read a few chapters from each in one sitting. (Tell me I don't need intervention.) 

When Jon Acuff's Empty Shelf Challenge popped up on my Facebook feed I was immediately captivated. Last week, I was disappointed to find out I read only 27 books according to my Goodreads Year In Books. I could have sworn I read more so I'm rising up to Jon's challenge in 2014. 

How many of my fellow bibliophiles will join me?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Celebrating The Reason

This year I prepared to do battle against the annual funk that commandeers my heart in December. But for the first time in 16 years it never made its appearance.

Maybe it did but focusing on serving those in need stole the limelight from my holiday doldrums. It took four weeks of teamwork to organize the Kababayan Unite fundraiser that helped raise funds for Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines.

Those four weeks taught me that serving others is the weaponry I needed to keep the suffocating funk at bay. Nothing in my annual routine changed other than that because my vows to stash money in a Christmas fund were never fulfilled.

Despite my lack of saving Christmas money, my dad’s hospitalization a week before Christmas, and my granddaughter’s absence during Christmas and her New Year’s Day birthday, I haven’t forgotten the reason for the holiday season.

My faith in Jesus has sustained me this month especially during times of overwhelming stress. His presence was the solid ground I walked on when my dad’s condition worsened and we didn’t think he’d leave the hospital in time for Christmas. It’s my trust in Christ that is helping me with the excruciating pain of missing Rylee who, for the first time in five years, is spending Christmas Day and her New Year’s birthday with her daddy in Arizona.

It’s knowing that God will provide which stops the worrying over bills threatening to drown me this month. Surrendering my life to him, leaves my heart open to my granddaughter's demands for keeping Kost 103.5 on my car radio until after Christmas “because they play Christmas music all the time.” (Please note: Kost 103.5 + Christmas music equaled an outbreak of hives on my body.)

Although I will never understand the injustice of human trafficking, homelessness, disease, wars, infertility, and genocide, I hold onto the faith that God is in the midst of this fallen world. 

This Christmas Eve, I celebrate with gratitude my savior's birth, because Jesus freed me from my self-imposed mental prison. 

Just like the Grinch I realized Christmas is much more than the frenetic, angst-ridden, last minute shopping I'm guilty of every year. 
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

The pictures above and below contain the meaning for my Christmas. From my family to yours, may you all have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Birthday Wishes from Mother to Daughter

My daughter, Maricelle, turns 26 today and I sit here writing my traditional birthday blog. This one is special as she just returned from a pilgrimage in Spain last month. 

It was a trip she almost kept from me knowing I'd be worried about her backpacking solo in Spain. I've never heard of the Camino de Santiago or the movie, The Way, until my daughter embarked on this trip. 

Not many people have the courage to go on a pilgrimage in a foreign country alone and as worried as I was for her safety, I knew she was living her life. What more could this mom, who put her dreams on hold, ask for? 

Dear Maricelle,

While you were on your life-changing trip I had a discussion with Auntie Lu. One of her co-workers mentioned how an ultrasound is indicative of a baby's personality. 

I was reminded of my first ulrasound when I first saw you on a gray screen, a tiny alien looking creature doing somersaults in the womb. While the lab tech moved the ultrasound wand over my bulging belly you didn't stop turning around and around. 

I should have known then that you were going to be the adventurous travelista you are now. Your "camino" also helped me learn a few things about life and relationships and courage. When you came to visit and shared your travel photos, we talked about how the camino doesn't end when you return home, because life mimics the camino. 

This year my only prayer for you is that you maintain the spirit of the camino in your daily life. I know how it is to travel abroad, finding yourself and coming to terms with the turmoil inside of you, only to come home feeling dissatisfied with the status quo. 

Remember when you met your friends along the camino and all of them spoke a different language but somehow you all fell into a comfortable rhythm? Don't forget that when you're dealing with difficult people in your life because they too speak a different language in silence. 

Or, how about when certain people would accompany you on your walk for a while, go your separate ways, only to join you later in the walk? Well, get used to it because life has a way of bringing people in, out, then back in again. Each person holds a lesson for you to discover and learn from. 

I hope you remember to give yourself the same grace you allowed yourself when you got lost in a foreign country and on your walk. Isn't it funny how God places those same yellow arrows in our path, yet, sometimes we fail to see them? I believe we are meant to lose ourselves sometimes because finding the truth in us will make more of an impact. 

Just like you did on the camino, lead from your heart. Remember that one moment when you were dying with thirst, hunger, and fatigue, doubting whether you'd make it to the top of the hill? Yet, you persevered and found yourself in the most peaceful, breathtaking, mountaintop, singing and dancing like Maria in the Sound of Music. There will be some days like that but your heart will always lead you to the top of whatever mountain you face. 

You developed a positive outlook on your pilgrimage and found ways of turning a negative situation into something good. Keep that up in your own life and you will become adept at handling adversity and roadblocks. 

Adventure and enlightenment don't end when you complete your camino. I guarantee that you'll be learning truths about yourself until your last day on earth. 

Thank you for writing my word "eternity" on the rock for me and leaving it on the camino. One day I plan on traversing the same path and finding that rock. If not, it's okay. I know where eternity awaits my presence. 

May your 26th year be a full one. Accept that the bad always comes with the good. Give yourself permission to feel your emotions and acknowledge them. Embrace your growth, hone your self-awareness, practice mindfulness, discipline yourself in meditation, saturate your life in prayer. 

Happy Birthday! 



Monday, December 2, 2013

Kababayan Unite Fundraiser For Typhoon Haiyan Victims in the Philippines

Don't cook dinner on Thursday, December 12, 2013, and join us for a fun night of delicious Chinese food, awesome entertainment, and a chance to win great raffle prizes! Kababayan Unite Fundraising Dinner will be held at Great Seafood Harbor Restaurant at 18329 Pioneer Blvd., Artesia, CA, 90701. 

We have partnered with My Refuge House who've begun organizing  and delivering care packages of food to typhoon victims in the surrounding area of Cebu. You can read about the inspiring story of "When The Rescued Rescue" here. I assure you the funds we raise will be used appropriately and donations have already helped hundreds of families. 

The fun begins at 7:00 p.m. and you can purchase pre-sale tickets for $20 each by contacting me at or sending an e-mail to Tickets will be $25 at the door. There will be many raffle prizes available for you to win. Raffle tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20

If you can't make it to our event you can still help by purchasing a t-shirt for $20 by clicking here

Help us help those in dire need of food and basic necessities! So come and join me and my friends for a night of fun toward a good cause!