The Holidays in Pain or in Peace Featuring “Write Your Heart” and How I gained my peace in 2018

by Jan 7, 2019Blog, Blogcast, Episodes of Grace, Inspirations


(Audio introduction recorded after Christmas. Say hi and click the play button below.)

Did you celebrate your holidays in cheer or in fear?

It’s been seven days since we transitioned from the old to the new. We bid goodbye and said our thanks to 2018 and we waved hello and uttered our prayers for 2019.

And as this change transpired, you may either be one of those people who’s excited for what’s coming next or you may also be one of those who felt stuck, struggling and sad. Deep inside you’re yearning for healing and hope.


I also felt stuck, I struggled and was painfully sad during my first Christmas without my mom. I remember this DIY Christmas tree that I made with pieces of luggage and some old gifts that I received from her as we tried to celebrate despite her absence.

Whether you’ve experienced the holidays in pain or in peace, I hope that this blog will continue or start two things in your life this 2019 – healing and hope. And these two were the main goals that I also shared through a couple of activities during my first write-shop for the community that I started last January 19, 2018, on Facebook called “From Mourning to Healing”.

My simple welcome set-up as I waited for the participants for our first write-shop, “Write Your Heart” at Ca Va Creperie & Floral Atelier. (Special thanks to our friends from Ambry All Trends, Eco Vieja and Oh Maria Ph for their generous gifts.)

But first, I need to be very honest. The truth is, I’ve been tossing and turning as I finish this blog which I had on draft since last year (as I mentioned on my audio above).

As I grapple on what to write, I realize that the very thing that I’ve taught the eight beautiful women whom I was blessed to spend my day with last December 18th at our writing workshop was the very thing that I also need to apply as I try to get this done – just WRITE YOUR HEART, JM.

Just write your heart…

So my present hope is to free my thoughts and translate them into letters and words that will eventually give light to TWO THINGS, HEALING and HOPE, and how I eventually found my PEACE despite the challenges from the previous year.


How did you spend your holidays? (This was my coffee table during one of those torturous holidays).

How does one experience healing amidst of pain, loss or emotional breakdown? And how does one gain hope when there’s only discouragement, confusion and despair?

Having experienced various bereavements myself and as I observe the people who go through such, it’s impossible to create a single formula for healing. As we all go through very unique situations and process them in different ways, we all have different timelines and methods when it comes to inner restoration.

But what I’m hoping to do here is to share from my experience and to try to simplify my personal process where I reached some progress.

With my “Process to Peace” Table below (I needed to create a visual aid so I could simplify and organize my thoughts), I observed how I was able to #1 PROCESS my PAIN or whatever I was struggling with, which lead me to #2 experience PROGRESS where I gained healing, recovered hope and encountered peace.

And my heart for this one-year-in-the-making-blog is for others to also be able to process their own healing and to have their progress to peace.

Meeting the ladies and hearing their own journeys and stories!

*These are all based on my inner conflicts and process last 2018. Some of which may be familiar. It’s good if one (or maybe all) would be something relatable or similar to you. This just means that you’re not alone.

Hold on dear, God’s got you!



(The Hurt | Trigger)

My struggle & question:


(Heart Assessment |

The Truth)

What I was really dealing with:


(Action | Response)

What I realized moving forward:


(The Result)

The things I learned and gained:


(pensive sadness)

Why do I still miss my mama?


“I miss her”

Even after six years, the feeling of loss is still there.

I still have my episodes of sudden sadness whenever I remember her. It’s not as painful as one or two years after her passing but it still hurts.

The question is when am I going to stop hurting whenever I remember and miss her?


The reality is, losing a loved one especially someone very close or extremely valuable to anyone would always leave a vent that that person can only fill.

When that particular attachment or connection is no longer around, a lifetime of adjustment is needed for one to cope with the loss or grief.

Every time this happens, I need to accept that mama is no longer around and to adjust living without her.

It’s normal to cry (just cry). I continue to celebrate her as I recognize my progress in healing (no matter how minor or significant they may be).

