Dive

‘Dive into deeper connections’. This was the resounding call of the session last Sunday at The Feast. Bro. Bo Sanchez said despite the thousands of “likes” and “followers” and smiling emojis we’re getting in our Facebook’s News Feed, he can sense a growing loneliness among people.

He also said, we’re in the middle of a Digital Tsunami. According to Global Digital Report, the average Filipino spends 3 hours and 57 minutes a day on social media alone.

More presence online and less connections offline.

We need to connect more with each other.

Dive

We often hide our inner thoughts and feelings because we’re concerned if they’ll be accepted by other people. But we also shut out other people from knowing and accepting us by not being open. By not being open with others, we’re really saying we don’t fully accept ourselves. We’re denying ourselves that chance to speak out, to declare our inner thoughts and feelings.

At the Awesome Kids’ service we highlighted to the children the importance of being a good friend to each other.

Cartoons with their BFFs and besties were the focus during the activity.

During our Light Group (LG), we discussed the importance of a gadget-free encounters with people that matters to you.

To put away mobiles phones during bonding moments with friends and cherish more the presence of each other.

If you notice that a friend is carrying a burden, there’s only one thing to do. Say these 4 magical words: “I’m here for you.”

Listen. Don’t interrupt. Don’t give advice. Don’t preach. Don’t pontificate. Shut your mouth and listen.

Being open is a kind of invitation to others. What you share about yourself should encourage others to come in, so to speak, and make contact with you. To involve themselves with you.

Being open is difficult. It makes us feel vulnerable, psychologically naked and usually anxious. But it also is important in terms of really letting others get to understand how we think, how we feel and what we believe.

Here are 5 ways for you to be more open.

1. Make your outside behavior the same or congruent with your inside feelings and thoughts.

2. Focus on feelings. It’s usually easier to share opinions or thoughts about something. Everybody has an opinion. It’s harder to share feelings. Be in touch with how you feel. Share openly the feelings as much as you can. Some feelings cover or come from other feelings. Anger may come from hurt. We might find it easier to show the anger. However, if we work really hard and try to understand the hurt, if we share the hurt and are open about the hurt, we are actually being more open at a deeper level.

3. Try to change your questions into statements. Sometimes, we have an attitude or feeling about something and we’re afraid to share it, we’re afraid to be open. Instead, we ask a question. For instance, we might say “do you love me?”, when instead we want to say I love you. Change your questions into statements you can make about yourself.

4. Communicate in the first person. Begin sentences with “I” instead of “you”. You might say, ” I feel happy that you’re here,” instead of asking, “Are you glad that you’re here?”

5. Try not to say, “I don’t know.” This generally means I don’t want to think about it anymore. You’re probably getting to a level of being open that makes you anxious. Decide what it is and whether you can really trust it with the other person or persons.

John

The Catholic Church celebrates today the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. His life was fueled by one burning passion – to point others to Jesus Christ and to the coming of God’s kingdom.

During the Awesome Kids’ Ministry service at The Feast, the little children was reminded to always put God first in their lives.

Like St. John the Baptist, every kid was destined by God for an important mission.

Putting God first is realizing it’s all about Him. Everything in your life is to be directed to Him. Your every breath is to go back to Him. Your every thought is to be for Him. Everything is about Him.

Scripture tells us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15, 41) by Christ himself, whom Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, John leapt in the womb of Elizabeth as they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). The fire of the Spirit dwelt in John and made him the forerunner of the coming Messiah. John was led by the Spirit into the wilderness prior to his ministry where he was tested and grew in the word of God.

John broke the prophetic silence of the previous centuries when he began to speak the word of God to the people of Israel. His message was similar to the message of the Old Testament prophets who chided the people of God for their unfaithfulness and who tried to awaken true repentance in them. Among a people unconcerned with the things of God, it was his work to awaken their interest, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough good will to recognize and receive Christ when he came.

