The Surrender

It took me a month of trying to fight my puking urges before I finally accepted that I should just LET IT GO. Yes, Frozen’s song meant something different to me then, haha. I hated the act of throwing up, but it somehow relieved my painful tummy. So I conceded. I tried some food from time to time, just to check what I could take, because I was sooooo sick of crackers. I finally found some that I could eat and be satisfied with — mung beans and dried fish with rice! To us Filipinos, munggo and tuyo/danggit! How ironic that the smelliest of all fish was what I could eat. That was my meal twice a day for more than a month. My tummy settlers were soda, nuts, and chips. I still experienced the same nausea, bloatedness, aversion to smells (and did I mention aversion to food on tv?) and vomiting, but at least I had some real food to eat.

It was around that time, the second week of February, that I psyched myself to finally visit my OB-GYN. It was not without a lot of crying days before, as I was dreading the smells I could possibly encounter. I was seriously afraid, and I felt trapped. I did not want to be paralyzed by my fear, but I was. I was sure I would vomit, and I definitely didn’t want to do that in public. There’s nothing pretty about vomiting, even if I had the best excuse to do it. It’s gross, loud, uncomfortable, and painful.

I made sure I threw up before I left home (twice), and I equipped myself with some crackers and a small jar of vapor rub to help mask other smells. It was the first time I left the house successfully (we tried going to a nearby commercial area a few days before and I was too nauseated to get out of the car). We found out that I was 3 months and 4 days pregnant. Quite late for a first check up, but I had been drinking folic acid and calcium by end of  December, though irregularly. Yes, you guessed it, they were hard for me to swallow at times. I was prescribed the usual prenatal meds, but the ultrasound showed that I was having contractions. My doctor gave me additional ones to secure the baby in my womb. I realized that it was a blessing that I had just been staying home that whole time. I had not endangered myself or the baby.

WE SAW THE BABY AND MY HEART SMILED for the first time in a long while. I was happy to know that even with my troubles, he (or she) was a-okay.

I felt quite accomplished after that. That didn’t encourage me to get out of the house more though. I was still trapped by my fear, and the farthest I would go was in our front yard to watch the girls bike. Of course smells of cooking from neighbors’ houses bothered me too. My next trips out were only for a doctor’s visit and a short side trip to the mall, a dental appointment, and a trip to the bookstore.

Things were getting a tad better, plus thankfully our former stay-in helper came back, but I was still feeling down a lot. There were days that I cried practically all day, and there were days that I was fine. Then came the 3 or 4 consecutive days that I was just in anguish and I cried to God. I was like a crazy person, pleading for grace and mercy one minute and then blaming God for what I was going through the next. And then the inevitable came sometime in mid March — MY HEART SURRENDERING TO THE LORD. I cried, prayed, repented for my anger, ungratefulness, and joylessness, declared His love and goodness, literally lifted my arms in surrender to His will. I was done. I gave up being angry and finally allowed Him to take over.

It was not a quick change in my disposition, but peace and joy slowly came back into my heart. I was able to see the good, even though I was still vomiting every morning. Though I chose to stay home still, I was able to BE WITH my kids, play with them, and even resume homeschooling. My appetite was returning and my taste buds were normalizing. I said goodbye to mung beans and dried fish! I still had problems with smell and I still couldn’t eat all kinds of food, but I was better. I was even able to watch Captain America to support a friend’s fundraiser. I did get quite dizzy before and after the movie, but that was a breakthrough. You don’t know how happy it made my husband that I was out with him. I also started feeling the baby move that week!

The trip that followed was my doctor’s appointment this month, with some grocery shopping and a visit to our church. It was good to be in a supermarket after 3 months, though King did most of the picking and handling especially of the meats, while I ate chips to get rid of the nausea. And it was great to see friends I had not seen since the last Sunday of 2013. I believe the next day was the last day I threw up, the day I watched Rio 2 with my family. My daughters were so happy, seeing that I was “healed.”

10320422_833105283370835_7264876035980516200_nBy holy week, I was able to go on vacation with the church staff and actually enjoy it! I was able to eat. I got the most exercise I’ve gotten since I got pregnant, walking up and down steps and swimming laps. I enjoyed the beach and swam with my kids. I got tired, but not exhausted. Since then, I’d been able to go out, sit at restaurants and endure the smells without gagging! It may not be a big deal to anyone else, but it’s a huge deal for me. Finally, MY MIRACLE IS HERE! Last Easter Sunday was the first time I attended church service since 2013 ended!

Yes, I still get dizzy, I still gag at smells sometimes, I get easily tired, and there are still certain food I can’t stand, but I THANK THE LORD that He has given me this breakthrough. I seriously thought I was going to suffer the tummy aches and vomiting the entire 9 months! And not only am I feeling better, we were able to finish all of Danae’s requirements for her major subjects! Thanks to Teacher Sybil for helping me and the girls, in homeschooling and other matters. All I need to do now is make sure she finishes her computer subject which her dad is in charge of, to fix her portfolio, and to submit her grades. We are quite delayed, but thank God for our understanding school principal.

Indeed I can say that THE LORD IS GOOD. Even though I was so ungrateful and unfaithful to Him, He remained faithful. He was understanding and patient with me. Though many times I felt that He was silent, He gave me people who loved me, stood by me, and helped me sort through my craziness — my patient husband King, my accommodating girls Danae and Noelle, my friend, constant chat mate and shock absorber May, and faithful friends who keep praying for me, are my heroes.

