THE STORYBOARD CALLED LIFE

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TIH x ESETTA x LOVE STORIES

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In case you forgot, I ran a competition for a the Love Stories series. The winner was a beautiful story. Kevin from TIH has been busy designing and sourcing, and we’re excited to see it all come together.

Stay tuned for when the shirts drop!

Ester’s story got me thinking, what would people want to say to their exes? So I asked a few of my friends what they would say to their ex and these are their stories

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Written by Candice

August 31, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Love Stories

Love Stories: Series Finale

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Love Stories-neon2

Cover art by Katrina Nash of Yours Truly. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram!

This is the LAST post of the Love Stories series. The pilot is here, Chapter 1 here, 2 here, 3 here,  4 here, 5 is here. 6 here, 7 here, 8 here, 9 here, 10 here, and 11 aka the This is Love Competition winner here and 12 here.

 


Mea Culpa

Ludus

It was all Optus’ fault, really.

Back when people talked on the phone for hours. Optus ‘free time’ gave you unlimited minutes to call anyone after 9 pm. After a youth camp, everyone exchanged numbers (because Facebook wasn’t invented yet). We happened to be on the same mobile network. So the phone calls began. We would talk and talk about everything and nothing; about little things that seemed like big things to my

We would talk and talk about everything and nothing; about little things that seemed like big things to my 13 year old self.  We stayed up all night on the phone so we could watch the sunrise together. Then I realised my bedroom window faced west and we missed it completely, but we laughed until we fell asleep.

It was classic puppy love. The love of your youth, when every moment spent together wasn’t enough. When you made bold declarations and had no concept of consequence.  I was in such a hurry to feel it all. And I did. I fell hard and I fell fast. I felt everything all at once.

He was my first kiss and I hated it. I dreaded our second kiss but turns out I didn’t have to worry so much.

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Eros

It was all Joshua’s fault, really.

Joshua was supposed to come with me to my Year 11 formal but backed out at the last minute. Then a crazy thought entered my head and I ended up asking him instead. We hadn’t really spoken for months, but we’d always gotten along since we broke up. Maybe it would be fun. So we started seeing each other again, and soon had our second first kiss (which was much better than our first first kiss), and by the time my formal came around we were once again ‘official’.

I lost my virginity after a month. The next two years were filled with stolen opportunities and secrets. I thought it was exciting and we were being adventurous. But then the insecurities started hitting, and the gaps in our relationship started to show. How could they not?

I had trusted him with all of me, when I didn’t even know all of me. And I didn’t even know what trust really meant. Or what any of it really meant. All I knew was what I felt and I knew it felt good, but it also felt bad, so I stopped focusing on the bad.

Until the bad caught up with me. And consumed me. And destroyed our relationship. But even after our relationship ended, the lust never stopped. So we didn’t stop.

 

Philautia

It was all God’s fault, really.

God, and His relentless pursuit of my soul. He forced my heart open and made me see me as He saw me. Ever so slowly, I started to learn what love really is by seeing what I am really worth. A woman worth Her Saviour’s life. A woman worth more than stolen moments of half-intimacies.

So we stopped.

 

Philia

It was all uni’s fault, really.

Uni life – when it seems like you finally have all the time in the world but not a dollar to your name. It started off with studying together. He’d come visit my uni or I’d go visit his and we would stay in the library for hours, learning about each other’s passions, and learning just how many lectures we really needed to go to in order to still make it through the semester.

Years passed and we would be each other’s cheerleader through every assessment and every exam. We would have dinner and talk about our dreams and goals. We even joked about meeting up once a month once we had full-time jobs and how different our lives would be. We talked as if we knew we’d always be in each other’s lives, in one way or another. He saw me at every emotional breaking point – celebrated the highest highs, and consoled the lowest lows. He was brutally honest and didn’t take any of my crap. I loved him for it.

He became my person; my best friend.

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Pragma

It was all his fault, really.

He showed me what true friendship means. He pushed me to expect more from myself. He fuelled my belief in myself, so I believed I could achieve my dreams. I started to achieve them. And he started to achieve his. Until we realised that we can achieve our dreams together.

So this time, I didn’t fall in love. Because I realised that love isn’t something you fall into. Because falling is not a conscious choice. It happens by accident. But love is not an accident. It’s a choice, and it’s a decision. So I didn’t fall in love with him, I grew in love.

And with him, I grew into love.

And with him, I’m continuing to grow with love.

 

 


Onion love

Have you ever wondered why others don’t always agree with you when you think something is beautiful? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If something is beautiful to you it is because God made it that way. God specifically designs beauty for you. Like the person that you will spend the rest of your life with. God has moulded and created that person especially for you. It is no coincidence. It is all part of God’s plan.

Society has very easily taken the dignity out of eros. The world has focused on the rawest form of eros – sexual attraction, lust. A sexual impulse that thrives in human weakness where God is no longer present. It is a state of synthetic joy and temporary pleasure that leaves you wanting more, but will never truly satisfy. You will never get enough. Lust is the culmination of animal-like greed for sexual pleasure where emotions are non-existent and the only benefactor is the self. There is no love in lust. Lust at first sight? I’ve fallen in lust? I lust you? It just doesn’t work. It’s totally selfish!

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Lust itself is defined as “adultery committed in the heart.

What is eros in God’s eyes? Trying to understand true eros begins with understanding the deepest yearnings of the human heart. To love and to be loved. Your relationship with God is the best way to immerse yourself in love through personal experience and sacrifice. The relationship you share with God is personal. It is between you and God. This is similar with eros.

Eros: the faithful, self-giving and reciprocal love between God and man, and between man and woman, demands expression in agape, the love, compassion and service for one’s neighbor. Each of these two loves is greatly diminished without the other

Eros is nothing without agape. The love that is poured out within the holy trinity is what gives eros its true meaning. It is the love that is poured out between a mother and father to form a child.  It fundamentally binds God as the foundation that holds firm the attraction you have for the person that you love. (John 13: 34-35)

The mystery of God is extremely evident in eros. God has turned our weakness of the flesh into something amazing. Something beautiful. The initial attraction that pulls us towards another person is a natural human yearning that God takes full advantage of. To love and be loved is etched in our existence. When you are in the presence of mind and your heart’s intention is pure, you can truly appreciate the attraction you have for that other person. In this state you are vulnerable and your defences are withdrawn to make way for the outpouring of selfless love you want to give to the other person. The physical intimacy you share with one another brings great joy. This is because the high, and the happiness you share together is multiplied through Christ. Because Christ opens your eyes to recognize how special that person is to you. Your heart recognizes that the beauty that you are attracted to was ultimately designed by God, and most importantly was sculpted and gifted especially for you.

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It was part of God’s original plan for Adam and Eve to share the intimate love between one another to ensure their happiness and to fulfil the human yearning of being loved and giving love. This ultimately led to bringing to fruition the ultimate sign of selfless love, bringing life into this world. Procreation. Adam’s yearning couldn’t be satisfied with anything the world had to offer until God created Eve. As humans, we are weak in the flesh and always end up messing up because of sin. Their human weakness overpowered their love for God. We find ourselves in similar situations, falling weak to selfishness and greed and sinfulness. The saying goes, “Good things come in small doses”, but when these doses are abused, it is no longer good.

Have you ever received a present from someone that had no monetary value but yet invoked the most thoughtful of emotions and warmest heartfelt happiness? That is because it was personal, it had meaning, and it was something that only yourself and the gift giver shared with you and only you. It was something only you and the gift giver would understand. This is no different to the gift that is presented especially for you by God. The gift of another human life, for you to love, for you to receive love, and for you to cherish, nurture, and grow old with. Another human life that will reciprocate the love you give them. Intimately. Spiritually and physically.

