HONORING MY MOTHER

I woke up crying. Thank God, it was all a dream. It seemed so real. I’m on the verge of crying again just thinking about it. I had dreamt that my mother passed away. In it, I was saying over and over again that this can’t be it. I had so many things left to say to my mom and so many things left to do with her. My future twins still had to meet her and be spoiled rotten. Relieved, I knew what I needed to do, stop taking her for granted and start saying everything I should have said to her ages ago. I’m so grateful to God for this gift of time with my mom and for all these realizations.

This blog is dedicated to my mom, and to all the mothers who also made their children’s dreams, their dream.

Mom,

I know you’ll be reading this because you read all of my posts. You’ll be clicking on the like/heart button on Facebook, and leaving a comment, like you usually do. I would never have a post left unliked because you would always be there to like them, no matter how uninteresting some may be; that’s how supportive you are. It reminds me of my childhood, when you would compliment every drawing I showed you even when I didn’t really have the knack for it. I never had an inkling that my drawings were awful. Fortunately, I didn’t pursue art.

I know we have had our differences and it feels like we kind of drifted apart through the years. We aren’t as close as we were when I was a kid. When I watch movies with estranged relationships between parents and their children, I would always question how that was ever possible but I started to see that it was. I used to blame you for it. I felt that my opinions weren’t always valued, so, I started putting up walls. Every idea that you gave me (personal or business), I met with nonchalance or disinterest, even negativity, because that’s what I felt you do to me. When I found this new relationship with the Lord, I felt more misunderstood and persecuted by you. Although you were unaware, you had hurt me countless of times.

But as for me, I was aware.

I was aware that I was hurting you back. I was aware that I wanted to make you feel unvalued, if only to make you feel how I felt. I hadn’t realized all of this, until I asked God to reveal these things to me. I’m so sorry, Mom, especially for all those times I made you question yourself if you were a good mother to me, please forgive me.

I own up to everything. All those misunderstandings stemmed from how much you love me and how you only want to protect me. It wasn’t because you thought I was incapable of anything, you were just incapable of letting me go. Now, I know why you cried the way you did when you walked me down the aisle, I honestly thought you were just out to steal my thunder. If I could only post the pictures here, I must say it wasn’t your finest moment. *Insert laughing with tears emoji followed by the kissing one.

Thank you for always having my best interests at heart. Thank you for always doing what you thought was right, by protecting me from myself and a series of bad decisions. Someday, you’ll need to loosen those reins and accept that I’m 37, married, and can afford to learn lessons on my own.

Thank you for everything that you do and everything that you are in my life. Thank you for all your sacrifices, for leaving modeling at the peak of your career, so you wouldn’t miss a single moment of me and my sisters growing up. That couldn’t have been easy. Thank you for not giving up, for working hard by yourself, as a single parent, to put us all to good schools and to give us a great life. I never felt that I lacked anything. Thank you that despite your sleepless nights and your body aches, you never missed a school event. You even managed to build yourself a reputation as a stage mother, much to our embarrassment.

Thank you for always putting yourself last. When your first love broke your heart, you managed to pull yourself together and come out of depression, no matter how hard it took, to continue being a mother to us. You never got to play your other roles well (ie. girlfriend, friend, etc.) because you were too busy being our mom and our sole provider.

Now that we all have our own lives, please start living yours. Please fall in love again and do what makes YOU happy. Retire from being our mother, it’s our turn to spoil you. God has blessed all of us a life of abundance through you, it’s time you experience that for yourself, too.

God is truly sovereign, I am the way I am because of you. He handpicked you to become my mother, to mold me into the person I am today. Thank you for introducing me to love Jesus when I was 9, when you brought me to my first bible study. It’s that seed that you planted in me that led me to have a relationship with God. And it’s this relationship that opened my eyes to recognize you, mom, for the kind of mother that you are.

I pray that you’ll build a stronger relationship with the Lord. I pray that you’ll find peace, love, joy, and finally, purpose; not one that entails taking care of us. God has so many plans for you, mom! Take them and immerse yourself in this life that has long been waiting for you. Let us go and let God guide you through the next chapter of your life. I’m so proud of you! Now, go on, turn that page, we’ll be right behind you.

“She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.”

