Monday, December 17, 2012

A New Christmas

This time last year I was broken and hurting. I was overwhelmed with life and in the deepest seasons of sadness I'd ever been in. My mom, the person who had always been my rock, passed away a few months before. 

At the time I thought I was ok. Now that I have a year behind me I realize that I was numb and surviving. To be honest  I was just trying to make it through the day.

During that season I desperately clung to Philippians 4:4-7

"Rejoice in The Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

I believed those verses with all my heart. Even during that season of sadness and grief, God gave me peace and helped me to rejoice despite the circumstances.

And today, even more so, I believe Him. I believe that even during times of sadness I can have peace and I can rejoice. 

During this time of year, despite the hustle and bustle, happiness and sadness, joy and despair...we can rejoice and we can have peace. Let us not forget about the beauty of this season and the things that matter the most. Our love and faith in God, our husbands, our children, our families, and our friends. 

Jesus came to earth so that we could have the greatest gift of all. Life everlasting with the creator and giver of life. He also has given us the ability to love deeply, to experience unfathomable joy, and to live life as fully as we can. In giving of ourselves and serving others, He blesses us beyond understanding and continues to do so until the day that He calls us home.

May God bless you and your loved ones this Christmas, with the gifts only He can give.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the 
heavenly lights..."
James 1:17

Friday, September 14, 2012

God ALWAYS Appears to Those Who Need Him Most

Over the course of this last year, since my mom's death, God has used different people to reach out and comfort me through people who loved my sweet momma too. Through emails, texts, phone calls, letters, and conversations, just knowing that others were missing her made me realize how loved she was.

Today I received a letter in the mail. It was a letter from one of my mom's closest friends from nursing school. She mailed me a letter that she was sending out to the alumni of their school for a fundraising concert they were doing. In her letter she said that she was going through her mailing list and came across my mom's name. She hadn't erased her name yet because she said she was still in denial. So instead of sending the letter to my mom, she sent it to me.

On Christmas, I received a text from my mom's friend whom she was in bible study for many years. The text said that she was thinking of me and my dad and sister and praying for us.

This last April, one of my mom's staff members emailed me. She told me a story about something that happened that reminded her of my mom.

A couple of months ago, my uncle called me and asked me what my mom did about a certain situation regarding my cousin going to college. She was starting as a freshman at Azusa Pacific University, which is also Jenny and my alma mater.

Two weeks ago, I was talking to my aunt. She told me that she still can't believe that my mom's gone. She still thinks about her and misses her all the time.

When I have big things coming up that I wish my mom was at, I wear her necklace that she wore at my wedding. Last week after one of those events, as I was getting Karis out of her carseat, she pulled my necklace and said, "Nanay's necklace." Yes, my sweet girl, this is Nanay's necklace. How it warms my heart that Karis at 2 years old brings so much joy.

The other night when I was putting Jericho to bed, I asked him who the lady was in a picture on his dresser was. He said, "that's nanay, and no one can ever take her from me." I asked him who told him that and he said, "Jesus."

Because of who my mom was in my life, it means so much to me that people still talk about her, remember her, miss her. It has been over a year that she has been in heaven and it would make sense that I wouldn't miss her as I do. But everyday I miss her. Every day I think about her. I am still learning how to live my life without her in it. Sometimes I have these thoughts of, "Oh, I'll just call her" and as I'm thinking the thought, at the same time I'm shaking my head "no" because the thought is so ridiculous. Now that she's been gone as long as she has, I feel like just now am I realizing that my life's story has completely changed. When I tell my story to others, it will now include the part of when my mom got sick and when she died. And when I hear from others about how much they miss her, or have been thinking of her, it is comforting to know that she is not forgotten.

Today at bible study that I have with two amazing women, whom I know without a shadow of a doubt are gifts from God (one who is my best friend of 21 years, and the other, God brought into my life 1 month after my mom died and has become my spiritual mom), the speaker was talking about how sometimes God takes us somewhere to allow us to get to the other side (healthier, and with a better perspective) in the future. She talked about how God always appears to those who need Him most. And although now my story includes the life and death of my mother, it now also includes how during the time of deepest sorrow in my life, God was there. He showed me love and grace and peace and even joy more that I have ever experienced during that season. Though this last year is a blur, I can't even remember how I took care of my kids and had enough emotional energy to maintain relationships with anyone, the one relationship that was strengthened the very most was the one with the person who is the very most of importance in my life today. I couldn't have gotten through last year without many people, but mostly without Jesus. Of all the things that I learned last year, it was this, God always appears to those who need Him most. And not only did he appear, he blessed, he took care, he comforted, he gave me joy, he carried me, he brought restoration, he brought healing, and he brought peace.

If you are going through a time of deep sorrow, BELIEVE and KNOW and TRUST this truth:

God ALWAYS appears to those who need Him most.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My 34th Birthday Resolution-- I Choose to be Fearless in Loving

I have been having bittersweet feelings about this day for a while. My first birthday without my mom. She always made it so special. Every March 20th, since I could remember, it always started with a phone call with her singing happy birthday and having lunch together. Last night I prayed that God would let me have a dream with her in it, so it could feel like we were still here together. I was sad when I woke up because I didn't have any dreams or a happy birthday phone call.