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One of my most intimate experiences is also probably one of the most embarrassing recollections I have had to make. I can vividly remember from many years ago the time that I first caught a glimpse of this girl. At the time I had no idea who she was. She had this radiant glow about her face that I just couldn’t ignore.

That situation could have been interpreted in a totally different way if we were to welcome society’s idea of eros, but in essence, my heart’s intention was pure and all I can remember is how that attraction made me feel. From that initial moment when I first saw her, I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually attracted. It was an involuntary feeling that I couldn’t control. I didn’t even realize then that I’ve never ever felt that way before simply by seeing someone so beautiful.

For this reason, alone she stood out amongst the crowd and I instantly wanted to be a part of that girl’s life. More so her life than anybody else’s. At the time I didn’t care in what way I would be a part of her life, I just wanted to be a part of it somehow. In that moment, I knew that this was special. That she was special. In that moment, I was vulnerable. All of those desires and feelings were activated the moment I was attracted to her. The more I got to know her the more special the relationship became. The more I wanted to be a better person. The more I wanted to know more about her. About her past. About her family. About her life. The more I wanted to be around her. The more her physical beauty was highlighted as I found out more about her inner beauty. Spending time together became natural. WE became natural. (*Queue music… Joe – I Wanna Know [anti-lust remix])

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Looking back at it now, boy was I head over heels… how embarrassing! I recognize that it was all part of God’s plan. He orchestrated us to cross paths at that precise moment, for us to become friends during those wonderful months, and for us to become one when God affirmed that we were to wed each other and love each other for eternity. Would I change anything if I could go back and do it all over again? No way. The uncertainty, the fear of rejection, the satisfaction of acceptance, the sensation of touch and caress from somebody that you cared so deeply about. I wouldn’t change any of it. That intimate attraction we had for each other was amplified in a way that I cannot possibly describe with any other words. That initial attraction was the gateway to the beauty within. It’s all about the journey and the wonderful revelations that are uncovered over time. This reminded me of when Shrek told Donkey that he was like an onion. Each layer peeled back revealed another layer. The more layers I peeled back, the more I wanted to know. The more I wanted to give. The better I wanted to be. The more I wanted to grow in understanding. And all just for her.

“ Shrek: Ogres are like onions.

Donkey: They stink?

Shrek: Yes. No.

Donkey: Oh, they make you cry.

Shrek: No.

Donkey: Oh, you leave em out in the sun, they get all brown, start sproutin’ little white hairs.

Shrek: No. Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.

Donkey: Oh, you both have layers. Oh. You know, not everybody like onions.”

Eros is more than Jack Dawson and Rose in Titanic. Eros is so much more than Romeo and Juliet. It is intimate, personal, life giving, unique, and brings out the best in you. EROS and AGAPE are huge blessings. Blessings which should never be abused, but cherished.

What is your heart telling you? What is its intention? eros is so beautiful when you can place God in the center of your intimate relationship and can honestly not feel ashamed or guilty. Let’s strive for perfection in understanding and practicing eros and agape. Cherish the love you have been given and give more love to be cherished. May God reign in your spiritual and physical journey.

 


 

It may have been the time when he asked my parents if he could ‘court’ me.

It may have been the time when I knew he would do anything for me.

It may have been the time when he told me I was beautiful even though I was truly upset about my physical imperfections.

It may have been the time when I realised we had survived years of being together and could count the number of ‘fights’ we’ve had on one hand.

It may have been the time he left all the comforts of his life to move across the world with me at a time I really needed him.

It may have been the time he cooked me dinner when I had to stay back late at work.

It may have been the time when he’s made me laugh so hard that I seriously couldn’t breathe.

It may have been the time he showed me he loved me through his everyday actions.

It may have been the time when I realised that our love was just so…..easy.

All these things put together, made me know without a doubt, that he was the ‘one’.

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Series Finale

Love hurts. Love is a choice. Love takes time. Love moves in mysterious ways. Love is an Open Door. Love is a verb. Love is kind. Love is a laserquest.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. To love is to give a person a part of you and the power to hurt you. To receive love freely is the most beautiful thing ever. When it isn’t free, is it really love? This is what I think about when I think it’s silly that we have free will. #Godjustwantstobeloved Now I can just imagine God on his mobile waiting for a text.

There are many types of love. Each love story plays out differently and requires something different to keep it going. Some love is demanding, requiring you to wake up in the middle of the night. Some love you won’t see for months at a time but you pick up where you left off. Some love endures the test of time, even without the guarantee of being reciprocated. Some love isn’t really love at all.

In the pilot, I talked about how most of the time if a boy likes you, you will know. But this doesn’t blanket all love. Sometimes love is tough. Love disagrees. Love disciplines. Love can f*&$# suck. But just because it isn’t what you want it to look like, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t love. Love isn’t confined to only one type of love. Love can be storge and agapic at the same time. Just because it’s philautia now doesn’t mean it can be eros. It may not be eros forever.

On a bit of a tangent, eros love can often be considered sinful, because its cousin is lust. This differs from all the other types of love because eros focuses on sensuality and self. Whereas the other types of love focus on relationships and others.

Even after all the stories and all my research, I still don’t have one unifying message to share, but one that I seem to always impart is: Be careful with your heart. Some people are not worth that part of you or the tears. But some people are. Love is not only love if it is mutual. Love is willing the best for the other, no matter the cost to you.

One thing I do want to share though is that you can’t change people’s experience of love. Even if you were next to the lover, or even the lover’s beloved, you can’t change what they feel or how they experienced it. Even if you never intended it or if you think they were being dramatic.

There are as many love stories as there have been days in the world. Don’t miss out. At what cost will you love?

Your life is a story. What kind of story is your life telling? Who is the beloved in your story?

 

 


 

 

I want to say a massive THANK YOU for everyone who has contributed to this series. It has been a blast for me and I have felt so honoured to read, let alone share your stories. The specitothing about this post is that I pretty much wrote myself out of the narrative, I  just brought together a few beautiful stories in the hope that they give just that, hope.

Written by Candice

July 19, 2017 at 11:40 am

Posted in Love Stories

Love Stories – Chapter 12: Agape the 2nd

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Love Stories-neon2

Cover art by Katrina Nash of Yours Truly. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram!

This is the eleventh post of the Love Stories series. The pilot is here, Chapter 1 here, 2 here, 3 here,  4 here, 5 is here. 6 here, 7 here, 8 here, 9 here, 10 here, and 11 aka the This is Love Competition winner here.

Sad / happy to tell you that we only have 1 week aka 1 post to go!


Agape

What agape isn’t

Hollow words or empty promises.

The partner that resents that you’re happy outside of them.

The partner that doesn’t trust you.

Being impatient, unkind, arrogant, rude, self-seeking, self-interested, and self-involved. Being easily angered, holding grudges, and happy in wrongdoing, suffering and injury. Giving up.

What agape is

The security of knowing where you stand and not having to question if you’re good enough.

Luke building a rain shelter for Rory’s graduation without showing Lorelai what he did.

Tevye’s wife answering him, “Do I love you? For twenty-five years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow. After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?”

The people that petition and fight for causes that don’t affect them personally.

Valjean carrying Marius to safety, not asking for validation from Cosette.

Eliza Schuyler’s forgiveness.

The father of the prodigal son.

Agape love is shown by what it does, it is a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own. Forgiveness, selflessness, unnoticed acts to bring joy, peace, and ease to the beloved.

But of course, love is not just actions, is it?

