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Fireworks!

Our house almost got razed to the ground! Oh, okay, I may be exaggerating just a little bit but it could have happened, God only knows.

There was a power interruption last night in the area where we live, actually one of the very few times that I experienced black out since being here in the US. It lasted for a couple of seconds only and within a blink of an eye, the power came back on again…. so that was no biggie – until I heard something like a gurgling sound coming from the kitchen. It was very similar to that which a coffee machine makes towards the end of it’s brewing time, except much louder. So perplexed, I ran to the kitchen to check out what it was, in time to see our refrigerator burst aflame!

“Oh my God!” I thought, “ FIRE! Our house is going to burn!” My instinct was to grab a glass of water to quench the fire but instead I yelled frantically to my husband (who was upstairs at that time so he had no idea what was going on) — “Fire! Fire! The refrigerator is on fire!!!” Joseph must have leapt down the stairs because he came in a jiffy, but still the flames had already gone out by the time he got to the kitchen. (Mind you, when all this took place, I was on the phone with my father in the Philippines, so he heard all the commotion. Talk about multi-tasking, huh?)

After turning it off, Joe inspected the fridge to see where the fire started. The source wasn’t the power outlet, which is a good thing I suppose, otherwise, it might have caused us a bigger worry. Thankfully, no damage was done to the wall behind or anything else. The flames must have emanated from the fridge itself – from the motor (or compressor, maybe). The power surge caused by the blackout must have been too much for our good old fridge.

This scared the heck out of us, of course, especially as a neighbor’s house caught fire not too long ago. (We don’t know how the fire started but I bet something similar must have happened to one of their appliances).

Whew! We are so glad that there was nothing combustible around the fridge that could have caught those flames. We thank God that we were in the house when this happened. Above all, we are so grateful to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for protection! Halleluiah!

So, we are fridge-less for right now. The upside to all this is that — I finally get to have a new fridge! Yay! Actually, we have been wanting to buy a new one but were holding off on the expense, for a lot of reasons. But…..this incident leaves us with no choice but to get a new one.

Our poor old fridge gave up on us, and she went out with fireworks. Literally.

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Biopsy

I had a core biopsy done yesterday on cystic growths in my breasts.

Many of you may not know, but I am “lumpy” :oD I have multiple cysts and nodules in both my breasts. I have known about this since 2003 and had been having my annual mammogram and sonogram since then.

I dreaded the thought of having a biopsy, but I guess, this procedure became inevitable the moment my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and died from it the following year. It was just a matter of time.

Last month on my breast sonogram routine exam, the doctors found multiple new growths (bilaterally), and some of those existing ones increased in size. But what really concerned them are two particular lumps, one from each breast, that look suspicious. These findings established the need for me to have biopsy done on those two lumps in question, especially given the history of my family, particularly that of my very own mother.

I first noticed the lumps during a self-examination. Looking back, I realized that it was God’s providence that led me to discover those lumps. I can never forget that day. I came from a friend’s Mary Kay party, where one of the sales people, a former nurse, talked about Mary Kay’s support on Breast Cancer Research and the importance of doing a self-breast examination.

Mind you, I had never done a self-exam before then – oh yes, I’ve heard of it, but I ignored them thinking that I was invincible; you know how it is when you’re younger. Plus of course, at that time, I had no idea that cancer was already lurking in my mother’s bosom – silently, slowly but surely eating her away, so to speak.

That Mary Kay sales lady would never know (God bless her!) but her talk resonated within me, so much so that the first thing I did when I came home was to do a self-exam. To my horror, I felt a knot, something akin to the size of a piece of marble. Then, I became hysterical when I realized what it is and could be. The fear of death rose up within me like a bile. I cried, I wept, I sobbed, and I called the doctor. And the rest is history.

One of the lumps in question is actually a cluster of cysts. The doctor dealt with this first but it was nothing but a normal cyst filled with liquid. The doctor aspirated the liquid with a needle. This one was definitely not a problem, thank God. On the other hand, the other one is a solid mass — tender but solid. For this one, the doctor couldn’t aspirate anything, so she had to take a core tissue sample (using an instrument fitted with a needle which they stabbed me with about 10 times!). The sample tissue was sent to the pathology for tests. The doctor confirmed that it was a good call to have this particular lump biopsied. Better be careful than sorry – and I agree wholeheartedly. I don’t have to be told about the devastation that cancer can bring about to someone’s life. I have witnessed it first hand with my mother.

