Happy Tears

A few nights ago, during our nightly reading the bible before sleeping, my five year old daughter Andi, asked me, ” Mommy does God still do miracles?”

I said “Yes, He still does miracles. His miracles happen everyday.”

To make my point more concrete, I recounted the story of her cousin Inigo, my nephew, and how God miraculously healed him. I told her how Nigo (as we fondly call him) had a broken heart when he was born, and had to have an open heart surgery at eight days old. I told her that he had to stay in the hospital a long time and we kept praying and praying that God will heal him, save his life and keep him alive. And then she excitingly said, “And he is alive, Mommy!”

Then after a quiet moment, she said, “Mommy, you know sometimes when I cry, my tears are happy tears. The tears I have now are happy tears.” And then she hugged me tight.

I did not notice that tears were swelling in her eyes as she was listening to me tell the story of her cousin, whom God had healed. It is something that is so fresh in my mind, all the details still in mint condition, engraved in my memory. Why? Well aside from the fact that I told her this story a few days after Inigo’s 7th birthday, this miracle that God gave my family is one of the biggest memorial stones of God’s goodness and faithfulness and an unforgettable display of His power.

It was so timely too, that one of my friends resent me the forwarded email I sent her back in 2007 about Inigo and God’s miracle in his life. I want to share this to all of you so that you too will be reminded as I was, that indeed our God is mighty in His power and this power is beyond compare, and that He still does miracles. I know that as I was blessed to have witnessed this miracle, you too can be expectant for God to move in your situation whatever it may be. In the same light, I hope this will also open our eyes to see the miracles that happen around us, big and small. I hope that we will never stop being in awe of our God.

Here are parts of the email I mentioned. Some were written by Inigo’s mom and some were parts were written by me, in a blog I wrote in Multiply, back then when it still existed:

I never thought this would happen in my life. My newborn son had a heart disease, it’s called Transposition of the Great Arteries which is, according to the doctors, a mechanical problem requiring a mechanical solution – an open heart surgery. Inigo was 8 days old when he had the operation at the Philippine Heart Center.

Nobody in the Recovery Room expected Inigo to live further. Each day he was seen breathing was an achievement. His chest was open for a couple of days and we literally saw his tiny heart beating. He was there lying down with several tubes inserted in his fragile body. Several others inserted at the side of his neck, on his arms and feet. The first time I saw him there after the operation his head and face were not recognizable because of edema and I saw quiet tears running down his eyes. It was a bit too much for me to bear. I spoke to him and told him Mum and Dad were always there with him, just waiting for him.

Dr.Gisel Catalan, Inigo’s pedia cardio surgeon, narrated to us a few weeks after the surgery what really happened inside the O.R. (These were the parts I wrote in my Multiply–what I remembered with our conversation with Dr.Catalan)

These are the specifics that struck me with what Dr.Catalan told us:
– “Everything went wrong in the surgery. It was clear to us that Iñigo could not make it. His heart distended (literally went out the cavity of the chest), his lungs collapsed, he vomited so much blood. He was as good as dead.”
– “When I asked Dr. Jonas to tell you his family that there were complications and that we are trying our best— I was being polite. In the O.R., we knew he wouldn’t survive.”
– “We decided to take out all the tubes and the attachments to the machines—We didn’t know why we did it. Because in a situation like that the machines are needed to keep the baby alive. We removed all of it. We didn’t know what happened. It was like the heavens opened and gave him life. We couldn’t believe what we saw. He was suddenly breathing and his heart pumping, with totally no support. It was just him.”
– “It was not highly improbable. It was highly impossible. He is not even part of our medical statistics. It was simply a miracle.”
– “I wish I can take credit for it. Any doctor would want to do that. But none of us could take credit for it. I am just honored to have witnessed that miracle.”
– “You could have brought him all around the world for this surgery. But with his condition (with what happened in the surgery), no doctor any place in the world (even with the best education and training) would not be able to save him. No medical expert could have done something in that situation.”
– “I am changed because of this. This has been the biggest miracle ever that I have seen in my medical career. And this comes once in a lifetime I believe.”
– “Iñigo has gone through a lot. And he is still recovering and fighting. But seeing what God had already done, seeing the biggest highlight of the miracle first hand, I know that if God had already done that, He can do anything for Iñigo.”