I was aware that God was teaching me something, that it was another stepping out of my comfort zone (boy, was it ever), another push to grow, but my pain and hardship blinded me. I focused more on the bad, whining and crying, rather than focusing on the good. Hormones did play a big role, sure, but I know God wanted me to go through it to bring me to a place of TRUE SURRENDER. My prayers were sincere but my emotions tainted them with pride and unbelief.

It wasn’t until I surrendered that the veil was slowly lifted. God is a personal God. And this is the way He has always been with me — BEFORE HE CHANGES MY SITUATION, HE FIRST CHANGES MY HEART. Everything that He allowed to happen led to a heart change, and my situation began getting better and better. I know it’s an ordinary experience for some and they take it in stride. This was a first for me. My first two pregnancies were not this hard, and I was never this miserable. It was not right to have such little joy and I could not figure it out, hence all my frustration and anguish. I may not understand all of it, but I do understand that God is good and all His plans are purposeful. He loves me enough to want me to grow, and not just coast along. His grace IS sufficient and He is present, whether I feel it or not. He wants me to be free from anger, fear, and pride. He wants me to live fully with peace and joy, not in vicious cycles. And the only way is by coming to Him and surrendering to Him, leaving it all at His feet. FREEDOM, PEACE AND JOY COMES WITH SURRENDER.

1797357_832231116791585_1229765869048486447_nNow I will be 6 months pregnant in about a week! I am healthy, at peace, and excited. My girls are busy with their summer activities and I can be their mommy/driver/assistant again. King is also busy with work/ministry and we were able to tag along to the youth camp last week. The baby is healthy, and by next month, we hope to know and then share the much anticipated reveal of his/her gender! We are all doing well and I can’t thank the Lord enough. :)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:6-10

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1

In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. Psalm 118:5

 

 Click here and here for the first two posts of this story.

The Roller Coaster

When I started experiencing constant acidity and gas in my tummy daily, I badly wanted to eat to relieve it. But believe it or not, I could not take anything but crackers and bananas. Relief would come but it was always short-lived. My water intake was also terrible. With the little I ate and drank, I would still vomit DAILY. I hated it. I cried buckets of tears because I was hungry and I felt bloated at the same time. And the vomiting literally hurt me and tired me out. Many times I would vomit gas and saliva alone, but the sensation and the effort were the same. I would get contractions too while throwing up. I lost twenty pounds by February.

I was on the most horrible emotional roller coaster ride of my life. I wanted to be grateful everyday for this wonderful gift, but I could not see past my pain and hardship. I felt bad that I wasn’t like other pregnant ladies who were strong, could still exercise, continue to work and take care of their families. I felt bad that my husband, tired from work all day, had to take on my responsibilities at home. We had a stay-out helper who washed our clothes and did some cleaning and cooking during the day, but at night, King had to still clean up after the girls’ messes. He cooked at times too. He had to make sure our children had breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I was stuck in the room, because I could not stand the smell of any food, or other strong smells for that matter. I could not cook, or even accompany my children at the dining table. My kids learned to eat on their own or with the stay-out helper. They learned to always close my door to prevent the smell of cooking from wafting in, though many times it was impossible to block the smell out. I would hide in the bathroom to try to avoid throwing up, sometimes to no avail.

King felt an enormous amount of pressure, thinking about my physical and emotional condition, thinking about the kids’ welfare, and thinking about his work. And I felt the pressure of him feeling the pressure. We badly needed a stay-in helper to lighten our loads physically (chores) and mentally (planning). And I badly needed my miracle.

Though it’s common in all my pregnancies that I cannot stand King’s smell during the first trimester, I felt terrible that I could not even smell my own children! I couldn’t cuddle with them, or kiss them. I stayed in a separate bedroom. They were understanding but there were moments that Danae would cry to me, sad and upset that I couldn’t do normal things with them. I totally felt for her, because I wanted what she wanted. BUT I JUST COULDN’T. I was so frustrated with myself for being so weak. I felt helpless and useless. Don’t even get me started on homeschooling. Nausea kept me from being able to do any.

To top it all off, I was upset because I felt that God WOULD NOT give me my miracle. I prayed so hard for it even before I got pregnant, and most especially while I was having such a hard time. I felt like He wasn’t answering, wasn’t moving. But then again I knew that I was blessed — the fact that I could even conceive and carry a child is already a huge blessing. All the more that I felt frustrated with myself because what I was feeling was the opposite of the truth that I knew and believed. I honestly was starting to doubt God’s love and His goodness. I was completely miserable, bursting into uncontrollable tears every now and then. My poor kids witnessed some of it and they would be kind enough to comfort me, pray for me, or leave me alone.

Then I would see other people with bigger, deeper problems than me, but are still able to smile and live their lives with joy. I was experiencing a seemingly endless difficult season but obviously temporary, and I was ready to throw my faith out the window! I was suffering for only 9 months, if ever it wasn’t going to get better for me, and then a beautiful addition to our family would arrive! I knew I should choose joy and be more grateful. I knew I had the power to choose a better attitude, but I was unable to. I wish I could blame it all on crazy hormones, but I am just not sure that’s true. My frustrations were immense. I not only beat myself up for something I could not control — my physical weakness — I also beat myself up for something I could control — my attitude. I knew my feelings were valid, but I could not figure out what God wanted me to do. I was angry with Him, but I also knew that there’s nobody else I could rely on to help me through it. I knew it was only by His grace that I could overcome. My despair was real.