Proverbs 31:15-22 NIV

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

Proverbs 31:25-31 NIV

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

Exodus 20:12 NIV

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

Isaiah 66:13 NIV

“Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.”

Proverbs 23:22 NIV

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.””

Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV

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HOW I LOVE MY HUSBAND

I love how God gave us the ability to love. I love loving my husband, to the point that I feel my heart could burst any minute from all this love I have for him! I wasn’t always this way. I came from a broken family so I was raised by my mom to be independent. I didn’t need a man to validate my worth, that’s how she programmed me and my sisters to think. Although she was right, I don’t think I can live without my husband, Artis, anymore.

He’s a man of God, faithful, kind, compassionate, considerate, hardworking, exceptionally good in math (hello, civil engineer), witty, sweet, patient, funny, has great taste (ahem), and the list could go on and on but truthfully, none of those qualities can make me love him even more. If they do, that only means I can love him less the minute he stops being any of those to me. That, I’m afraid, isn’t love.

(Artis’ Birthday 2018, Taiwan)

I love my husband not because of what he can do for me or how he makes me feel. I love him because out of all the women in the world, only I was sovereignly assigned by God to be by his side. No other human in the universe except me, holds the power to take care of him, to be his helper, his supporter, his lover, and his wife. I am able to love him despite his shortcomings because my source, God’s outpouring love, can never run short.

This is one of the many reasons I find God amazing: when Artis and I were living in sin, although I was in love with him, it wasn’t to this extent. So when we made the decision to do what was right, to obey God and get married, I felt Him seal our relationship as soon as we were pronounced husband and wife. I can’t explain it in words without sounding cheesy but since that day, my love for this man has grown tremendously over the period of 15 months. I watch him when he’s asleep (night owl here) in a it-would-be-creepy-if-we-weren’t-married manner and shower him with as many kisses as my lips can handle without waking him up. Thankfully, the feeling is mutual. I wake up being bombarded by kisses and hugs that get me through the day while he’s at work. I’m sorry (I’m really not) for being too mushy.

We had been together for over 9 years and have been married for over a year, and if there’s one thing I’m most thankful for that God had changed in me, it’s that I had developed this habit of constantly praying for my husband. I’m learning to let go of all the things that my husband can improve on (positive scripting equals winning), from little things such as not using a coaster for his drinks or squeezing the toothpaste tube in the middle, to bigger ones, like his pride. I, instead, pray to God to direct both of us to do what’s right so I won’t focus on my need to be right.

I love Artis more than I love winning. I value our relationship more than I value my point. I’d rather pray than argue. To some, this may seem like I’m being a pushover but inviting God to transform us and our marriage has proven to be more powerful and changing than any hurtful or belittling word that I might possibly say in the heat of the moment.

I may not always feel this way about my husband, we both have so many things to improve on and so many misunderstandings ahead of us but if we continue to include God in our marriage, we know that we’ll always see things from His perspective. It will always be God, Artis, and me against any attacks on our marriage. This strengthens our faith that no plan of the enemy will ever succeed.

To those married, I urge you, pray for your husbands, love them unconditionally, invite God to reveal to you how you can be a better wife, and never ever consider giving up.

“The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”

Proverbs 31:11-12 ESV

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.””

Proverbs 31:28-29 ESV

ADULTS CAN BE BULLIES, TOO

I don’t like it when I hear words being mispronounced. I always find myself absentmindedly correcting somebody (under my breath), even if that person’s a complete stranger. It’s force of habit, I suppose. I worked in a call center as a trainer for years and I focused on the agents’ grammar and accent so I find it excruciating when words are being pronounced carelessly or when people can’t tell the difference between your and you’re.

I learned to fight the urge to correct (loudly) for almost getting into trouble once. I was at a shop, browsing through gadgets and speakers, when I heard somebody pronouncing a word with a short i instead of a long e. I can’t remember what word it was but it was something like “beat vs bit”. Before I could stop myself, I blurted out the word “beat” LOUDLY. Good thing there were shelves separating us! I continued to walk around, pretending that that wasn’t me. Although I reckon my red face had already given me away.

As for grammar, I correct people close to me by using the incorrect word/s that they used, correctly, as subtle as I can. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings and I definitely don’t want anybody to be made fun of by others. I know I would appreciate it if somebody were to say something about my grammatical errors, which I can say are a lot. English isn’t my native language after all.