[“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:4 (ESV)]


Last July 2, 2018, I was asked by one of my mentors to share my testimony to a women’s ministry the next day for their topic “When heartbreak happens”.

While preparing for my 6-minute testimonial about my mom, I started crying. I never thought that the pain would still be there.

Soon after, the pain started to turn into joy as I acknowledged what I was feeling and the progress that I had with my healing.

The tears eventually turned into words, which I had the great pleasure to share to a few hundreds of women the next day.



(worried and fearful)

When am I going to be completely well from this?


“I’m worried and I’m tired”

Meeting several doctors, rushing to hospitals for emergencies, taking medications several times a day, swollen and painful eye, headaches, vision challenges, and same diagnosis and recommendation for surgery, these could be pretty exhausting especially if this becomes a cycle for beyond six months.

And this was what I experienced from 2017 to 2018 when I was diagnosed with a recurrent corneal erosion.

I’ve never been anxious and physically affected the way that I was that it kept me from my normal routine and sleep, and work.

I was filled with different kinds of fears whenever I’d feel the pain on my eye.

Will I ever get healed? What will happen with my future and work? I don’t like surgeries!


This experience made me identify with those who are going through more serious physical afflictions.

How do they cope with such ordeal?

Whenever I encounter bouts of eye discomfort, which usually happens in the middle of my sleep, I scream in pain and become really anxious.

Eventually, I learned to surrender my condition to the Lord. I prayed for healing either instantaneously or through surgery – I know that God can heal me (inside out).

Little by little, as I learned to trust Him more, let other people pray with me, and to do my part in taking care of my eye, I encountered improvements on my eye situation. I also finally met an ophthalmologist whose expertise was on cases like mine.

[“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you;
don’t be distressed, for I am your God.
I give you strength, I give you help,
I support you with my victorious right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10 (CJB)]


To be constant in our faith when fear starts to creep in may seem difficult, and to remain steadfast may seem unattainable.

But through this physical challenge, I learned how it was to trust God day by day (gradually & slowly). My journey wasn’t perfect, there were times when I would just cry, become anxious and over think.

As I tried my best to follow the instructions of my doctor, by faith I soon asked her if we can try to remove my corneal bandage lens (the very thing that helped and protected my eye from the bouts of pain). She nervously allowed my request.

After which, I had a few bouts but this time God taught me how to deal not just with the pain but with the anxiety.

August of 2018 during my monthly checkup, my ophthalmologist finally gave me a clearance regarding my eye. She no longer required for me to undergo amniotic membrane transplantation or amnion graft.

I fall short (so many times and in so many ways), but it’s God’s faithfulness (and not mine) that bring forth breakthroughs like this.


Am I still doing the right things?


“I need clarity and I want progress”

Alongside with the physical challenge that I went through for over a year, I also became very worried about my work and finances.

Every single thing that I do requires my eye/vision, and with my erratic eye bouts and emergencies, this affected my momentum. And this made me question what God would really want me to pursue and if I’m still doing the right things.

For a year, some of the usual work that I do came to a pause and some I needed to do less. I felt like I was back to square one.


“Start/continue with whatever you have now”.

This was the magic word that kept me going whenever I would question my lot.

Being a freelancer for almost a decade now, these words really helped me to carry on. And this was the very same statement that turned sudden interruptions to snippets of improvements and productivity.

I tried to learn new things even as mundane as home chores and I continued working on in whatever I could.

With my restlessness, I went through tender moments when I learned more about patience (how it was to wait during difficulties) and perseverance (how it was to stay purposeful and to persist amidst of delays).

Even when you don’t see any progress, persevere (continue the course even when it’s difficult and even when you don’t see any result yet).

It’s never been easy but the faith-stretching journey was undeniably fulfilling in the end.

[“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4 (AMP)]


The restart button seemed to have been pressed as I paced myself to manage whatever I could during each moment.

Slowly as I continued some work, new ones started to come in.

