MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

Lord, help us!

So many sad, scary, maddening, unbelievable things happening in the world lately. I just saw a video of what happened in Charlottesville and I am appalled. The hate. The anger. The mob. The exhilaration, the adrenalin of them coming together as a group. The unbelievably strong conviction they have that what they’re doing is right. The self-righteousness. The pride. Armed and ready to kill, yet according to one of them, they “showed incredible restraint.” Except for one who ran over some people with his car and killed one person, which they believe was a justifiable act. I just couldn’t believe it.

And here in my own country! The killing of a 17-year old boy. Does it matter if he was guilty of using and/or selling drugs? Innocent until proven guilty. And then when proven guilty, let the judge give him a sentence. He shouldn’t have been killed based on suspicion! He shouldn’t be killed even if found guilty! I know so many things are messed up in our justice system, corruption in the prison facilities and all. But I’d rather hope for restoration, reformation, rehabilitation, than believe that people are hopeless. Who are we to judge that they will never change? The Lord can change even the hardest of hearts. And this kid may have been innocent! Too many “Nanlaban” (resisted) stories in the news for me to think that it was not as witnesses said. Staged to look like a “justified killing.” It’s so scary to think that this could happen to any of us. I’ve watched enough (or too many) crime shows that depict real life to know that corrupt police officers can indeed plant evidence, twist facts, manipulate the system. Abusive of their power. Corrupted by greed. Empowered by their leader/s. Not all police, thank God, but some really are unworthy of trust.

And then about two weeks ago, my husband and I “survived” a shooting. We were two restaurants away from where the crime was committed. We did not see anything outside, but we heard gunshots, followed by screaming, then we saw people running inside and then towards us. At that time we had no clue what exactly was happening. But we immediately stood up and started moving. I grabbed my friend by the arm and pulled him. In my mind, I was panicking, wondering if it was a bomber or some guy going on a shooting spree, in which case I could get shot from behind. The danger was real. The fear was real. But I thank God for His grace and protection. First, my kids and my mom were not with me when I met with our friend. Second, King followed, so I felt safer that he was around. Third, King came 30 minutes before it happened (he came into the mall passing through the area of the crime scene). Fourth, I parked where I don’t normally park — on the other side. Fifth, we were able to walk away quickly, exit the building, and get home unharmed.

Call me sheltered, but this was the first time something like this happened so near me. I cannot believe that somebody was shot in quite literally our backyard! It was apparently a hit, an assassination. How easy it is for some people to take a life is beyond me. Some say justice was served because the man was a corrupt government official. I’m not so sure I agree that murder is justice. And I can’t believe that the perpetrators did it in such a public place! A wholesome, peaceful, public place! My kids, and many other kids, hang out by the fountain to play. Imagine the horror of parents who were actually there at that time. Traumatic and terrifying, I’m sure. I mean, it was traumatic for those who saw none of it, but were locked up inside a restaurant or caught in the stampede of people running out. My kids or any of us could have been caught in the crossfire, since reports said the guy’s bodyguards fired back. Too real. Too scary. Too crazy. Thank God no one else got killed, or was severely injured.

 

Lord, help us! We want to live in safety and in peace. We do not understand everything that is going on or why, but we trust in Your goodness and love for us. We hold on to your word that You go with us, that You will never leave us or forsake us. We trust that through trouble, we can draw strength from You, we can take refuge in You, and You will protect and save us. Help us do our part, not only in keeping our families safe, but by example, teaching our children to be God-fearing, law-abiding, Philippines-loving citizens. To be accepting and respectful of others, yet unafraid to use our influence to share the Gospel, to bring glory and honor to You. To fight, not with arms, but with our hands clasped and our knees bent. We declare You Lord of the Philippines, and we claim that blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Psalm 91

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

 

 

Discipleship, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Parenting

3 Life Lessons from Cars 3

Even though I was standing for probably half the movie, because of course, Gianna and her desire to move struck again, I liked Cars 3. It spoke to me.

1. “Truth is always quicker, kid.”

I completely agree. We get to the heart of the issue if we just tell the truth. No mincing of words, no beating around the bush, no sugar-coating or trying to cushion the blow. Always with love, but clear and straight to the point. It will lead to better understanding.

Also, the quicker we hear the truth, the quicker we accept the truth, the quicker we deal with the truth, the quicker we heal, make changes, and move forward. Lightning didn’t like hearing that he was old, but the sooner he accepted it, the better he was able to train for the race. Denial, because of pride, just delays the inevitable. It’s counterproductive. It does not solve the issue. It may even make things worse. We should seek the truth with humility. Be open to correction and advice.

2. “My last chance to give you your first chance.”

Lightning McQueen prepared the way, showed the way, and though that wasn’t his plan, he got out of the way. In his pursuit to become faster and better, he taught his trainor, Cruz, to race. And in his last chance to win and continue his career in racing, he gave her the opportunity to shine. Even if it meant she would outshine him. Her youth, her speed, and her passion were an advantage. He even continued to coach her during the race. This ought to be our attitude in discipleship and parenting, but deliberately and with a goal. We lead, we teach, we let them grow, we tap their potential, and we let them soar. We take a chance on them, support them, root for them, believe in them. We celebrate when the “rookies” (our children, both biological and spiritual), turn out ten times better than us. We continue to be there to guide and mentor.

