Friday, August 27, 2010

A Prayer Run For My Wife

My wife Jinky is fighting Stage 4 Breast Cancer. It has spread to her lungs, liver, bones, and her brain. She is receiving infusion chemotherapy every week and oral chemotherapy every day. She is also taking a new medication to prevent seizures. She feels fatigue constantly, body soreness, and headaches. She's taking a medication to manage the pain.

But her spirit is as strong as ever. Her faith is holding her up. And your prayers are sustaining her will to live.

She's been fighting cancer for more than 10 years now. She's gone through the works of double surgery and radiation to her thorax and to her brain. She's seen stronger days and also weaker days. Yes, she's been in a situation even more precarious than where she is now. That's why we have faith that she can overcome her condition right now...through the power of prayer.

On Sunday morning starting at 7 am, please join me in prayer as I run and pray for Jinky's healing. I will run a full marathon and will offer it to her. It is my way of showing mortification so that God may look down upon my prayer with favor. And when you pray with me at the same time, and perhaps even do a prayer run, God will heed our prayers, for God loves a praying people. A prayer run is simply to offer yourself - your thoughts, your actions, and your desires to God - as you run.

So join me in a prayer run this Sunday at 7 am. Simply go out for a run or a walk and invite God to be with you as you run. That is sufficient; for God knows what we need even before we ask Him.

During my run, I will also be praying for the sick father of good friend of mine, also a family friend who is going through a divorce, and the mother of another good friend of mine who lost her battle to cancer in January. If you have other prayer intentions, let me know; and they will be in my prayer list on Sunday.

God bless!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Long Run Blues

Today was a difficult run. My mind wasn't into it, but my body seemed like to be running on automatic drive. Sounds like I was cruizin', but I wasn't. This is actually good news and bad news.

Let me start off with the bad news. So the bad news is that mentally I wasn't prepared. My mind was somewhere else. Last night, my wife wasn't feeling well. She was very cranky and sensitive. Then she complained that her right side was feeling numb. Her speech was slurring a little bit like somebody coming out of anesthesia from a dentist. She was also a bit confused. I was evaluating her very closely before I take her to the Emergency. (My wife is fighting breast cancer which is already in stage 4). Now this is not the first time this has happened. The last time it happened, she was released from the Emergency on the same day. Then she did an out patient EEG to test her for seizures and the results came out negative. Anyway, I decided that we should just get ready to go. But before we took off, I evaluated her one more time, and she said that she was feeling better. She asked for a pain pill and that helped her go to sleep. This morning, I left her feeling very tired and achy.

So that was the bad news part. My mind was with her, but I had to show up my butt for my long run as scheduled. Now the good news is that I just kept running and running. It felt like turning the power on on my legs and they kept going. But here is what made the run difficult. As soon as I think about my wife, my legs seemed to start getting weary. I wouldn't be surprised though, because my legs are not really powered mechanically. Normally what I see happening is that I start to feel my legs get tired, then I tell my brain to send a message to my legs to push, push, push. This time my legs weren't tiring, until they get out of synch with my mental state.

I was eager to go back home after the run of 20 miles. I was tired and I didn't like the feeling. But running 20 miles should make you tired, you fool! But no, I felt weary. So I got home and checked in with her. She was sleeping but seemed to be feeling better. I left her for awhile and sat in front of her. I said a little prayer of thanks. Then I drank my fluids for recovery. Slowly I felt better and my mood became more relaxed. I'm glad that my wife is out of danger and feeling much better.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Value of Rest

No run today. Today I logged in 0 miles.

I had the day off but got up early still. I went with my wife to go to the post office, the bank and do grocery shopping. As soon as we got home, I grilled some fresh salmon for lunch. Then I took my wife to the movies. Her choice of movie - Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts. Got home then soon after I took my son and his friend to basketball practice. Now, mind you I usually go out for a run while waiting for him during practice. But today, I stayed put. I found a little shade under a tree and read a book. Then I went inside the gym and watched him practice. I saw another parent and chatted with him. After practice, I took the boys to a Chinese dinner. When we got home, we prayed the rosary as a family.

