30 November 2013

Keep Christ in Christmas: THE LIGHT OF HOPE

"I’m participating in the KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTMAS Blog Link-Up 2013
sponsored by the Catholic Bloggers Network."

Be sure to visit as many links as possible,
listed at the bottom of this post.

Reflecting on the 1st candle of Advent, the "light of Hope", I was reminded of a story I read as a child.  Most of my contemporaries would probably remember "The Little Match Girl" written by Hans Christian Andersen:

It was terribly cold and nearly dark on the last evening of the old year, and the snow was falling fast.

In the cold and darkness, a poor little girl with bare head and naked feet, roamed through the streets. It is true she had on a pair of slippers when she left home, but they were not of much use. They were very large, so large, indeed, for they had belonged to her Mother and the poor little girl had lost them in running across the street to avoid two carriages that were rolling at a terrible rate.

One of the slippers she could not find, and a boy seized the other and ran away with it saying he could use it as a cradle when he had children of his own. So the little girl went on with her little naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried a number of matches, and had a bundle of them in her hands. No one had bought anything of her the whole day, nor had anyone given her even a penny. Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along, looking like the picture of misery. The snowflakes fell on her fair hair, which hung in curls on her shoulders, but she regarded them not.

Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savory smell of roast goose, for it was New-year's eve yes, she remembered that. In a corner, between two houses one of which projected beyond the other, she sank down and huddled herself together. She had drawn her little feet under her, but could not keep off the cold. And she dared not go home, for she had sold no matches.

Her father would certainly beat her; besides, it was almost as cold at home as here, for they had only the roof to cover them. Her little hands were almost frozen with the cold. Ah! perhaps a burning match might be some good, if she could draw it from the bundle and strike it against the wall, just to warm her fingers. She drew one out- "scratch!" how it sputtered as it burnt. It gave a warm, bright light, like a little candle, as she held her hand over it. It was really a wonderful light. It seemed as though she was sitting by a large iron stove. How the fire burned! And seemed so beautifully warm that the child stretched out her feet as if to warm them, when, lo! the flame of the match went out!

The stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand.

She rubbed another match on the wall. It burst into a flame, and where its light fell upon the wall it became as transparent as a veil, and she could see into the room. The table was covered with a snowy white table cloth on which stood a splendid dinner service and a steaming roast goose stuffed with apples and dried plums. And what was still more wonderful, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled across the floor, with a knife and fork in it's to the little girl. Then the match went out, and there remained nothing but the thick, damp, cold wall before her.

She lighted another match, and then she found herself sitting under a beautiful Christmas tree. It was larger and more beautifully decorated than the one she had seen thru the rich merchant's glass door. Thousands of tapers were burning upon the green branches, and colored pictures, like those she had seen in the show-windows, looked down upon it all. The little one stretched out her hand towards them, and the match went out.

The Christmas lights rose higher and higher till they looked to her like the stars in the sky. Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it it a bright streak of fire. "Some one is dying," thought the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now in Heaven had told her that when a star falls, a soul was going up to God.

She again rubbed a match on the wall, and the light shone round her; in the brightness stood her old grandmother, clear and shining, yet mild and loving in her appearance.

"Grandmother," cried the little one, "O take me with you; I know you will go away when the match burns out; you will vanish like the warm stove, the roast goose, and the large glorious Christmas-tree." And she made haste to light the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother there. And the matches glowed with a light that was brighter than the noon-day. and her grandmother had never appeared so large or so beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and they both flew upwards in brightness and joy far above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with God.

In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little one, with pale cheeks and smiling mouth, leaning against the wall. She had been frozen on the last evening of the year; and the New-year's sun rose and shone upon a little child. The child still sat, holding the matches in her hand, one bundle of which was burnt.

"She tried to warm herself," said some. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she had entered with her grandmother, on New-year's day.


This story never fails to warm my heart and bring tears to my eyes. It may be a tragic, hopeless tale, but it is also a beautiful story of hope.