My Love Language is Words of Affirmation. While I feel really loved in acts of service, words stick. One unkind comment sticks more than ten loving ones. Sticks, stones and words can break bones (guys, I’m ok I’m just making a point lol). Imagine a father telling their (actually deep down intelligent) kid that they’re not smart, it affects them to a point that they don’t work hard at school and limit their future. Imagine a child that’s bullied because she’s “fat” and she becomes bulimic. Now, imagine a word of encouragement to a kid learning how to play the guitar, which leaders to them putting in the effort to improve. Imagine telling your child that their artwork is beautiful even if it really is just a mess of coloured texta and them becoming a renowned artist.

 

What’s wrong with the world, mama?

Sometimes I get really upset with the lack of compassion and love world. From violence to child abuse to stupid things like scams (honestly, how can people make a living from this). But the lack of love isn’t just shown in the unloving actions but in the unloving inaction.

Empathy levels have declined sharply over the past 40 years, and continue its downward trend with a sharp drop in the last 10 years. Our empathy is one thing that distinguishes us from animals and we’re losing it. It’s no surprise that the decline of empathy correlates with the increase of narcissism.

The diminishing empathy of the world could also be linked to our increased isolation despite our globalised world. Instead of kids playing with the neighbourhood kids in the afternoon, it’s comparing their happiness with their “friends” on social media (omg just watched Black Mirror – Nosedive, produced by Rashida Jones. DANG). Instead of intergenerational houses, it’s single person or couple housing.

In a fast-paced world, people are opting for ease, comfort and speed, removing things and people to focus on self and goals. I’m not immune to this phenomenon, my busy lifestyle is about me and my goals – working to build a career, studying to upskill, saving for my future. Building yourself to be a better person is a good thing, but let’s not forget other people in our circle and in our circle of influence. It isn’t 6 degrees of separation anymore, our hate tweet or with a kind word of affirmation or with your signature on that petition or with your donation for relief funds, or kind words of affirmation can have a direct connection to someone halfway across the world.

The ripples we make with our decisions are creating bigger waves than they ever have before. What kind of ripples are you sending into the sea?

 


No Greater Love

I was eight years old when I first encountered the tragic reality of poverty in the Philippines. As I visited small towns with my family, it became clear to me that not all human beings are given the same opportunities in life. There were children begging for food on highways, people sleeping on the streets and many selling what little they had to earn a few. It was not until later in life that I came to realise how much of an effect this experience had on me. At eight years old, my heart was imprinted with a desire to help make their lives different. I wanted to offer myself to these people because in them I saw dignity. This experience was the beginning of my journey to pursue a career that would give these people a voice in the world.

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At 21, though my fervent passion for justice continued to grow, my understanding of love became distorted through experiences of broken relationships, sin, low self-esteem and heartache. I began to offer my love in order to receive recognition, acceptance and ultimately to be set apart. I became self-centered and without knowing it, tried to grasp love to fill my emptiness.  I served in youth ministry, and ironically, the more I served, the less I prayed. I know that God still worked with me despite this reality. Retrospectively, I see that I was mimicking worldly love, loving with the intent of earning love. Because of this, I realised that I did not fully love others in a way that God did.  I still truly wanted to bring justice into the world, but I did not have a complete understanding as to why because I did not understand His unconditional love.

Agape love and this love is not natural human love, a supernatural love known as God’s love. It is understood as the ultimate kind of love which seeks to love God and neighbour. It does not seek self gratification and does not expect reciprocity from  the other receiving our love. It is sacrificial and a denying of one’s self kind of love. It is love that transforms stone hearts into flesh and breathes life into others. It recognises human dignity in each person having been made in the image and likeness of God and because of this basic and profound truth, we are compelled to deny ourselves for other’s good. Agape love is radical.

For a long time, my brokenness and self centeredness prevented me from seeing and accepting God’s agape love for me. It took a long time  to accept that there was good in me worth dying on the cross for. I recently heard that unless we see beauty in ourselves, we will not be able to see beauty in the world. In a similar sense, if we do not see ourselves worthy of being saved, how can we also see that others are too? How could I fully see that the poor are also worthy to be redeemed?

I had an experience of the deep love of the Father, through His Mercy, at 22. It was Mercy which sought my good, not because God expected that I would love Him back, but because He saw and sees that I am worthy of being loved. Through my experiences of mercy, I recalled memories of the children I encountered in the Philippines and I realised the truth of my own poverty and emptiness. I was in need of agape love. With this came a new understanding of Jesus’ passion on the cross and His dying to Himself our sake. He had already poured out His agape love. When I finally allowed myself to receive this truth, it transformed me.

In the last year, praying about my vocation has opened my heart to desire to love the way God loves. I recall a moment in prayer, about a year after experiencing God’s Mercy, when this verse came to life for me.

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”

– John 15:13.

I realised then that this is the love I desired so deeply for my loved ones and for all of humanity, especially the physically and spiritually poor. To deny myself so that God can use me to love others began to be what I strived for. I have learned that love is not earned. I am loved not because of what I do, but because of who I am and because of who He is. As my spiritual journey matured, the more I came to know my own limitedness. What I offer to others is only a small portion of what God can offer us. Through prayer, God revealed to me that if I desired to bring His people to Him, I must deny myself and offer up my life. As the words poured itself into my heart that night in prayer, the Good Lord, began to challenge me where I was, asking whether or not I was actually completely living for Him and for His people in the most authentic way.

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In a time where we are tempted to be selfish and self seeking, we find more and more the yearning of man to be loved and especially to be in union with others, to be seen and to have their dignity upheld for who they are. We should begin with a desire to know and love God so that we can imitate that in our love for others. Agape love calls us to this deep union with God and His people. It called me and it calls you too – to lay down your life. For truly, it is through the genuine gift of self to God and others, in accordance with God’s will, do we experience that radical love that brings about the deepest peace.

 


Promise

I’m still learning how to love. But then again can you ever love perfectly? There will always be a part of me that’s selfish – still thinking about me and protecting myself, losing focus on you. I can’t promise you that I’ll be the best lover, but I promise you that I’ll keep learning. I can’t promise you that I won’t change or that our love will be the same. But I’m excited to love every version of you as every version of me. I promise to love you forever. And I promise to love you every day.

 


Though I Do Not Know the Way

“I will take the ring to Mordor. Though – I do not know the way.” It is with these words that we can see Frodo Baggins stepping up to undertake a Middle-Earth shattering journey in J.R.R. Tolkein’s legendary book: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Here, we can see an insufficient character, smaller than the others stepping up to undertake a mission that only the weak can bear.

As I reflect upon the story of Frodo’s journey, I cannot help but think of my own vocational journey towards priesthood. Although I haven’t endured a treacherous journey avoiding orcs, meeting elves and encountering numerous dangers, the journey nonetheless has been an epic journey of a lifetime. My journey, like Frodo’s, is a journey of love. A journey from disbelief to belief, from darkness to light, from lukewarmness to a life emblazoned with the love of Christ.

My journey didn’t begin stepping up to greatness but with a question: “If you exist, can you help me?” This question arose out of a time of despair, my youngest sister (aged four at the time) was just diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) and I was desperate for answers to my existential questions. Everywhere I looked people had answers but they were lacking, to say the least. Some advocated science as the ‘be all and end all’ of my questioning. Others provided an over-spiritualised babble of the workings of karma and the circle of life but these were insufficient.

As an agnostic, I wasn’t sure where to turn next. Luckily, during this time, a deep yearning awoke within me, a yearning that would prove annoying and agitating. The only way I can describe this awakening of a deep yearning from within is to use a metaphor of the neighbour’s barking dog. Day after day, and night after night, the dog barks and barks, and barks! So much so that it drives you crazy! One could say that it was during this time that I was suffering a kind of spiritual dyslexia. It wasn’t a dog barking deep within me, it was God calling me from deep within. As soon as I could identify that it was God calling me towards himself, there was no longer an annoyance or agitation with this yearning, but merely a deep and abiding peace.