And like Lightning, we don’t quit. We don’t quit life. We don’t quit church. We don’t stop discipling others when our mentees outgrow and outshine us. We don’t stop because we’re getting old. We keep running the race with them. We make disciples together. Better and stronger, together.

3. “You got into his head.” “You’re a racer. Use that.”

Storm was a fast racer, but he played dirty. He fought dirty. Not with how he raced, but with his words. He would act all supportive and pleasant, but he was really speaking death to Lightning, implying retirement, the end of his career, the decline of his talent or skill. He used the same tactic on Cruz, when she was catching up to him during the race. He told her the lie that she did not belong there, that she did not have it in her to be a racer, that she was just a trainer/motivator. All while smiling and appearing to encourage her. Cruz almost believed him. But Lightning told her that the only reason Storm was trying to get into her head was because she had already gotten into his. He was afraid she would beat him. Satan is exactly like that. He is the expert at planting seeds of doubt, fear, hopelessness in our hearts. He does that because he is afraid of us. He is afraid of our potential to ruin his plans. He is afraid of our calling, which is to advance God’s kingdom. He is afraid of our design, which is to bring glory to God.

If Satan fights with lies, we fight with the truth. We must always remember and be secure of who we are in Christ. The power of Satan lies on our belief in his lies. When we are armed with the truth of who our God is, of who we are and whose we are, we can overcome. Cruz overcame when she believed in who she was. She was a racer. No amount of lying or berating Storm did, changed that. She did not let him go on “winning.” She did not cower in defeat. She did not give in to discouragement. She fought back and came out victorious.

 

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Eph 4:15

And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:14-15

 

Marriage, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

Vow

 

Okay, so we Filipinos seem to have all been affected by the Jollibee valentine ads. I am talking particularly about “Vow.” It’s a brilliant ad, telling us that no matter what happens, Jollibee will always be there for us, to make us feel loved and happy each time we visit their stores. But really, were you affected by the video saying, “awwww Jollibee, thanks so much for the love and sacrifice…”? Haha. No, I think we were affected by the love story. As a friend of mine said, it’s La La Land all over again!

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image from cdn.ibtimes.ph
I tweeted the other day that I don’t believe in guy-girl best friends unless guy and girl are married, with the hashtags #jollibee #onealwayscrossestheline (which I’ve changed to #oneortheothermaycrosstheline) #wrongvow #usewisdom. I know, some agree and some do not. I don’t mean to step on anyone’s toes. I respect everyone’s opinions and life choices, whether I agree with them or not. But let me try to explain. My tweet was prompted by the ad, but I have been subscribing to this belief ever since I learned about boundaries and healthy, mature boy-girl relationships. Of course, this was already when I was an adult hehehe.

Anyway, that said, I believe there is a danger in a man and a woman, a boy and a girl becoming best of friends. There are so many stories of hearts being broken this way. There is always that very thin line that one could cross, maybe at different points of their relationship. One could be oblivious to it, the other could be deeply longing and believing for them to be together in the end. One could be over it, and the other starts developing feelings. Or both feel the same way but are too young (or whatever other reason) to do anything about it. Or both feel the same way, do something about it, and then end up ruining their friendship. The thought will almost always cross one or the other’s mind. Sorry, but not many women or men have the character and maturity to be able to keep that line clear and distinct. So why put yourself in that position? It’s not wise.

Case in point, the Jollibee ad, which is inspired by a true story. The guy invested so much of his time, energy, money and emotions on his best friend, only to lose her to another man. That would have been fine (maybe, minus the emotions) if they were truly, purely just friends, but the guy obviously had deep feelings for the girl. He was so heartbroken. So for me, that kind of investment should really be reserved for your spouse. That kind of best friendship, between husband and wife, is worth that kind of investment. Husband and wife mutually invest in each other and in their marriage.

To be honest, I didn’t expect the ad to have that twist. I’m one of those who wants the best friends in the story, to end up together. I enjoy those kinds of happy endings. Reality Bites and Some Kind of Wonderful come to mind. ❤ And don’t get me wrong. I believe that God is the best author of love stories and each story He writes is unique. He knows all, knows best. His will is good, pleasing and perfect. He can choose to write a love story between guy-girl best friends. Those stories are wonderful too. But sadly, or many times thankfully, not all guy-girl relationships are meant to turn out that way.

And then there’s that vow, those promises the guy made to the girl. Not to his bride, but to his best friend? What?! I mean, it was great for the drama and all, but who does that? (Well apparently one guy did). Be the replacement/the dummy when hubby is not available? Be the crying shoulder when she and hubby have a disagreement? I don’t think so. And when he marries, what then? A part of him will always be with his best friend. How can he cling to and be loyal to his own wife?

It’s cool to shift our loyalty from one fast food chain to another (I myself have no loyalty to any), but we can’t do that between our spouse and our best friend. A wife’s husband and guy best friend should be one and the same person. A husband’s wife and girl best friend should be one and the same person as well. It’s about unity of husband and wife. Being ONE. It’s difficult to achieve that if King had to compete with “my guy best friend” for my time, priorities, loyalty, affection. If I had “him” to run to and I’m sure at times compare King with, it would become easy for me to run away from issues instead of facing them and working on them with King. If I had “him” to give me my boosts, I might eventually learn to cling to him instead of to King. Let’s not fool ourselves in thinking that we are above such kind of behavior, or that our marriages are strong enough. Our own pride will set us up for a fall. We must never be complacent.