 

I know this is a depressing end to this post, but I promise, the third and last installment tomorrow will be better. :)

Click here for the first installment.

 

The Third

Yes, I am 5 months pregnant with our third child. :) It’s the reason why I have been MIA for the first quarter of the year. It’s the reason why I was not able to renew my blog site on time, and had to pay a larger fee for doing so late. Thank you to the kind angel who tweeted me to tell me that she couldn’t access my site anymore. Obviously I have not been checking my emails either.

I am 36 years old, a year late in my plan to have our LAST baby. I had been very fickle about having another for a few valid reasons. Raising and homsechooling two active, strong-willed little girls is no easy task. I wondered if I could handle three children. Our daughters are growing up, becoming more and more independent. I wondered if I was willing to go back to square 1 — breastfeeding, diaper-changing, sleepless nights. King and I had gotten our dating groove back since the girls can more easily be left with a helper, friend or relative. I wondered if I was willing to give our child-free dates up, not to mention our desire to finally have a child-free vacation.

BUT since we don’t use artificial protection, not for any reason other than we are not comfortable doing so, and I am not ligated yet nor has King had (or is ever willing to have) a vasectomy, I could be surprised with a pregnancy in my late 30s and even 40s. I mean no disrespect to those who choose to have children at that age. I just really prefer to be younger to have the last baby, and I prefer not to be surprised. So even though I am already past my so-called deadline, it’s really now or never. Then I will have myself ligated when they open me up for a c-section. I noticed that there’s a baby boom too, and I truly felt we were going to be part of it.

My biggest apprehension, however, has always been the pregnancy. My first was okay. I had nausea, aversion to the smell of cooking, aversion to Chinese food, and I had no cravings during my first trimester. I was able to eat, and I actually threw up only a few times. I lost only about 6 pounds. My second was pretty bad because I threw up more, and it got to a point where I felt so weak that I asked King to take me to the ER. I chose to be confined so that I could get more fluids in me. I don’t remember losing more than 5 pounds since I was still able to eat certain food. Things normalized after the first trimester.

Although thankfully I had no problems with threatened abortion, bleeding or anything like that, I seriously did not want a repeat performance of my previous pregnancies. I asked God to give me a miracle — that when I get pregnant, I will have none of the problems I had before. We found out that I was pregnant a few days before Christmas day! We were so excited! And though I had been feeling bloated, sometimes nauseated and couldn’t eat my normal amounts, I could still eat. I was already thanking God for my miracle.

Sadly, it barely lasted two weeks.

The last day I was out in a mall, before my long hiatus, was January 2 for my nephew’s birthday. I couldn’t even join them inside the pizza place because I couldn’t handle the smell. I walked around, popping mints, and because I liked the smell of pretzels, I bought one and ate that. I was supposed to see my OB-GYN the next day, but I was not at all up for it. My daily battle with smells, vomiting, hyperacidity or acid reflux or whatever you want to call it, and not being able to eat anything began that week. I wasn’t even able to celebrate Noelle’s birthday with her. :(

Please bear with me. I shall continue tomorrow.

 

 

Statement 1 or Statement 2?

I posted this question on my Facebook page almost 2 months ago. I was starting to share my answer too, but then it became too long to be a comment. I decided to post it here instead.

On girl-boy relationships.
Which statement is more true for you, and why?

1. It’s worth it because this is forever.
2. Even if it’s not forever, it will be worth it.

I received quite a few answers and different explanations, so thank you. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for opening my mind to your perspective. I know that your answers were personal, and I respect all your opinions. Allow me to share my personal beliefs as well, based on my past experiences, my current situation, and my hopes for the future.

First, I want to clarify that when I say forever, I mean “till death do us part.” I know that there is no such thing as forever (here on earth anyway) because we all die. When I posted the question, I was thinking about relationships and marriage. :)

I choose statement number 1.

Boy-girl relationships should not be taken lightly, should never be entered without the future in mind. If I were my immature, delusional, romantic young self, I would choose statement number 2, not thinking about the future but merely ENJOYING THE MOMENT. And God knows that’s what I did before. I convinced myself that it was worth it because I was “happy.” I would also always convince myself that we had a future together, as if that made our relationship justifiable (so maybe I would’ve also chosen statement number 1, having this mindset). But did I consider the consequences? Nope. All I cared about was me and what I wanted. Hind sight is clearest in this matter because it’s done, already in my past. I had no relationship with Christ. I exercised no restraint, no wisdom.

Was it worth dishonoring my parents? Was it worth adding further damage to an already faulty family relationship? Was it worth all the heartache and the drama of being deceived, two-timed, used, neglected, ignored, or unvalued?  And not only heartache from the BOYS I was in relationships with, but the heartache of feeling so alone in my family because I pushed them farther away? Was choosing a boy, any boy over my family worth it? Was it worth doubting my own self-worth and losing my true identity? Was it worth the unnecessary pain I caused my husband as he discovered my past? Is it worth the fear I sometimes feel, dreading the possibility that my children will reap all that I have sown?