True hope shines brightly in every single matchstick lit by this little girl.  In the midst of her hopelessness and despair... she discovered the beauty of life by seeing beyond her nothingness and focusing on the simple desires of her heart. The light of hope became her strength.   

At a time when everything around us seem to be covered in tragedy and hopelessness, all we need is a tiny tinge of light to experience the warmth of God's promise of a better future.   Most of the time, it is in the midst of nothingness that we can fully find the confidence and faith to HOPE. 

Christmas is the season of hope... to hope that the best is yet to come.  We may be looking forward to receiving our "bonuses".  We may be preparing for a relaxing, long vacation.  Our children may be anticipating what gift they will be receiving this year.  But it is the warmth of giving to those in need... the joy of being with our loved ones... and the peace that is in our hearts as we share love to others that will light up our lives.    

We need to place our life and our future, even our loved ones in God’s hands.  Trust that He has the best plans… which can only happen in His ideal time… and through His perfect way. 

May the story of the "little match girl" remind us that our ultimate desire for happiness and comfort can only be fulfilled by God.  By hoping for His best, God will light our darkest moment.  

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let’s continue to hope, to trust, and to surrender. He is the true light of hope.

What are you hoping for this Christmas season?     

Equipping Catholic Families: Keep Christ in Christmas
Coffee Moments with Sam: The Light of Hope
Faith Filled Freebies: Keep Christ in Christmas
Written by the Finger of God: Not Christmas as Usual
On the Way Home:  Keep Christ in Christmas
Sue Elvis Writes: Bring Christ to Others

Mountain of Grace Homeschooling: Keep Christ in Christmas
Home to 4 Kiddos: Keep Christ in Christmas
City Girl, Country Home: Emmanuel Is With Us. Are we WITH HIM?
Journey to Wisdom: Trusting in your Awkward Fiats

Designs by Birgit: Elf on a Shelf and Santa Claus
A Slice of Smith Life: How we keep Christ in Christmas
Catholic All Year: Three Reasons I love Advent
Mary the Defender: Christmas The Battle Begins
Truly Rich Mom: Keep Christ in Christmas
Diapers and Drivel: Keeping Christ in Christmas

Raising Soldiers 4 Christ: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Campfires and Cleats: How We Keep Christ in Christmas
Homeschooling With Joy: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Mrs Domestic Bliss: Gingerbread Nativity
The Chic Traveller: Keeping Christ in Christmas
California to Korea: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Dominique's Desk: Keeping Christ in Christmas
Our ABC Life An Advent Update 

24 October 2013

Happiness is...

Last week, I was helping my son, Mico, with his school assignment.  The instruction was to list down "10 Things that Make Me Happy".  

So I asked my son what makes him happy and he answered:

1. "Hug"
2. "When I listen to my Teacher"
3. "Playing"
4. "Mommy or Daddy Kissing my Cheek"
5. "Having Toys"
6. "Watching Cartoons"
7. "Family"
8. "Dancing"
9. "Sharing Toys and Food"
10. "Love"

Children truly knows the real essence of HAPPINESS.  What a great way to be reminded that HAPPINESS is within us.  It may be expressed in simple ways but the true meaning of it lies in the purity of our hearts.  It's up to us to decide how we choose to be happy each day.  

15 October 2013

LIVE FREE COLUMN: What to Do while Waiting to Fall in Love

Let’s face it! We all desire to find our one true love.
Many times, we think finding true love will guarantee us a fairy-tale ending. But this is only the beginning of a long and winding, even sometimes, difficult road to happiness and fulfillment. Falling in love is a moment in our lives which can suddenly make our world a beautiful place to live in. Having someone to love and someone who will love us back will give our life more meaning and essence — reason enough to believe that life is indeed worth living!
But before we begin this journey, there is that period of searching…of waiting…of hoping…
Live Free column - Tapat Catholic News