In running, rest is the time when you achieve the gains from your training. In life, rest is the time to spend for the things that matter the most. Thank you, God, for the time today to stay away from running and the time to get away from busy-ness of life. Tomorrow, I shall do in earnest my long run and get ready to go back to work.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Run with a Friend

Actually it was fathers and sons run. My buddy Jeff and his son; I and my son and his friend, went to the reservoir park. Our sons are getting ready for the cross country season and their team will start training officially in two weeks. So it was a good time for Jeff and I to run along.

I had talked to Jeff before about doing prayer runs so I thought that this would be a good time for him to try it out. Now come to think of it, we did some rosary runs before, but this would be the first time where I'd encourage him to try to do a meditative run. It would be an opportunity for me to see if I can inspire somebody to try it out.

I told him that we would do a Mother Teresa Run. He seemed amused by it, but of course, he said he'd try it. Then I also mentioned to him that this is just one way to keep us attuned to God's presence during the run. Before we took off, I told him to offer this run to God and take the chance to unburden himself of any worries or concerns that he carried with him now.

So we ran together quietly. Our children behind us following our pace not too far behind. It was rather unusual because we were quiet the whole time. I was a little concerned because I certainly didn't want him to get turned off by an attempt to pray during what seems like a social run with 5 of us altogether. So I prayed for Jeff as I ran.

When we got to the end, I waited for him to say something. The first thing he said was that he felt good. He tried most of what I told him, but he said that he had a lot of trouble with the random thoughts and the physical fatigue. He said when he started getting tired midway to the run, he lost focus. It redirected his attention to getting by the fatigue. However, he said that using the mantras and thinking of happy thoughts helped him to pray. Overall he felt really good.

Now that was a happy news for me. Running with a friend can be prayerful, too. Jesus said, "When two or three people are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Run in Honor of

I haven't ran this course in awhile, even though it's one of my favorites. It's a rather hilly 9-mile course. One short hill at the beginning, a long gentle hill at the middle, then a steep long hill before the final downhill finish.

Today I went for it just because. But as I got into the last, most challenging hill, I remembered why I like this. I also remembered why I run.

Ten years ago in 2000 my wife was diagnosed of breast cancer. She fought it tooth and nail. She went through surgery, radiation, and a series of chemotherapy. The cancer was in semi-remission for quite some time. However, in 2006, her cancer came back. And it has spread to her lungs, liver, bones, and her brain. She had another surgery, another bout of radiation, and more chemotherapy. It's been a long uphill battle for her. Today she's still fighting. Every week she goes into chemotherapy, and every day she takes some more oral chemo pills.

She wasn't this ill before the cancer recurred in 2006. As a matter of fact, she took on running. She started training and then joining races. She ran a few Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure races and other local races in our area. She also did a 40-mile 2-day Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Eventually she wanted and felt ready to run a 10k. I supported her all the way, and we trained a few times together.

One of the training courses we ran was a shorter version of my favorite hilly course. I just told her to run along with me while I ran with her pace. As I noticed that she was feeling good, I decided to take her to the most challenging hill before she finishes it off with an easy downhill. She wasn't expecting it, but boy, did she dig deep to conquer that hill. She was so proud of herself after she got to the top of the hill without stopping. I was so proud of her.

Little did I know that she would use that runner's fighting spirit to face her most important battle in her life. I am so ever proud of her.

As I ran that same hill today, I prayed fervently for her. I offered my gift of health and running in prayer and in honor of my wife. To my wife, Jinky, I will always cherish you. I pray that you will be able to run again. I believe in miracles and I believe in the power of prayer. I love you, Jinky!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Food for Thought on Your Next Run

Luke 12:34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Our pastor, Fr. Roberto delivered a homily on the feast day of St. Dominic and spoke about how this passage applied to the saint's life.

Fr. Roberto said that St. Dominic walked for miles and miles everyday to pray and preach the gospel wherever he goes. He covered thousands of miles all over Spain, to France, and to Italy. He did this tirelessly for God and with joy. St. Dominic's treasure was nothing else, but his love of God. St. Dominic was called the "Athlete of Christ."