Although this occurred over the span of years, this encounter changed my life forever – I was baptised and began my journey of faith. It was at this point that I came to know that I am never alone, that each step of my journey God walks with me and loves me – unconditionally. It was this unconditional love that struck me. I was bemused by how God can love me despite my imperfections and sinfulness. Who is this God that loves me without condition? This was the focus of my prayer for a while and lead me to ask God my next question: “Who are you?” This, like any true romance, is the question of attraction. By spending time with God I got to know more about who God is. My heart began to swell.

The more I encountered Him and His abounding love the more I was willing to share it. I began practicing my faith more by being an Altar server and by attending weekday and Sunday Masses. I can say now with hindsight, that this time was where I fell in love with God. The more I got to know God, the more I loved Him. The more you fall in love with someone, the more you want to give them. I reached the point where I loved God so much that I wanted to give him everything. Although I wasn’t expecting what came next.

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I felt God calling me to be His priest. This came out of left field but I knew I had to take it seriously. After a substantial discernment period, of which was nearly a journey in itself, I was ready to say ‘Yes’ to the call. This ‘yes’ lead me to the seminary where I underwent formation for seven and a half years. It was within these years that my love of God never failed. Although community life, the pressures of studies and pastoral demands could be challenging from time to time, it nonetheless was a great time of grace and growth.

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As I was preparing for my ordination to the Diaconate another question surfaced: “How can I love you with everything that I am?” It was there that I realised that as I laid my life before the Altar at my ordination, my love had never been stronger. As I approach the Altar for my Ordination to the Priesthood this question still remains, but I have come to a deep place of peace that I can love God with everything that I am by inviting Him into every moment of my ministry. In the brightest days and the darkest nights, may God be my beloved and may I allow myself and others to be loved by Him. This journey of love might not be as epic as Frodo’s journey to destroy the Ring, but its destination is more beautiful and brighter than Tolkein could ever have imagined.

 


 

There was no specific moment when I knew she was the one. It was a feeling that developed throughout dating for over nine years. Being together since high school until now she’s definitely played a big role in making me into the man I am today. Her hard work to be where she is today is inspiring and she’s always supported me no matter what I was going through. We’d often talk about our plans for the future and it was very clear that we both wanted the same thing. My family has always loved her since the start which is very important to me and I just knew she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

ACCaptured by Jordan Anthony Films

 


 

Preview: 

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Check out the Season Finale of Love Stories, live on the Storyboard Called Life on Wednesday 19 July at 3 pm AEST

 

Written by Candice

July 12, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Love Stories

Love Stories – Chapter 11: Love Lost

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Love Stories-neon2

Cover art by Katrina Nash of Yours Truly. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram!

This is the eleventh post of the Love Stories series. The pilot is here, Chapter 1 here, 2 here, 3 here,  4 here, 5 is here. 6 here, 7 here, 8 here, 9 here and 10 here.

Sad / happy to tell you that we only have 2 weeks to go!

 


This Is Love

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We received really great Love Stories. So great that Kevin from This is Heaven said that marking them was the hardest thing he ever had to do haha. (To look you in the eye. LOL) 

Thanks again to everyone who entered! I know every time I got one, I was like, this is the one. But unfortunately, there can only be one “one”. But before we share the full story, we wanted to share some extracts of some of the other stories submitted.

 


From the time I was 5, I slowly stored love away, bit by bit, for my future family. I would imagine that my daughter would look enough like me that people would comment and that she would lie on my grumbling belly. My sons would be gentlemen and handsome like my brothers and their sons. My daughters would laugh the way my sister and I laugh when we’re together.


It’s not exactly what you’d call ‘love at first sight’ because that would trivialise the intensity of what it really is. The truth is that in some magical way, in this serendipitous instance, you both already know that in some previous life, you had already once loved each other. You see, the first time you meet these people it isn’t an introduction, it’s more a sigh of relief, that somehow you’d managed to find each other again in this crazy world. Things could finally take off from where they had been left unfinished before.

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I lost my virginity after a month. The next two years were filled with stolen opportunities and secrets. So many secrets. I thought it was exciting and we were being adventurous. But then the insecurities started hitting, and the gaps in our relationship started to show. How could they not?

I had trusted him with all of me, when I didn’t even know all of me. And I didn’t even know what trust really meant. Or what any of it really meant. All I knew was what I felt and I knew it felt good, but it also felt bad, so I stopped focusing on the bad.

 


Is there a certain way to write a love story? Does it need to start sad and finish with a happy ever after? It just needs to be written exactly the way you participated in it, the effort, the struggles, the wins, the losses and the love itself. The truth is, love is fulfilled when you lose your selfish needs and sacrifice this to gain more life for the other. And I want to do this on the daily. Love has certainly come and still has more years to linger and stay, especially when she said yes to Life in Marriage! I won’t have the start of this story any other way.

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My love story didn’t work out the way that I wanted. But I am thankful for it. I have two amazing kids with an amazing woman. I will always love her no matter what happens in life and will always be the one person I can thank for, for making me who I am today.

At a young age, I have achieved things that I never thought I could achieve; I have been a better father, son, brother and friend. I now know how to be a better partner, if I get the opportunity again. Thanks to her, the love of my life.

From this day forward.

 


 

The meaning of Auckland in Maori is Tamaki-makaurau, Land of a thousand lovers. Maori chiefs fought to gain possession of the land. Hundreds of years later I can understand their love for this land as I feel it too, it isn’t time for me to return yet but I would love to get married, live life and get buried in the land that has given me so much.

 


And the winner is … 

 

 

 

 

 


Loved & Lost

–  Ester Luatuanuu

 

Perhaps this isn’t really a love story. It feels more like a letter. The type of letter you wish you could send to your ex-lover when all is said and done.

A pleasant Surprise.

That’s what I told myself you were. It had been so long that I almost forgot how to love. So when love came to me, he was like a face I recognised but could not name. Love tried to ignite a flame and I tried to douse it when it sparked. Now all I have are the embers of our memories to keep me warm. Embers that are the ghost of the fire that was you. And the fire that could have been us.

You came into my life at a time when I didn’t love myself.

It all started with your approach.

The kindness in your words.

The type of kindness that goes right to your soul and you just feel how gentle their soul is.

You made me want to stir words into existence, just by asking about my wildest dreams.

You opened my heart to excitement whenever you messaged me.

You opened my heart up to be vulnerable without me even realising it.

 

But I lied to you, so many times. 

I lied when I said I was too busy to pick up the phone. I didn’t want to seem like I was always wanting to hear from you.

I lied when I said I couldn’t say I love you. I didn’t want to be the first to say it.

I lied when I said I was fine. I didn’t want to seem like a woman you could easily break.

I lied when I said I had nothing to share. I wasn’t comfortable with being vulnerable. 

 

I was always expecting without ever giving.

Many times, I asked you to bare your soul naked.

Yet I was embarrassed to do so.

I built walls to shield myself or distract myself from the undeniable fact that I cared for you.

If I was brutally honest with you…

I would tell you how much I loved your dorkiness.

I’d tell you how much I loved how much you loved your family.

I loved how happy you were when you told me you bought Starbucks on vacation.

I loved how shy you were whenever I complimented you.

I loved how you always remembered every word I said as if you wrote them down so you didn’t forget.

I loved whenever you made time for me even when you were tired.

I loved how you pointed out I was complicated.

I loved that showed me that that wasn’t a horrible thing.

I loved how calm you were whenever you felt my angst.

But most of all, I loved that you forced me to break down my walls.

I loved… you.

Your brief presence caused me to realise, I want to love.