I don’t mean we can’t have close friends of the opposite sex when we’re married. Sure we can. That’s something we discuss and agree on with our spouse. Because they are our priority and they have our loyalty, we respect our spouse’s opinion. We respect their position on the matter, or on any matter. We get on the same page. Not always easy, but that’s part of being married. We continually discover and live out what it is to think outside of ourselves, to give of ourselves. To think not only of “me, my rights and what’s rightfully mine,” but to think of “us, what is best for our marriage, and what will honor God.” It will hurt at times because we are all wired to think about our needs and push our agenda first, but by the grace and love of God, we learn to be selfless. By the grace and love of God, we fulfill the vows that we said before God and men the day we got married. To quote the vows said as bride and groom exchange rings, “As you wear this ring, you acknowledge that you are no longer your own, but MINE.”

It’s easy to say “Marry your best friend.” True, that would be ideal. But like I said, it doesn’t always work out that way. I, for one, didn’t marry my best friend. King and I barely knew each other when we got engaged! But we were both sure that it was God’s will and His timing. 🙂 I didn’t have a guy best friend. King, being the popular guy that he is, had many close girl friends. But we chose to be each other’s best friend. We learned to set our priorities straight and to respect the boundaries we mutually (some spoken, some unspoken) set for ourselves. We learned to be deliberate in spending time and doing enjoyable things together. We learned to forgive each other and make the effort to be better. We learned to stand by each other. We learned to be each other’s home.  

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The true key to a happy, God-honoring marriage, however, is Jesus. Without Him, even the strongest friendship between a husband and wife can still be broken. Loving, giving, sharing, honoring, supporting, encouraging, waiting, understanding, forgiving, learning, healing is possible only through Jesus. None of us can do this successfully without Him.

applique-jesus-loves-you-conversation-heart-by-8clawsandapaw-elough-clipart

Happy Valentine’s Day! #valentineseveryday #loveeveryday May every reader know and experience the love of Jesus, and choose to never live without Him. 🙂

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33

 

MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

Hey, pretty girl!

Hey pretty girl,


Nice outfit, nice hair too.

Yeah, you!

You always look put together. 

From your eyebrow down to your shoe.

 

Hey pretty girl,

Stop fussing, you look great.

Look in and around you.

Your heart, your character…people hold more weight.


Hey pretty girl,

That’s enough. Don’t try so hard.

True beauty comes from within.

Hair and makeup can’t hide it. 

Toner or wash can’t erase it.


Hey pretty girl, 

I know how you look is important.

It makes you feel secure.

It makes you feel confident.


Hey pretty girl,

Your looks will one day fade.

No reason your security should fade with it.

No reason your confidence should wane.

 

Hey pretty girl,

You’re not just pretty.

You are beautiful.

Did you know?

But not beautiful as the world perceives or dictates.

Not beautiful that is all for show.


Beautiful girl, 

You’re beautiful because you were made with such a grand love.

You’re beautiful because you are patterned after your Maker.

You’re beautiful because you are made for a purpose.

You’re beautiful because you are loved and cared for by your Father.

 

Hey beautiful girl,

Take care of your heart.

Don’t let the world lie to you and destroy you.

Instead, let the Word grow and transform you.


Hey beautiful girl,

You are whole, you’re complete.

Jesus died to save you and give you a full life.

Though you are imperfect, He says you are worth it.


Hey beautiful girl,

Don’t be afraid. Take your true identity. 

Be you. Be true beauty. Be who God designed you to be.

Live fathered. Live forgiven. Live loved.

Live favored. Live grateful. Live free. 

 

*written sometime August, but finished today 🙂

Motherhood, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

Happy birthday Gianna (and me too?)

Facebook reminded me this week of something I said two years ago.

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Actually, King was the first one to remind me. He wished me a happy birthday on Gianna’s birthday, and said he remembers everything. I just smiled. I honestly did not think of it. But as I was watching a show the other day, I suddenly cried seeing the daughter hug her mom so tightly, thankful that her mom is alive. You see, not to sound overdramatic, well okay maybe a little, I almost died.

FEAR OF PAIN

I was scheduled for a c-section on August 12th, so I had to be admitted the day before. I don’t know why, but through the difficult pregnancy, I had so much fear. I feared pain. I don’t know if God was already warning me about things to come, but I struggled with it. I would cry because I was afraid of the pain I MIGHT experience. I’d given birth to Danae normally — that was painful even with epidural. I’d given birth to Noelle via emergency c-section — also had epidural and recovery was painful. You would think after two births, I’d be more confident. But no, I was seriously afraid.

August 11th, my spirits were high. King, the kids, and I were excited to be at the hospital. I wanted the girls to be with us overnight so they could meet Gianna right after she came out. To keep with tradition since Danae was also there in the hospital when Noelle was born. 🙂  I tested positive for GBS (Group B Strep) and so I needed to be given antibiotics intravenously 24hrs before my c-section. I was told to shower with an antiseptic and wear the hospital gown, so they could test my skin for a reaction (or non) to the antibiotic and also insert the IV. I was ready. Bracing myself, but ready. The nurse inserted the needle….

and I WAILED IN PAIN. I cried so loudly that my girls cried with me. I had never experienced that before in my 3 previous hospitalizations. That was just the beginning. To make the story shorter, almost everything I went through was painful. Plus I guess I was super emotional. King was not allowed to stay with me in the labor room and I had no phone, so through my tears I occupied myself with singing my first favorite worship song, Great is the Lord and Most Worthy of Praise.