How am I doing, if you ask? I was a bit apprehensive going in for the procedure because of the physical pain than anything else. As it turned out, everything was much better than I expected. Thanks to Lidocaine. :o)

In all honesty though, the real battle took place in my mind. As I laid in bed while the procedure was being done, I couldn’t help but think about my mother. Memories of her plight – the emotional and physical turmoil she had to go through with her fight against breast cancer – they’re all still fresh in my head. Afterall, it’s only been a year since she passed away. What if the biopsy yields bad news? I wondered.

But it is in moments of weakness that our Lord’s strength is made perfect. I simply cannot- MUST not – allow fear to do it’s number on my mind. So I took hold of my thoughts and laid them captive in Jesus Christ. His peace came over me and held me. I know that as a child of the living God, infirmity no longer has power over me. Any curse on me or my family in form of disease or sickness, has been broken by the blood of Jesus and the power of His resurrection. This I believe with all my heart.

In a couple of days, I will be receiving the results of my biopsy. But I believe that it will just be another confirmation of God’s mighty work in my life. Whose report should I believe? Of course, the report of the Lord that says “CANCER has no place in my body, His temple!”.

I will praise Him with all my heart; I will glorify His name forever. For great is His love toward me; He has delivered me from the depths of the grave….” (Psalm 86: 12-13, with my paraphrase)

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Midnight "Crisis"

It was 1:30am. I was in that state between deep sleep and consciousness. I heard the phone ring, but faintly. It seemed like it came from a cave, the ring sounded hollow and far.

But the ringing got louder, until it got too loud that I jolted up from my bed. It wasn’t a dream. Our phone was indeed ringing, slicing through the stillness of the night.

I’ve had too many incidents like this in the past 2-3 years – from when my mother was fighting her life due to breast cancer, and later on, my father having his own medical crisis as well. So, hearing the phone ring in the middle of the night brought back the all too familiar feeling of doom. Fear flooded my soul in an instant. My heart began to pound so heavy in my chest, like someone beating my bosom with a 2×4 piece of wood. My thoughts are immediately with my father in the Philippines. Whatever it is, I prayed quickly “Lord, I hope it’s nothing serious.”

I jumped out of the bedroom, made my way to the next room, all while blindly groping both for the light switch and the phone at the same time. The room next to ours is a guest-room-turned-home-office. We don’t keep a phone extension inside our bedroom. Like I said, I’ve had too many emergency calls in the middle of the night before that I don’t want my husband to anymore be unnecessarily disturbed. One person in the family stressed out is enough.

Anyway, the phone was on its 4th ring, I believe. I hurried to pick it up, but alas, I was too late. The ringing stopped. I checked the caller I.D. immediately and found out that the call wasn’t from the Philippines. Whew. I heaved a sigh of big relief, but the adrenalin was still rushing within me, and I could still feel my heart like a horse racing in the Kentucky derby. But wait, I know the person. The caller ID says the call came from a Filipina friend, the pastor’s wife in a Miami Filipino church, as a matter of fact. Then I though, it must be an emergency, otherwise, she wouldn’t be calling me in this unholy hour. Maybe she needs prayer, so I have to call her back.

And call her back I did. The phone rang on the other line, and it was picked up by a gentleman.

“Hello.” Oh good, it’s the husband, Pastor C, I thought.

“Good evening, Pastor C…Pwede makausap si R? Tumawag kasi siya kanina, eh” (May I speak with R? She called me earlier.)

“Hah? Who are you calling?” Then I realized, the man had a heavy accent – a Latino, no doubt. From what Latin American country, I cannot tell.

“Is this 786-287- _ _ _ _? My brows are furrowed in confusion. The people I’m calling are supposedly Filipinos. So why is this Latino guy answering the call?

“Eh… (thinking)… yes.” The man on the other line said, but he sounded unsure.

“Oh, I apologize. I must have dialed the wrong number. I’m sorry. Good night”. Then I hung up. Dang! Let me check the number again. In the meantime, my heart is still pounding, but not as bad anymore.