I say NOT. Those temporary relationships were not worth it. I learned much from my experiences, and I now clearly see the goodness of God because of them, but, no disrespect to the people involved, they were not at all worth it. It’s true what they say — experience is not the best teacher, the Word of God is.

I became a Christian at 24 years old, quite fresh from a devastating breakup. Through discipleship, I learned to see myself the way Jesus does — someone of great value and worth, someone unconditionally loved and accepted. I learned that it is Jesus who completes me, no one else. I learned to forgive. I learned to repent. I learned to humble myself and allow God to restore my relationship with my family. I learned to stop obsessing about marriage or romantic relationships, and focus on my relationship with God. I learned to enjoy my friendships, and to exercise the right boundaries. I learned to guard my heart, and keep myself from entering relationships that I was not sure were from the Lord. I learned to seek His will for my life and wait for His timing. I learned to allow Him to write my love story.

Now that my waiting is done and I am married to the man God created for me (yes, I really believe that, albeit sounding still delusional haha), I believe that everything is and will be worth it because this is it. God orchestrated this and I chose to participate. I made this commitment to my husband and to God, that I will do whatever it takes on my part to make our marriage work. All sacrifices, hardships, even heartaches will be worth it because it is the will of God that I am here in this marriage. I choose to obey God — to honor Him, to honor my husband, to honor our marriage. King is worth it. We are worth it. God is worth it.

All things between us are well at the moment, but nothing is perfect. Anything can happen in the future. Though there are situations, deal breakers in my book, that I have seen first hand among people I know and love, I cannot live my life in doubt and in dread. I choose to hope in God, to hope for the best in King. My hope is that King and I will remain in God, so that we can continue to be faithful to each other. My hope is that we remain vigilant in taking care of each other, in protecting each other and our marriage. My hope is that when we make mistakes, we will always choose to forgive each other and choose to continue to love each other as we do now. My hope is that he and I will constantly be on the same page about our family and our marriage as the seasons of our lives change — that we will both hold each other with such high regard, with such value, importance, and priority, and continually honor each other as husband and wife.

All the time, energy, effort, diligence, forgiveness, love and commitment I give today, despite conflicts and challenges, are worth it. Worth it now and worth it in the long run, because I believe in US. I believe that King and I are forever, and I believe that it is worth investing in forever.

My Singles Getaway 2013 Highlights

Victory Alabang had its 4th singles retreat out of Luzon (the 7th over all) last October 10 to 13. The first 2 retreats I was able to join, one as a single in 2003 and the other as an engaged single in 2004, were held within Luzon, in Tagaytay City. The 3rd was held in Quezon, also in Luzon, but I was married and pregnant in 2005.

The first 2 retreats outside of Luzon were held in Boracay in 2007 and 2009, the third in Bohol in 2011. Both islands/cities are located in the Visayas. This year, the retreat was held in Mindanao. It was a first for the retreat to be held so far from Manila, and it was a first to have it away from the ocean. We stayed in Forest Park in Dahilayan, Bukidnon.

I’m sharing my personal highlights of the retreat, including the events before and after, through some of my photos.

We had two travel buddies from church (Joyce and Gel) who made our trip all the more fun for us the parents and the girls! The 6 of us went to Cagayan de Oro 3 days before the singles getaway and went straight to Camiguin Island.

Highlight 1: Travel buddies! We had Gel and Joyce with us who made our trip all the more fun for us, the parents, and for our girls! The six of us went to Cagayan de Oro three days before the singles getaway and went straight to Camiguin Island.

It was a long land trip from Laguindingan airport to the pier, and a rough ferry ride from Balingoan port to Benoni port in Camiguin. We got to the island by night fall, but this is what we enjoyed the next morning. :)

It was a long land trip from Laguindingan airport to the pier, and a rough ferry ride from Balingoan port to Benoni port in Camiguin. We got to the island by night fall, but this is what we enjoyed the next morning. :)

Beautiful Camiguin :)

Highlight 2: Camiguin Island! View of Camiguin and possibly Mt Hibok-hibok (I could never tell which peak belonged to the famous volcano) from White Island. Camiguin is dear to our hearts because it is where King and I had our honeymoon, and it is where Danae had her first beach experience at 2 months old. :)

Beautiful blue water on White Island, a sandbar ten minutes away from Paras Beach Resort via small boat.

Highlight 3: Beautiful White Island! A sandbar ten minutes away from Paras Beach Resort via small boat, that never fails to take my breath away.

I would travel to beaches like this, no matter how tiring, just to see these precious smiles and listen to giggles and laughter from these two. :)

Highlight 4: Happy water babies! I would travel to beaches like this, no matter how tiring, just to see these precious smiles and listen to giggles and laughter from these two. :)

Highlight 3: Dahilayan, Bukidnon.

Highlight 5: Dahilayan, Bukidnon! We travelled back to Cagayan de Oro that day, stayed overnight, and proceeded up the mountain to Dahilayan. Beautiful!

We stayed in Forest Park, where the accommodations are great and the surroundings are beautiful.

We stayed in Forest Park, where the accommodations are great, the surroundings are beautiful, and the amenities (activities — the luge, the playground, tree top adventure, etc) are super fun. It was also right next to Dahilayan Adventure Park where the zip lines are.