(I started doing photography again and had a few projects even when I told my client-friends that I only had my phone camera to do the job.)

I thank God for the opportunity to pause and for the restart button. And to be blessed with wonderful and gracious clients who continuously trust despite my challenging seasons.

Last year, I started to teach, write and photograph again. Things that I really enjoy and love doing.


Why do I always need to adjust and why do I always have to apologize first?


“I also need to be valued and cared for”

Feeling not valued by the people closest to me really hurts me. It could be through their words or actions, or lack of both.

And last year, I really felt like my heart was crushed over and over again as there were instances when I really felt disregarded.

My feelings weren’t recognized, my place wasn’t considered at all, and I was the one who needed to adjust over and over again.

But the reality was, what was really injured during the process was my pride, which resulted in self-pity, bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness.

The only thing that I was thinking was it was unfair.



I’m no heroine nor a saint, so “to die to myself” has always been extremely hard.

But through the course of my new life in Christ, I learned that change is initiated around me (in my relationships and circumstances), with how I respond (how I react).

So how did my relationship issues got resolved?

  1. I examined my own thoughts and what I feel and why I felt them
  2. I put myself in the other person’s shoes
  3. I swallowed my pride, died to myself, and took the initiative to apologize first

These are the verses that continually helps me when it comes to my relationships:

that, regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image, [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation].” – Ephesians 4:22-24 (AMP)

“Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” – Romans 12:3 (NLT)



The answer to any offense is to respond in love.

Remembering the finished work of Christ on the cross and how my value and identity are anchored on Him (and not on anything or anyone else), makes a lot of difference on how I can respond in love (even when I’m hurting).

And this is the kind of love that makes us let go and forgive as we understand how we were loved and forgiven first.

The result of letting go of my ego and pride and in continuously choosing Christ was peace.  I never got to hear an apology from the other party (and honestly I barely do, haha). But I had a tremendous kind of peace and I fell asleep so soundly after crying all those tears that evening.

I learned a new way to check my heart (so stained), assess my soul (so broken) and take action (in humility) as I understood the other person more.

And this greatly improved not just my relationships but the kind of love and peace that I also have towards myself and others.



Where can I really serve?


“What’s that one thing that I can really focus on?”

There was a season when I enjoyed volunteering in various ministries. For several years I was involved from Kids Church, Youth Ministry, Communications, Ushering and to leading different small groups.

But after going through some major transitions in my life, my questions were, “What’s next?”, “Where can I really focus on and where I can give my treasure and time?”. 



As I paused and analyzed the season that I was in, I started to examine the very healing that I was experiencing when I started to reflect on the kind of bereavements that I went through.

What did God make me go through all these years? And how can it help others?

Then I realized that the very thing that I went through was the very thing that I also hoped other people can experience. And that’s to be able to process their mourning and to have a breakthrough in their healing.

[“I will instruct and teach you
in this way that you are to go;
I will give you counsel;
my eyes will be watching you.” – Psalm 32:8 (CJB)]


With the process and progress that I had with this specific struggle, I felt at peace in taking small steps toward my newfound clarity.

(This direction was also confirmed as I received a number of messages when I published an article about Mental Health Awareness.)

Last year, I started a small community on Facebook called “From Mourning to Healing” and had a couple of intimate get together with some of its members. I also became a part of the community “A Woman’s Forum”, which is pioneered by one of my mentors.

Given this direction and focus, this year, I’m hoping to plan and implement more events and to help others through these communities.


Are they going to be okay?


“I’m on a roller coaster kind of emotional ride. I need some answers.”

2018 was a year of both breakthroughs and heartbreaks.

It was a wild emotional ride going through a year of questions if loved ones are going to be okay.

From one devastating news to the next, I was bombarded with unpleasant reports. Two of these were about friends who were sick. One was in abroad and was suddenly in a coma and the other was in and out of the hospital.

I couldn’t help but get troubled as I think about them.


