Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lower Cholesterol is the Icing on the Cake! Bring on the Salad!

 One of the greatest benefits of eating differently this month is a very emotional one for me. Twenty-six years ago, my dad had his first massive heart attack. At 12 years old I lived in constant fear of my dad dying. I was always afraid that I would find my dad dead after suffering a heart attack. I always hoped that he would be alive to walk me down the aisle when I got married. My dad was 5 years older than how old I am now when he had a quintuple heart bypass. He was 43 when he had his first heart attack. His dad, my great-grandfather, died at 40. 

From that point on I knew what it meant to be worried about high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high this and high that. Rewind a couple of years ago, when my cholesterol levels started climbing. The first time I found out I was devastated. My doctor had me recheck my cholesterol levels every 6 months so that ultimately, we could determine if I would have to take cholesterol lowering medication. The last couple of years I was too afraid to re-check at the six month mark. At the end of these last 30 days of eating differently, it happened to be the time for me to recheck my cholesterol levels.

With the changes that I’ve made in my diet, I wanted to see if eating differently would make a difference. This past month I’ve eaten a lot of eggs and meat. I’ve also eaten a ton of vegetables and fruit. I’ve continued to exercise the same amount that I have in the past 3 years, and mind you exercise did nothing in the past to lower my cholesterol, as I exercise the same amount now.

When I got the results of my last cholesterol levels on Friday, I was in tears walking around ToysRUs. My cholesterol levels decreased 40 points. 40 points! I could not believe it. Right away I texted my people. My high cholesterol was battled and lowered by what I chose to eat. One month of eating differently has changed the course of so much of my future. It has changed the course of what I am choosing to eat and decisions I am making for my family's food choices. This is just one of the huge things of eating differently has taught me. Lower cholesterol is the icing on the cake. Bring on the salad! This has sealed the deal for me!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Where are you, Jesus?

They say this time is the happiest time of the year. But for some, it is the hardest. Sadly, all the hard things don't end because it's Christmas.

Where is happiness when sitting with your mom who is lying in a hospital bed, praying and hoping for her to get better? Or with the sister who is in surgery while the surgeon is removing a brain tumor two days before Christmas? Or the first, or second, or third Christmas without your mom? Because you know what they say, when you lose your mom, you feel like you become an orphan no matter what age you are.

Where is Jesus when you've worked so hard and still have no money for presents? Or when your baby is born months early and spends the first days and weeks of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit and doesn't come home for Christmas? Where is He when your daddy is recovering from surgery and another dad is recovering from a heart attack? Where is He in broken family relationships, or in marriages struggling to stay together, or the missing and longing of that one person who is Christmas to you, or in the deaths of a father and sister one week apart.... 

Right now I'm baking treats for our neighbors and family. The kids are outside digging in the dirt and playing. I'm listening to the song, "Oh, come, oh, come Emmanuel." And I'm reminded and I'm weeping as I'm praying for all my loved ones who are struggling and hurting. I'm praying that especially at this time Emmanuel, which means, "God with us," is felt right now. I'm praying Jesus is known and felt in every single situation, hardship, and trial we are facing.

When I was going through the saddest time of my life, I can honestly say I felt and knew God's powerful love and peace in ways I could never imagine possible. And that is my prayer for all my loved ones, that especially today, the day before Christmas, we would know, without a shadow of a doubt, God is with us. He loves us deeply and unconditionally. He will give us peace and joy that transcends all understanding. So cling to him, with all that you have, especially now, and Emmanuel shall surely come to you. 

Keep your eyes and your heart open. He will come to you in ways you did not think was possible.

Jesus is with us.


Oh come, Oh come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appears

Rejoice, Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, Oh Israel!

Oh come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Thy people with Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight

Rejoice, Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, Oh Israel!

Oh come, Thou rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'ver the grave

Rejoice, Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, Oh Israel!
Rejoice, Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, Oh Israel!

Oh come, Oh come, Emmanuel

Thursday, December 19, 2013

It Goes Too Fast, Enjoy It While You Can

Taken tonight at Jericho's last preschool Christmas performance. I'm one proud momma!
I've been a bit emotional lately. I am that crazy mom.

In three weeks we are starting a new phase in our life. Yesterday was Jericho's orientation for Junior Kindergarten. It's a new program for kids who turned five in December and were not able to start transitional kindergarten this past September. As the principal was talking to us she said, "this is harder for the parents than it is for the students." And just like that the tears wouldn't stop. It's true, the saying, "it goes too fast, enjoy it while you can." The person who reminded me of that so many times is now on the other side of heaven. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss my sweet momma, especially during days like these when I wish I could talk to her and ask her, "were you this sad when I started kindergarten? Is this normal?"

It seems so silly to be sad. "They are only here for four hours, and then they will be back home again," is what the principal said. But what this really is, the beginning of school, is the beginning of a new life. You see, when I became a mom, I struggled with letting go of my career and being home with my baby. I loved my job. The work I did was life giving to me and something I deeply enjoyed. I came to a crossroads once Jericho was born. The minute I saw my baby, the one who had been in my tummy for 35 weeks, and felt my heartbeat, I knew that there was nothing that could keep me away from him. And though I loved my job, I knew that the desire to be with Jericho every second possible was more.

I continued working until Jericho was ten months old. I felt the mommy guilt. I was torn. I wanted to be a full time mommy but didn't want to give up my job. After ten months James and I decided that it was time for me to be home with Jericho. There would always be time for me to go back to work. Exactly a week after I resigned, we found out that I was pregnant with Karis. At that time I remember thinking, God's timing is perfect.

Since then I have struggled with the idea that no one will ever hire me again because I've "just been a stay at home mom." I've struggled with my identity because I am not accomplishing tasks or finishing projects or making even a penny. And now, just like that, life is changing and my role as a momma is changing. My time of being a stay at home mom is coming to an end. I'm coming to the the realization that my baby is no longer a baby, while knowing in my heart that he will always be my baby, no matter how old he is. I accept the truth, "it goes too fast, enjoy it while you can."

For me being a mom is the most fulfilling and life giving thing that I have ever experienced. I realize that the breastfeeding every two hours ends after a couple of months. The sleepless nights, though during the time seems like they will NEVER end, eventually do. And as one of my mom friends who has grown children has told me, they are all potty trained before they go to college. This whole thing, of being that person who does every single thing for my baby, is coming to an end.

And tonight, as I tuck my boy in bed and say prayers with him that he doesn't have any nightmares, I tell him how proud of him I am and that I love him forever and ever (amen). I cover his face with kisses, and snuggle him just long enough for him to tell me to stop because I'm making him too hot. I study his face and see how his silky straight hair falls so perfectly on his forehead, while his eyes flutter because he's falling asleep. I will myself to enjoy it while I can. It is going way too fast. And I thank God for giving me this sweet sweet boy to love every day for the rest of my life.

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.