I just woke up, and it’s a big possibility that I may have messed up the numbers when I dialed. (To be honest, I think I’m also a bit dyslexic sometimes.). Besides, if someone needs me, I want to be able to help. What if someday the situation is reversed and it’s me who needs help? (God forbid) I want somebody to be there for me too!

I checked the caller ID for the 2nd time. I had the right number!!! That’s weird. Anyhow, I decided to call again. So I dialed, making sure this time that I hit the right button.

“… ello” Now that accent is familiar. It’s the same guy. Oh no!

My impulse was to hang up immediately without saying a word, but that would be rude. I hate that. So, I said with hesitation, “Hello, good evening. Is R there?”

“Oh, it’s you again. Hehehe. What’s wrong with you?!” The man said in a heavy accent, with a slight hint of irritation.

“I’m truly sorry. It’s just that I got a call from this number earlier. The caller ID is from a person I know. I thought there might be an emergency. That’s why I called back”. The man’s English was not that good. So, I spoke real slow, enunciating every word to make sure he understands me.

“Ahhh… what this number again? He asked. I gave him our phone number.

“Ahhhh… I call earlier. But I call wrong number.” Dang!

“Oh, so you were the one who woke me up. And here I am thinking it was an emergency call from a friend”. Without warning, the words flowed out of my mouth sarcastically.

Then the man said “I’m sorry. I call wrong number.”

“Ok. Thank you.” Then I hung up.

I got back to bed. My husband was sleeping like a log, completely oblivious to the world. While I was now totally awake.

I so wanted to kill that man. :oP


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Once years ago when my friends and I were on an island vacation, we decided to go on an excursion to see a waterfall. This waterfall, we were told, was in a secluded spot in the middle of the island’s forest, and that, its water cascades down to form a beautiful pool at its foot where one may swim.

But despite its beauty, the locals told us that not a lot go there because it is not very accessible. We were too consumed with excitement to even recognize the warning behind these words. So on we go, only to find out soon enough that the trek was far from being simple. It turned out to be a challenging one – especially for city girls like us – with all the difficult climbs up the hill, slippery paths and hours and hours of walking. Now we know why not a lot of people frequent the spot.

I was hot and tired and my knees felt like they were going to give out on me. But it was in the midst of my exhaustion that my eye caught sight of a pretty little pink flower growing among the bushes and weeds. The flower wasn’t particularly special, but somehow seeing that flower suddenly opened my eyes to the beauty of the Lord’s creation around me. I then began to notice the ray of sunshine that penetrated through the canopy of leaves above us, the chirping of the birds and the occasional wind that blows in our faces. I even began to notice how green the leaves of the trees were in that part of the world, and in its simplicity, how beautiful the flowers growing randomly here and there seem to be.

At that moment, I just felt so deeply grateful to GOD for my life, for the ability to see the beauty of His creation around me. I was so thankful to Him that I could have sworn then my heart swelled.

I was very engrossed in this state of blissful appreciation that I forgot how tired I was. The journey to the waterfalls became swifter, easier. Soon, or so it seemed, we reached our destination.

Looking back, I realized that life is very much like the trek I had to the waterfalls. Yes, life is full of its ups and downs, of unexpected trials and tribulations. But with a thankful heart to the Lord and a grateful spirit, we can overcome. We will overcome. We can look at the challenges that we face as opportunities for us to grow. The insurmountable can become surmountable; the impossible, possible. A thankful heart creates an atmosphere of miracle in our lives.

I am grateful to God for EVERYTHING He has done in me, about me, around me and through me. Without Him, I am nothing. So on this Thanksgiving day, I would like to make mention some of the things that I am especially thankful to Him for, such as:

*Jesus’ blood and His sacrifice for me on the Cross
*My husband and our life together, and the children that He will bless us with
*My parents and their salvation; for my father’s improving health after his leg
amputation a few months ago
*God’s provision through our jobs
*Family and friends; for the church family
*For the Lord’s favor and random blessings in our lives
*For increase and promotion even in the midst of economic depression in the country – a testimony to God’s sovereignty. I’m thankful that my economy does not depend on
this country’s but on the Lord’s.

