Archives for September 2013

Plagiarized, the continuation

Last week I wrote the article “Plagiarized” as a reflection on how the Lord dealt with my heart when part of my blog were copied and pasted onto another blogger’s site. In that entry I expressed how I was frustrated and hurt but God reminded me that this site belongs to him. I was convicted not to publicly defame the person who was plagiarizing TeachwithJoy content and let the issue rest. If God wanted to convict the person then he would.

The next day, I received an email from someone who admitted that she was the person who had copied and pasted content from my blog. This was a surprise! Even more unprecedented was her humility and apology. She talked about how convicted she was, so much so that she decided to take down her site. She followed through with this promise. When I checked her site again, it was gone.

When she emailed me, I responded to her with this message…

Hi ___________, of course I forgive you. Why don’t you start a new blog if you really want to write? But be honest about what you put there, your own life lessons and stories. If you really want to be a blessing to people, then a blog is a good way to do it. You know what helps me? I ask God to give me daily inspiration to write and he is the one who gives me insights about his word, about life. I want to thank you for apologizing. It means a lot.

Can I ask you something? Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus? Do you know that he loves you and has a plan for your life? Whatever mistakes you have made (including this one), he will forgive because he died on the cross for you, for me, for all of us.

When I was a little girl, I knew Jesus but I didn’t have a relationship with him. I would steal pencils, erasers, candy, etc from my classmates. (this was before I was homeschooled). And I even told a huge lie about our house being like a zoo so I could never invite my friends over. Well one day my dad was having a bible study with us and I started to cry. I was nine years old. I told him I didn’t know if I was going to heaven or hell and I was afraid to die. He took me aside and shared with me what it means to trust in Jesus, to make him the Lord and Savior of my life. I prayed for him to come in to my life, to forgive my sins, and I asked him to be my Lord and Savior. When I did, my life changed. I had peace knowing I was forgiven, knowing that someday I would go to heaven when I die.

I don’t think it is an accident that our lives intersected, ________. I really believe that God allowed us to so I could tell you that you are loved by him, that he wants to have a personal relationship with you.

God is a redeemer. He takes what is broken in us and he heals it. I don’t know what you have been through in life but whatever it is, God gives each one of us a new beginning. The Bible says that he gives us a new start in Jesus.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB)

I invite you to say the same prayer that I did when I was a young girl. Ask Jesus to forgive you for your sins and to come into your life as Savior and Lord. Then your real journey in the faith and as a writer with a voice to glorify God will begin.

God bless you, ____________.

After I sent this message, she wrote back again, giving me insight into her past. She shared that she had been through a lot of heartache and somehow the content in my blog allowed her to mask this. I better understood where she was coming from when she revealed this to me. My heart went out to her.

I wanted to give an update on what happened between us because this is obviously the work of the Lord. When I wrote the prequel to this, I had no idea what God was going to do. I believed that he was in control and he allowed the plagiarism to happen. I also listened to his prodding to refrain from lambasting and slandering this woman in public by putting her name and site on my blog. I’m so glad he stopped me from giving in to my irritation!

This was one of those moments in life when I could have missed out on the opportunity to tell someone about Jesus. If I had given in to selfishness I would never have been able to tell her, “God loves you and has a plan for your life.” I would’ve sounded like a total hypocrite.

Furthermore, since she has emotional wounds that only God can repair, I was also reminded not to judge people. Luke 6:37 says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned;pardon, and you will be pardoned.”

Everyone has experiences that influence and affect the way they act and behave in the present. I’m not saying that a person’s past justifies their sin. But judging their motivations is God’s department. My role is to love people as Christ has loved me, to forgive as God has forgiven me, to be a dispenser of grace, as I have generously received grace.

I must remember that I represent the interests of God. He wants all people to know him personally and experience his love and forgiveness, even people who may hurt or offend me. If I choose to partner with him to communicate this instead of retaliating or fighting back for self-centered reasons then I have the privilege of witnessing him turn unpleasant experiences into amazing stories of grace.

I believe God purposed for me and this blogger to encounter one another so that I would have the opportunity to tell her about Him.

As 2 Corinthians 5 puts it, God has given us the ministry of reconciliation — to reconcile people to himself. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Excellent Insights

I received this in my mail today! Thank you Charisse for summarizing the insights in each of the books you read. These are great reads! I hope other parents will be able to take something they can apply in their own families…

Bringing Up Girls, Dr. James Dobson

Girls with good fathers are less likely to seek male attention by flaunting themselves.

Girls who live with their mothers and fathers (as opposed to mothers only) have significantly fewer growth and developmental delays, and fewer learning disorders, emotional disabilities and behavioral problems.

Girls whose fathers provide warmth and control achieve greater academic success.

Girls who are close to their fathers exhibit less anxiety and withdrawal behaviors.

Parental connectedness is the number one factor in preventing girls from engaging in premarital sex and indulging in drugs and alcohol.

Daughters who believe that their fathers care about them have significantly fewer suicide attempts and fewer instances of body dissatisfaction, depression, low self-esteem, substance abuse, and unhealthy weight.

Girls with involved fathers are twice as likely to stay in school.

Girls with fathers or father figures feel more protected, are more likely to attempt college, and are less likely to drop out of college.

Girls whose parents divorce or separate before they turn twenty-one tend to have shorter life spans by four years.