God’s gracious gift to us
What is the significance of John the Baptist and his message for our lives? When God acts to save us he graciously fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes our faith come “alive” to his promises. Each and every day the Lord is ready to renew us in faith, hope, and love. Like John the Baptist, the Lord invites each of us to make our life a free-will offering to God. God wants to fill us with his glory all the days of our lives, from birth through death. Renew the offering of your life to God and give him thanks for his mercy and favor towards you.

“Lord Jesus, you bring hope and salvation to a world lost in sin, despair, and suffering. Let your grace refresh and restore your people today in the hope and joy of your great victory over sin and death.”

Cape

When I was a kid Papa Ramon was my superhero, he was like Batman, Superman, Flash and Thor rolled into one.

Last Sunday, during the Awesome Kids Ministry service, the children were able to honor their dad with a special craft activity.

Cape

If the scientific study of fatherhood has taught us one thing, it’s that there are data-driven, biological, and psychological reasons why kids seem to do better with dads.

We also had our Light Group (LG) meeting where we discussed the value of our father’s presence in our lives.

According to the Parenting.com website, even dads with average parenting skills can make a real impact on their children’s lives.

Four decades of research and hundreds of studies have proven what should be obvious to everyone: The more involved a dad is, the more successful his children will be. A father’s influence can determine a child’s social life, grades at school, and future achievements.

Involved dads = Successful children
The dad effect starts as early as birth. A review of studies by the Father Involvement Research Alliance shows that babies with more involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident in new situations, and eager to explore their surroundings. As they grow, they are more sociable. Toddlers with involved fathers are better problem-solvers and have higher IQs by age 3. They are more ready to start school and can deal with the stress of being away from home all day better than children with less involved fathers .

At school, children of involved fathers do better academically. For example, a study by the U.S. Department of Education found that children of highly involved fathers were 43 percent more likely than other children to earn mostly As and 33 percent less likely to repeat a grade. They are also less likely to have behavior problems at school and to experience depression.

According to the Father Involvement Research Alliance review, girls with involved fathers have higher self-esteem, and teenage girls who are close to their dads are less likely to become pregnant. Boys show less aggression, less impulsivity, and more self-direction. As young adults, children of involved fathers are more likely to achieve higher levels of education, find success in their careers, have higher levels of self-acceptance and experience psychological well-being. Adults who had involved fathers are more likely to be tolerant and understanding, have supportive social networks made up of close friends, and have long-term successful marriages.

Everyday activities are important
A study by Brigham Young University researchers finds that involvement in everyday activities, such as eating dinner together, watching TV, playing in the yard, and playing video games are even more important to share with Dad than big outings or trips, although those contribute to children’s development as well. Fathers and youths in the study experienced more satisfaction and cohesion in their family when fathers were involved in everyday core activities.

W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, says that fathers’ special input differs from mothers’ in at least four ways: playing, encouraging risk, protecting and disciplining.

Playing
By asking parents of 390 families how they play with their children, psychologist Ross Parke found that “in infants and toddlers, fathers’ hallmark style of interaction is physical play that is characterized by arousal, excitement, and unpredictability.” Mothers, on the other hand, were “more modulated and less arousing” in their play. This became glaringly obvious to me when my husband left home for a year and a half to work in Afghanistan. My modulated play was not cutting it. Several months into the experience, our three kids began complaining to me, “You never tickle us.” I had to take a page from my husband’s playbook for a while.

A manual from the U.S. Children’s Bureau explains the impact of fathers’ play this way: “From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Roughhousing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions.”

Encouraging risk
Where mothers tend to worry about their children’s safety and well-being, fathers encourage their children to take risks. Psychologist Daniel Paquette’s review of scholarly research found that dads are more likely to encourage their children to overcome obstacles, to talk to strangers, and to go in the deep end during swim lessons. One study in the review (J. Le Camus, “Les interaction pere-enfant en milieu aquatique”) focused on a group of parents teaching their children how to swim. It found that “fathers tend to stand behind their children so the children face their social environment, whereas mothers tend to position themselves in front of their children, seeking to establish visual contact with the children.”

