My Writer's Journey
"The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord, and you also will testify."
- John 15:26b, 27a -
- John 15:26b, 27a -
"I HATED RUNNING. Funny that this is the first sentence from my book, "Running the Millionaire Lane," written in August of 2008. I've come a long way. Running has become a habit; my body craves for it.
With writing, it's the opposite. I've always loved it and running made me realize just how much.
So when at one point, I started to hate writing because it disrupted my family life, I knew I had to find the right balance if this were to become my work until I die. I could not inspire if I feel expired. I want an inspired life to follow me to the tomb; for my epitaph to inspire long after I'm dead.
Not many are blessed to leave work and pursue a writing career. I am one of the few, and one of the handful who'd witness it evolve into a writing ministry.
"You lead a favored life. This is the meaning of carrying your God-given yoke, which is light and easy. God's beloved sleeps while the others toil," my angel said.
"Why don't people strive for this kind of life?"
"Because they are afraid to trust God. They think God will make them carry a heavy cross. Little did they know that the cross they're carrying are much heavier and bigger than what God had intended for them to carry. Foolish men!"
"Why are they afraid to relinquish control of their lives when it's just like an endless adventure with God? In dire circumstances, He'd always provides in a timely manner. I only find myself in need when I take control."
"There's always more than enough for those who trust in God," he said. "He provides your daily bread. God has written your purpose in the deepest desires of your heart. The devil tries to camouflage and mask it with impure desires that mimic that of God's to deceive you and lead you astray. But no matter what harm the devil does, God compensates and uses your experiences for His end and your ultimate purpose."
"I don't practice medicine anymore but I feel my past profession merely foreshadowed a different kind of calling as a doctor."
"That's possible. Are you excited to unravel God's wonderful plan and purpose for you?"
"Just be faithful to His daily call. Your consistent `yes' will ultimately lead you to His grand plan."
"Just one day at a time? One step at a time?"
"Yes. Live and enjoy the present moment. Do what moves you to love."
So I picked up my iPhone and had a blast with blog graphic designs using Typorama and Canva.
If this was His call for the moment, I didn't mind at all!
Build Your Platform
The command has been nagging me since Saturday, the Feast Day of John the Baptist.
How apt, I thought. John was the voice that cried out in the wilderness. He spent most of his growing years in the desert with the Essenes, as some believed, until God sent him out to pave the way for Jesus' ministry.
"Proclaim the Good News through your blogs. Market the Lord's kingdom. You are a Christian Copywriter. That is part of your call."
So I turned to Problogger. The time had come to learn from the experts.
I need to use modern tools to reach out to the modern world, in the same way that John the Baptist abandoned his desert life to proclaim Jesus' coming and adapted to the mainstream life. He could not baptize in the desert. He needed water to baptize.
"Roll up your sleeves; time to work, for the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. Learn from them. Make friends for yourselves with wealth of this world and use it to build God's kingdom, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings," Jesus seemed to be telling me.
He gave me the next 30 days to focus and work on my website.
I remembered the parable of the beam and splinter on the eyes. The parable came out of Jesus' experience as a carpenter. Jesus spent 30 years to build His platform; He learned the craft and trade of carpentry. The priest's homily painted a humane image of the young boy, Jesus with His father, Joseph.
"A beam would sit in between them, and they would have a saw with handles on both ends. In a coordinated fashion, they would push and pull, and cut the beam in half. In the process, a splinter may fly into Jesus' eyes, and Joseph would need to set aside the beam to take out the splinter from the young boy's eyes," the priest described.
I realized that Jesus had called His apostles and disciples and talked to them in their language. Peter and Andrew, the fishermen, would become fishers of men.
"You need to learn the language of today's generation if you want to make sense to them."
Marketing tools, social media, SEO optimization, internal and external links, web layout and design—I have to learn these.
Instead of cringing from the task, I grew excited. I like DIYs and learning new things. I used to blog for fun, and now God is telling me this is to become my writing ministry. Oh, wow! I love it. I can do this for the rest of my life.
