4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
Above drawing is from my series on “a stronger me in my own existence”.
How did I get here?
I got lost in my journey
cold and dark
my deadpan eyes looked for You.
i was lifeless, but
Your hands reached out for mine and held them
my body felt the tingling flow of your warmth
You pulled me into your embrace.
Just as i am
dirty and soiled
Your healing touch
my soul refreshed
You showed me a glowing orb
Mesmerized, I held it in my hands
lifting it up high
together in the dark
we walk the road ahead
The beauty of God’s mercy is in His abundant love for us. Where we were once tainted by our brokenness – our sins, by God’s grace, we have been saved by faith. What a wonderful gift He gives us.
It’s been years since I’ve work on my own themes and images. For the past 30 years, I’ve worked on small and large scale projects for work. Much of these themes were related to children and education.
For the past two weeks, I have been sketching again…building a body of background drawings for larger paintings.
Today, I feel free to express what I want to without constraints. I can be creative and express through my sketches and drawings for myself again. I can laid bare my soul in praise of God and His amazing love.
I have also been working with an art therapist along with a spiritual guide from St. Ignatius Spiritual Centre. Both have helped me deal with all the stress and anxieties that COVID-19 has produced in my workplace and communities.
Officially I am on sick leave, and taking the time to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Praise be to God for looking after all my needs. I can take the time to glorify Him in everything I do.
Healing…what is it? We read of Jesus’ miracles of healing the sick, the blind and the crippled.
I think as much as they are real, the healing of Jesus is also a metaphor for us. A dark to light, or an unveiling of our eyes so that we see the truth – that is the only truth – that is in God the Father, in Jesus His beloved son, and in the Holy Spirit.
I can say this because I realize I am being lead by the Holy Spirit in a healing journey – and in the process giving me a greater insight into what it means when Jesus heals. It’s not some miraculous healing of the soul – it’s the choice within me to propel forward by faith into his embrace to be heal. It also means effort on my part to be an active participant in the healing process. A spiritual journey so to speak.
Picking up my sketch book for the first time in a long time, I am moved to draw and sketch again as I work through my heart. I feel this journey is for the healing of my soul.
It is about me saying a strong YES to my own existence! Reclaiming and letting the hand of God mold me in His image.
Thank you Jesus for your arms of love ❤️🔥my heart on fire for You.
There are many ways to celebrate this particular devotion. Most churches have a daily recitation of the rosary. Some include the crowning of Our Lady’s statue. The important thing is that Mary be honored in a special way. At one time, the domestic celebrations of the month of May were widespread, especially by setting up a small May altar in the home.
“During this beautiful month of Our Lady, let us crown her with fragrant flowers – the flowers of love, gentleness, meekness and humility for one another, and ask Jesus to be truly a cause of joy to her as He was.” (From her letters)
Let’s take time each day and venerate our beloved Mother Mary.
Many years ago, Mathieu was 5 years old, my husband and I took him to Indigo – a bookstore located in the heart of Montreal. I recall leaving him with my husband with specific instructions to keep an eye on him. They were browsing through magazines, and I thought that little Mathieu would have enough to occupy himself with.
I went to browse, and 30 minutes later, “Where is Mathieu?” Upon which my husband looked around hazily and responded, “I though he was with you!”
Oh boy did I bellow out, “Mathieu!”
The whole book store went silent for about 30 seconds – I swear you could have heard a pin drop (sorry for the pun here, but truly that’s how it felt like at the time). “How does he look like?” “How old is he?” Just as quickly after shouting out, “Five, Asian child….”, I heard the someone call out, “FOUND HIM!” “He is in the Children’s Book Department!” I recall my prayer of thankfulness for Mathieu’s safety.
I can almost understand the panic Mary and Joseph must have felt when they discovered Jesus was not among them, and rushed back to the city to find him – 3 days later. The anxiety that wells up in a mother’s heart upon discovering her child is missing is the fear and angst of all mothers. I can imagine the panic Mary must have felt.
A mother’s mission
Through prayer and in my journey towards the Catholic Faith, I feel a song in my heart. I also feel being moved to tell others of my love for Jesus. There is a desire for me to share this light and let it shine out – God’s Divine Mercy and love. I have felt this calling in the past but was not ready to listen to Jesus. Through prayer and mediating on His word, I have asked how he wants me to do this. During praying the Rosary (about 4 weeks ago), I saw an image during prayer of our Holy Mother. The vision was short, but in my vision, she was sad, as if she was telling me that her sadness stems from many in our world who do not know or venerate her. I wasn’t sure what to do with this vision, and I have been asking for the Holy Spirit to guide me.
