Archive for April, 2010

My dear little sister has gone home to our Heavenly Father early this morning. She was a brave, cheerful soul who fought her painful illness to the very end. Her best friend described her as “quite the sunshine for all people who know her.” Our hearts are broken. It seemed like it was too soon for her. But it’s not our will, but His will be done. It was her time and we had to let her go.

Life is truly short. I can still remember how we used to fight over our toys when we were little girls. How our mom made us wear matching clothes and shoes. How I felt very proud of her in the audience as I watched her win several oratorical contests in her youth. How amazed I was that she was already playing Church hymns while I struggled with my “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” piece in our piano class. She grew up to be a social butterfly who always had a beaming smile for everybody. She was a person who followed her heart and enjoyed her journey here on earth. I will always be grateful to her for introducing the gospel into my life.

President Thomas S. Monson once said, “May we live so that when that final summons is heard, we may have no serious regrets, no unfinished business.” (“Now Is the Time,” Ensign, Nov 2001, 59)

Cathy, I love you. Goodbye for now my li’l sis. I’m gonna miss you. Enjoy time with our grandma. I’ll see you when I see you. Sending you my tightest hugs and warmest kisses.


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(Photograph by Edwin Redrino)

There are times when we cannot help feeling low about some things that are going on in and around our lives. Some of them we cannot control, such as illness and death; some we wish we don’t have to deal with, like manipulative and mean people; and unfortunately, there are some that we may have brought upon our very own selves, such as consequences of our mistakes.

The design of the adversary in this life is to bring us down. He would like us to think that our negative situations will last forever and that there is no more hope or relief for us. But the design of our existence is to experience all these things in this life—both happiness and sorrow—that we might be strong and grow from such earthly experiences.

Yesterday, I had the chance to continue browsing my old folders and saw very old photographs that were taken even some twenty years ago. Almost all of them brought smiles on my face as I recalled the great memories accompanying those shots. I was grateful for the wonders of my camera and how it captured all those precious moments that I will now treasure forever. I also realized the joy and happiness that my loving family and faithful friends have brought me all these years—all the love, support, laughter, and even the tears—through thick and thin. Each photo stirred up an emotion in me that reminded me how beautiful and kind life had been to me despite the many ups and downs I have already encountered. It also gave me hope that whatever challenges we encounter in this life will be but a small moment compared to an eternity of happiness awaiting for us if we will keep trying to press forward in the right direction no matter what it takes! We just simply cannot give up!! We cannot listen to the voice of the opposition telling us that we are not worth what our Savior had died for—because we are of divine worth and are extremely precious in His sight.

In a similar folder, I saw a video of a song written for the youth of this day. “Be strong and of good courage,” the song goes. I thought how appropriate the words are for us during this difficult time, even if we are no longer in our youth.

When my young son was starting to learn how to play the piano, he was discouraged and thought there was no way he would ever be able to play using both his left and right hands simultaneously. He thought it was an impossible task. But I encouraged him and told him that others have already done it so it wasn’t really as impossible as it seemed. He worked hard and practiced day after day and now he plays using both hands even without looking at the keyboard.

Just like him, we can keep our chin up and keep trying even when we are feeling very discouraged, hopeless, hurt, and downtrodden—even when we think it is impossible to surpass our challenges at hand. Most likely, others have already gone through it so it may not really be as impossible to overcome as it may seem. We just have to work hard and keep practicing patience, obedience, repentance, and faith until we finally get it right.

Let us not give place in our hearts anymore to the enemy of our souls! Let us remember and apply the counsel given, that all our trials and challenges will be but for a small moment and will give us experience and will be for our own good. Let us have a mighty change of heart and be strong and of good courage! Maybe then next time we are faced with a similar trial or challenge we can already overcome it even with our eyes closed!

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(Photograph by Charisse Paculanang-Guymon)

I was browsing through my folders and saw this note that I wrote in March of 2005. I was a bit struck by it so I decided to post it. Here goes:

“Yesterday, I have had an experience of being judged by a person who perhaps thought of herself as perfect. This was not the first time that she has judged me in such a negative way and I didn’t know exactly how to feel about it. While I was talking to her on the phone, I felt pity for her for the kind of judgmental character that she has.

That brought me—at least in thought—to a Sunday School lesson that was taught in church. The subject was about the Savior. The lesson directed, on our taking Him for our pattern in all things. That to be like Him, we should not pre-judge, especially not in the negative. The Savior would never, ever condescend or patronize anyone.  He would not ‘talk down’ at all, even if it was just a joke, no matter their status in society or even their sin or virtue. He would not feel as if He thought them useless or inferior.

And yet how often do we do that?  In so many conversations, do we not hear subtle self-praise at the expense of others? If we say we love God, but do not love men, then we deceive ourselves, and in the words of Christ, the truth is not in us.

And when we speak, do we not consider that what we will say might make others feel inferior, less righteous, less likely to do anything well?  On the contrary, to do it blindly is to be self-absorbed and an unintentional failure as a disciple of Christ.  To do it knowing and meaning to, is to have chosen to try to cripple others and ensure that they do not succeed because we have convinced them it is pointless to try. What darkness must be inside us if we do that? What hate, what fear of our own emptiness and failure that we must do all we can to ensure that others fail also?

No one else’s success can rob us of ours. We can only rob ourselves. It is not a competition. If I have been friend to someone, if I have been generous, patient, kind, brave, honest, or wise, then I have won.  If another person is better or happier because of something I have done, then we are both blessed.

And similarly, if I have put a stumbling block along another person’s way, and that person is sadder, weaker, more discouraged because of something I have done, or failed to do when I had the opportunity, then that person have suffered, but I have lost. It is my spirit that is diminished and I who have limited myself.

I think we all should have a determination to be gentler, less self-righteous than before, less praising of our own type of virtue and more generous in recognizing those in others that we may not possess.  Nobody is unloved by God, nobody is the wrong color, the lesser sex, an inferior social status, marital status, professional occupation, or lack of one.  If we do our best, according to our knowledge, and are seeking to know the mind and will of God for us, then we are at least close to perfect, possibly we are actually there. Perfect is not a place where we are without fault, it is a state of progress which is the greatest of which we are capable.

Let us try harder to look at people and remember that Christ did not ever ‘talk down’ to anyone and He was morally superior to us all. If He did not, are we not absurd and contemptible to do so?!  Ridiculous, certainly, but when we weigh the hurt and the damage we may do, it’s not the least bit funny. There is nothing whatever to laugh at in destroying the faith, the hope or reputation of another person.”

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