I realised that I don’t mind getting hurt in the process of loving.

Love is worth it in the end.

You taught me that love is kind and honest.

You taught me that it’s okay to be vulnerable.

That love is vulnerable and to be vulnerable isn’t weak at all.

That it doesn’t matter how long I’ve known someone or the distance between us, it could have been love.

It doesn’t even matter if I loved you and you didn’t feel the same.

I still want to love and love deeply. 

We usually come to understand someone more in their absence. I feel as though I understand you more, now that you’re gone. Or perhaps I’ve come to understand myself a little better. Although all that remains of us are the embers, the lessons you’ve taught me has ignited a fire in my heart. A courageous fire, a refining fire. A fire that is teaching me to love unconditionally.

 


I felt his absence anytime he wasn’t there – life felt a little more monotone and a little less vibrant.

 


 

Check out the second-last chapter of Love Stories, live on the Storyboard Called Life on Wednesday 5 July at 3 pm AEST

Written by Candice

July 5, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Love Stories

Love Stories – Chapter 10: Agape the 1st

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Love Stories-neon2

Cover art by Katrina Nash of Yours Truly. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram!

This is the eleventh post of the Love Stories series. The pilot is here, Chapter 1 here, 2 here, 3 here,  4 here, 5 is here. 6 here, 7 here, 8 here, and 9 here. ICYMI Chapter 9 was a special release last Thursday!

We will be announcing the This is Love Competition winner next week! Stay tuned 😉


Agape

Agape (Ancient Greek ἀγάπη, agápē pronounced ə-GAH-pay) is a Greco-Christian term referring to the purest form of love. The lover is willing to endure difficulty, loves unconditionally and loves selflessly beyond challenging circumstances. Basically 1 Corinthians 13 love.  This type of love was explained by Thomas Aquinas as “willing the good of another.” It can seem pretty rare to have a love that has this kind of virtue. The love we experience is often selfish and jealous and self-gratifying and manipulative and broken. No matter how pure the love, humans are flawed so human love is usually flawed. We can only love at our capacity.  So agape is best exemplified by the love of God for man.

Agape love usually overlaps with another type of love like storge or eros. In fact, a Canadian psychologist, John Allen Lee, represented different types of love on a colour wheel and agape is signified by the colour orange, a mix of eros (red) and storge (yellow). It’s usually deep, almost spiritual. The lovers see it as sacred.

It’s sad that parents or lovers don’t love their beloved in this agapic way, but it just goes back to our flawed human nature. It’s usually deep, almost spiritual. The lovers see it as sacred.

Agape is usually so deep, that it’s almost spiritual. The lovers see it as sacred. The lover loves the beloved even when they are the unlovable and unlovely.  Agape lovers view their partners as blessings and wish to take care of them. The agape lover gets more pleasure from giving rather than from receiving in a relationship.

My hope is for us not just to experience this type of love but to give it.

Happy #LoveStoryWednesday

 


Falling and Staying

I don’t think I really noticed him until about halfway through grade nine.

We’d done a couple of service projects together, and chatted occasionally (mostly when I needed help with something), but there was a total disconnect between these minor interactions and anything that my poetic teenage heart would classify as a ‘love story.’

Besides, no-one really throws around the phrase “falling in love with God.”

Somewhere along the track, though, I did.

At age fourteen, I had learned the rules of my religion, knew the answers in Religious Education class, and was intermittently aware of some omniscient force whom I could beg for a good result in a Chemistry quiz. But over the next few years, my heart began to change.

I would see religious sisters with beaming faces, and feel a desperate desire to have the same joy that they had.  I would climb a mountain and look out over a magnificent view, and suddenly realise that God hadn’t just created it, but that He was standing next to me appreciating it. I would pick up my Bible and journal, and head down to the beach, and in the stillness of my heart hear a voice of love and truth utterly distinct from my own.

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Retrospectively, I realise what a danger zone I’d begun to put myself in.

I was spending a lot of exclusive time with Him, sometimes even sneaking out of Calculus class so we could sit in the chapel together. He was the first person I wanted to share my day with.

I’d even started making life decisions based on His priorities. When high school finished, I found myself on a plane to Australia to serve as a missionary because I’d become pretty convinced that I needed to share His love with other people.

Fr Pedro Arrupe said that nothing is more practical than falling in love. After all, whatever you love decides how you spend your time, how you live your life. Really, it decides everything.

Falling in love with God was for me, at a practical level, what decided everything.

He makes me the best version of myself. He’s my constant in a world that’s constantly changing. He understands me more deeply than I understand myself – and He loves me all the more in my weaknesses.

I remember thinking, not too long ago, about the key difference between falling in love with a person and falling in love with God. I think a lot of it lies in the words we use to describe the one we love to other people. In so many relationships, we refer to the other person as “my” something – my husband, my friend, my child.  Unfortunately, this often makes those loves susceptible to possessiveness and even jealous defensiveness. But God isn’t “my” anything. He’s “our” everything.

I’m head over heels in love. But the more deeply I fall in love with God, the more I want to invite other people to know Him in the same way I’ve come to know Him.

By the way, you should meet the guy I love, if you haven’t already.

He’s worth noticing.

 


Slow dancing in a Burning Room

I first met Leila at a CFC Youth for Christ camp. I noticed her crying after a prayer session and also her hip hop dancing during the talent night. We knew each other in the group for about a year and I learned she was dating my best friend. Our friendship grew when we were asked to lead a youth camp together. From then I noticed her compassion for others, which is what I admire most about her today. Over time I got attracted to her leadership qualities, her nurturing nature, and the physical attraction was a bonus.

I will save the story about her breaking up with my best friend and then dating me for another day, but in short, he was still my Best Man at our wedding. At the start of our relationship, I made a big step to let her know that I loved and cared for her. She was my second girlfriend, but the first that started in the right direction. When we decided to enter a relationship, I wanted everyone close to us to pray for us. This began with our parents, family, then mentors and friends in our Christian ministry. Like any dating relationship, we had our ups and downs. Our courtship was the time we got to know each other and find out if we were suited for married life.

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A couple of years into our relationship, marriage came up, and I knew I wasn’t ready. This challenged our relationship and after catching up with my confessor and friend, a priest, he made me realise that it really wasn’t a matter of “if” we were going to get married but “when”. This gave our relationship a boost and we started making goals and even deadlines like we had to be engaged by a certain time. The deadlines weren’t like an ultimatum or designed pressure us, but it was a mutual understanding, an intentional commitment to respect each other’s time and hearts.

I surprised her on our 4 year dating anniversary by proposing. One year after, my confessor married us with the words, “I am more married than I was yesterday”. This has been a key point for our entire marriage, even after 6 children, the ups and downs of life, and changes that affect us deeply. I am always growing in love for my spouse and it is true that there is more love in our marriage than there was yesterday. Every moment is a learning experience and I know that God is always “living” through our marriage.

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I first learnt of Leila’s issues just before we started dating. She opened up to me and shared that she was raped when she was a young girl. My internal thoughts were, “I wish it wasn’t true” and “Is there a way this can be erased?” Thankfully, with God in my life, my response was neither of those initial thoughts, but words of love that came straight out of His mouth, “You are still beautiful, my child”. I realised that her trauma has made her more compassionate for others, being able to feel deeply for them, and this is what attracted me to her in initially.

While we were dating, our relationship and all areas of our life seemed to be going well, yet Leila shared to me there was something wrong, she was unhappy and there was no reason for her to be. This was when I first learned of her depression/anxiety. I felt helpless as there wasn’t anything I could do to help her, just support her with whatever she needed. She began medication and while we were dating, through to our engagement, marriage, and to kids. She has weaned off medication and started again a few times.

