JOY in finding one’s Prince

For my 40th birthday, I wanted a view of still waters and a beautiful mountain. And so when a friend mentioned about her beautiful stay at Ashinoko Prince Hotel in Hakone, that is famous for its view of Mt. Fuji against the peaceful 3000 year old Ashinoko crater-lake, I immediately booked one night at one of its premium rooms. So we planned on having tea at the balcony, a picnic near the lake and a run around this circular hotel. 

But it rained so hard we did not see Mt. Fuji at all. And worse, Adana had moderate to high fever all day, all night that I ended up staying in the room without a view, hearing only the rush of wind and smashing rain disguised by a massive cloud of fog. 

Pido gently reminded me that while things did not turn out as planned, my heart should be in a position of gratitude. After all, there could be beautiful surprises in the rain.

And so I spent time reading, praying and reflecting. Everything around me reminded me of how my life has been and should be. 

The beautiful hotel, reminded me that one can age gracefully. It felt like entering a facility that was once grand years ago but has chosen to embrace its oldness. I loved the hall with a red carpet and golden ceiling that led to the rooms. I loved the winding stairs that were understated elegance; the walls of various materials ; the wooden furniture that added so much character to the place. I loved the French restaurant with high ceiling and a 180-view of the lake. The walkway towards the lake with towering trees stood tall and charming despite the intermittent fog that fell like a soft blanket. The onsen that was almost empty when I had the chance to take a dip was exactly what I needed. The view of boats and the sound of birds and splash of water all made me feel really grateful for all the 40 years.

That while so many things did not turn out as planned in my life, specially the past decade, I was reminded that there was so much to be thankful for. My past decade has been filled with heartbreak, all cannot be seen in my Instagram and FB posts. I felt the most rejected and deeply hurt for things that only God and closest friends will ever know. I felt the most afraid for my life during the big earthquake that hit Japan while on my 9th month carrying Adana; the most helpless when my mom had a heart attack on the eve of Adana’s birthday. I cried so much more this past decade than I have in my life the rest of the years. 

Yet, my heart remains grateful. I have experienced the comforting, fatherly and unconditional, faithful love of God in all those times. That while the past decade has not been the best, I also experienced the best of God’s surprises and provision, all of which I did not feel I deserved.

So on my birthday morning, although sleepless, I dressed up and spent so much time in worship. Whether things turn out well or not in my life, my God remains good. That is my place. Right at the feet of my Lord; in the loving arms of my Father; in the sweetest embrace of my Prince. 

This love changes me like no other.

Thank you my Prince for September 29th, 2:45 pm and for my Mama who fought hard to give birth to this now 40 year old. These and the blessings thereafter. 

Birthdays are God’s miracles. 

JOY in looking forward to rainy days

I grew up knowing what a real flood is. That kind that gets into the house after days of raining. That kind that fills the bedroom in an instant it makes you think everything is just a nightmare. That kind that pumps adrenalin and makes one carry a refrigerator or a newly bought sofa. That kind that stays for days, no for weeks, actually the kind of flood that stays for months.

It is bad enough that typhoons usually strike the Philippines a few months each year. It is even worse to be living in an area like Pasig where people get too familiar with flooding. And so now, when I say, I look forward to rainy days, I am actually out of my mind.

We all get it. Rainy days could be tough, messy, inconvenient, costly, unwanted. Our idea of a perfect vacation is one that is squandered in a paradise teeming with beautiful sunshine. We run to catch a glimpse of that imposing rainbow. We spread ourselves to a sunny morning. We admire a scenic snowfall and dream of snowboarding or doing snowball fights or making snowman or spending a romantic White Christmas. On rainy days, the kind that last for days, we think of staying home, avoiding the downpour.

But I still look forward to rainy days. It is when I feel completely glad I am home. It is when I value that precious mug of hot cocoa or tea. It is when I enjoy the grandness of just watching an old movie while eating left over meals. It is when I feel most relieved to have every member of my family safely nestled in the living room. It is when we selflessly hope our friends and even strangers are all safe and dry. It is when I appreciate things as simple as a sturdy roof or electricity to keep us warm. It is when we find time to join our toddler in singing “Rain Rain go away…” It is when we want to be cuddled all night. It is when sharing a blanket becomes a great idea. It is when a hot soup becomes the most special dish ever. It is when we find time to pray, or for some, to hope, for the rain to finally stop, for people to be spared. It is when we dream of sunny days, of better days.

We find joy even during the rainiest of days when we keep the hope of seeing the sun in our hearts. And if you are like me, who has been through the worst of floods and experienced the pain of losing many things to numerous typhoons, you can bask joyfully in the sun whenever you can, believing that nothing is truly lost and wasted.

It has been a windy, rainy day today. I hope most of us are home and enjoying a very good cup of hot tea.