Tall, lovely pine trees everywhere.

Tall, lovely pine trees everywhere. Nice, cool weather. No need for air-conditioning.

Highlight: Dexter! He took care of our needs in the resort, going the extra mile each day and having a consistent smile on his face. The food was yummy too.

Highlight 6: Dexter! He took care of our needs in the resort, going the extra mile each day and having a consistent smile on his face. The food was yummy too.

Some of the committee and the early comers :)

Highlight 7: Bonding! It was great spending time with these singles a day before the actual getaway.

Being with King is never a drag. :)

Fun!

On our "free day," a bunch of us went on the Luge. It wasn't my girls' first time, but they still enjoyed it. The fast and the furious in me did too. :)

On our “free day,” a bunch of us went on the Luge. It wasn’t my girls’ first time, but they still enjoyed it. The “fast and the furious” in me did too. :)
Photo credit: Ptr Chico or King

Bonding with my friends!

Bonding with my friends! With the Pena family and del Rosario family!
Photo credit: Noelle Lucero

Highlight 7: Our kids' bonding! Danae, Noelle and Julio really bonded over the 5 days they were together. They had no choice haha, but they had loads of fun together.

Highlight 8: Our kids bonding! Danae, Noelle and Julio (Ptr Chico and Maryanne’s youngest) really bonded over the 5 days they were together. They had no choice haha, but they had loads of fun together. :)

Highlight 9: My girls' firsts! This is Danae's first time to ride a carabao. :)

Highlight 9: My girls’ firsts! This is Danae’s first time to ride a carabao. :)

Danae's first time to ride solo on a horse!

Danae’s first time to ride solo on a horse!

Noelle's first time to ride solo on a horse too!

Noelle’s first time to ride solo on a horse too!

Noelle's first time to do the zipline EVER! This is a huge deal because she almost cried the previous day when she was about to do it with me. This time, for some reasons she agreed to ride with her "sister" Nina. She conquered her fear! We were so proud of and happy for her!

Noelle’s first time to do the zipline EVER! This is a huge deal because she almost cried the previous day when she was about to do it with me. This time, for some reason she agreed to ride with her “sister” Nina. She conquered her fear! We were so proud of and happy for her!

King and I talking about putting Phil 4:8 in our friendships :)

Highlight 10: The privilege! It’s a privilege for me to be teaching with my husband, a privilege for me to be working with Ptr Chico and Maryanne, a privilege for me to speak to the singles.
Photo credit: Ptr Chico Pena

Highlight 11: The singles! I met many new singles, bonded with some of them, and got amazed by all of them. I saw new friendships established. I saw people stepping out of their comfort zones. I saw humility. I saw camaraderie. I saw unity. I am so blessed to be even part of the ministry, and to be available for these men and women when they need me.  Photo credit: Ptr Chico Pena

Highlight 11: The singles! I met many new singles, bonded with some of them, and got amazed by all of them. I saw men and women who were eager to learn about God, about themselves, and about one another. I saw new friendships established. I saw people stepping out of their comfort zones. I saw humility. I saw camaraderie. I saw unity. I am so blessed to be even part of the ministry, and to be available for these men and women when they need me.
Photo credit: Ptr Chico Pena

Highlight 12: Fears conquered! Noelle was not the only one to conquer her fear of the zipline. Our very own Ptr Chico did too! Despite his apprehensions, he went for it anyway. We were all so proud of him!

Highlight 12: Fears conquered! Noelle was not the only one to conquer her fear of the zipline. Our very own Ptr Chico conquered his! Despite his apprehensions, and maybe partly because of our encouragement/bullying (haha), he went for it anyway. We were all so proud of him!

Highlight 13: Courage of a 7-yr-old! Danae was scared,  screaming from time to time, but she never gave up. She never said she wanted to stop. She finished the tree top adventure within a considerable amount of time, by herself. There were more than 20 stations. I was there taking pictures, videos and encouraging her. I am one proud mom. :)

Highlight 13: Courage of a 7-yr-old! Danae was scared, screaming from time to time, but she never gave up. She never said she wanted to stop. She finished the tree top adventure within a considerable amount of time, by herself. There were more than 20 stations. I was there taking pictures & videos, and encouraging her.

the height was considerable as well

The height and the uncertainty were considerable for a child. I am one proud mom. :)

Highlight 14: Family! A trip to Cagayan de Oro is never complete without visiting our family. Danae and Noelle got to spend quality time with their cousin Beanie. :)

Highlight 14: Family! A trip to Cagayan de Oro is never complete without visiting our family. Danae and Noelle got to spend quality time with their cousin Beanie. :)

Laugh-a-mondays – Dec 2, 2013

Some time last week, Noelle and I were talking about something I really can’t remember anymore (thanks epidural — excuses, excuses haha). She kept asking and I kept telling her, tomorrow.

Noelle: (being a smart aleck) Tomorrow?!? Tomorrow na lang?!

Me: Sige, no na lang. (Fine, no then.)

Noelle: (conceding) Sige mom, tomorrow na lang.

Haha. :)

 

Two weeks ago, we had a bridal shower for a friend of ours.

Noelle: Mom, what’s a shower? Are we going to watch tita KG take a bath?