It's true, His designs match His purpose. This indicates I am on the right track.
I suspected that the roadblock and slow down on my work with the novel were His doing. He was redirecting me to build a platform to market the book, at the same to refine my voice, through the blog site.
"Establish your platform first—meaning the website," my angel had explained.
And so I had resolved to work on the website for the next 30 days.
In my personal experience, mapping God's movement requires a lot of testing the waters of inspiration and trusting in the Inner Voice. He uses these indicators that I am on the right path—peace, love, and happiness. When I am happy with my work, at peace with my pace and love what I do, I know I tread the path of God's Will.
You Can Be Happy Even Amidst Adversity and Trials
But loving my work at the expense of my other responsibilities can bear bad fruit. Balance is needed.
A couple of days ago, I missed Jesus in the Eucharist because I poured my passion into blog cover design; I didn't notice the time. Even though my work stirred my soul, it also made me irritable when my daughter interrupted me. On several occasions, I minced words with my husband; all sorts of annoyances came upon me.
The following morning I looked at the mirror and saw an ugly face with a deep groove above my brow and around my mouth. And I realized, it had been God who made me look young, beautiful, and radiant.
I recalled how badly I behaved the previous day. "I need Your gentleness and meekness, my Lord. Without Your Presence, I'm most wretched and unloving. My tree rots and I bear bad fruit. Infuse Your Spirit in me once again. Come to me so I may feel the sweetness of Your patience and Your gentleness. You are my life."
If this happened to me because I missed one communion with God what were the state of the souls of others who didn't receive Jesus regularly?
And He said, "You need my grace more than the others because of your poor constitution."
I fell in shame. No wonder He calls me daily to His house to receive Him frequently. Otherwise, people around me would suffer much from my wretched nature. Blessed indeed is the Lord who treats each of us differently according to our own constitution and for giving me my daily Bread.
That day, He sent tribulations to show me my wretched state. Disquiet and chaos filled me until Jesus rebuked me.
"Maintain your peace and embrace your suffering; offer it for your numerous intentions. You ask so many things from Me yet refuse to lift a finger to help Me carry your Cross. You're like Simon of Cyrene who just wants to watch Me and had to be pushed into service to help Me carry the cross he deserved."
What an impertinent child I was. I felt ashamed for thinking myself better than others. Now I see how patient my neighbor had borne her sufferings whereas I, favored and spoiled child, am shaken by mere trifles of inconvenience; even thinking, `how have I deserved such misfortune?'
Truly the light reveals all our imperfections. No wonder people love the darkness.
St. Bernard once wrote that to saints and the elect, tribulation incurs patience; patience, experience; and experience, hope. To the proud, tribulation causes discouragement; discouragement, confusion; and confusion, despair. He urged people to overcome evil with good and fix their hopes in God.
My angel added, "You will have trouble daily. It is your daily dose of the cross. If it comes from the devil, your patient suffering and offering will make the trouble leave as fast as it came, for the devil knows he will lose more souls because of your patient endurance and prayerful sacrifice. If it is from the Lord, your patient endurance will bear the fruit of your daily conversion and spiritual growth. You will come out of the trial brighter and more brilliant as gold tested in fire. Remain humble and abiding in God's love and you will bear your troubles in peace and joy."
It came to me that part of my ministry is intercessory. God nourished me in the spirituality of Carmel, a life devoted to prayer and worship, my priestly role. My preaching and prophetic role is just an overflow of my prayer life.
This inspired me to add another section in my website.
The Prayer Requests Section
As though in confirmation, the Gospel today recounted the story of the Centurion. He inspired the words that are recited every day in all the masses throughout the world, on account of his great faith, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the words and my soul shall be healed."
And Jesus had said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour, his servant was healed.
The centurion’s strong faith healed his servant. The servant didn’t even do anything.
This is the power of intercessory prayer.
God hears the prayer of the righteous man (Proverbs 15:29). And it was not the Centurion who was righteous, but Jesus, whom he approached.