Protecting
Perhaps it’s their size, strength, or inclination to protect, but fathers appear to be better at keeping predators and bad influences from harming their children. Psychologist Rob Palkovitz said in The Atlantic, “Paternal absence has been cited by multiple scholars as the single greatest risk factor in teen pregnancy for girls.” When fathers are more involved, they can better monitor what’s going on in their children’s lives, including interaction with peers and adults.

Disciplining
Although mothers discipline more often, fathers discipline with a firmer hand. In their book Partnership Parenting, Drs. Kyle Pruett and Marsha Kline Pruett write, “Fathers tend to be more willing than mothers to confront their children and enforce discipline, leaving their children with the impression that they in fact have more authority.” Mothers, on the other hand, try to reason with their children and rely on kids’ emotional attachment to them to influence their behavior. Although Mom and Dad may not seem to be on the same page, this diverse approach can be very effective in disciplining children.

The good news about being a dad is that you don’t have to be spectacular at it to make a major positive contribution to your child’s life. W. Bradford Wilcox looked at data on delinquency, pregnancy, and depression in adolescents and compared the statistics with how the teens rated their fathers or if they lived with a single mother. He found that outcomes for teens in single-mother homes were about the same as those living with both a mother and a poor-quality father; teens had higher levels of delinquency, pregnancy, and depression. But teens living with their mother and father, with whom they had an average-quality relationship, experienced much lower negative outcomes. Teens who had a high-quality relationship with their father had even lower rates. Wilcox concludes that “great, and even good-enough dads, appear to make a real difference in their children’s lives.”

Fellowship

God wanted us to come together so that we always know we’re not alone.

It was one of the best family days I attended in the community.

Finally, after almost two (2) years of planning, our Light Group had a chance to step back a bit, to unwind and to enjoy summer at its best.

Light Group

1 Corinthians 14:26 “Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.”

It was a fun-filled weekend!

Just good vibes, more food, sunny weather and memorable memories of being one as a small family in the Light of Jesus (LOJ) community.

Our Light Group

Matthew 18:19-20 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

The venue was too big for us but our giggles and laughters echoed like a thunderstorm in the secluded resort tucked in the heart of Amadeo and Tagaytay.

My Light Group (couples) were the most generous and kind-hearted bunch of servants. They always went out of their way to serve each other.

Led by Bro. Allan and Sis. Bebet Gayondato everyone was inspired to give more and to share more.

Bro. Fred and Sis. Jane Pagala sourced out the venue and like any mission-ready servants, they brought an arsenal of home-goodies to make the fellowship a memorable event like no other from complete set of chafing dish and the best-seller Becky’s Kitchen sweets and knick-knacks.

Bro. Anton and Sis. Flor Erni generously contributed for the venue fees and brought freshly picked and sweet red makopa fruit or wax apple from their farm and also a hefty serving of fresh crabs.

Bro. Don and Sis. Emily Consuegra prepared a piping hot Sinigang during dinner and some “agua de pataranta” for the brothers to enjoy.

Sis. Faye cooked a delish original Bicol Express recipe- seafood and meat combined.

Bro. Mark and Sis. Lorrie Calangian prepared a sumptuous feast of all-time favorite Filipino breakfast. With barely no sleep, they woke up early and became the couple chef in tandem.

Fellowship

Some of the yummy spread shared during our Light Group fellowship.

Our LG was heaven-sent for me, a mixed of future business moguls but humble in serving God. A pure heart to love and to be of service to others for the greater glory of God.

Fellowship like what we did our LG, help us to keep our eyes on God.

He also works through them to provide us what we need in darker times. Coming together with others can aid in our healing process and give us the encouragement to move forward.

Coming together is a great way for each of us to grow in our faith.