But today this is what I woke up to:

This link My Babies takes you to a really sweet clip of my kids. I wish I could keep them like this forever!!

Roses from the best hubby in the world
The cake I found in the fridge

Oh my heart is so full!

One of the biggest blessings this year has been my mentor mom, Shelly. When I got to MOPS last Wednesday, she surprised me by decorating our table in pink with beautiful flowers and the yummiest homemade cupcakes I have EVER had! She really has a way of making people feel loved!

Me and Shelly
Pretty flowers and the BEST cupcakes ever

This weekend, James and I had a nice lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. Just the two of us. Then we spent the rest of our afternoon working on house projects. Which typically wouldn't be that fun, but since we didn't have any of the kids with us (they were having a blast with their grandparents), it was like a date for us. We were able to work on projects, laugh together, and not have to worry about kids who were trying to kill each other. AND my aunt brought home pie and made coffee for us. Lunch with my best friend, sweets and coffee, and free babysitting? What a fun day celebrating with James!!!

Monday was a wonderful day. I spent the morning with the babies at their school with two of my dear girlfriends. And then one of my bestest friends come over to watch the kids so I could get a massage that she bought for me for Christmas, so I could get my eyebrows done (the brow bar at Macy's gives free eyebrow waxing on birthdays), and kid free shopping at Trader Joes.

When I was done I came home to a clean house (all my dishes were done) the house was picked up, and it was quiet (kids were asleep)! I felt like I won the lotto!! Cheryl is such a true and devoted friend. We have been friends for 21 years. So thankful for her in my life!

Cher knows how much I LOVE my hot cheetos

And actual birthday....

My hubby called me and sang happy birthday in his wonderful singing voice! My kids and I were able to sleep in til 9am. One of my dearest friends treated me and the kids to lunch. And I really cannot even thank everyone enough for making my birthday so blessed and making me feel so loved and special. All of the phone calls, text messages, emails, and Facebook posts, they really do make a girl feel loved!

The kids posing after lunch

Coffee and a red velvet cupcake with my baby boy

This afternoon the kids gave me a really amazing gift...a nap, and I was able to really think and soak in all of the blessings of this past day, week, and year. I have been surrounded by so much love, so much grace, and so much joy, even despite the pain and ache of missing my mom. God has given me so many people who love me so well, so much I know I don't deserve it, and I am beyond thankful.

Tonight we went to dinner with my favorite people in the world, James, my babies, and my sister. (Dad, we will celebrate with you when you are in town!)

I DO NOT deserve this man!

I love these people!

Sad effort at trying to get a group shot
Such a typical end of the night picture for us. James is almost asleep, Jericho is laughing uncontrollably,  Karis with her wild hair, and I'm the only one looking at the camera!

As I reflect on this past year, I have decided that this year I want to be fearless in loving. I want to love more and without fear of losing or hurting. Because in the end loving and being loved is really what makes a life, right? I want to be known as a person who was fearless in loving no matter what.

Although I miss my mom so much and wish with all of my heart that she was still here, I know I will see her again. All the years I spent loving my mom have made my life so rich, and though it hurts to love, so many times, I choose to love more without fear.

And really, how can I hold back? I have been so loved by my God in ways that are unexplainable; through a husband I truly do not deserve, babies who bring me so much joy I cannot contain myself, and loved ones who have loved me so well and so much during my darkest storms...

So here is my attempt for my 34th birthday resolution--I choose to be fearless in loving!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Happy birthday, momma

Birthdays are a big deal. At least my mom always made it one. It wasn't just a celebration on my actual "birth" day, it was a celebration on the day, weekend, and week. She had a way of making me feel so celebrated, loved, and special.

And today, she is celebrating her very first birthday in heaven. And I know, without a doubt in my mind, that this is the best birthday she has ever had. Similar to the post about my mom's best Christmas, (you can click on the link to bring you to that post I can hardly fathom her joy celebrating with Jesus, and I know that He is making her feel so celebrated, loved, and special.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What did you do to your mom to make you deserve this??

The day before Christmas eve, James surprised me with an early Christmas gift. He took the day off of work and it was perfect so I could get some last minute Christmas shopping done. I was able to find myself a cute Christmas outfit (very important), and it allowed the four of us to spend the day together before we celebrated with our entire family. After breakfast I took Karis with me shopping, and James took Jericho on a daddy date to the kid museum.

Hallelujah! With one kid, I went shopping. What a breeze!
What happened to her sock and shoe?

Or so I thought. While I was shopping Karis was fussing a little bit so I took it as my cue to hurry up. At the counter as I was paying she found a lip gloss she wanted. I tried to distract her with mine and she threw it on the floor. After I paid, we left the store. At that point Karis was crying and screaming inconsolably, the way kids do when people stop and stare because it truly is a sight to see. I tried to hold her, comfort her, have her walk on her own. And this is what ended up happening. On the floor, the day before Christmas eve, me with a bunch of bags and a stroller and a crazy baby.