I sang it even while they were getting Gianna out, and King was by my head. There was no pain at that point but I had difficulty breathing. That was normal, I was told, because of the spinal anaesthesia they gave me. It was quite different from the epidural I’ve had in the past. I kept thinking, I wanna hear the baby. I’ll be okay when I hear and see her. When she was out — her skin so fair like Noelle, chubby and chinky like Noelle, and she cried softly (like neither sister hahaha) — I was relieved and happy. I even made sure my doctor fixed my fallopian tubes. She assured me that she was ligating me, haha. They put Gianna on me so she could latch, and we could have some skin-to-skin contact. ❤

AFTER CHILD BIRTH

They brought me to the recovery room, and they would not bring me and Gianna to my room because my blood pressure was high. I kept looking at the monitor and I would see it at 160 over something. I thought that was odd because with my first two, my blood pressure normalized as soon as I gave birth. I was in there by 2:30. When Gianna cried, we would try to breastfeed. I tried to sleep and relax. By 8 or 9pm, I asked the nurse if she could bring Gianna out to meet her sisters. She obliged and I thank God that happened because the girls did not see her again till she got out of the NICU. More on her birth here.

I was brought to my room around 11pm. They gave me meds for my BP and monitored my urine for 24 hrs. When they removed the catheter, I was able to stand up and move. I would get dizzy and have a hard time breathing, but surprisingly my wound and stomach muscles did not hurt much. On the 15th, I was given the go to be discharged. My heplock was removed. I had no dextrose anymore by the 14th actually, but the thing was still in my vein till they removed it the next day. So you know, I thought I was fine and healthy. I did keep asking about my swollen ankles and legs. My edema would usually disappear as soon as the baby came out. I thought something was not right, but they kept telling me it was normal. We opted to keep the room and wait till Gianna was finished with her antibiotics in the NICU.

Not long after that, a doctor came into my room and told me that I had pre-eclampsia. I was so annoyed that I asked her why she’s saying pre-eclampsia when I’ve already given birth. Isn’t it supposed to be post eclampsia? Haha. It’s called pre-eclampsia because it is a condition before eclampsia. Eclampsia is high blood pressure and seizures in pregnant women. The usual cure for that is to give birth. Mine was post partum pre-eclampsia, meaning after I’ve given birth. She told me I would need magnesium sulfate for 24 hours, I got more upset. I told the attending doctor that I did not want to be IVed again. I said I was done. In my head, I was thinking that they were mistaken. Not after Gianna, needing to be in the NICU. No way. It was just too much. They said they would just relay it to my OB-GYN.

My lovely doctor, Dra Guinto, came into my room early that evening, and pleaded with me, not just as my doctor but as my friend (her words), to get the treatment. I actually had pre-eclampsia severe — severe because I had more than 3 symptoms of pre-eclampsia. It was good that we found out while I was still in hospital, because it would have been more dangerous undetected at home. There are too many complications if we don’t treat it — seizures and nerve damage. I cried because I did not want to do it. I did not want another IV insertion. I did not want additional pain — I was told it was going to feel hot in my body. I did not want a catheter. Hearing it straight from my doctor (and because she allowed me to not wear a catheter) and with King encouraging me to just obey, I eventually agreed. Thank God my children weren’t there. They were still with my in-laws.

My God takes the broken and makes it whole again. My God takes the broken and makes me whole again. ‪#‎thankYouLord‬ — this was my post from a song I heard that day, Aug 15, 2014. (I wasn’t able to capture the memory, sorry.)

NOT AGAIN 

That night, they brought me to the High Risk Pregnancy Unit. I was already in the groove of going down to the NICU to feed Gianna each time she needed feeding, but I couldn’t go to her again for 24 hours. I was emotional, eyes swollen from all the crying. Praise God the IV didn’t hurt and I did not feel the heat in my body. But in my heart, I kept asking the Lord to keep me alive. I did not want to let my girls feel abandoned. I did not want them to be at a loss, devastated by news of me dead. We had not seen each other at that point for 4 days. Imagine thinking everything’s fine and then your mom is suddenly gone. I did not want them to have to go through that. I was afraid that they’d get angry with God. I did not want Gianna to grow up without a mom. She’s too little. Writing about it still gets me emotional. Kawawa naman ang mga anak ko, I told God. I did not want to die yet. King did not show me, but he was also concerned. I guess he prayed like he never prayed before.

I was at the same time, concerned for Gianna because she was in the NICU. I kept hearing in my head, or was it in a song or I saw it in one of the movies, “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” I told God that I don’t think I was ready to say that if He took Gianna away. Oh the tears!

After 24 hours, even my doctor was stumped. My blood pressure was still high. I asked her what might happen and she said my heart could fail from all the pumping it’s doing. I think that’s when she talked to King outside and they both decided to get me out of that unit. The place was causing me stress. I could not wait to get out and hold Gianna. We moved to a small room and by the grace of God, they released Gianna around the same time too. I got to see her and be with her again. My blood pressure went down, though still elevated. And by next morning, I was deemed healthy enough to be discharged — for real. Whew!