I am not a theologian, but I can share and give some insights into who Holy Mary is in my life. This is how I can contribute.
A mother’s help
This morning was one of those morning when I am awaken from a dream I can’t recall, but feeling alone and seriously down. It is one of those moments in my life when I wrestle with inner demons. I woke up washed with a tsunami of tears amidst a wall of insecurities – weighted down by the sins of my past. It is a flood gate of self doubt, and I am reminded of the torturous darkness of my soul. How can God love or even want someone like me to serve Him.
My usual tactics to get rid of Satan’s infiltration did not work this morning, and continued to mar my mind with an array of self deification. “You are wasting your time!” “Remember how peaceful your life use to be?” “You are wasting your time blogging.” “You are wasting your time writing” An endless steam of Satan’s bombardment attacked me all morning. Even praying became a battle ground, where Satan used my emotions to prevent me from praying. When I tried to pray, I was strangled with silence as a voice inside me echoed, “Why bother?” “What makes you think God is listening to you?”
“God, how have I displeased you?”
“Mother Mary, Father Joseph help me!” “St Michael, defend me!”
Yes, Satan is real, and he loves nothing more than to create and stir doubt within me. I had to ground myself in prayer, and believe me, that itself was hard today. Praying all of a sudden became a struggle between me and Satan. I felt the struggle. I turned on my Rosary apps from Divine Mercy, and couldn’t even utter the first few parts of the prayer…my tears fell, and I could not utter a word. I listened as I battled my inner demon, and only by the 3rd decade of the Rosary could I start to pray, “Hail Mary Full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee…”
A mother’s comfort
As fast as I was attacked by Satan’s lies and guiles, Mother Mary, along with Father Joseph, St. Michael and all the saints came to my aid – Satan ceased his attacks.
I am just as overwhelmed now as I write this. “Is this the kind of things one writes in a blog?” “Is this the kind of things I can talk about?” Why am I sharing this?
Our journey with God is not always a smooth path, at least not for me. I can say with a sincerity of heart – Satan will use every means to attack. Battle readiness is a must! I am thankful for our Holy Mother’s intervention, and St. Joseph’s help – he is after all the terror of demons. Just as St. Joseph saved the Holy family by taking them out to Egypt, he helps me battle the guiles of Satan.
My comfort is that I can call to Mother Mary (and St. Joseph, St. Michael and all the Saints) to intercede for me. It is not because Jesus does not hear my cries for help, He needs me to trust Him. He also needs me to be in total submission to His will. Just as He had to battle Satan for 40 days and night, I had to by faith accept HIs divine grace and mercy, and know that through His death on the cross for my sin, I am saved.
(In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit)
Jesus, my Savior, and King
I humbly pray before you
May you grace my heart to love and adore you more,
to give me the grace of deepening faith
to give me the grace to place my trust upon you above all others,
and to give me the grace to be confident you are ever present in my life.
I proclaim you Prince of Peace and lift you high above all in this mortal realm.
As I wait for your second coming, let me not waste a moment
I ask that you grace me – this unworthy sinner –
with the inspiration and confidence to use the gifts you have given me
to share your story and love with others.
So that they may also rejoice in having a living God in their lives.
(In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen)
I started praying the Christ the King Novena yesterday, and following the lead of my sponsor, I have reflected upon it, and personalized it. As I think in the abstract, one of my challenges is to bring it down a notch – or to bring it out of my headspace into the everyday.
Through prayer, especially the Rosary, I feel the depth and width of my love for Jesus growing with each passing day. There has been a few instances when during prayer I have been overwhelm with emotions and tears as visons of sin unrealized and unconfessed come to mind. Jesus has also shown me through prayer that He has always been with me, and He has also shielded me on numerous occasion from falling into the clutches of darkness. Just as he has opens my eyes, He also comforts.
Once a part of the darkness, the road back to the light is soul wrenching. There is no other way to describe it. I know that meeting my husband was God send – His unconditional love for me never faltered through our 30 year plus relationship. Just as my children were gifts from God – to me – a woman who fervently claimed I would never bring children into this world. God blessed me with two adopted children.
The goal is making Jesus Christ real in every facets of our lives.
Since the start of the Advent, my sponsor and I have each chosen a Novena to focus and pray on. Through the process of sharing our thoughts each day via phone or text, I have come to realize how each of us have personalized and made praying real based on our personalities and character.