So we could ask ourselves 3 questions:
1. Where is your heart?
2. Do you do things for God?
3. Do you do it with joy?

For your run today, reflect on the following:
1. Do you love running (or walking, or hiking, or biking)? Think of your reasons or motivation for running. There are several reasons why you run perhaps. And if you could clearly name your reasons, that is a good indication that you love running. You see the value of allocating time to run. You may even put a lot more time and regularity to running than others. You are most likely proud to share to others that you run.
2. Do you do it for God? Offer your running time to God. Say a prayer of thanksgiving for being able to run. I could imagine how other people physically unable to run would exchange anything to be able to run freely. As you run, feel the wind, the sun, the ground, the smell, the views. These are all God's creation. They all bring greater glory to God. When you run, offer yourself to God. Ask for guidance to run in His path.
3. Do you do it with joy? Be a cheerful runner. Do a Mother Teresa Run. See Jesus in all the people you meet and say a prayer of blessing. Empty your mind by worrying about nothing, but instead praying for everything. Know that God knows all that we need and that is best for us. God will not forsake us. Accept it with a lot of faith and you will be at peace. Before you run, feel the excitement of being able to free yourself of needless anxieties by offering them to God. Enjoy the run as God wants you to run. Feel refreshed and joyful after your run. Then share the joy to your family and loved ones.

Your run doesn't have to go for miles as St. Dominic did in his walks. But do it tirelessly for God and with joy and it will take you places.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Run to Relax

No second thought, I just geared up and took off running.

I decided to stop after working in front of the computer for straight 8 hours. It was almost twilight so I figured it was a good time to go before it gets complete dark outside. The work I did was mentally draining. I could feel a bit stressed out too because I didn't think it would take me this long to finish it. I also had a choice to do other things to relax my self, like watching TV, but I decided to run. I said to myself that I could feel relaxed as I run.

On a busy day like today, I typically do a workout to relieve stress and pressure. I take it all out on the treadmill like somebody would a punching bag. On runs like these, I could feel the tension and arousement running through my body during the workout.

But today I wanted to feel relaxed as I run even though I'd exert a lot of effort. I visualized myself going to a place of quiet where I can feel at peace. The place I went to was a place of prayer. I automatically declared my intent to pray during the run. As I went through the steps of becoming aware of my breathing, my footsteps, the feel of the breeze, the touch of the sun rays on my skin, and the sight of the foliage of trees I pass by, I put myself in God's presence. I slowly opened my hands up as I swung my arms gently as I run. I felt calm as I kept on running. I let thoughts and sights distract me a bit. Then I see my palms up as I run and they lead me back to my desire to pray during this run.

The inspiration that came to me was "letting go." I let go all of my worries, frustration, anxieties, fears, and tension. I offered them all to God. I should not worry about anything, but instead pray for everything. God knows what I need and He will never forsake me. I cast my burden upon Him and allow Him to lead me to His path. As these thoughts filled me, I felt at peace during the run. My strides were fluid and my feet light.

As I finished my run, I became aware of the time. It went by fast yet I had already covered 6.2 miles. It was a relaxed run and a relaxing one, too. I thanked God for the experience and asked for His grace to keep me going especially during busy days. Running doesn't have to be another tiring activity after an already stressful day, it could also feel like a place to retreat, relax, and pray your worries away.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Long Run in a Unfamiliar Place

Okay today was new route in an unfamiliar place. On the spur of the moment, we decided to go visit my wife's niece's new home in San Lorenzo. It was already late in the day and I haven't done my long run. It was my fault anyway for not getting up early this morning as I have planned. I knew I wanted to do my long run today.

So before we left I googled the area to map a route of 15 miles. I found an easy loop to follow 3.8 miles long, so I'd have to do 4 loops. First loop was getting familiar with the environment so it went interesting. Running in new places always make the run fun and interesting.

