No, I Didn’t Win the Powerball, but…

This week has been hard.

I’ll admit, I almost wanted to skip blogging this week, because it’s been rough. Simply put, there’s a lot going on. Not only have I been going back on my promise to get more sleep, but I’ve been praying less/worrying more, too. I’ve also gone against my Contentment / Love Myself Challenge several times by being envious of some of the bloggers/vloggers I follow, wishing I had the gifts or the clothes or the money or the sponsored adventures they have.

I’ve been taking better care of myself, my health, and my wellbeing, among other things. But I have not stopped to realize what I’ve already been given.

The last two evenings were spent in the hospital watching my 94-year-old Lola (Grandma in Filipino/Tagalog) breathing erratically, with the help of a respiratory machine. I smoothed out her hair while she slept soundly. I watched her blink her eyes as the RN explained to our family that she had caught pneumonia, apparently common at her age. I held her arm when she stubbornly resisted the glove restraints keeping her from pulling her IV out. I tried to show her pictures on my phone to make her calm and happy; she told me in a flat, tired voice, “I’m not interested right now.”

I sat at her bedside, softly praying to God for her recovery. But most of all, I’ve been praying for her to find peace.

My Lola Lina is a fighter. Stubborn, willful, but with an adventurous spirit and a loving soul. She’s a keeper of keepsakes and a writer, too (where I’m guessing I got it from, since no one else in my family likes to write). She can sing rhymes and tell stories. She’s had many adventures (and suitors) in her lifetime. She’s strong. I know she will live to 100, & beyond.

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I hate how it takes sudden events like these that bring the family together, that cause our prayers to become more fervent, that turn our eyes suddenly towards the sky, hoping for a miracle. Looking at Lola lying restless in her bed, I can see that she is hurting. At 94-years-old, she has lived such a marvelous life and will continue to do so. More than anything, I want her to find peace. Only God knows what is to come, and I trust and leave it to His will. But whatever Lola is thinking in that wise brain of hers, I want her to be, more than anything, content. Not complacent, but contented; resting in the peace of God’s love and her family’s willing devotion.

Believe, and be satisfied.

Last year in my group of girlfriends, we’ve been praying St. Anthony of Padua’s “Be Satisfied With Me” prayer. My friend Charis (who has a really, really soothing voice) usually reads it aloud and we close our eyes, listening to the voice of God speak to our hearts. I always have a huge smile on my face at the end of it. It’s a great reminder of God’s Great Plan, so quit worrying or trying to plan on my own, and that the ultimate satisfaction is in Heaven alone.

And yet, I forget that loving reminder on the daily. In this discontented, instant gratification culture that we live in, we forget what it’s like to truly be satisfied.

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Last night, my hometown was all over the news. Actually, my STREET, the street where I grew up on and still live, was blasted all over television, showing crowds of excited people in front of the 7-Eleven on Chino Hills Pkwy, the site of one of the winning Powerball tickets for the 1.5 billion-dollar Lottery.  Kids were on TV screaming “Chino Hills! Chino Hills!” as if suddenly we’re all super proud to be from this little town tucked away in the Inland Empire. And it’s pretty stunning–an unclaimed winning lottery ticket put Chino Hills on the map.

Even before the big drawing on Wednesday night, all of us believed the hype. Pretty much everyone I know went out to buy one, or multiple, of those $2 orange slips. My office had a ticket pool. My mom went to the gas station across the street from that 7-Eleven. All of us believed in the power of luck (or the power of Quick Pick®) for just a slim, 1 in 292.2 million chance of winning the jackpot.

And yes, by some miracle, some lucky person from my town–but seriously, WHO ARE YOU? And will you give to the church + pay my student loans?!–claimed the winnings.

Last night before the drawing, one of my friends posted a Facebook status that caught my eye–

Even knowing that the chances are extremely slim, many people buy into the HOPE of winning the Powerball. Imagine if even half of that hope was put into believing in Heaven. Wouldn’t Christ be your ticket in?

 

How easy it is for us to give in to the hype of a very slim, earthly promise for temporary happiness. How easy it is for us to spend money on ourselves, and refuse to give to the poor and needy. How easy it is to buy a fading $2 Powerball ticket rather than giving the everlasting gift of our time and presence. How easy for us to slip into depression/sin, not take care of ourselves, and to just give up, to quit fighting, when our lives are so short and so precious. How easy it is for us to make excuses, to hideaway from our problems, to look for the next Quick Pick, or quick fix. But will we ever be satisfied that way?

It doesn’t take being in the hospital to be made alive, or winning the lottery to be a millionaire, when we are already #blessed and rich in love. Look, there are angels–and winners–all around us.

 

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