When my mom got sick and even up to her time of death, I learned how it was to unceasingly pray to the Lord even for miracles until it was time to stop. And with this, I also experienced how it was to completely yield to Him and His ultimate plan.

It’s not easy but even for my loved ones and friends, especially last year all I can do was to pray and yield unto Him and His plans for them. 

Surrendering (to submit) is a continuous exercise in this faith and life journey.

My friend who was in abroad received her miracle and is now fully recovered. While my other friend who asked us to release her from her suffering and pain when we visited her in the hospital, joined the Lord last October.

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7


With my friend’s recovery and my other friend’s passing, I both received peace.

I had peace knowing that they both courageously fought different battles and that they both surrendered as well to the Lord’s earthly and lasting healing and will.

In distressing moments when we can never be in control, faith is crucial as we rest unto Him and His sovereign will in all matters of life.

Faith/trust made my soul and spirit find rest.


(Impatience and Unfulfilment)

When am I going to have my own breakthroughs?


“I also yearn for this and that.”

Am I longing and asking for the right things? What are the things that I should desire and work for?

Every now and then, I would have this inner dialogue when it comes to my present and my future.

As someone normal (haha), I also yearn for things like more stability, companionship, and for some of my dreams and goals for me and my family to come to fruition.

Some entail time, some contentment, and some – faith to wait and believe.

And this is where I sometimes struggle – the waiting and guessing game, and contentment.


It’s so easy to be swayed here and there by the world’s standard for success and fulfillment.

And sometimes I still catch myself dreaming of things that are deemed to be worldly and idealistic.

I know that having a vision (dream or goal) is good, but being aware of my own discontentment and examining my temporal yearnings, my intention and motivation behind each are what makes them NOT good (for me, my present and future).

The antidote for such? Being aware of what God is presently doing and how He’s filling those “lack” with something more purposeful and lasting. And being grateful and satisfied with the blessings of the NOW (you’re still breathing – thank Him!). 😉

(+ the verse below)

“And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].” – Romans 12:2 (AMP)


Knowing and experiencing what  I know and experience now about peace and contentment really helps me in approaching different struggles better.

And the kind of peace and contentment that I have whenever I go through the process and achieve my progress are irreplaceable. No temporal offerings in this world can come close to these.

Being more aware and assessing my heart always ushers me to return to my purpose and intention.

I remember this from Andy Stanley’s book “The Best Question Ever”:

“In light of your past experience, your current circumstances, and your future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for you to do?”

Now, with any of my impatience and  unfulfillments, my question is:

In light of my present and future longings, do I honestly think that these are something of lasting purpose and value? Can these longings bring real peace and contentment in my life? 

Whew! Congratulations in finishing reading or skimming (or skipping?) the Process to Peace table! You are now equipped to apply these in whatever you’re going through or will go through, whether be it in times of loss, physical challenge, work and financial trials, relationship issue, confusion, life uncertainties, and moments of discontentment.

Trust me when I say that I also had an incredibly challenging time completing this as you’re equally confronted to read the long process above. It took some kind of an endurance run as I relied on the Lord about what to share here. So I really hope that this brings forth nuggets of healing, hope, and peace in your life and seasons. (If it did, would like to hear them! Message me!)

1st Activity’s goal: To process our healing through writing. (Here’s JC writing her story “The Last Dance”)

If you’d like to be able to process your own journey in an intimate group and to join our future events, send me a message below this blog.

Sharing just a few photos from our write-shop “Write Your Heart”, where we had activities that I specifically created for everyone to be able to write their own stories in less than an hour and to have their dream board in 30 minutes.

And they all did pretty well. Some of the stories that were written during the write-shop were, “Someday”, “Walk by faith, not by sight”, “The last dance”, “Healing in waiting”, and “A Promise”.

Here’s Ate Marissa courageously sharing her very own journey “Healing in Waiting”.

“Free your thoughts, write your heart.” – From Mourning to Healing

Thanks to everyone who boldly took the time to meet our group and to openly free your thoughts and write your heart with us.