But of course, I also planned to pray. The second loop I planned to empty my mind by being aware of my breathing and footsteps, like I always do at the beginning of a running meditation. I tell you, it was rather difficult. Like the first loop, the new surroundings continue to be interesting, as well as distracting. I was able to go back to my presence awareness only for a few fleeting moments. By the third loop, it was starting to get dark. I also began to get worried for my safety. Again, it was an unfamiliar territory. But the fear actually helped me to pray. I started to pray for my safety. A few parts of the run, I got more aware of the colors of dawn in the horizon and the cool breeze touching my face. I began thanking God. By the fourth loop, it was dark. I continued to pray for my safety and my family's, and my niece's family in their new home. On the last turn and straightaway I picked up my speed and thanked God for being able to squeeze in some prayer time during this run.

It was a nice run. The unfamiliarity of the area actually helped me to run at a faster pace because I wanted to get home soon before it gets too late at night. But it also identified a prayer need of mine - which was my safety. Don't we all pray for our safety on a daily basis? Wherever we are, whatever we do.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Rosary Run

I prayed the rosary as I ran today. I've done it a few times and I can somewhat recite in my head that goes along well with my cadence. Each decade I mark as a marker when I can sip water or wipe my forehead or increase my speed. Praying the rosary as I run always make me feel fulfilled after a run. I offered the rosary for world peace - specially today on the memorial of those who suffered and died on the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th, 65 years ago.

The other night, my teenage son and I had a discussion about praying the rosary. The last 2 months, we've been praying together the rosary every day as a family. Last night, he sounded off a protest. He proposed to pray only one decade for that night because he said he was feeling tired. My wife said she wants to complete the rosary but if he feels tired, he may leave after a decade. Perhaps feeling embarrassed, he stayed until he the rosary was done.

He went to his room immediately after, but then came out and said he wanted to talk to me. He asked why couldn't we just pray a decade sometimes? Why do we have to say it everyday, and not every other day, or pray something else? Why other things we could adjust or shorten but the rosary we couldn't?

I couldn't give him an answer that would convince him sufficiently and have a realization. I went on to explain a lot of things, but I knew at the end that he just wanted his opinion to be heard and perhaps be actually taken on next time. But the gist of what I told him is that what we want to practice as a family is to pray together for 15-20 minutes everyday. Prayer is what will make us closer and more attuned to God. And the rosary is the best and "easiest" prayer that would lead us closer to Jesus, said her mother Mary. Nonetheless, we could also pray in other ways.

I encouraged him to pray over it. I asked that in his nightly prayers, offer it to God through Mary, the question -- why the rosary. I also suggested to him to talk to his mom who is very devoted to praying the rosary.

Today I pray too that he will get an enlightened answer. Deep in my heart, I know that he will realize why...when he's a little bit older, and will be thankful to his parents that we pray the rosary together everyday.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Running Inward

Usually during a physical activity, such as running, walking, hiking, a lot of thoughts cross your mind. Sometimes, a string of connected ideas; sometimes totally random. Sometimes, you entertain all thoughts; sometimes, you dwell on a single thought. However, all these thoughts, ideas, memories come from nowhere else but within you. Hence, an activity like running usually leads you inward to your own self.

I went out for a run on the street while I was waiting for my son from his guitar lessons. And I reflected on the experience of running inward. Lots of random thoughts came to my mind but as I let them fill my mind, I felt them centering and drawing towards my heart. But I could't fully make sense of it. I set the idea aside until I got back from my run and saw my son playing a beautiful piece on his guitar. He and his music sounded soulfully. I could tell he was playing from the heart. Then it dawned on me -- running inward is like an artist playing from the heart. Your heart and your body, your spirit and your strength combine to run freely and joyfully.

From his guitar lessons, my son and I went to one of our favorite trails on Contra Loma and went for a run together. We ran the first half talking about everything under the sun. Then we split up. He did some hill repeats on a short but steep incline. While I ran another loop around the lake. There I reflected on running inward. I thought of a time when the artist in me was expressed from the heart. There was one time back when I was a senior in high school. I played the guitar to lead the school during the Mass songs. It was raining hard outside and we could hear the the really loud pouring rain on the aluminum roofing over our auditorium. Spontaneously, the student body sang loudly but in harmony together to outdo the rain while I played my best to accompany their expression of praise. Everybody was amazed at everyone's singing. The priest said that it was truly a song of praise. I was proud of myself at that time because I knew I played from the heart.

