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Archive for April, 2009

cave

(Photograph by Franco Advincula)

 

When I was young, my mom used to tell me that I shouldn’t speak my mind all the time. That if I didn’t have anything nice to say, then I shouldn’t say anything at all. Being the eldest of a brood of five, it was one of the toughest things for me to do! Haha! J

 

Now as an adult, I realized that biting the tongue is a universal weakness. It is sometimes easier for people to criticize than to compliment. It takes a certain level of maturity, humility, and confidence to praise others because it would sometimes mean that they are better than them—and some people are just not comfortable with that. There are also times when expressing our strong emotions verbally during a heated moment can become a challenge.  

 

Throughout my life, as I’ve mingled with individuals of diverse social, racial, economic, and educational background, I’ve noticed that those who are in control of their strong emotions and are more generous in complimenting others are those who are happier and more grounded in their own lives. There seems to be a bucketful of optimism in their lives that they are more than willing to share. They light up the room when they’re around! J On the contrary, those who are oozing with negativity often live dark and bitter lives that, sadly, they unconsciously exhibit in most of their conversations.  

 

I don’t know if I will ever be perfect in terms of biting my tongue when necessary, but I find that it becomes easier as I keep practicing it! J Oh, and I’ve tried all sorts of techniques! J I tried pausing and thinking before saying anything; taking long, relaxed breaths; literally biting my tongue when angry; focusing on the positive than the negative; thinking about something completely different from the situation; keeping silent; ignoring the whole situation entirely; and the most difficult technique: asking myself what the Savior would do given the same situation! J

 

Most of us are a work in progress in this area, and I congratulate those who have already perfected this character trait! J I hope that someday I won’t have to make a conscious effort anymore when tempted to say something unkind or express my strong emotions when outraged.

 

Meanwhile, I’m taking my long, deep breaths calmly as I walk under the rain. J   

 

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lake

(Photograph by Franco Advincula)

 

I had a wonderful privilege of observing a 3-day youth conference last week. Not only did it remind me of how fantastic it is to be young and carefree, but I learned something from it that helped me choose the right path when I was put to a test over the weekend!

 

For this youth conference, a theme song was composed by a talented young composer which she taught the youth on their first day. The song goes:

 

 

There is a tiny spark in me;

I’ll make it grow for others to see.

My family and my Savior, I will not fail;

‘Though others may forget to walk the path that’s straight,

I will keep the faith.

 

In the darkness, I’ll be the light.

When others falter, I’ll be the guide.

When things are tough, I’ll choose the right.

I may be young, but I can choose,

To take the courage to live the truth.

 

I have been taught the gospel truths;

I will choose to live a righteous youth.

My family and my Savior, I will not fail;

‘Though others may forget to walk the path that’s straight,

I will keep the faith.

 

Born of royal birthright,

Trusted by the Lord,

To help build His kingdom,

A light to all the world.

 

(Music and Lyrics by Diana Valencia Cruz)

 

 

How grateful I am that I listened to the melody and words of the song as they practiced singing it over and over!! Because that weekend I was tempted to act irresponsibly in reaction to another person’s conduct. I went to bed contemplating rebellious thoughts that must’ve been displeasing to our Father’s eyes. So I was really amused when in the middle of the night I suddenly woke up with the tune and words of the song filling my mind:

 

“In the darkness, I’ll be the light.

When others falter, I’ll be the guide.”

 

I didn’t catch up on my sleep after that, but it was a humbling moment for me to be chastened by the Lord in such a sweet and gentle way! J  Needless to say, I immediately got my act together and chose the right thing to do the following day!! J

 

I know, without a shadow of doubt, that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father who loves us despite our weaknesses and shortcomings. I am a living proof of that tender mercy. He is there watching over us even when we falter—yes, especially when we falter! And just as the song says, may we always keep in mind that we are of royal birthright! That we can choose the right even when things are tough, and that our tiny spark of light may be used as a guide by those who are in the darkness—indeed, a light to all the world!!! J

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Happy Easter everybody!!! J

 

My heart rejoiced at the messages I’ve heard during the general conference! I found it especially remarkable that the speakers talked about things that we could use to combat the challenges of our time—even the financial crisis that’s going on across the world right now! J

 

It was comforting to note that the general authorities have spoken, not only about the spiritual well-being of those within the sound of their voices, but about their temporal welfare as well. It gave me assurance that Heavenly Father is mindful of our current situation on earth and is willing to extend His loving guidance so that we mortals could prepare and overcome whatever lies ahead. J

 

I remember a story that was once told of a painting competition where the theme was about peace. Many artists joined the contest and worked on their individual masterpieces. They sent in their paintings as soon as they were completed and each artist anxiously awaited the day when the winning painting would be revealed. Each hoped that it would be his entry.

 

On the day of judgment, all the paintings were displayed in a large exhibit hall where spectators could view them, except for one—the winning painting—which was covered with white cloth. The numerous entries demonstrated the different artists’ interpretations of peace.  

 

When the winning painting was finally unveiled, a hushed murmur was heard across the room. One artist raised his voice and complained that the winning painting was not about peace because all he could see was a depiction of a storm, with trees swayed by the strong wind, leaves blown out of their branches, a heavy downpour, and a small wooden house that seemed to barely stand the rainfall. 

 

One of the judges invited this complaining artist to take a closer look. When the artist approached the winning painting, he noticed at the corner of the painting was a bird’s nest on a tree with young birds sleeping as their mother watched over. He then realized that this winning painting indeed portrayed the real meaning of peace, for peace does not depend on external circumstances; it is a state of calm and serenity that is felt from within—no matter how troubled the surroundings may be.

 

As we go through the challenges of our time, may we be reminded of this humble story of what real peace is all about. May we have enough for our needs and may we rely on Him who created everything on this earth to grant us “peace that passeth all understanding.” The kind of peace that will comfort us amidst the raging storms of life and help us endure until we are finished with our work on this earth. J

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(Photograph by Edwin Redrino)

 

I was talking with my son on the phone last week as I headed home from the grocery, when he suddenly interrupted me and said:

 

“Mom, I’m sorry, I accidentally broke the shower.”

 

Screeeeeccchhh! My mind’s switch from the grocery-related train of thoughts to the broken shower was amazing. J

 

Shower…Broken…How broken? My mind tried to process those thoughts.

 

As I listened to him explain what happened, I felt like I had that conversation with him before. Only it was over a broken door that he kicked out of frustration when he got hurt during a basketball game that their team lost; or a broken chair that he and two of his friends sat on at the same time and collapsed; or the head of one of the shepherds in our nativity set coming off; and many more.

 

Yet no matter how many times we’ve had those broken-things-conversations in the past, I highly appreciate his honesty and courage in coming forward and volunteering the information every single time. I suppose there was an instance when he was younger when I told him I would always prefer honesty than half-truths or white lies. And to this day, he held on to that statement and I’ve grown a lot in terms of restraining myself from getting angry whenever he breaks things “accidentally.” J

 

Whether over broken things or matters of greater weight, I believe that honesty is still the best policy. There are times when we may be tempted to be dishonest for many reasons, but I know that being honest will be much more appreciated in almost all situations as we do so in sincerity.

 

So let’s strive to be more honest with what we say and do. Let us carefully keep and honor our words and watch our actions. I know that when we are honest, we will not only gain the trust of people around us, but we will keep our self-respect and integrity intact as well. J

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