In the same Gospel passage, the mother-in-law of Peter was healed not because she asked for healing. Jesus chanced upon her lying in bed with fever and healed her.
It came upon me that I could use my relationship with Jesus to benefit the people around me.
Every day, I talk to Him; every day or as often as I can, I take Him in the Eucharist to be united with Him, and He gives Himself to me not just for my own consumption and benefit but for the benefit of the people around me.
I can become His channel of mercy to those who are too weak and too sick to ask for His healing.
In communion with the saints on earth, I can lift up the prayer intentions in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass during the Prayers of the Faithful. Through my communion with the Saints in heaven, I can also ask the intercession of these Great Saints. They are now seated near the throne of God. They can help me pray to God for the relief of the sickness of my friends and their families, whether it is a physical, emotional, spiritual or financial sickness that keeps them from getting up and serving God.
When Peter's mother-in-law was healed of her sickness, she began serving the Lord Jesus, perhaps out of a sense of obligation, or in gratitude for the healing, or simply to serve her son-in-law's Guest or just because she loves Him. No matter what her motive was, she served and waited on the Lord after she was healed.
"And this is how you are to practice your profession as a doctor now. This is your call to practice medicine—you shall obtain healing and give healing through your prayers, works and sacrifices, so Jesus, the Great Physician can heal more effectively and permanently. Your past life is just a foreshadowing of your true call and mission,” my angel said.
“Some people already live their calls and their vocations through their work. But it shall not be with you. Many are called, but few are chosen for this kind of ministry. Some are called to be priests, others prophets, and still others kings, to govern God's people.”
“You shall be judged according to your faithfulness to your call and purpose. Do your work well, and you shall gain the crown meant for you. Sow sparingly, and you shall reap sparingly. There is always time to repent, and everyone is given many chances to pick up the pieces."
"Is God not the Lord of Mercy? He allowed the thief, who was crucified beside Him to enter heaven at the last hour. It will never be too late as long as you still live on earth. Even the pain and agony of your dying moments can be offered as a sacrifice of atonement for your sins and can pay your way to your rightful place. God had already handed the keys to you, but you must pick up and put it in the keyhole to enter heaven. He had given the medicine...but you must take and drink."
"Jesus promised to heal everyone. In fact, He had already healed everyone."
My angel was right.
He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.
He had died once and for all. The medicine is available, but the sick must take it to be healed.
To further affirm the inspiration, I came upon Sr. Faustina's Diary. She recounted the supporting roles of prayer warriors who may not be on the front line of the battlefield like the priests, nuns, preachers, pastors, and missionaries, but who are in the kitchen, the hospital, the homes, doing all sorts of jobs to support the troops out there.
I realize that these hidden roles are just as crucial in God's Church as those other roles directly in the service of the Church. We are the feeders that nourish the Body of Christ. Without the feeders, the Body will become sick, grow ill and even die.
Our domestic lives are those that send priests, nuns, missionaries, and workers to God's Church. It is from our humble homes that God calls His shepherds and faithful sheep. He builds His Church starting in our homes. And if our homes are in disarray and chaos, His Church will be in turmoil.
Your Sanctification is in Your Home
"This is your monastery," my angel said. "Establish truth in your home. Justice sits at the left and mercy at the right. Justice demands that you give what one deserves, but mercy demands more, that you forgive more than one deserves. Govern your home in such a way, and you will live in the Era of the Divine Mercy and enjoy the benefits of its promise:
“He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”
“He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.”
Justice demands that you give what one deserves, but mercy demands more, that you forgive more than one deserves.
"God's mercy abounds and overflows from His heart, but people reject and refuse it. You cannot enter heaven on your own merits. It can only be through the merits of the Firstborn Son, Jesus. He has opened the Gates of Heaven, and everyone is invited to come in."
"Happy are you if you find a welcoming banquet on your return home."
"And there lies your happiness, if you use all the tools you have here on earth to pave your way to your rightful place."
So this is the secret to happiness. I smiled.
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