For the last two weeks Karis has been sick with the stomach flu, an eye infection (which she has been on antibiotics for), and welcoming five new teeth. All at once. My child who sleeps 12 hours a night decided that she would wake up every single night at 1 and or 3 and 5 in the morning, almost every night for the last two weeks. AND she will cry bloody murder and won’t stop until I pick her up, read her a book, turn on cartoons, and/or give her cheerios and water. Oh my goodness, I’m creating a monster!

sad eye (it's all better now!)
Is she giving me a dirty look? This is 1am by the way

Since we were going on a getaway trip for James’ birthday weekend, we were praying really hard that Karis would magically get better and start sleeping through the night again.

Watching The Little Mermaid (1am Saturday morning)
Walking around the hotel (2am Sunday morning). Why is she so happy?

Watching Finding Nemo (430am)
We were so wrong. This girl barely took a nap all day, and at 1:00am all that would console her was watching Finding Nemo as we all tried to sleep in the hotel room. The next morning at 2am she was done with letting us sleep and would not stop crying. I decided to walk her around the halls of the hotel and one of the workers stopped me to ask if I was lost. I’m not sure it is that weird for a mom to be walking her little girl in a stroller at 2am. I prayed that God would make Karis feel better and let her little body calm down and rest. Ten minutes later she was snoring. Relief!

Looks can be deceiving!

Karis slept soundly until 6am and the crying and screaming began again. I know you are thinking, really, Karis? She is so quiet and gentle. But this girl, when she gets mad, you don’t know what hit you.

 When we got up later that morning, James asked me, “What did you do to your mom to deserve this?

Oh, how much this question brought me back to many arguments my sweet momma and I had during my wonderful high school years. There were many times my mom would tell me, “When you have kids, you’ll understand. They might even treat you how your treat me.” And my response at the time was always, "Then you must have been really bad!" Now that I have kids, I understand. My daughter is only 19 months old and I don’t ever know what I did to deserve this! I know my mom is smiling down from heaven because payback is a you know what. But I love and adore my daughter, especially when she wakes up from giving us a night of misery and all she wants to do is hug me.

I think about how much I want to tell my mom how much I love her and how I hear her words, “You’ll thank me later,” and let her know how truly grateful I am that she loved me so strongly, so bravely, and so well. Especially, during the years that I really gave her hell.  I want to tell her how thankful I am that none of my crying and screaming and throwing fits, and telling her God awful things ever stopped her from loving me. And what an example she is to me of always showing grace and letting me know how special and loved I am.

Dear God, please have mercy on my when my Karis becomes a teenager. Please help my Karis realize before she's 33 years old that I am her biggest cheerleader, that there will never be anything that will make me stop loving her, and please let her believe me when I tell her, "been there done that," as my momma would always say.

Father, please give me the faith, courage, and strength to be the mom mine was to me.
My momma and her crazy girl (1979)

Me and my crazy girl (2012)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

God Makes Us Better

I love the tender moments of the every day with my Jericho. It's January 7th, and as much as I hate to put Christmas decorations away, I know it's time. There is no hint of Christmas anywhere. The stores are full of Valentine's day decorations, it's 75 degrees outside, and Christmas has come and gone so quickly I barely have any memories of the last three weeks because it was such a whirlwind.

That's why I am so thankful for traditions and memories, and I realize that I want to leave a legacy for my children and my family and my friends. And as sentimental as I am, I need pictures and items to remind me of the tender memories tucked deeply in the back of my mind. Three years ago I started collecting Christmas ornaments that represented the year.

In 2008, there were two ornaments, one of a picture of James and I together, a week before Jericho was born, the very last time it would be just him and me. And the other, a picture of James, me, and Jericho on his first Christmas. In 2009, the ornament was of Santa with two children on his lap, one named Jericho, and the other one named baby.

In 2010, the ornament was of the four of us in a 2010 frame, and the other ornament of the word FAITH, representing the faith we had that God was going to miraculously heal my mom, and also representative of  Karis' middle name, and how it reflected the baby girl added to our family and the love of Christ that she represented. That particular ornament was purchased on one of the last trips we took with my mom to Santa Barbara.

In 2011, one ornament was of Jericho with trains (perfect because of his love for them, and his 3rd Train Birthday Party), and the other was of Karis with ladybugs on the frame (again with many representations). The most special one, being a frame with an angel on top of my mom's picture. Of course, representing the angel that heaven gained on July 10, 2011, and the hole left in my heart for the rest of my life.

Jericho was "helping" me take down the ornaments from the tree and I showed him the one with my mom's picture on it. I asked him if he knew who she was. He said, "It's Nanay. Is she sick, or is she better?" And I told him, "She's better now." His next response being, "Did God make her better?" And my answer with tears in my eyes, "Yes, baby, God made her better."

It's still hard. Every day I still have to ask myself if she really died. But the truth is, God made her better. He made her better in a different way than I asked. I may not understand, or know why He chooses to do what He does, but He always makes us better. And I am thankful that my three year old son knows, that no matter what the outcome is, God ALWAYS makes us better.