The challenges in loving someone with depression/anxiety is sometimes I feel like I’m walking on thin ice, where something I say or do could make her feel worse. I sometimes feel like I’m the one who raped her, especially when she is having an emotional flashback. There are times when I need to step in and teach our kids about anxiety/depression.

On top of this, I need to keep my own emotional responses in check. My natural tendency is to keep quiet when there is conflict, in some cases this is not that helpful for Leila so I need to make the decision to reach out. When I’m teaching kids about the triggers of depression or correcting them of their behaviour, I can sometimes be too stern and come off as an angry dad. Having the right response at the right time can be very challenging.

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk 9:23) I give this quote, not because these challenges that I face with Leila’s depression/anxiety is my cross, it’s a challenge I’m willing to face in my love for her. The cross that Jesus asks us to carry is a call to love. This call to love is total self-giving, and Jesus gave us this example through his life and his greatest love act, to die for us. I constantly teach my kids about love and selflessness, without it, it’s the main reason they fight when they are selfish.

Caring for someone that is ill is not easy, while I have God in my life and pray to him constantly, doing this alone will not solve our family’s situation. I have recently decided to seek some support, in seeing a psychologist. In addition, we have noticed that our eldest son has some signs of anxiety/depression and he too has started to see someone. Mental illness can be misunderstood and “seeing a psychologist” or “taking medication” can be seen as a sign of weakness. I believe that God has put these solutions before us, and it takes courage to realise that “I need help” and also have trust and faith on how God chooses to help us.

I always go back to the cross that God asks us to carry, the call to love. Looking at my younger years I was most peaceful when I was loving God and neighbour first, how Jesus surmised the 10 commandments. This is the same truth today with my family, putting God first and putting their needs above my own. The song “Man in the Mirror” speaks of how to make a difference in the world by making a change in ourselves. What it doesn’t speak about is why we need to make a change. The reason is God’s call to love, let’s embrace it and follow him.

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In an effort to maintain our romantic love, particularly with a hectic family life, we have weekly date nights (usually going out to movies – we’re so thankful to family who take care of the kids). Just recently, we have made conscious efforts to love each other with our love language. For Leila, physical affection (i.e hugging) and words of affirmation (i.e saying something nice to a family member) is really important. Usually we want to give love the way we like to receive love. So we often need to step out of our comfort zone to give love the way our loved ones need. 

We used to also slow dance every night, might start doing this again. We try to pray as a couple every night and check in with each other every day on how we’re doing.
“Keeping love alive” I think is very similar to “feeling in love”. There have been times when you don’t feel it anymore or our love is not alive. Deciding to love during these times is the when it will count. Having been married for almost 11 years, I always believe that love is a decision.

 

She refused to buy tickets from me. Every other person bought tickets but her. I wasn’t her type so wasn’t that hard for her to say no. You have to outsmart smart girls

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Preview: 

NEXT WEEK WE’RE ANNOUNCING THE WINNER OF THE THIS IS LOVE COMPETITION! SO EXCITEDDDDD

Written by Candice

June 28, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Love Stories

Love Stories – Episode 9: Storge the 3rd

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Love Stories-neon2

Cover art by Katrina Nash of Yours Truly. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram!

This is the tenth post of the Love Stories series. The pilot is here, Chapter 1 here, 2 here, 3 here,  4 here, and 5 here, 6 here, 7 here and 8 here.


This series just keeps evolving, beyond what I originally planned. I’d like to say that I was super organised and knew how long it would go for, how many posts and who contributed. But every week it is changing. The order, more lovers contributing love stories and more love. What the world needs now is love, sweet love.

This post is so special to me. All of them are, but this one just orchestrated itself nicely between my ribs like Hawkeye’s arrow into my heart. I don’t know the author well – I approached his sister yesterday thinking it was a good idea, with a hint of a doubt that he would even want to be a part of this. But he wrote it that day and I got it by evening. The way he wrote it is I’m sure how parents feel and what I hope to feel as a parent in the future. But what really got to me is how he spoke to his child – it was as if it was my Dad speaking to me. #thefeels #caughtthefeels

Thanks for reading xo

 


Moments

I define my life in moments. Here are a few moments I remember sharing with you.

The first time I met you.

I was so nervous on that day. Because I wasn’t sure you would like me or even accept me. What kind of father would I be to you? And then you said hello. And you smiled. Then you touched my arm. And quickly grabbed the ice cream I was eating without even asking me. But you were considerate enough to leave me a bit of the ice cream cone. At that moment I knew my life will be different now. I would share everything that I have or can give you. That every decision or action I make from now on will affect you. I realised I have a small girl to live for now.

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The time you lost the potato sack race

You complained that it wasn’t fair. You were too small and the other kids were just too big and quick. But life is not fair. We were not created to be more superior or inferior than others. We were not created equal. We were created unique. I want you to learn to love what makes you unique so don’t compare yourself to others. Some kids are just naturally gifted potato sack racers. Especially the potato-shaped ones. But what you may lack in natural talent you can make up through hard work, dedication and practice. And I want you to be comfortable in making mistakes. I see you sometimes glance at me when you’re trying your best to do your swimming lessons. I love you for your effort so I hope you don’t feel like you owe me perfection. If you fail, you can learn and try again. Except when you’re skydiving.

The time you told me about your first crush

I’m sure he’s a nice boy. But I’m hoping that there’s more to this boy than his cool hairstyle you keep talking about. Beautiful hair does not last forever. Just look at Prince William. I hope that you end up with a boy that values you more than he desires you. I want you to know the difference between value and desire. And I hope he makes you laugh. You have such a beautiful laugh. I’d like to hear more of that. And it is totally normal and totally cool for daughters to let their boyfriends go through an interview screening with their fathers. Trust me when I say your daddy knows what is cool.

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The time I didn’t buy the toy you wanted

I understand it could be hard for a child to learn the concept of money when you see me buy stuff using this magical credit card with unlimited access to funds. But we have to live within our means. And money does not grow on trees (I checked on Google). Save your money but sometimes indulge yourself. You appreciate what you have more when you have earned it yourself. Be self-reliant. I hope you don’t associate happiness with how much toys you have. That girl on YouTube may look like she’s enjoying herself but we don’t know if her father had to sell a kidney to buy all those toys. Please, don’t ask me to sell my kidneys.

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You won’t be a small girl forever. And we may have less and less moments together as you grow up. But for now I will continue collecting these moments I have with you.

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Love,

Your “Papi”

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I forgot who I was and what I stood for in that dizzying moment. 

 


 

PreviewShe opened up to me and shared that she was raped when she was a young girl. My internal thoughts were saying, “I wish it wasn’t true” and “Is there a way this can be erased?”

Check out the next instalment of Love Stories, “Agape” will be live on Wednesday 5 July at 3 pm AEST as normal, unless something else evolves 😉

 

Written by Candice

June 22, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Love Stories

Love Stories – Episode 8: Storge the 2nd

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Love Stories-neon2

Cover art by Katrina Nash of Yours Truly. Check out her work on Facebook and Instagram!

This is the ninth (?!) post of the Love Stories series. The pilot is here, Chapter 1 here, 2 here, 3 here,  4 here, and 5 here, 6 here and 7 here.

I honestly only planned on having 8 but the series kept evolving as I kept going. We only have a few weeks to go 😥 

Thanks to everyone who entered the This Is Love competition. Kev and I have been “judging” based on specific criteria. We’ll announce a winner soon 😉


Storge

Storge is the familial love of a parent and child, siblings, kin. You would think that the Bible would just talk about all the nice aspects of storge. But apparently, the New Testament uses the negative from of storge, astorgos, twice. Astorgos meaning devoid of natural affection, without affection to kin, no understanding, no mercy, no love. In 2 Timothy 3:3, St Paul uses it to mourn people who lack natural love for their families. This implies then that love for family is a natural thing, not easy, but natural.