Why am I writing about these things? I’ve seen so many posts on Facebook lately about people getting “annoyed” by others’ grammar, clothes, how they spend their money, etc. and those kinds of posts affected me so bad that I couldn’t stop thinking about those for a week. It saddened me to see so many friends acting or feeling superior to others. I know how some things can make one cringe or make one itch to correct or to comment. That being said, neither our knowledge nor our ability to write or speak or dress better gives us the right to judge others. The same applies for everything we think we’re better at. Also, how somebody chooses to spend his or her money, is in reality, none of our business.

(Image taken online)

Instead of laughing or blasting people, especially on Facebook or on other social media platforms, maybe it would be better if we were to give encouragement instead. Not everyone was given the same education and not everyone has the same fashion style. Let’s be grateful for what we know and strive to share that knowledge with others. Let’s be more accepting of the things that make us unique from one another. Remember, God designed ALL of us to excel in DIFFERENT areas; some people may be weak in language but may be superstars when it comes to numbers.

Let’s stop tearing each other down and concentrate on building each other up. Let’s start a new culture that will benefit our children and save them from future heartaches and humiliations. Let’s end bullying. If you were to choose between intellectual humility or just plain humility and arrogance, always choose the former. It will be so much more fulfilling to have a humble mindset and to be good stewards of the gifts that God has blessed you with. Always use what God gave you for His glory.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”

1 Peter 4:10 ESV

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16 ESV

“and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”

1 Corinthians 12:5-6 ESV

WE’LL HAVE KIDS ONE DAY

“Lord, I pray that I’m pregnant. I’m ready to be a mother, I’m ready to receive Your gift of children (we’ve been praying for twins). Should I not be pregnant today, please give me a heart that trusts You” I was praying while walking out of the supermarket.

I had just bought a pregnancy test and I was too excited to wait until we get home to know. So after grocery shopping, I went straight to the washroom without telling my husband, Artis, what I was up to.

I stood waiting in one of the cubicles, nervously glancing at the stick from time to time until it showed a line that I was all too familiar with. I had gone through the same situation countless of times and they all ended with me crying but now it was different, my heart whispered “not today”. PCOS, my age, and my blocked left Fallopian tube no longer have a hold on me.

I still feel a little heartbroken but if there’s one thing that I can hold on to in times like this, it’s that God knows what’s best for me and Artis. It’s never easy but trusting that God is sovereign and good, that makes all the difference in the world.

So now, we try again, and we wait, and we pray, and we trust. And until the babies get here, I shall continue my path towards becoming the best wife to a husband who has truly been remarkable.

(Artis, the best uncle to our nieces, Saniya and Una)

Artis, today, I honor you.

I know you’ll be reading this and I just want to tell you how much I love you and how grateful I am that God designed my marriage to be with you. Thank you for being a husband who leads me closer to our Lord, for teaching me to trust Him, and for inspiring me with your faith. When I said that God knows what’s best for me and you, it wasn’t something that I just came up with out of hope. There’s an abundance of evidence that prove this to be true, one of which was when He gave me His best, when He gave me you.

Thank you for the comfort and love. Thank you for never blaming me and my inability (for now) to give you children. Thank you for always putting my feelings first, for not showing me even a hint of sadness that you know would only break my heart. Did you think that I wasn’t aware of this?

Thank you for believing the impossible with me. The same God whom we read about in the Old Testament with all His glory is the same God we worship today. God is a God of the impossible, we’ll have kids one day. I can’t wait! I know you’ll be the greatest dad and will continue to be the best husband. I love you so much!

I’ll leave you all with a link and lyrics to the song that best describes how I feel about all this.

Unshakeable by Mid-Cities Worship

Unshakeable by Mid-Cities Worship

[Verse 1]

You are the constant, in every wind of change

The One that I run to, my forever hiding place

Take me into Your shelter, safe in every storm

Hold me closer in Your love, never let me go

[Chorus 1]

Who You were, is who You are

Who You are, You always will be

Seated in the highest place

The unshakable King

[Verse 2]

When the world is shaking, when all around me falls

When this heart is breaking, there’s one name I will call

I will always cry Jesus, the greatest name I know

‘Cause You’re my strong foundation, the Rock I’m standing on!