Haha, eeew. :)

 

We stayed overnight at a hotel last week, but we went out for dinner with my cousin. The girls kept saying they missed the hotel. It was our first time there.

Noelle: (in the car) Are we going back to CRIS…… Are we going back to the hotel?

Me: What, Noelle? What’s the name of the hotel?

Noelle: CRISCON.

Haha, Crimson Hotel actually. :)

 

On the highway last week, they were fixing a section of the road. We felt and heard particles hitting the car.

Danae: What’s that???

Me: Asphalt.

Danae: What’s that?

Me: Asphalt.

Danae: What’s asphalt?

Me: (kinda too lazy to explain) Asphalt.

Danae: What’s asphalt?! A butt that’s a fault?

Hahaha. Of course I had to eventually explain. :)

 

 

Our 9th Wedding Anniversary 1

We celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary this month. King and I had a short date on the day of, while the girls were in their SPARKS class. We revisited Almon Marina, a restaurant where King laid his intentions for me, asking me if I would agree for us to get to know each other better. I thank God for preparing me the day before (yup, you read it right, hahaha — click here for the story), and for orchestrating it so cleverly — God really got me, that I just knew it was right to say yes.

A friend of ours asked me what it felt like to be married for 9 years. I just shrugged, laughed and said I didn’t know because we are so comfortable with each other. Then I said WE’RE COMFORTABLE BUT NOT COMPLACENT. I was surprised by my own words, that I even came up with that answer. But it is the truth.

I am so comfortable with King. We share everything, and I am never afraid to tell him or show him anything. I can be myself. I can always be truthful. I can trust him. He is the same with me. Maybe even too comfortable, haha.

AND YET, I am not complacent because as wonderful a man as he is, he is not immune to temptation. I am not complacent because I know I am not immune to temptation. We cannot be complacent because as happy as we are in our marriage, it is not perfect. We are both flawed, and we need to take extra care so that the TRUST between us is intact. We SELF-GOVERN, maintaining our boundaries with other people and respecting each other’s comfort level when relating to others. We look out for each other and pray for each other. We strive to be on the same page, especially on being parents, constantly realigning ourselves to the word of God and with our goals and desires. We go out on dates. We talk. We remain intimate with each other. We laugh. We play together. We work together. We give each other space. We encourage and support each other. We surprise each other. We go on vacations.  We appreciate one another and constantly express our love for each other in words and in deeds.  We do our best to honor each other, but when we don’t, we admit our mistakes and we forgive each other. We choose to REMAIN IN JESUS because all good fruit comes from Him. Without Him, we can do nothing.

We have been together for nine years, but we are not foolish to think it takes less work to keep our marriage strong and solid. We are growing more and more comfortable with each other, but we remain vigilant with this great gift God gave us to be stewards of. And by His grace, we will still be singing the same tune by our 50th (or 60th?) wedding anniversary. :)

 

and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:5-6

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:18-19

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Volunteering at Villamor Airbase – Haiyan Survivors

A group of Victory Alabang singles and I got together last week to respond to this ad to “adopt a day” in Villamor Airbase, and serve the Haiyan/Yolanda survivors who were coming to Manila. Honestly, when I posted it on our singles Facebook group, I didn’t know exactly what to do. I hadn’t figured it all out. I just wanted to gather people and be involved with helping the evacuees/survivors.

I am just grateful that the people who responded were the “right” people for the job. I believe they were looking for an opportunity to do more for our fellow countrymen. It was a long thread, but we were able to decide which day to go and choose who would be in charge of what. We decided to bring relief goods, packed meals, and to cook and serve hot noodle soup there for 200, at least 1 flight-full of people. We initially wanted to bring survivors home to their relatives in Manila, but we hesitated because we had transportation issues (i.e., number coding). I also, being a woman and not very good with directions, though willing, could not really commit to bringing them where they needed to go. I was concerned with my time because I would be leaving the girls at home — our helper would leave in the afternoon and King would be going on a debriefing in the evening due to his Tacloban trip. We decided that some of us would be food servers, food runners, marshals, and one would be a counsellor (he was the only one trained to do debriefing with traumatized victims), and immediately registered online.

I think we started talking online on Saturday, and had a meeting on Monday. Upon seeing all the goods we had asked from the church, which as mentioned in my previous blogs held relief operations when Haiyan/Yolanda hit, we realized that what we wanted to do was no easy task. Carrying one sack full of relief bags alone was already hard work, haha. We had around 30 sacks and 1 big box, plus boxes of noodles and bottled water! It was way more than what we thought we would be bringing. Loading, transporting, unloading quickly became an issue, especially since our target departure from my house was 6am on Wednesday because the shift we chose was 8am to 3pm. We were able to work it out though, thanks to our team, our guys in church, and a few friends. They were a huge help.

I love doing group “projects” especially when they’re for blessing people. I love the heart, the team work, the bonding. I enjoyed having some of our team at home on Tuesday night, doing prep work. I enjoyed seeing each one working towards the common goal of serving our country even in the small ways that we knew how. I loved getting to know them better, some of whom I have never talked to for more than five minutes. What an opportunity to make my small world bigger. Anyway, it was a big mess afterwards haha, but we had fun! The men had a good workout loading the sacks onto our rented jeepney. Most of us probably had at least 2 hours of sleep, except for one who came from work (imagine that?!), and after packing all our food, we left at 7am.