I just have to mention Ca Va’s “Chicken Out’ – it was so delicious! It’s good for sharing too. 🙂

Here’s another creative activity for the rest of the ladies.

2nd Activity’s goal: To have renewed hope by awakening old dreams and envision new ones. Here’s Roxy sketching her very own dream board.

Grateful for the support of friends and glad to get to know new friends. Thank you for your time and for being so open to writing and sharing your stories. Until our next write-shop! (Interested to join our next write-shop, to volunteer or to partner and collaborate? Send me a message here.)

My prayer for all of us this 2019 is for us to find PEACE, the kind of peace that we’re reminded about here:

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You–in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].” – Isaiah 26:3

*If you’re interested to join, to volunteer or to partner for our next events or workshops, send me a message below this blog.


Get to know more about them here:

I personally use Oh Maria Ph’s tinted lip balm (so fond of the variety of colors) and lip and cheek tint. The latter reminds me of my college years (haha). It gives me that extra “rosy” look all day long as the tint is long-lasting (it smells nice too)!

I also love how Oh Maria Ph was named after the founder’s mom (very sweet of her), and how it also symbolizes simplicity (you can see this with their minimalist approach from their ingredients to their packaging) and femininity.

Check their all-natural brand cosmetics like tinted lip balms, clay blushes and lip tints that are made from raw, food grade, and all-natural ingredients that are great for all skin types – including the most sensitive ones.

Email them at or check them on their Facebook or Instagram.

I love soaps that are good to eat! 😉

Eco Vieja produces soaps that are lovingly and individually handcrafted by a wife and mom of three girls. She only uses natural ingredients that are completely natural, which creates rich and creamy soaps that are good for cleansing, moisturizing and softening the skin.

I also like that she uses the traditional cold-process method in making her soaps that smell delicious like coconut milk, cocoa-oatmeal, oat milk based chocolate soap, rice milk bars, rice milk with moringa bars, and exfoliating coffee soap with coffee grounds.

Email them at or check them on their Facebook or Instagram.

Who doesn’t like to wear comfortable and cute sleepwear?

I like how young entrepreneurs and founders of Oh Maria Ph, Eco Vieja, and Ambry All Trends start a business from products that they really love and personally use!

Just like Ambry All Trends’ owner, a self-professed home buddy who turned her enjoyment in staying at home to a business that sells affordable and comfortable pantulog or sleepwear!

I love their designs especially their sleepwear sets and pajamas! They also have headpieces, dresses and limited edition gift sets for everyone to choose from. And when I say affordable they have pieces like pajamas for as low as Php 100.00!

Get your affordable and quality sleepwear through or check them on their Facebook or Instagram.

You may also visit them at their Concept Store at Bubba Stash, 290A RAC Residences Dr. Sixto Ave, Pasig City or order through Lazada & Akulaku soon!

One of my DIY Christmas projects where I used some of the Christmas ornaments that I bought with mama. In pain or in peace, holidays could be special as we remain to have a grateful heart.

Podcast Background Music:

Blogcast Music: Emotions” by Simon More

Music provided by Free Music for Vlogs 

Contact the artist: Instagram

What people are saying about “Write Your Heart”:

“It inspired me to be bold and just let go, allowing myself to just set aside preconceived thoughts of not being able to do it or the fear that I’m the only one there who’s not capable of expressing myself in writing. The 40-minute time limit was the game changer. It allowed me to forget my fear and just went ahead and focus on the task of writing my story which I’ve been trying to do all these years. Thank you!” 

– Marissa (Wrote: “Healing in Waiting”)

It was an amazing time for me to experience writing and I was refreshed once again doing my vision board. It had been a while since I created one and it reminded me to pursue the things that matter to me the most.”

– May (Wrote: “A Promise”)

What people are saying about this blog:

“JM, it’s really inspiring how God is using you and your experience with grief to help others heal and have hope. Your mama would be so proud. Hope to attend one of your workshops when I’m home na. ❤️”

– Yasmin (



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