The same feeling came to me as I ran. Before I knew it, I was almost to the end of the loop. I was hardly tired and my mood was high. I met my son by the foot of the hill where he did his repeats. He said he had an excellent workout, too. As we drove back home, we talked about our runs. It was great way to end the day.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Run Back

I was not in the mood this afternoon. It was one of those times when I would've said "I need a drink." However, I said, "I need to run." So I geared up, laced my shoes, and went for a run. I called on God to stay with me on this run.

As I set out to run, I visualized myself running back to God. Remember that story about the prodigal son? I pictured myself as the son but with a slight twist. So the story goes the son decided to return to his father's house. However, unlike the prodigal son in the story, I didn't do anything that wasted my life's inheritance. Today, I just felt that I was going towards the wrong direction. Before I got further away from God, I knew I wanted to turn back.

The prodigal son story then goes as soon as the father saw his son from the window, he got out and ran as fast as he could towards his son. In my image, I saw God running towards me. Then I took off running towards him.

I thank God for my prayer run today. It helped me to calm myself and regroup after the run. It helped me to let go and offer my worries and low mood to God. It helped me get back on track. My prayer run today helped me to stop, turn back, and head towards the right direction.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Run In Memory of My Father

My father passed away 21 years ago today. I still do not fathom why God took him so early. He was a loving, hardworking, humble, and pious person. My father had a goal of sending his 3 children to college. But the only way he could do it was to leave our home country the Philippines and look for greener pastures abroad. So when I was in my junior year in high school, he left for the United States to work. After 7 years of continuously working, without getting a chance to come home, one day at work he collapsed. He had a brain aneurysm. He died after a few days in coma. None of us were able to see him in person for the last 7 years. But finally we saw him when his body arrived home. Just before he died, the youngest child in the family just graduated from college. My father accomplished his goal sending all his children to college. During the wake, a mail arrived. It was a card my father sent to my mother for her birthday. Back then, it took 2 weeks for mail to arrive from overseas. Apparently he wrote the letter a few before he died. It was a long letter where my dad went over his reasons for going to the United States. He said that he is thankful to God that finally the kids are all done with school. He said that now it was time for him to reunite with his wife. The letter was about 7 pages long which ended with his birthday greetings on the card. It probably took him a awhile to write all these, and so he wrote at the end, "Sweetheart, I am tired now. But before I go, let me just say, I love you."

I ran for 8 miles, praying -- down memory lane -- in his memory. May my father rest in peace.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bits and Pieces

In no particular order:
1. I ran on the Iron Horse Trail, one of my favorite trail routes, in Danville, while waiting for my son from basketball practice. I chanted, "God's will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else." It went well with my cadence and it helped me focus on my praying...only for a short intermittent time though. But I thought it was something I could use again in my prayer runs.
2. I was praying on my knees after Communion this Sunday, when an inspiration came down on me and tears just started streaming down my eyes. I've been praying to the Holy Spirit to increase my faith and to guide my prayer. At this particular moment in prayer, I saw the image of St. Joseph caring for his son Jesus. And instantly I broke down crying. I wanted to be like St. Joseph who dedicated his life to care for Jesus and Mary. That is how I want to live my life as I care for my own son Tim and my wife Jinky.
3. I ran with a friend over the weekend. We used to run more often together before but then our schedules didn't work out together the past few years. He ran on and off according to him but always wanted to go back to more regular running. During our conversation as we ran, I brought up the topic of prayer runs. He took interest in it. He seemed to be inspired by the idea. I said that it might just work for him. I know him as a prayerful yet busy person. I told him that you could actually look forward to praying during a run, then gaining the benefits of running as an after the fact. I look forward to another run with him and see we could do a prayer run together.
4. Tomorrow is the 21st death anniversary of my father. He died when I was 21 years old. It was a time of doubt and confusion. How could such a devoted and prayerful person be taken away from me? Even now, I still don't have the answers. But I know God Loved him and watched over him and my father does the same to me, too. I think that's what's faith is all about - believing even if you don't understand. I will offer my father's memory in prayer in my run tomorrow.
This is all for now!