STILL ALIVE!

Later that month, I realized how much worse it could have all turned out. I was still having high blood pressure, dizzy spells, and an overall sick feeling. My friend whose son was in the NICU for 2 months, told me about a baby also in the NICU whose mom was in a coma. When I asked why, I learned that she was in A COMA BECAUSE OF PRE-ECLAMPSIA. Days or maybe weeks later, she was gone. It just became so real. My fears were not baseless at all! I cried then, feeling bad for that baby and her dad and THANKING GOD THAT I WAS ALIVE. I seriously could have died too soon. Thank God my doctor insisted on treatment and King urged me to do it. Otherwise, I would be in heaven and that would be great for me, but not so great for my family.

I thank God for my life! Despite that health scare and though I am still taking medication for high blood pressure, I am still here. God chose to not leave my children motherless. He chose to give King and I, the girls and I, our whole family more years together.

Exactly two years ago, we brought Gianna home from the hospital.

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Now she’s 2, and we are both alive and well. God is sovereign and God is good. And King is right. It is also my birthday. We are deeply grateful. ❤ 

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Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1 

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ Isaiah 46:10

The Lord does whatever pleases him
    throughout all heaven and earth,
    and on the seas and in their depths. Psalm 135:6

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

 

 

 

Just My Thoughts, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

My Thoughts on the Elections

Do not become the very person you despise. I was writing a Facebook status but realized that my thoughts couldn’t be contained in one line. But don’t worry, this won’t be very long either.

The 2016 elections have certainly brought out our values and our character as individuals. I appreciate our freedom to speak, share our opinion, express ourselves. What I do not appreciate is how careless some people have been in how they’ve used that freedom.

Don’t get me wrong. I am grateful for the passion displayed by many Filipinos in the past months. I am grateful for the education. I have quietly read articles that have been shared by friends who are passionate about the elections. I have quietly read comments and discussions. I even liked some posts when I felt like I could relate to what they were trying to say. I love my country and I have been conflicted about who to vote for for the past few months as well. I read, I watch, I pray, I talk to people and seek their opinions, I listen, I learn, and I am forming my own opinion.

I understand that many are angry and are discontent with our current government. I understand that many are appalled by certain presidentiables. I also understand that people will believe what they want to believe, and those strong in their beliefs want to convince others that their beliefs are right. But do we really need to be rude? Do we really need to insult or look down on other people because they think differently from us?

I don’t know about you, but my ears tend to ring and my mind tends to close when I feel judged or am called names. Maybe other people engage and try to defend themselves, but I usually get annoyed and then check out. Either way, if we want people to listen and see our point of view, being aggressive may not be the way. It may catch a person’s attention, but to what, really? That our candidate is better? Or that we’re acting like jerks? That we’re encouraging people to think? Or that we’re being arrogant and feeling superior? Don’t get me started on the words I’ve seen used and the attitudes displayed in the comments section. They seriously shock me.

Like I said, I appreciate most posts because they educate me. They make me think. They give me perspective. I myself do not feel offended because I do not believe I am one of those some die-hard supporters of a couple of presidentiables are targeting, but others will feel offended. By all means, share your opinions and beliefs, but could we please keep the peace and respect one another? Could we care about people and our relationships more than pushing our opinion? Could we bring back the H in IMHO?

Let’s agree to disagree. We may not all have the same presidential bets, but I believe most of us love the Philippines and want what’s best for our people. Not one of us knows that for sure anyway. Let’s put our trust in the One who does know. Let’s cast our cares on Him. I know it doesn’t help with making the decision of who to vote for, but for those who believe in God’s sovereignty, power and goodness, it’s a good reminder to stay calm and just continue to pray for our country.

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picture grabbed from a friend’s social media post. I do not own the picture, nor do I know who the original owner is. But I agree with its message.

Use your right to vote. Make sure you are at peace with your choice. God bless you. God bless the Philippines. 🙂

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, Philippians 2:3

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

Just My Thoughts, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Parenting

#proudmorena

So I saw some posts on Facebook about this girl who disrespected celebrity mom Bianca Gonzales on social media, by insulting her baby. I didn’t get to read the comment, but the article said that her baby was called negra (dark-skinned) and ugly.

I cannot believe that someone, a woman at that, could say mean things about a baby…A BABY! And I cannot believe that a Filipina would insult another Filipina, A BABY Filipina(!), about her skin color.

Bianca responded graciously in my opinion, and I agree with her. Morena is beautiful! It’s 2016 and it’s high time we own and be proud of our natural Filipina skin tone. We should teach our kids to be comfortable in their own skin by loving them, accepting them, and verbally appreciating their beauty, no matter the color of their skin. I am annoyed by these commercials of whitening this, whitening that. Why do Filipinos want to be white anyway? Or why do beauty lines here in the Philippines keep promoting these products as if to say only being fair-skinned is beautiful?

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I grew up loving swimming and going to the beach. I never cared about getting dark because my cool parents never made it an issue. My mom always told me that caucasians love getting a tan — something I naturally had. When I got a bit older, I did care about how my tan looked. I didn’t like swimming in the pool because the chlorine made my skin look grayish, while the beach gave me a nice brown. I eventually learned to apply beer on my skin so that I would get that beautiful glowing tan afterwards. It stank, but the results were always awesome. I don’t do it anymore because I don’t want my kids to smell and taste the beer, plus I don’t really have time to sunbathe these days haha.