[Chorus 2]

Who You were, is who You are

Who You are, You always will be

Seated in the highest place

The unshakable King

Nations rise and nations fall

You’re unfailing through it all

All creations, shout and sings

To the unshakable King!

To the unshakable King!

Who You were, is who You are

Who You are, You always will be

Seated in the highest place

The unshakable King!

Nations rise and nations fall

You’re unfailing through it all

All creations, shout and sings

To the unshakable King!

Yeah!

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭32:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

THE POWER OF PRAYER

My husband and I went on a road trip last weekend with my sister and her family. On our last day, we went to Calatagan, a beach south of Manila, and my sister, Nina, thought it would be fun to ride a boat and visit a sandbank. It was a gloomy day and the skies were gray, so I was a bit skeptical about the “fun” my sister was pertaining to.

We rode on the back of a pick up truck arranged by the resort to transport us to where the boat was docked. We all enjoyed the ride and I was beginning to feel hopeful. When we got off the truck, my heart sank. The boat provided was a small one with just enough space for all of us. I could hear my sister complaining about the size of it to the boat men from a distance but I stopped listening because I started feeling anxious. The sense of fear that I had wasn’t for me but for my two nieces who are only 4 and 8, and who mean the world to me. I captured my negative thoughts and I started praying for safety.

We all found our places and the two girls were very excited. They started shouting with glee and waving to the camera as we headed out to sea. The waves were strong and huge, slamming against our boat, our tiny boat. Not long after, my nieces, Una and Saniya, were crying hysterically. It was my first time to see them that frightened. I took Una’s hand and I instructed her to pray. I had been talking to her about how God hears our prayers, especially when we’re scared, and I was hoping that she’d remember all those conversations. Before long, we reached the sandbank, where we stayed for an hour and indeed had fun.

When it was time to get back to the boat, Saniya, the younger of the two, started dreading the ride. Una, was cheerful, albeit a little scared. The waves were relentless and unforgiving that I found myself getting nervous as well. Soon, Saniya started crying again. I looked at Una, expecting to see tears but what I saw took my breath away. In the midst of everything, Una had her eyes closed, she was praying and was at peace, she was still.

(I wasn’t able to take a picture of her praying but this was exactly how she looked like).

I almost cried seeing her that way. No trace of fear could be seen on her face. I kept glancing at her and all these scriptures kept running through my head: “Be still and know that I am God”, and “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. I felt so emotional and I started holding back my tears. What an experience to have witnessed that childlike Faith that Jesus was referring to!

Truly, God listens to us when we pray. We can be confident that He’ll answer because that’s the kind of God we serve. His answers will always be based on His goodness and faithfulness. Yes, it has been said countless of times, “God is good” but as soon as we face challenges that seem too hard to bear or when we feel that God doesn’t make sense, that’s the first thing we doubt. God is good. Say it again, God is good. Remember this by heart so you can rest in knowing that when you pray, God will move for you.

One of our Pastors said that “when we work, we experience the fruits of our strength but when we pray, we experience God’s work”. Let God take control of your life, of your fears, of your brokenness, of your anger, of your anxieties, of your sorrow, of your weakness, of your weariness, and watch Him unfold every piece of your life to form a puzzle that has long been designed for His glory. Pray.

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and He brought them to their desired haven.”

Psalms 107:28-30 ESV

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Matthew 7:7-11 ESV

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Mark 11:24 ESV

“Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

John 14:13-14 ESV

WHEN LIVING WITH LESS MEANS LIVING MORE

We watched Minimalism on Netflix last night. It was a documentary about living only with the things that you need. It’s about getting rid of life’s excess in order for you to focus on what really matters.

I intended to watch it with Artis, my husband, so I could get rid of all his clutter. It backfired so quick that halfway through it, I was itching to go to my closet and was checking where to donate clothes I no longer need and use, and Artis was dozing off.

We are all trapped in a bubble where we think that buying a certain product can make us happy. There’s nothing wrong with owning material possessions but did you really need to buy two shirts of the same kind in the same color? Sorry, I was asking myself. The answer is no. I didn’t need to but I did. Why? So I could have a back up. Do I still use either shirt now? No, I stopped using them both but they’re still in my closet, taking up space.