There are still so many more there is not enough space to write them all here. Suffice it to say, that if we only remember to count our blessings…. then we’ll realize that we’ve got so much of it to even begin to do so. :o)

With this, let me wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving Day. May you remain thankful to Him not just today, but everyday of your life.

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Whoever said that having a dog is like having a baby can never be more right. I mean, as cute and as lovable my dog, Prince, is, but he can be a such a handful sometimes. He requires so much attention and tender loving care… much like a baby!

Prince got it all easy – he plays, eats, poops and sleeps – that’s what his world is all about. The worse thing is, he doesn’t know how to adapt to my sleeping patterns, much less know if it is a weekend or a holiday, for crying out loud! He thinks that he has every right to demand that he be walked at 7:00AM regardless of what day it is! So, even if it is a weekend and my only chance to sleep in, I have to, against my will, get up so he can have his nature bonding and do his bathroom business at the same time. Otherwise, if I ignore his yelping and yapping, I will for sure be paying for it later. So unless I want to be cleaning pee and picking up poop inside my house, I gotta have to drag my butt out of the bed!

So this Sunday morning was no different. I must have been still half-asleep when I went out of the house.. with our dog leading me. Holidays and weekends are great, but it does mess up my sleeping pattern. You know how that goes – no work tomorrow, therefore I can stay up as late as I want! Yeah! So that’s exactly what happened the previous night; and that explains why I was dog tired this morning (no pun intended). I thought that I will have to go back to bed after the walk.

As I was thinking this, we turned a corner. I noticed that Prince stopped; his hairs all standing up. All of a sudden, he was in his attack mode. I looked up to see what the matter was…. Lo and behold, on the other street is my neighbor (an older lady)with her big Boxer.

Mind you, there was a small playground / field separating us, so I thought we were ok… but nah. I tagged at Prince to urge him to move on but he didn’t want to budge. Prince has met this dog before and the Boxer was mean. My Prince is such a friendly dog, but there’s something about this Boxer that just makes my dog go nuts. Obviously, this feeling is totally reciprocated so I’ve always made it a point to avoid a confrontation.

But the Boxer saw Prince. He started barking, or snarling, I should say. The owner was oblivious to us, so she was completely caught by surprise when her dog pulled hard away from her. She tried to control her dog, but alas, the Boxer was much stronger and the leash slipped from her hands. Next thing I know, this 50-60 lbs boxer was running across the field, charging towards me and my 25 lbs Beagle-Pomeranian mix!

I was horrified, so much so that I was glued to the spot, motionless as I stood watching this dog coming at us at full speed. I thought of scooping up Prince to protect him, but the picture of Roy being attacked by his tiger flashed in my mind … so forget that!

On impulse, I jumped in front of Prince in order to shield him, and in the hope of intimidating the other dog. But that didn’t work. The Boxer continued to charge; ran me over and knocked me down…to get to my dog. I fell hard on my bottom with my legs open and my flip-flops flying all over. For interminable seconds, I forgot why I was on the ground until I heard the vicious squabble behind me. My dog!!! So I scrambled to get up, just as the Boxer’s owner came to the rescue. Thank God!!!

I grabbed Prince and held him in my arms. My poor doggie was trembling so much. He was just as shaken as his Mommy was.

I made sure that Prince was ok – which he was, thank God for that. He had bite marks, but it didn’t break his skin whatsoever. My neighbor profusely apologized, but all I could mumble was “it’s ok” even though I know deep inside that it was not!

I pulled Prince to get away from the Boxer as fast as we could. We continued our walk going home with my badly scraped elbow, sore behind, shaking legs…and bruised ego.

Needless to say, I wasn’t able to go back to bed after that. What a way to start my day.

But I learned a valuable lesson.

When dog-walking, bring a PEPPERSPRAY!

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Pushing People Up

I was watching Joel Osteen the other night, and he was talking about reaching our God-given potential. This is probably one of the most predominant question every believer has in his/her mind. I wish there was an instruction manual on how to get there, but unfortunately, there is none.

In God’s book, reaching our potential in Him doesn’t mean just simply going to school to get a degree for it. It’s not that simple. In the true Kingdom of God fashion, reaching our potential involves (among others) enrolling in the school of SACRIFICE and of DYING. We need to die to our own pride to give way to humility; we have to die to our own self to be able to truly love others. There is an every-day giving up of our own desires and pleasures, so as to learn how to have compassion especially on those whom we think least deserves it.