Being a proud morena myself, no way am I going to let my 2 morena daughters (out of 3) buy into the “lighter is more beautiful” nonsense. They tan pretty quickly the way I used to, even with sunblock, and we have never told them to stop swimming or to get out from under the sun because they were getting dark. To rest and not suffer from heat stroke, yes. But never because they were getting “too dark.” Before summer vacation officially started this year, Danae commented that she didn’t want to get dark, but was quick to take it back when I offered her the alternative, which was little or no swimming. Thankfully, she cares more about having fun with her friends than about what her skin looks like haha. About the same time, she told me that she knows somebody who would comment (though I’m sure not insultingly) about her deep tan. I told her to tell the person that she is making good use of the sun and is enjoying summer. She laughed and agreed.

I believe it starts in the home. Our daughters learn their identity from what we their parents teach them. We always remind them that God made them beautiful — all of His creations are beautiful. When they are focused on their looks, we remind them that man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. We remind them that inner beauty is more important. We remind them that what God thinks is more important than what people think. We tell them that they are princesses, not because they have a tiara on their head or because they have riches or beauty, but, besides being daughters of their daddy King, they are daughters of the King of Kings. They are loved, valued, accepted, and blood-bought!

We pray that our children will not look to the world for their identity, but find it in Jesus Christ. That way, no matter which way the world swings, our kids will remain steadfast and secure, knowing who they are and knowing their God-given calling. No matter what the world thinks or says about them — negra, ugly, stupid, worthless, OR radiant, gorgeous, intelligent, admirable — they will be secure of and be humbled by God’s love for them and they will remain steadfast in their faith.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:26-27

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God John 1:12 ESV

Family, Just My Thoughts, My Kids, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Parenting

Music and Our Kids

My girls like music. They like singing and dancing. Of course they hear different songs everywhere and of course they tend to like the catchy but not-so-wholesome songs these days. One time, Danae saw a choir competition on tv, and of all the songs she could have recalled, “spaghetti pababa” was the one that stuck! They catch some of the lyrics right away without thinking about what they’re actually singing. Danae also knows the “clean” versions of some songs, which means she is aware of the dirty ones. King and I don’t approve, but as much as we would want to control what they listen to, obviously we can’t.

Case in point, last week. We were all in the car, driving out of Festival mall. The radio was on. King quickly changed the station to one we thought was the “safest,” where they play cool, smooth, wholesome music. Just as he said the words “this is the safest,” the lyrics “I want sexual healing” softly and smoothly came out of the speakers. Hahaha. Thank God it wasn’t catchy enough that the girls missed it. I for one am not yet prepared to explain what sexual healing means.

It just proves that there is no such thing as safe. We can sometimes request the music to be changed (I’ve done that at a resort before — music had very foul language), but we can’t always protect our children from bad influences – yes, songs are not just songs; they can alter our mood, influence the way we feel, our values, the language we use, and how we act. We can only teach our children to be wise about choosing what songs to listen to.

What we try to do is check the lyrics with them and explain what they mean as much as we can. We always remind them that though the beat is nice, some songs do not teach them good things, and many of them do not teach girls to respect themselves. We tell them that these artists are definitely talented, but we don’t agree with some of their life choices and with the messages they share in their music. We teach our children to think first before adopting a certain artist’s views or a certain song’s message. King and I are never shy to tell them when there is a song we don’t approve of. Our girls usually listen, especially when they themselves realize what the song is teaching them. Otherwise, they tell us that they only like and sing certain parts of the song, and we somehow find middle ground.

It’s tricky because we don’t want to be legalistic and restrict them from listening to music, but we can’t also just let them listen to whatever they want. Tricky because it’s hard to separate the music from the words, the artist from the message. Tricky because there are some topics that they will not and should not understand yet. Tricky because we can’t brainwash them to only like classical or Christian music. I myself enjoy grunge, alternative music and I just love Pearl Jam. Well maybe they won’t have much (or any — here’s hoping!) angst to be attracted to it, but I guess it’s fine if they learn to like it too. I certainly prefer it over cheesy, shallow, boy bandy songs which my girls gravitate to. But then again, I’m 37 and they’re 9 and 6. Their preferences will change and their taste in music will perhaps mature. They will grow and gain the wisdom they need to choose what and who they will allow themselves to be influenced by.

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. 1 Corinthians 10:23 NLT

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

What do you do with music and your kids? I’d love to gain perspective from other parents regarding this matter. Looking forward to reading your replies. 🙂

 

Family, Just My Thoughts, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

Grateful for 2014: My Mom is Alive

It was December 5. The two older girls were in their MAPEH class. King, Gianna and I were just beginning our lunch at a Christmas party in Alabang.

THE CALL

Apparently my mom, who lived on her own in Makati some days of the week, had contacted my brother because she was not feeling well. When my brother arrived without a key, my mom could barely get up, walk, and open the door for him. She was very dizzy, and according to my brother who told me later on, she looked terrible, like a corpse almost. My brother called King and asked him to get to Makati right away to help him.