But why is loving family so important?

On one hand, the family is the first place a child is educated. They say (I don’t know who they are but they seem smart) that the formative years for a child are the most important because what they learn during the first few years impact on them for the rest of their lives. Families teach love, support, discipline and have a massive impact on self-esteem. But can’t friends serve that purpose?

Why is family so important?

When you have a friend or group of friends that you’re close with, you could say you consider them family #fam #squad But you never say about your family that they’re friends. It’s like the status of “family” is elevated in comparison to status of friendships.

Why is it so important for children to know/search for their biological parents if they were adopted?

So many questions, but really no answers from me. Maybe we can talk about it in a future post.

In a way, I think the state of families is the state of society. The family is a microcosm of society where the values being taught to children represent the changing values of society. So I think it’s interesting when people criticise young people – who is teaching them? It’s usually the people that are complaining.

Last remarks: in Romans 12:10, St Paul talks about an interesting idea of  philostorgos, which translates to “to be devoted.” The word combines philos and storge and means “to cherish one’s kindred.” Devote yourself to your family, blood or not. The love you show will ripple and reflect and create a better society.

 


4 Cheat Codes to be the Best Dad Ever! *

*I am just poking fun at click bait type titles – this story is legit. Before you start reading the story,  I want to tell you that the Dad of this story is the husband of the writer of one of the earlier stories. Some love stories still have happy endings 🙂

 

Precious cargo secured safely in the back.  Check. The engine of my car is revving loudly as I delicately drift my car through traffic, pushing the car to its limits. The dance between my car and Sydney traffic continues for another 20 minutes before we arrive.

Me: “Quick, help, my wife is about to have our baby!”

What I actually said: “Subba limu carrni haffa du wappa!”

Wife: What?!?

At this point, the triage nurse calmly walks over and asks my wife Kim some questions.  I can barely hear them over my laboured breathing from the short run.

Triage Nurse: “Oh that’s okay, you’re in the early stages.  Let’s head to the maternity ward and get your wife settled in”

17 laborious hours later, my wife and I became parents to a little man whom we would call Carter.

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To say that this was an emotional experience is really doing an injustice to the words emotional and experience.  It was as if I had finished reading a chapter in one book, and started reading a chapter in another book.  No number of books, videos, or advice from family and friends could’ve prepared me to comprehend what I was about to go through.  If anything, it left me asking a lot more questions.

I’m a Dad!  We made this little guy!  I must take care of him now.  How do I take care of him now?  Are we ready?  How is there not a test for this?  How do I set it to silent mode? Will I ever sleep again?

Looking back at this, two and a half years later, I must say I’ve felt like my wife and I have done an alright job so far.  But no matter how much I think I know, life continues to keep me on my toes and continues to show me where I can improve.  All in the quest to be a better husband, father, son, brother, friend.

If you’ve unlocked the new parent achievement, are expecting or even just thinking about having kids, then I would like to share with you some wonderfully golden and crunchy nuggets of practical wisdom/ cheat sheet/ life hacks I have learned and will hopefully help you on this amazing journey.

1. Get Involved

Just because you didn’t bear the child from your hips doesn’t mean you cannot have a deep connection with them. Get your hands dirty, both literally and figuratively.  I’ve always believed in the adage that you learn best by doing.  So pay attention in the birth classes, watch your friends, whatever it takes.  Failing that, 99% sure there is a Youtube video that can answer your question.

The feedings, the burping, the changing diapers… these things you’ll figure out.  But whether it’s your turn or hers, always make sure you’re there and present in the moment.  You don’t want to miss out on anything small or big that may happen, and it’s also good to provide support when needed.

As your child gets older, they’ll need more involvement from you.   Yep, of course, you’re going to have to learn the theme song to Paw Patrol.  If you don’t already, you’re going to have to love playing with hot wheels and Barbie.  And if you haven’t already picked a side, you’re going to have to choose between BATMAN… and superman.

Let’s be honest guys … we don’t ever really grow up.  So think of this as a chance to play with toys and sit down and watch a mind-numbing amount of TV again.  The missus can’t get mad… cos you’re spending time with your kids!

Just remember, however you choose to get involved, you need to give them 100% of your attention.  Keep your phone in another room.  Schedule to do your work in half an hour.  Just don’t be distracted when you’re with your children.

Chances are they’ll wander off to play on their own after 10 minutes with you anyway.

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2. Ask for help

From the dawn of time, parents have been under pressure to raise their kids right, feed them, clothe them educate them.   And the modern parent also has to balance looming deadlines, bills, and the fun other pressures life likes to throw your way. All of this can get overwhelming.

I’d like to think people knew this already, but it’s okay to ask for help.

From who though can we ask?

Family and friends – For me, this would be my first port of call.  I know that I have a number of great people in my corner, all of whom would give me the shirt off their back if I needed it (not that It’d fit me but that’s beside the point).  In turn, I wouldn’t hesitate to offer them the same if they ever needed it.

Church/ Religious community/ Humanitarian/ Goodwill services – Watching people care for complete strangers is very moving, and we find it droves amongst these groups and organisations. A lot are equipped and experienced to help individuals, even whole families in times of need, from providing affordable clothing to providing shelter for displaced families.

So many times, I see people who ask for help and think that they’ve failed or that they’re useless.  Even worse is when people don’t reach out at all.  They tend to feel stuck or that their problems are spiralling out of control. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness.  It is a sign of courage.  Courage to know your limits, putting your ego aside and reaching out to better your situation.

N.B. As an aside, if you do need help and are unsure who to get in touch with, please feel free to contact Candice or me!

3. Look after your relationships

With the number of tasks we’re meant to be juggling as parents/adults, it’s very easy for our stress levels to rise and to let our emotions simmer or boil.  From there, anything can trigger it.  Then something happens, and instinctively we react in an angry manner.

We don’t mean to hurt the ones we love, but once something is said, there isn’t much that can be done to take the sting out of a situation like that.

Say Sorry.  Hug ’em and kiss ’em.

Going forward, begin to practice patience and learn to be mindful of your actions.  If you find yourself in a situation where you feel you’re about to make a lot of noise, stop. Take a step back and count down from 5.  This gives your mind time to switch to the logical thought process side of your brain.

Also, like above, it’s important to make time for you people you love. Make this time quality time. Get off the black mirrors, the phones, the tablets, the TV. Sometimes the things that don’t really matter in the end, or even tomorrow, become our priorities and we unintentionally neglect what is important.  Your loved ones will understand that the catch ups aren’t frequent if the effort is there.

4. I did it my way.

However far you’ve made it with your kid, I applaud you.  Reading back, I’m not sure if I’ve created a guide for help, or created a cause for further concern.  All I know is, my son and wife still love me and I love them so much!  Everything I do, every decision I make centres around their happiness and wellbeing.

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To all Dad’s out there.  Stay strong.  Heed my advice, or don’t.  That’s the beauty of this journey.  You’ll figure it out, as long as your actions all come from a place of love.

Peas and all the best.

Do it, Dad.

 


Best Frenemies

Anyone who has grown up with siblings would agree that there is unconditional love between siblings. No matter the misunderstanding and fights which can sometimes turn violent or passive between my siblings and I, there is a bond that makes it special and separates it from my relationship that I have with my friends and my parents. There is something profound about growing up with my siblings, too. I am the eldest of nine children. They’ve seen me at my best and my worst. Yet, I’ve never had to question whether they like me or not. I know they love me, as much I love them.

