Family, Just My Thoughts

(not so) Happy Easter

Thirteen years ago. April 8. Easter Sunday. But instead of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, we were mourning the death of my dad. He passed away on Easter Sunday of the year 2007. His death surprised us. His death saddened us. His death hurt us. But there was grace and there was hope. And it is exactly the resurrection of Jesus that gave me that hope.

The hope that my dads death is not the end. The hope of my dad enjoying eternal life with Jesus in heaven. The hope of reuniting with him when it is our time to go.

I am assured of this because he grew up with parents who loved Jesus and prayed for their children (and grandchildren — I believe I am a fruit of their prayers). They were faithful and active church-goers. And big Bible readers. My lola would make it a point to grab one of her apos to share bible verses with us while she sat in her rocking chair. I honestly disliked the interruption to our playtime. I dreaded being chosen haha. I believe she was the one who taught us and got us to memorize Psalm 23. So if she sowed prayers for me and seeds of faith in me, that are, by the grace of God, bearing fruit to this day, she definitely sowed the same seeds in my dad. I know this too because some time between his passing and Giannas birth, I found a certificate saying he led the youth of Church of the Risen Lord for a year or two. Faith in action right there.

I am also assured because though my dad seemed to have lost his way, he told me during one of what would have been our last visits in the hospital, that he needed to keep his faith up. I don’t remember praying with him, but I know King and some of our friends did, and I made sure to let him know that we, including his one and only favorite grandchild at that time, Danae, were constantly praying for him. I know he was seeking, praying, and going back to God at that time. And I believe the Lord showed up and led him back. He and my mom experienced the love of Jesus through family who donated their platelets, but also through the church — people they did not know personally and who did not know them personally, but gave of themselves to help my dad. They knew as well that so many were praying for his healing.

My dad is gone. That Easter Sunday was not such a happy one. But that does not at all diminish the true meaning and significance of Easter or my gratitude for it. Thank you Jesus for taking our place on the cross and, being the only One qualified, dying to pay for all our sins once and for all…to redeem us, so we can have a way back to the Father. Thank you Jesus for conquering death, and rising again on the third day. Because of your resurrection, we too can enjoy life after death, with You in heaven. Thank You for giving that gift to my dad. Thank You for offering that gift to each one of us as well.

I pray that whoever reads this, receives this gift of salvation. By faith, which the Lord Himself will supply you with. Especially in this current health crisis, with so much uncertainty about the future.

Would you pray with me?

Heavenly Father…. I am tired. I am sick. I am worn down. I am burnt out. I feel lost. I feel empty. I feel hopeless. I feel alone. I feel rejected and unloved. I am overwhelmed. I am confused. I am afraid. I don’t know what to do anymore. I acknowledge that I need You. I acknowledge that I don’t have the answers. You know better than I. I don’t have the power or the control. You do. I acknowledge that it is my sin that has caused my separation from You. I thank You that though I am a sinner, You love me anyway, so much so that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for my sin. I believe that He died on the cross for me. I believe that You raised Him from the dead. I am sorry for my sins. Please forgive and cleanse me. I surrender. I want to turn away from everything that is not right in Your eyes, and I receive Jesus as my Lord, Master, and Savior. I receive the gift of salvation. Thank You for taking my burden from me and setting me free! Help me to love, serve, and obey You, for the rest of my life. In Jesusname, Amen. ❤️

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:6-11

 

Please feel free to message me or email me if you have prayed this prayer and want to talk about this more. Or you may get connected to our leaders at the Victory Alabang Facebook Page. God bless you!

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

 

 

 

Family

Two Loved Ones Lost

January was an eventful start of our year.

The Luceros celebrated New Year’s Eve with us in our home. We celebrated my nephew Gabby’s 3rd birthday, and my daughter Noelle’s 2nd birthday. We had an eventful week of prayer and fasting in church. We had a great family reunion and vacation in Boracay with the US & Cagayan de Oro Torreses.

And sadly, during the first and second week of the month, we lost two loved ones a week apart from each other. The first was my aunt (who is really my second cousin) and the second was King’s uncle. I don’t know if they ever met in any of our family gatherings, but when I started thinking about it, they had so much in common.

We call my aunt Tita Bem, though her real name is Esther. We call King’s uncle Tito Bembs, though his real name is Rolando. They were both single, never married, and did not have any kids. They were both in their 60s when they passed away. They were both great cooks too!

I will always remember Tita Bem’s generosity because for many years she baked me my birthday cakes. She shared with me her recipes when I had an interest in baking cookies and making lasagna. She was the one who gave me the recipes to the sandwiches I make, which my friends tell me are delicious. She would give us discounts when we’d order from her, whether to give out baked goodies as gifts even before I had a family, or for my daughters’ parties when I had kids. She was really an awesome baker. My favorites were her lasagna of course, her revel bars, snicker doodles, banana cup cakes, carrot-banana cake with cream cheese, chocolate cup cakes with marshmallow icing! At least I can say that a small part of her legacy is somewhat passed down to me. All I need now is an oven so I can start baking lasagna and snicker doodles again haha. The rest, I will leave to the experts. Tita Bem’s legacy of delicious food, which she inherited from her mom, actually lives on, as she has passed it on to her assistant Lenlen who may just be as gifted as Tita Bem. I thought that was extremely generous of her, considering Lenlen is not a blood relative. That really speaks of her giving nature that was not confined to family alone, just as she gave her time, her cooking, baking, singing, and beautifying talents and efforts to serve the Lord and His church.

Generosity is also something my tita had in common with King’s uncle. Tito Bembs, my father-in-law’s brother, from stories told by everyone who spoke in his eulogy and told to me by King himself, was a man who always thought of others first. He gave even if it would mean he had nothing left for himself. I would say he was generous to a fault, because many times he was already abused by other people, but he gave nonetheless. For him, possessions are merely possessions. People, especially people that he loved and cared about, were what mattered, and therefore he was always willing to help them. I got a taste of his generosity too, when he sent us a comforter as a wedding gift. He was still abroad then and I’d never met him yet, but he sent it to us, and it was actually what we used as our very first “bed” in our very first house in Sta Rosa! He also cooked the delicious food that we served in Danae’s 1st birthday party. He was quite a character too, always making us laugh. His legacy of generosity and humor lives on among his nephews, my husband included.

Tita Bem and Tito Bembs are two people whom we love and whose lives made an impact in ours and in many others. They are missed and they will always be remembered.