King did not even think twice. He didn’t finish his lunch. He immediately figured out a way to get to Makati since our car was prohibited that day due to number coding. I was the one who had a lot of questions because I had the baby with me, and my friend Bianca was set to give the older girls a ride to where we were after MAPEH. I needed to know how we were going to get home. Big thanks to Edrei and Thine for switching cars with King, and then giving us a ride home.

IN HOSPITAL

Ambulance, ER, ICU, regular room. It was my brother and King who took turns staying with my mom, as I could not because where I go, Gianna goes. It was too risky for the baby. The girls and I were not able to even just visit her.

Her sugar levels were high and she was given insulin. Her blood pressure was also very high. Her brain was swelling, hence the need for her to be in ICU. According to King, he could talk to my mom, but she would doze off pretty quickly. She was always sleepy, and her speech would slur every now and then. She could move her entire body while in bed, but was unable to stand or walk.

My mom suffered a stroke, and what was affected was her cerebellum, which is responsible for balance.

GRATEFUL

I learned later on that she was a candidate for brain surgery, but thank God her doctor said that she would only need physical therapy to learn to stand and walk again without falling. She was discharged from the hospital after 9 days.

I thought she would have a hard time doing regular things, but though she needed some help, she quickly adjusted and took care of herself in the bathroom. She uses a wheel chair and a quad cane to help her move about, and she can’t drive anymore or live alone anymore, but she is doing great! We have even gone around the mall during the holidays!

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She moves so much faster than she used to when she first got out of hospital. Her therapist, who comes to the house 3 times a week, says she is doing better and getting stronger. My mom says she still gets dizzy at times, but she can also feel her improvement. And also a big plus is, NO MORE SMOKING! She has not smoked (I destroyed her stash) since the day she was brought to the hospital.

We thank the Lord that my mom is alive and well! I told her the other day that after three strokes (yes she has survived two before this one), she is a walking miracle. SHE IS A WALKING MIRACLE. Amazing that her previous strokes never left any evidence on her body and mind. And I know that it won’t be long before there wouldn’t be much evidence of this stroke either. God is good.

Our eldest daughter lost her Wowo too soon, and our two younger daughters lost the opportunity to be loved by him. And so we are very grateful that our tres marias have many years more to enjoy their Wowa. 🙂

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Family, Motherhood, My Kids, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Parenting

Grateful for 2014: Gianna

It’s 2015! And before I can think about what I’m looking forward to this year, I need to share what I am grateful for the past year. God, family, friends, church, ministry are constants, but there are 3 specific things that stand out about my 2014. I want to begin with the obvious – Gianna.

Oh, my Kaitlin Gianna. God has blessed me with such a beautiful baby girl! She was born on August 12, via c-section, and right away we noticed that she didn’t cry continuously. Danae and Noelle were both big cryers, but Gianna had a gentle cry and was just quiet some of the time. She was fair and chubby at 3.1kilograms. It was the first time I experienced “skin to skin” and immediate latching with my baby almost as soon as she came out of my womb (they cleaned her a bit first). They didn’t do that with my first two, maybe because it was in a different hospital.

Another great thing about St. Luke’s is they consider the mom and the baby as one unit. Where mommy goes, baby goes too. At first I wasn’t too happy about it because I’ve experienced rooming in and not rooming in the baby, and rooming in exhausted me. But then I figured it wouldn’t be so bad. It was best for baby.

Gianna was with me in the recovery room, where I stayed a few hours because my blood pressure was not yet stable. I was there so long that I thought to ask the nurse if she could bring Gianna out to meet her sisters. She accommodated me, even though she couldn’t contact King right away. The sisters met for the first time that night, before the two big sisters went off to stay with my in-laws.

first picture of the tres marias :)
first picture of the tres marias 🙂 Gianna was around 8 hours old 🙂

I didn’t get to see my older girls that night anymore because we were moved into my room really late. Our first night with Gianna was good. She cried, but she would latch onto my breast fairly easily, and then she would fall asleep. The nurses were helpful in changing her nappy. By morning, however, a doctor came in to tell us some news.

BAD NEWS

The doctors extracted blood from Gianna while I was in recovery to run some tests. I can’t remember if it was protocol or a precaution or both, but I never expected the results we got. Gianna’s white blood cell count was markedly high, about 25,000 more than normal. They said clinically, she was alright, but her white blood cell count could not be ignored. She had to be given AT LEAST one week’s worth of antibiotics intravenously, and the hospital policy was for her to be monitored in the NICU. They took her away that morning.

All day I could not go down to breastfeed her because the catheter was still in me. Good thing they sell pasteurized breast milk in the hospital so they could feed Gianna. They are very strict about giving babies breast milk –- no formula and no sugar water. As soon as they removed the catheter late that night, I went to see my little love. It felt good to hold her again, but it hurt to see her on IV. On her third day in the NICU, I saw that she had nothing connected to her, and the nurse said they were going to reinsert AND draw blood. I couldn’t help but cry for her at that point. It was my first time to have a child stay in the NICU.

It was also sad that the two other girls could not visit their sister in the NICU. Children not allowed.

In the NICU :(
In the NICU 😦 2 days old
I didn't stay for the re-insertion and blood extraction. I was already crying just knowing about it.  I would not have been able to bear seeing it. I'm thankful for the kind, loving nurses there, who took good care of Gianna.
4 days old. I didn’t stay for the re-insertion and blood extraction. I was already crying just learning about it.
I would not have been able to bear seeing it. I’m thankful for the kind, loving nurses there, who took good care of Gianna.