So it was just a blessing when I received this email from a friend which I am sharing with you below. How timely is it for her to send me this, when I was just contemplating about reaching my potential…or is it God talking to me?!…. So here it is.

There are people who God brings into our lives that hold the key to our promotion. They hold the key to us reaching our full potential. But these people are not there to help us or to give us breaks or open new doors; these are people that God places in our path so we can help them, and show them favor. They are divinely connected to our destiny. We won’t go higher until we help them go higher. You have to step out and sow a seed into those people. The higher they rise, the higher you will rise.

If you will help others fulfill their dreams God will help you fulfill your dreams. Make the effort to develop a habit of “pushing people up.” When you take time to invest in someone else it doesn’t go unnoticed. Every minute you encourage that friend, every mile you go out of your way to do a good deed, every penny you spend to make someone else better, know that God sees it. He’s not only going to pay you back, He’s going to multiply what you’ve sown.

When you push people up, the blessings are going to come down! You’re going to get breaks, see His favor, and new doors are going to open to you. As you live your life as a giver, and look for ways to help others, you’re going to see your dreams and desires come to pass. God will fulfill His promises to you and you’ll live the abundant life He has prepared for you!

John 12:24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the
ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

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So Limited

I was cleaning the house today when I began reminiscing the times I had with friends when I was in the Philippines, remembering the occasional weekend getaways we used to take. One particular trip was to Santander, located south of Cebu island, Philippines (where I come from). Dolphin sightings have begun to attract tourists there at that time, and of course, it was the perfect excuse for a weekend rendezvous. So off we went on a motorized boat to see those Dolphins at around 5:00AM. The guide took us to the middle of the ocean around where the Dolphins usually choose to show themselves. We waited for hours in anticipation, but alas, the Dolphins decided to take a leave of absence that day, much to our disappointment.

Oftentimes we forget that we have a limited view of life – because we are limited beings. We do not see what God sees. That’s why it’s hard for us to understand what is happening around us at times, especially when we are in the midst of a difficult circumstance.

The situation with my parents, especially with my mother seemed to have taken the worse turn. My mother’s condition has plummeted so much in the last few weeks it’s unbelievable. What my father relates to me is heartbreaking. My mother moans in agony more and more due to the pain wracking her whole body. Her features have now changed – she looks all bloated, her face swollen, her eye drooping and she can now barely speak. And then as if this isn’t worse enough, a couple of days ago my dad began to feel dizzy and nauseous, and his ankles and heels also have gotten inflamed. From what he told me, it sounds like blood is clotting on that area of his feet. His doctor is still here in the U.S. and won’t be back till Sept. 24th.

It hasn’t even been 2 months since I got back from the Philippines, and now it seems like I will have to go back again. It has been extremely tough for me being away from them. They need me now more than ever. And I thank God my husband understands this completely. We are currently making plans for a trip to the Philippines, though we know that this will be very challenging for us financially. Budget has been tight since this whole ordeal with my mother began, then followed by my father’s medical emergency not too long ago, not to mention the two trips to the Philippines I’ve made this year so far. But we are trusting the Lord our Jehovah Jireh to meet all our needs. He knows this trip is necessary.

My cross is getting heavier, my eyesight’s beginning to grow dim. There’s so much now I cannot see as far as my parents’ condition and our finances are concerned. But Jeremiah 29:11 says: “For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a FUTURE and a HOPE”… The Lord God is omniscient – He sees the panoramic view of our life. While I see but just a portion, He sees the entire picture.

Isaiah 55: 9 reminds me that “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my [His] ways higher than your [my] ways and my [His] thoughts than your [my] thoughts.” My view of life is restricted by my humanness. But I will not allow this limitation to prevent me from trusting the Lord Almighty. If faith is the substance of things that are hoped for, of things that are unseen, then I will continue to put my faith in Him. For He is my way, He is my truth and He is my life. His word says that He will not leave His children nor forsake them. He is my stronghold and my Rock. He is my Deliverer. He is my refuge and my shelter, my God in whom I trust.

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