I’ve always been proud of how I’m able to control my shopping urges, compared with my mom and my sisters, who seem to be missing the word control from their vocabulary. They might as well open their own boutiques because that’s what all their closets look like. I’m not even exaggerating. I, on the other hand, have always been simple. Okay fine, I’ve always chosen food over clothes but that’s not the point. The point is, as simple as I thought I was, I still have a lot of things that I didn’t really need to buy but somehow, they all found their way here from malls, shops, and online stores. How did that happen?

These things that we take pride in, they take away our focus from what’s really important. That phone on your hand, made you miss a moment with your loved one. The money you spent to buy another white pair of shoes could have gone to your savings for your own place or to a business investment. That extra car adds to the heavy traffic, and carbon monoxide that fills people’s lungs.

What I realized is that, it’s not bad to have any of those things but it can’t be the worst idea in the world to have a pragmatic approach before buying anything. Anytime you feel the compulsion to purchase something, ask yourself, “how will this add value to my life?”

God didn’t say that we shouldn’t have all of these things. Au contraire, He gave us the ability to create wealth. He allowed us to have what we have but we need to be good stewards of everything He entrusts us with.

I’m not sure where to start and how to begin this lifestyle change. I know I’m not going to follow minimalism in every sense of the word but I’ll definitely start being intentional about where my attention, focus, stress, effort, space, time, money, etc. go to. I’ve already wasted so much.

Please pray for strength and willpower for me! I’m starting with my shoes and then my makeup. *Cue Psycho music theme.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:19-21 ESV

And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Luke 12:15 ESV

MY DAD

“Where’s your dad?” Una, my niece, asked me innocently. It was a question I wasn’t prepared to answer. I didn’t know how to explain it to her without tearing up. People ask me where my dad is all the time so I’ve mastered the art of sounding nonchalant about his death, if only to spare the person from feeling embarrassed they asked. I give the same response, I tell them “my dad died when I was 14 because he used to drink a lot (by this time you start to see a look of regret) but it’s okay because I don’t have much to remember him by. My parents separated when I was 1“ (cue look of relief). Telling it that way saves me from going through that awkward silence. However, I couldn’t do that with Una; It’s never easy to lie to a trusting child.

I miss my dad.

I wish I had a camera attached to me when I was a kid so I could put him on replay but all I have are few memories that are slowly fading with time.

(My dad on the left and me sitting on my godfather’s lap)

I remember going to the same cemetery where he was buried, to visit an ex-boyfriend’s grandfather’s grave. I was in college. I didn’t cry when my dad died and I didn’t think about him once until that day. I went to an area where I thought he might be and I started to look for him. I went through all the gravestones and when I couldn’t find him, I broke down and for the first time, I wept for my father. I realized that I no longer have a dad, it sank in 6 years too late. The denial finally ended.

Nobody knew that I was always longing for him. How I felt incomplete. How I regret not staying with him the last time he visited. How I would sometimes push my alcohol limit just to hear “you drink like your dad” from people who knew him, desperate to have that connection.

My life changed when I started to have a relationship with God two years ago. I’ve been a born again Christian since I was 9 years old but it wasn’t until recently when I had the realization that my completeness can be found in Him. To quote my friend, Arra, she said “it was like seeing the world in technicolor for the first time”. I started seeing God in a different light. He wasn’t my personal genie, existing to grant all my wishes; He’s a Father who had been patiently and lovingly waiting for me to have a relationship with Him.

I still miss my dad sometimes but God filled that hole in my heart when I welcomed Him in my life. When He adopted me as His child, I no longer felt despair, exhaustedly trying everything to feel accepted. I have a Father who loves me. I don’t need to constantly prove myself anymore, to compare myself with others because I know that He also has plans for me! I can be secure in any season because I am secure in God’s goodness and His calling for me.

We’re all given this access, through Jesus. When God looks at us, He no longer sees our sins but the finished work of Christ. We know who we are in Him and we know that apart from Him, we are nothing. Is there a greater love than this, that we should be called the children of God?

So if you were like me, incomplete, existing just to exist, exhausted, constantly thinking that there has to be more to life than this, seek Him out. He has been waiting for you, waiting to complete you.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7 ESV

“so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Ephesians 3:17-19 ESV

“His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor His pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love.”

Psalms 147:10-11 ESV

“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 8:15 ESV

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.”

1 John 3:1 ESV

“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in His holy habitation.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭68:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