The older I’ve gotten, the closer I’ve become to all my siblings. Everyone teaches me something new every day. The unconditional love and support that we have for one another is one I know I cannot find in any other relationship in my life. These days, I’ll come across a person that may be difficult and I automatically think, “This is an annoying thing one of my sisters would do” and I react with peace knowing I’m able to love them, too. I won’t lie, it isn’t easy. But living with this thought has given me peace most days. Kindness and forgiveness truly are the heart of unconditional love between my siblings and me.

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I’m close to one sister, the sister just after me. We’re two years apart so we’ve been by each other through everything. After World Youth Day (Catholic youth gathering) in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, I was in love with the Catholic Church and all it had to offer. I began devoting my time to youth ministry. During this time, I noticed that my sister and I became distant. One day, she said to me, “I just don’t believe in the Catholic teachings anymore. I don’t want to go church from now on.” I’d never felt more distant to her than that moment.

I started to think, “When did she start feeling like this” and “Why now”. I was so busy feeling upset that I didn’t have time to think about what she was going through. My sister was someone who was an instrument of my faith growing up. I thought she was just trying to hurt me.  I felt betrayed. I became mad. I became defensive. I questioned her. I fought her. She fought me back. I kept thinking, “She’s so jealous of my relationship with God”. I was leading people to Christ through youth ministry at the time but I felt like a fraud if I couldn’t do that at home.

My heart was heavy. I went to visit my priest one day and I poured my heart out. He said to me, “Before you pray for her heart, pray for your own heart”. Those words cut like a knife. I realised I was thinking about myself. I never once stopped and thought why I was getting so defensive. I didn’t think to consider her feelings or why she may be feeling this way or what even led to her decisions. She opened her heart to me and I silenced her whenever she spoke. I realised she never asked me to fix her or lead her back to her faith. She was asking me to just listen to her and be there for her.

Fast forward four years. She hasn’t changed her stance on what she believes when it comes to the Catholic Church and I’ve realised that that’s okay. What has changed is our relationship and who I have become as a person. We talk every day. We listen to each other. We still clash when it comes to how we view the world and religious views. But in the end, even if we still disagree, we come to an understanding without anger getting in the way. Isn’t that such a beautiful thing? My sister is kind and giving and thoughtful. She’s great at whatever she does. I’ve learnt so much from her over the years and if anything, she helped me grow within my own faith.

I learnt over the recent years, how to let things go when I don’t agree. To love and appreciate the truth, and that everyone forms an opinion based on their personal experiences. We grow constantly and evolve as people every day. The greatest gift you can give to your family, friends and loved ones is yourself and your time. Choosing to listen to one another and genuinely give others your undivided attention even when you don’t agree, is an act of love.

My siblings and I still find ourselves fighting over just about anything, even down to who my parents like the most. I still believe I’m my dad’s favourite (my gut feeling just tells me so lol) But one thing I know is, every day I’m choosing to love my sisters and brothers even when it’s tough. My friendship with my siblings challenges me each day, teaches me to be better and helps me grow daily as a person. I’ve learned we just should stretch out our patience the same way we do in school and at the gym. No pain, no gain.


Vulnerable

Some people love to make others feel good. Others only reciprocate an equal amount of love as what they receive. Others love to feel loved. In my experience, love is more than an emotional feeling, love is in action.

I experienced emotional abuse at the hands of my father. I think this is the root of my mental health battles. I would spend weeks without speaking to my father and yet would still get yelled at. When I stood up to him, he would throw things, hit things, threaten to hit me and or manipulate me. If my mum stood up for me, she too would end up copping it. I still remember times my mum would go to her room and my dad would be yelling through a door banging on the door nearly breaking it down.

I never believed this was his personality, but a reflection of his own father. I understood his pain and internal conflict. When he was not angry, we would get along, we would talk, take walks and go to sporting events. I had learned that his childhood had been one of abuse and in his adulthood, working for justice in Chile, he had seen and done things that still haunted him.

I was the one asking my abuser for forgiveness. I could rationalise his actions due to my own shortcomings and felt like I needed to work harder because I knew his love for me. When I needed him the most he would back me up, no question asked. When I failed in my goals he would hold me to a higher standard ensuring that I knew that I could do better. It was a tightrope of emotion but I learned one thing. His words didn’t make me feel loved, but his actions did. Love in action is what counts.

My mum and I have always had a relationship that has been special. She was the one that would play with me, stay up helping me with my homework and understood me no matter what. Her love for me was not only unconditional but fierce. She taught me that true love is a constant struggle and had to be built and, like any great historical monument, maintained with a high level of care and commitment. She had shortcomings that made us clash often, but if I’m true to myself I had my own shortcomings. I realise now that every mother and son have these moments, but it’s what happens between the heated moments that counts.

As a young adult, I searched for love but I had built defences to protect myself to a point that I was unrecognisable to even myself. I didn’t know how to love myself because I had associated love with recognition or admiration. I feared being abandoned and being hurt. It became easier to believe the love I longed for was impractical and a waste of time and effort.

I have several friends who are like family who helped me bring down my defences and learn what real love is. I was able to be open to the arrival of my wife Aimee who knows and practises love every day. She has shown me a love centred on what’s best for me. She has assured me time and time again that she isn’t going anywhere. That if I am truly remorseful, she could forgive anything of me. I still struggle to comprehend that someone would choose to not only live with me but also choose to love me. Her constant, gentle, fierce love drowns out my insecurities. Aimee knows that my past still affects my present and she uses these opportunities to understand me and my story better.  This to me is love.

Love seems to be more and more an ancient relic of love stories past. My parents weren’t perfect but they did give me glimpses of what perfect love could be. Love that is built to last and love which is the most difficult to build but that can survive anything. I look at my wife and daughter and strive to build that same type of love.

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As a father, I will be asked to lead our family in a way that my family is worthy. Part of that will be teaching my daughter, Magdalena, the traits of love and forgiveness. Show her an active love which she can recognise as an unselfish love. A love that is completely unique to her. Love stories are the epic stories we all love to hear about, but what storytellers often fail to tell us is that comes it takes a lot of hard work to keep love epic. It is not backing down from hurt or hardship but trusting that the pain will only make you stronger. It is an unselfish love which goes beyond what you yourself can get out of loving someone and I hope that this is something Aimee and I can teach Magdalena.

 


I was 21 when he proposed to me. That’s ten years ago now and it feels like a lifetime. I don’t think I knew at the time. Before we got married, I remember asking this question to friends and family. I was desperate to know the answer, to be affirmed that I was making the right decision. I searched my heart and prayed constantly for answers. But honestly, in that moment, it’s hard to say whether I knew he was the one. 

I knew that he was someone I wanted to be around because he treated his mum like a Queen and loved his family so much, both qualities familiar in my household and what I wanted in my very own. But was he the one?

While we were dating, it was a pretty solid relationship, no breaks, no massive fights and we resolved issues as much as we could accept. We respected each other a lot and deeply. But was he the one?

Loving him was easy and I don’t think I was ever afraid of it. It was organic and it grew. He was my first love. But was he the one?

When we were preparing for marriage with our priest, it was clear that we were making a commitment to each other. We had to choose to love each other every single day, both with the good and the bad. I guess at the time I knew I could do that. I entered marriage with the faith in God that marriage was his plan for us and a commitment to love him until I die, no matter what.

I can’t pinpoint a moment but it’s only now looking back that I can say that there were qualities that stood out – his love for his family, and out respect and love for each other.


PreviewShe opened up to me and shared that she was raped when she was a young girl. My internal thoughts were saying, “I wish it wasn’t true” and “Is there a way this can be erased?”

Check out the next instalment of Love Stories, “Agape”, on Wednesday 5 July at 3 pm AEST

Written by Candice

June 21, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Love Stories