Dr. Catalan said that he makes sure that he visits Iñigo once a day (while in the hospital) not just to check up on him, but because Iñigo brings a smile to his face. “I literally get goose bumps when I see him. He has made my faith in God stronger.”

Monday night, the doctors had their last round of check-up before Iñigo’s discharge the next day. My brother thanked Dr. Catalan for everything. Dr. Catalan uttered back— “I should be the one thanking your son, Iñigo made me believe in miracles again.”

We never thought this would happen in our lives. Our hearts are overflowing and much eager to share with everybody how God placed a modern-day miracle through this baby boy. There were a lot more that happened in-between, including another minor operation, the details in the ff blog links of dear people:

http://annaduremdes.multiply.com/photos/album/8

http://voicaromualdo.multiply.com/journal/item/36

http://jennpunzalan.multiply.com/photos/photo/52/1?
(the attached photo ‘Nigo in ICU’ c/o Jenn Punzalan)

My mom had a lingering question in her head before all this happened – Does God still do miracles nowadays? — the same question another friend had in mind all this time. There are no coincidences, we just proved.
I experienced this first-hand, and the elite of doctors testify to what has transpired. Inigo is 4 months old now, and he doesn’t have any idea how many lives he changed and touched, and how much of God’s grace we felt through other people.

I pray that through what we just shared, we would always remember to whom we should live for everyday. To God be the glory.

Iñigo only 1 month old

Iñigo only 1 month old

Iñigo and I, December, 2011

Iñigo and I, December, 2011

Handsome Super Iñigo

Handsome Super Iñigo

Thank you Lord for miracles

Thank you Lord for miracles

Volunteer Teacher

Two nights ago I was at the Victory Fort (our local church) Teacher’s Appreciation Night. Two things struck me that evening. One, what a joy and privilege to volunteer for God and to work and serve alongside great men and women! When I look back at my life, discipling others to live a life for Jesus, and teaching and speaking in church are probably two of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. There is nothing like seeing God change lives. It is an honor to be in some way a part of God’s work.

Second thing that was highlighted for me that night was how grateful I am for spiritual family and all the women that God has surrounded me with. I have learned so much about faith, family, marriage, parenting, ministry, and more from them! I am blessed beyond words for all the impart action that was given to me all these years.

Thank you God for all that you have done in my life. Thank you Jesus for saving me and for giving me a brand new life and a bright future ahead. Thank you Lord for my spiritual family. Thank you for letting me be used by You to advance your kingdom. I am undeserving and unqualified yet you still use me. What an honor Lord and such an indescribable joy! Thank you!!

Moms Are The Best Cheerleaders

The other day, Andi and I had a “Mom and Me” ballet class. It was such a joy watching her dance with much delight!

As I ponder upon my afternoon with her, I remember the part of the movie Linsanity wherein Jeremy Lin’s brother recounted how their mom supported their passion for basketball. He said, “We were passionate about basketball and my mom was passionate about us.” In a way he was saying that their mom’a passion for them made her cheer on their dreams.

Being a mom means taking on diversified roles. In this context, us moms are the cheerleaders of our children. Andi once took theatre, then gymnastics, and now she loves ballet. Because I get a place at the front-row seat watching her everyday, I have an idea (or maybe discernment) of the talents and skills God has blessed her with.

At this early stage in her life, she discovers herself, and I cheer her on, at the different feats she tries to conquer. I enjoy the little adventures that she wants to take.

And so this journey of being a mom continues and every day is a day to cherish and celebrate.