GOOD NEWS

In the NICU, the pedia extracted Gianna’s blood so they could do a blood culture. After the first day upto the last (I forget how many days were necessary), no growth had formed in the blood culture. Her bilirubin levels (jaundice) were also high but not high enough to require phototherapy. They also extracted blood to check her white blood cell count again after so and so days. What was supposed to be 7 days of antibiotics became only 5 days! It was not any particular infection, but we were just grateful that nothing worse came up. She entered the NICU on a Wednesday and was discharged on a Sunday. We were able to go home the next day!

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6 days old. The girls only got to see their baby sister again that Sunday, and thanks to our friend Varsha, we got our very first family picture with Gianna. 🙂

SOME ISSUES

We had some issues during the first two months. Gianna lost weight on her first two weeks of life. We got concerned because although it is normal for an infant to lose a little weight after being born, Gianna still did not gain weight after two weeks. I was still emotional and all, and it made me sad to even consider giving her formula at such a young age. I was determined, however, to help increase my milk supply by eating more malunggay and being faithful in taking my malunggay supplements. By our next appointment, she had already gained weight!

I was so happy to hear about the weight gain, but then at 5 or 6 weeks, her jaundice had not disappeared. Daily morning sunning for about two weeks should have done the trick, but it didn’t. The pedia required a blood extraction to check her bilirubin levels again. The result was extremely high. If I remember correctly, the normal range is .2 to 1 (I don’t know the unit of measurement, sorry). Gianna’s was in the mid twenties! I was ordered to stop breastfeeding for a while.

It was inconvenient, because I had to pump my milk to keep the supply going (I would much rather feed directly) and wash bottles and all that, but I obeyed. I was concerned that Gianna wouldn’t take to the bottle and the formula, but to my surprise, we had no problems. It was a first for me to give my baby formula so early and she was/is the first among the three girls to be okay with drinking from a bottle.

My poor baby girl had to go through more blood extractions that week. King was the brave one who held her through it. My heart could not take the sight of her getting hurt. I just comforted her afterwards. Thank God her bilirubin levels went down enough that we did not need to confine her for phototherapy, and it was a confirmation that her jaundice was caused by breast milk and not problems in her liver. I also finally got the go signal to go back to full breastfeeding!

waiting for blood extraction.
in hospital, waiting for blood extraction. brave 1 month old baby. brave  daddy.

SUCH A HAPPY BABY

Gianna is now nearly 5 months old. She is healthy and strong, and she is such a happy baby. We immediately noticed her smiling while she was asleep as a newborn, and when she was about a month old, she smiled in response to our voices and faces. I was even honestly concerned about her eyesight because she wouldn’t focus on my eyes. I remember the two older girls looking at me while breastfeeding, and Gianna did not seem to be doing that. What a joy it was to finally lock eyes with her when she was more than a month old! And now the looks that she gives me – oh so heart melting. She looks, sometimes stares at me, and then when I acknowledge her, she gives me the sweetest smile. And she ALWAYS does this, even when I’m across the table from her. Sometimes she stops from feeding to give me a smile haha. That always makes me giggle in glee.

August 12 Kaitlin Gianna - 265
2 weeks old, smiling as she slept while sunning
August 12 Kaitlin Gianna - 570
nearly a month old, smiling as she slept
almost 5 months old :)
almost 5 months old, smiling at daddy 🙂

The way she responds to King and her sisters is just priceless too. She likes to “talk” to and “sing” with King. I guess she knows how loved she is. Her sisters can’t get enough of her, and she most of the time doesn’t mind being “man-handled” haha. She reaches for and touches our faces now when we are near her. She just really makes our hearts smile.

about 6 weeks old. i put tape so her ear would properly fold. worked like magic!
about 6 weeks old. i put tape so her ear would properly fold. worked like magic! thanks to our pedia for the encouragement to “fix” it.
4 and a half months old :)
4 and a half months old. first Christmas. 🙂
talking to daddy and touching his face :)
talking to daddy and touching his face 🙂

Her cries are louder now, but she’s still a very good baby. She enjoys her mini baths, although she didn’t at first haha. I’m excited to get her a bathtub and see her enjoy being IN the water. Sometimes she’s just quiet in bed or her carrier, checking out her surroundings, and so I get to eat and not get frazzled when we’re out (well most of the time, haha). She’s usually calm when I change her diapers too. I literally thank her for being such a good baby.

When she wakes from sleep, as long as she has had enough sleep, she doesn’t cry. I catch her awake, entertaining herself with either looking at the light, checking out her hands, or “talking” and kicking her legs. And then that smile…..sigh. She has started laughing too, but we find that a tad difficult to elicit haha. It’s such a joy to wake up seeing this pretty baby beside me every morning. Weird, but I really feel so loved when I see her.

Kaitlin Gianna :)
Kaitlin Gianna 🙂

Just like her sisters’ first names, her first name Katilin means pure. Gianna means God is gracious. And God has certainly been gracious to us, blessing us with such a beautiful princess. I am just so grateful for her. I can’t wait to witness God display His grace in and through Gianna’s life. 🙂