Tuesday night! Even Danae wanted to help. :)

Tuesday night! Even Danae wanted to help. :)

Two of our men, fixing our boxes of packed meals. This was after they loaded the sacks of goods onto the jeepney.

Two of our men, fixing our boxes of packed meals. This was after they loaded the sacks of goods onto the jeepney, Wednesday morning.

Our fully loaded jeepney! photo credit: Danae (she woke up early to help too.)

Our fully loaded jeepney! photo credit: Danae (she woke up early to help too.)

We were hurrying to get to Villamor Airbase by 730, but we couldn’t go too fast because our jeepney was fully loaded. We encountered all sorts of problems that day. From our jeep not being allowed to enter the airbase, to not being allowed to set up to cook food (though we did get confused, we cooperated and gave the “Ladies” our packed meals, noodles and water), to all our relief goods not being accepted anywhere in the airbase, to our jeep breaking down. Three of us spent a good chunk of our morning figuring things out, and I thank God for people like Maeriz and Ninoy who are always cool and calm, because when I was at my wit’s end, they pressed on. Ninoy, who was with the jeep and the goods outside the base, told me he didn’t know what to do anymore, but then minutes later texted me this:

“Kaya natin toh! Walang aayaw! (We can do this! Nobody give up!) There may be situations we cannot control, but let’s help hand in hand to *get it done! All for God’s glory!”

He made me smile. I was really encouraged. Maeriz was at that time trying to find someone who could help us carry and bring our goods from our broken down jeep to anywhere they would receive our goods, which she did! She was even willing, before that, to speak to the Colonel in charge of the whole relief operation herself! Thank God for the Pasay LGU who had a booth there, waiting for survivors to come so they could bring them to their area. Since there were none yet, they agreed to get our goods and bring them to Tent City, which served as temporary home for evacuees. It was inside the Villamor Airbase Elementary School. Our donations were in good hands, plus there was no hassle in giving all of it to them. They seemed to have greater need for them as well.

Transferring goods from our broken down jeep to Libreng Hatid-Pasay's vehicle. We were so grateful!

Transferring goods from our broken down jeep to Libreng Hatid-Pasay’s vehicle. We were so grateful! Ninoy, our jeepney driver Kuya Orly, and their driver Michael did the hard work.

Villamor Airbase Elementary School

Villamor Airbase Elementary School

Tent City. Temporary center for survivors who don't have relatives in Manila.

Tent City. Temporary center for survivors who don’t have relatives in Manila.

They were so grateful receiving all our goods. :)

They were so grateful receiving all our goods. The lady in pink is Michelle, the one who accommodated us at Villamor airbase and helped us get our goods to this place. :)

Upon returning to the airbase, we joined the others in the Grandstand. We were told that we should eat while there were no flights coming in yet. Apparently there was 1 C130 plane full of people that they were able to serve while we were out. The other C130 planes were empty, and were used for loading goods. There were booths in the parking lot that served hot meals for anyone, and I mean anyone, who was hungry. Oplan Hatid was there. There were ambulances that were ready. There was a tent for medical aid, and a tent for kids! And in the Grandstand, on the highest level, there were hair cutting and massage services available for I believe anyone who needed them (though of course the survivors are priority).

The only shot  I have of a C130, from outside the Grandstand. I was told not to take pictures once inside, though nobody told me not to bring my camera in (it was hanging on my neck the whole time). I complied out of respect for the survivors. Believe me, I so wanted to take pictures, haha. :)

The only shot I have of a C130, from outside the Grandstand. I was told not to take pictures of the air strip and especially of the survivors once inside, though nobody told me not to bring my camera in (it was hanging on my neck the whole time). I complied out of respect for the survivors. Believe me, I so wanted to take more pictures, haha. :)

The goods on the air strip, as background. Wanted to take more, but I felt I was already pushing it.

The goods on the air strip, as background. Wanted to take more, but I felt I was already pushing it.

most of the team inside the grandstand!

half of the team inside the grandstand!

food servers, food runners and marshals waiting for the next C130. :)

most of our team — food servers, food runners and marshals waiting for the next C130. :)

All those people, well maybe most, were there for one thing — to make sure that our brothers and sisters who suffered so much from Haiyan/Yolanda were served. It was so emotional when I saw the people coming out of the C130, right before our shift ended. There were kids. There were elderly people on wheel chairs. One soldier was running with a wheelchair to another elderly woman near the plane. There were people on gurneys, who went straight to the ambulances waiting behind the Grandstand. We, the volunteers, cheered for them as they came. Our food service head, Mark, who was so patient and consistently active, instructed us to do so.

I was not anymore able to serve food to them because the shift rotated (yes, there were more volunteers that came), but we were happy to see our packed food being served, and I was told, even to the American soldiers. A couple of our teammates said that they saw some survivors eat their food without waiting for the utensils. They just dug in. They were that hungry. We were holding back our tears.

I believe everything that is being done in Villamor Airbase is great. Yes, they definitely need a better system, but I believe that all the services that are made available for the survivors — a nice welcome, food, water, relief goods, counselling, medical aid, haircut, massage, entertainment for the kids, a ride — is much appreciated. It’s after all about them, not about our convenience or glory, or whatever other wrong reason we may have in helping out.