I bet there will be much more activities that Andi will be doing, countless more classes (ballet or who knows what else), and countless more recitals, or even competitions that I will watch. So I expect my days to be full and fuller.

I am blessed and I love being a mom. I love being Andi’s mom. And I love being her cheerleader.

Anna and Andi Ballet

Teaching Kids Money & How To Handle It

I thought it was time for me to start teaching my five year old daughter Andi about money when I saw that she was beginning to understand the concept of money, how money is used, and what it was for. We also began to discuss it in homeschool in Math.

Before teaching her the literal value of money and how to add and subtract, I felt that she had to understand a few things about it first…

God is the source of everything and that all the money that we have is not ours but God’s. Everything belongs to Him and we are literally just “money managers”. Thus it is important that I give her a guide on how to manage what she has.

Second, handling money properly is something that will benefit her, as young as she is now and even to when she is much older. Even right now, she is attaining habits that are beneficial to her when she grows up, and also can be destructive. So it is important for her to start early in building her financial life right. More importantly in a manner that honors God.

Thirdly, I have stressed this time and time again to Andi (way before we introduced the concept of money to her) that it is more blessed to give than to receive. This has always been something I’ve really wanted her (and all my kids) to have: a heart that wants to bless others. We see often how naturally she leans to selfishness. But I am hopeful that she will have a revelation of how blessed she is, her life will overflow, and she will be a blessing to others.

My husband and I have always desired to raise up children who know the value of hard work. So fourthly, we do not wish our kids to depend on hard work for provision. Work and careers are not our providers but God is. We want them to learn to love work, to be excellent, and to be the best that they can be in the areas that God has chosen for them. We want them to understand that they worship God with their work and God uses their work as one of the main channels of His blessings and provisions.

We know teaching Andi this is not something we can achieve overnight. It is something that we pray a revelation to come upon Andi’s heart and mind one day soon. It is also something that she has to learn through the years as she applies them. And it is something that she has to see in our lives as parents and leaders of the family as well.

To end this blog, I want to share a simple tool in how I introduced the concept of honoring God first, prioritizing giving next, the need to save afterwards, and to use wisely what is left.

God, give, save, spend.

God, give, save, spend.

I learned this in a parenting seminar a few years back. It was explained by the son of one of our pastors. He was recounting how his parents taught him this tool when he was quite young. And since then it has been ingrained in his heart and in his mind. At that time he was about to get married and still today he easily practices this with his finances and witness the faithfulness of God with his money and his work.

To my fellow parents I hope this inspires you to teach kids young. It is a hope that I have that my children and their generation will be good stewards of their finances, and ultimately that they will honor and please God in handling what God has entrusted to them.

Seventh

As I write this, it is almost my 7th wedding anniversary. Seven years since I said “I do” to the man I love, the man God hand picked to be my husband, my partner, and my best friend.

Two weeks ago, my husband was sent out of town for five days for his work. The longest that we have been apart was only overnight when he had team buildings with his officemates. Anyway I had such a difficult time dealing with the separation especially when my two kids look for their Daddy countless times everyday. During that time though, I realized a lot of things. I think being away from my husband has made me realize how much I love him, and how much I am in love with him!

But since I want this to be a short blog, I will go straight to the main thing that struck me during those days of being apart.

I have a lot of dreams and things that JA and I are praying for and believing for. And we still do pray for these to come to pass. However what I realized what all these don’t matter if he is not in the picture. What I mean is that even if I get to be blessed with everything that I am hoping for, but I don’t have my husband (my children too) to share them with, it would be all meaningless.

It hit me that these three people: my husband and my two kids are indispensable and they are the ones that make every season, every milestone, every year, every day special regardless of the circumstances. Every day is special because I have them. And I can’t imagine going through life without them.

My husband (and my kids) are God’s greatest gifts to me. I pray that I don’t get too caught up with life that I end up taking for granted my true and incomparable blessings.