Through a process of self reflection and reflecting on key words or concepts, it opens up for each something uniquely special and personal. It leads to a journey of deepening faith and love for Christ. It guides us to prepare our hearts for celebrating not only Jesus’ arrival to us through His birth, but preparing our hearts and soul to receive Him upon His second coming.
Having a partner during this prayerful period has enriched me. As I am a person of extremes, my prayer partner reminds me to maintain a balanced life. This has been an enriching experience for me, as I realize through our conversations and text messages that not only are we two unique individuals, with different approaches to prayer, she has shown me her own process of personalizing the Novena. This has helped me to bring abstract concepts from my headspace into my daily life. Coming down to earth so to speak – as I think in the abstract – personalizing my Novena, brings it down to my everyday.
From the Mouth of a Child
My daughter often says to me, “Mom, use normal words, I don’t know what you mean.” Upon which I would stop and rephrase my sentence, or explain to her what I mean.
The other day I reminded Aleeza to pray (and ask Jesus for the confidence to stand in front of her class for her oral). Her adamant response was, “Mom, I don’t pray. I talk to Jesus.” I smile now as I recall her statement. Yes, that is what we do when we pray, we talk to Jesus. I like the way she has personalized her relationship with Jesus. He is her friend.
Finally, from the mouth of a child, “Jesus is our friend”.
Aside: God has a way of grounding us through our friends and family.
Many homes in my area have already decorated for the holidays. It’s so nice to see the outside adorn with pine garlands, Christmas wreaths, and lights.
After being pestered by our children to decorate for Christmas, my husband finally took out our artificial tree and several boxes of decorations.
As my daughter and I decorated the tree, I shared with her the stories behind some of our ornaments. There were “Baby’s First Christmas” bells and balls, to their first kindergarten Christmas crafts, to their own collection (my husband’s best shopping day is Black Friday and Boxing Day. He delighted in a yearly trek amidst the crowd to let them chose a decoration for their own collection – at 50% off). There were also decorations gifted by my mother-in-law, as well as decorations to Meimei from her aunt.
It’s touching to see our children decorating their rooms this year. They wanted to personalize their room with their own decorations.
For many, it will be the first Christmas alone or with the immediate family. We normally travel to Toronto to see my side of the family, but due to Covid-19 restrictions we are not traveling. My side of the family decided to keep it simple, and we’ll have a zoom gathering on Christmas Day.
In Montreal, Christmas has changed in the past few years. We live in an age of political correctness. Christmas is now refer to as the “Holiday Season”. Festive window decorations in stores are a thing of the past.
There was a sense of wonderment when children watched the mechanical display. I use to bring my children to see this display after the Santa Claus parade.
Since the onset of Covid-19, one of the things I miss most is going downtown. I have fond memories of walking along the main streets to look at all the colourful Christmas lights.
My husband and I have always focused on the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Pre Covid-19 Christmas Eve, we would attend Candlelight service and sing hymns.
This year most churches will have a limited seating capacity of 25. Most have adapted to COVID-19 restrictions and will use zoom or live stream to celebrate the birth of Christ. I pray that all of you will be able to celebrate Christmas via one of these technological platforms.
Today as we live and adapt to new norms, I find we need to create our own Christmas tradition. A tradition that embraces and envelopes those around us in love and peace. After so many years of celebrating Christmas with the family, we are kind of forced to isolate. We shouldn’t let this stop us from sharing with one another. We can text, zoom, email, or call someone on the phone. We can use snail mail and send a card. I think the important thing is to not leave anyone out.
I really appreciate my neighbours decorating early this year. They drew me into their warmth. This helped create the mood in me to decorate and celebrate. My neighbours added to the Christmas ambiance by sharing their joy and love of the season. I think this is the most precious part of this year’s Christmas – sharing the peace and love of Christmas with one another with a festive heart.
I’m embarrassed to show my watercolours, as they are often quick ink sketches. They are like journal entries, expressing of my thoughts about Jesus and my relationship with Him.
They are also about finding hope in Christ in our lost humanity. His Salvation and Glory is free. All we need to do is accept it as Zaccheus (Luke 19: 1-10) did.
Jesus died for the mankind’s original sin (The Fall of Man in Genesis 3) so that we may be redeemed if we believe in Him. When I think about His death on the cross, I am thankful that an unworthy sinner like me can be forgiven all my sins. I thank God for letting me draw closer to Him.
In return I send praises to my Almighty God, to Jesus the Son, and to the Holy Spirit for giving me the gift of faith. I, in turn, share my faith with all of you.
That each of you find the time to pray and draw into a closer relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.