Our experience volunteering last Wednesday made a great impact on us. Our hearts are filled with compassion for our people. In fact, some, if not all of us want to go back and volunteer again. Our hearts are full, grateful to God for what we have, grateful for the opportunity and ability to actually help, grateful to see so many other people, Filipinos and foreigners, giving so much of themselves.

Haiyan/ Yolanda may have devastated our country, but it has not destroyed us as a people. The Lord is still good and He loves the Philippines. He will restore and heal us.

The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance. Psalm 33:12

Big thanks to our team — Ninoy, Maeriz, Emma, Jan, Dwight, Clark, Elaine, Grace, Honey, Reg, Blanche, Mikko, and Minda! Thank you for your contributions in kind, in funds, in planning, timewise and effortwise. What generous hearts you all have. Thanks to some of your victory group mates who also contributed monetarily, to help us do what we set out to do. God bless them! Thanks Rej for giving us a connection. He was a big help. Thanks Kuya Orly for your jeep, and your effort to help us. Thanks Eileen for rewarding us with your yummy lava cake a week later.

Big thanks to Briann and Kim for helping us load, transport, and unload many of our sacks last Monday. It was unplanned, but thank God you were there and generously offered help.

Big thanks to Chris and our EGSI guys in church Raul, Bernard, Oliver and others, and our driver Victor for helping us with the goods we wanted to bring to Villamor Airbase. You guys always go above and beyond your duty. God bless you all!

*update: Schedules of shifts have changed apparently, and as far as we know, walk-in registration (but very early) is better than online registration (and we think there is no more online registration). Don’t be surprised if sudden changes occur in their system. Just be prepared to help and serve the survivors. This might go on a few more weeks. I really don’t know who to contact anymore, but these Facebook pages might be able to answer your questions — Oplan Hatid and Oplan Salubong (children’s activity area). :)

Handsome!

A few weeks ago, King ran into an old acquaintance.

In the car….

King: He’s ______.

Me: Oh, the son of __________?

King: Yup. He’s married and has kids.

Me: What?! Really? He looks so young! (he looked preppy, like he was in high school or college)

Danae: And handsome!

Haha. Of course she noticed and wasn’t ashamed to say it.

 

Me: Yeah, he is.

Danae: Mom, maybe he uses DOVE. That’s why he looks so young.

Hahahaha. Okay. :)

I Am Torn

Honestly, I am torn. I have been frustrated with the slow deployment of necessary help for our countrymen that our government is supposed to provide. I know that there were huge amounts of relief goods sent to Tacloban and they were not getting to the Haiyan/Yolanda victims as quickly as everyone hoped. There was (not sure if there still is) a hold up somewhere. I understand that logistics is a nightmare. It is not that easy to get goods and people in, and to get victims out. The devastation is massive. Manpower is low. But friends from other nations have come, with their own aircrafts, equipment, and people. So I really could not understand what was taking so long. I hate that politics is the apparent reason for some of it! I all the more do not understand how they can refuse to help certain victims because of political affiliation. I do not understand how they can push their political agenda at the expense of so many lives. It’s infuriating.

On the other hand, I also wonder why other cities were able to evacuate their people, knowing that a super typhoon was coming, while Tacloban did not. I believe they prepared, but they probably underestimated the power of the typhoon. The local government did their part, but obviously it was not enough. The local government became the victims themselves. I am inclined to have more compassion for them, rather than frustration, because they have lost so many lives already. They can learn from this tragedy, but they don’t need to be blamed. They need to be helped.

I appreciate the honesty of news reports, but I didn’t appreciate the negative angle that it was coming from. At times, especially with initial reports, it felt like there was no hope. It was chaos, and there was no hope. I understand why people lauded the honesty, but I wondered why news crews focused only on a few cities in their reports. There were many others who needed the attention and aide. Because of the negativity, however, so much help came in internationally.

I understand why people are angry, why people criticize. I am sometimes one of them. I also understand why people stay quiet and choose to just appreciate what is already being done.

Like I said, I am torn and many times confused. And I could rant all I want, since I have the freedom to speak. But will it do any good? So many others have already written and expressed their distaste of what has happened or what is happening. Will my chiming in help others? And I really have no authority on the matter anyway. I cannot judge anything from where I am sitting, and I cannot judge anyone based only on what I see on TV or read on the net. If my intelligent ranting/writing could give facts, important and helpful information, I would do it. But since I am not an authority on disaster prevention, disaster management, or government policies and such, I should not. I will leave that to those who know better than me.

I will, however, continue to read, watch, and be informed. I will direct my efforts to sharing valuable information to people on how they can help. I choose to focus on actually HELPING. We can raise funds for the victims. We can give to efficient, reputable organizations. We can collect goods within our neighbourhood or community. There are so many relief operations that we can lend a few hours of our time to and shed a few drops of sweat for. Whether we have money to share or not, we can help with carrying, packing and distributing. We can also cook and give food to the evacuees in Villamor Airbase, or drive them to their families in Manila. Let’s be part of the solution! I don’t know how long this will go on, but enough talk. Let’s just do what we can. PRAY. DONATE. VOLUNTEER.

Register to be a volunteer in Villamor Airbase here.

Donate unlimited water to typhoon victims via Green Focus, Inc here.