God gives us a gift of learning and growing when we come together in fellowship we show each other how to live as God wants us to live, and how to walk in His footsteps.

When we come together in fellowship, it’s like us as a whole demonstrating God. Think of it like a cake. You need the flour, sugar, eggs, oil, and more to make a cake. The eggs will never be the flour. None of them make up the cake alone. Yet together, all those ingredients make a delicious cake. All of us together show the glory of God.

No matter where we are in our faith, fellowship provides us with strength. Being around other believers gives us the chance to learn and grow in our faith.

La Salle

I had a chance to visit my Ninang/Dra. Laarni ‘Let’ Fajardo- Roque in De La Salle University- Manila.

Inside the chapel and etched in the main altar wall, I was struck by this beautiful quote from St. La Salle:  “Iniibig ko nang higit sa lahat ang kalooban ng Diyos para sa akin.” 

Gods will

When I was a young man, I seemed to continually wrestle with knowing God’s will for my life. I wanted more than anything to follow His plan. I still wrestle with doing His will in my life. I have come to learn that this is not just something that a young person does early in life; it is a lifelong pursuit in order to stay in the exact center of His plan. Together with Ninang/Dra. Let of PLM- Student Catholic Action and with Bro. Edward of our Light Group.

But what if God’s will for my life is not what I want? What if it involves discomfort, suffering and pain?

What if I don’t like it?

But, His will prevailed.

We are all living in a fast-paced, hard driven, “make it happen” world. Most of the time, I got distracted.

I find it difficult to see what He sees, hear the sound of His voice, and love and serve by the power of His Spirit within me.

I am still a work in progress.

Talking with Ninang Let today during my visit and also our sharing session with Bro. Edward during our Light Group, I’ve realized that:

We must migrate toward relationship with Him first and always! This is our only hope of real and lasting transformational change. Intimacy and presence is His power in you and through you.

We must examine our hearts and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate and reflect back to us the things that we may not be aware of. Once revealed, our love for Him should motivate us to take the steps He shows us to get healed.

We must look at our daily activities and check and see if the actions please the Father or grieve the Father. We should decide today to be “Father pleasers.” How we treat our spouses, how we love our children, how we give without having to receive, how we become absorbed with Him and others, rather than self all matter much to God.

Talk to Him often, but mostly listen. Jesus only did and said what the Father gave Him to do and say. Jesus is always our model. Sometimes Jesus would turn away the crowd, the noise, the ministry stuff, to get away with the Father. So must we. He loves to hear from you and He is big enough to listen to the gripes and complaints. He is also big enough to show you that the gripes and complaints are insignificant in light of His eternal plans for you. Take time to listen often, He will give you what you need more often than what you want.

Just love. God is love. Everything about Him oozes love. Love does not mean we ignore truth and justice. His perfect love always includes truth and justice. But how our hearts move towards truth and justice often reveals where we are in His love. Love seems to gravitate towards healing and restoration, rather than judgment. Love within you will cause you to not focus on self and you will pursue loving those who have hated and rejected you. You will pray for your enemies and you will begin relationships with those who are different than you. If anything you do is not founded on Love, then it is not founded on God.

Walk humbly before your God and with others. When I write, I am writing these things to myself as well. I thank God for my evolving development, but wow, I have a long way to go, just ask my wife Jude. The more I know, the more I don’t know and the more it keeps me pressed into Him.

No matter where you are in your life journey, God is constantly working in and through you. He is working daily in all of us.

And one day the time will come when that light bulb inside of us will click. That moment when it all makes sense. When we see and understand God’s plan for us and why certain relationships never worked out, and why others did. We will understand why our ultimate plan was not God’s.

And that moment may not be right now, and that is okay. To be honest it probably isn’t right now for a lot of us.

That is because we have to trust God and have faith that He will show us direction in our lives. That he will close doors that are not meant for us and will present us with new opportunities and open other doors that are indeed part of His plan.