Girls who live with their mothers only have significantly less ability to control impulses and delay gratification and have a weaker sense of conscience about right and wrong.

Both boys and girls do better academically if their fathers establish rules and exhibit affection.

Disciplines of a Godly Woman, Barbara Hughes

“Mothers are in the divinely given position to model for their girls the value and richness of the nurturer’s role. One of my most treasured memories is of a day shortly after the birth of my youngest brother. My mother had worked outside the home – by necessity. So for me, coming home from school usually meant entering an empty house with breakfast dishes waiting to be washed and no aroma of the dinner to come. But on this day, I heard my mother’s voice as I approached the front door. She was singing a lullaby. The house was bright and tidy and redolent with wonderful aromas from the kitchen. Mother was rocking my baby brother. She looked happier than I have ever seen her. From that moment, I knew that there was no place on earth my mother would rather be that at home caring for us. Ofcourse, she had no choice; she worked outside the home until she was 65old. ..Her attitude was so utterly powerful. It has marked me for life.”

Why Christian Kids Rebel, Dr. Tim Kennel

(Dr. Kennel speaking) What would be the signs that your child may not actually be a rebellious “Christian” kid but rather an “unsaved” rebellious kid?

Let me give you a simple litmus test:

· Does he show any remorse when he does things that break God’s heart?
· Does she have an inclination toward God’s Word, and is she convicted by it when exposed to it?
· Does he long for and enjoy fellowship with other followers of Christ?
· Does he want to use his spiritual gifts to strengthen the church and reach out to lost people?
· Is she sensitive to the lost condition of the people she encounters at school and work?

Faith-Based Family Finances, Ron Blue and Jeremy White, CPA
(Focus on the Family)

How much do we need?
How often should we save? Weekly? Monthly?
Why? What are we saving for?

How much is okay?
Should we avoid it altogether?
Should we get out of it?

What should we allocate for entertainment?
How often will be we eat out?
How much will we spend on clothing?

Public, private or homeschooling?
College? University?
Trade School?

How many this year?
Where to go?
With kids? Without?

Life, home, health, auto, other?
How much do we need?
What kind of policy suits our needs?

How much to give?
Where to give?
When to give? Weekly? Biweekly? Monthly?

Can we reduce our taxes?
How can we manage them?
Do we underwithhold? Overwhithhold?

Special needs for aging parents? family members with discabilities? A gifted child?
Family time: when?what?how?where?why?
One-on-one time with children?

Date nights?
Communication needs?

Starting a business?
Job satisfaction? Location?

How many?
When to start a family?

When, where, and what kind of home to buy/rent?
Furniture needed?
Special needs: room for guests? Home office? Other?

Where to invest?
Why invest?
How much to invest?

(page 179) “You may be tempted to lower the amount you give. Don’t do it. If you are actively giving to a place of worship or ministry, you should not decrease your giving. For people of faith, giving should be the first-priority use of money. Giving recognizes God’s ownership of everything one has.”

An Anthology of Devotional Literature Compiled by Thomas Kepler

From the Writings of Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667)
1. The humble man trusts not to his own discretion, but in matter of concernment relies rather upon the judgment of his friends, counselors or spiritual guides.
2. He does not pertinaciously pursue the choice of his own will, but in all things lets God chose for him
3. He does not murmur against commands.
4. He patiently bears injuries.
5. He is meek and indifferent in all accidents and chances.
6. He is a great lover of good men, and a praiser of wise men, and a censurer of no man.
7. He is modest in speech, and reserved in his laughter.
8. He fears when he hears himself commended, lest God make another judgment concerning his actions than men do.
9. He gives no pert of saucy answers, when he is reproved, whether justly or unjustly.
10. He loves to sit down in private, and, if he may, he refuses the temptations of offices and new honours.
11. He is ready to good offices to the murderers of his fame, to his slanderers, back biters, and detracters, as Christ washed the feet of Judas
12. And is contended to be suspected of indiscretion, so before God he may be really innocent, and not offensive to his neighbor, nor wanting his just and prudent interest.

New Fashion at Home

From laid-back mom, I have now become more-cautious mom. Check out the face mask!

Our pediatrician, Dr. Joy, calls it reverse isolation. A baby can’t wear a mask so everyone else has to (especially little children who carry really powerful and contagious germs!) Well, we are doing this until she is in the clear and no one else has a cough or cold in the house.

Just two more days of antibiotics! Coughing has gone down significantly. We get an update from Dr. Joy tomorrow.



Catalina’s Name

Edric and I have jokingly said that it’s ironic how Catalina’s name means “pure” when she has been bacteria-ridden since the day she was born. She has been zapped with a total of 6 different antibiotics in a span of 40 days just to clean out her system. Thankfully, she is now recovering at home from her pneumonia and no longer needs oxygen or the IV. She still has to take oral antibiotics and use a nebulizer, but there has been significant improvement in her breathing and eating.

The meaning of Catalina’s name may seem ironic given the circumstances but I think it is symbolic of what God has been doing in our lives as of late.

For a good long while Edric and I were kind of floating around in this happy bubble. Apart from the challenges that came with his work and the challenges of being a homeschooler and homemaker, we did not have any major problems. I am not saying this to boast. It was God who allowed us this season of protection from trials.

When Catalina was hospitalized a day after she was born this bubble popped. And it was just the beginning. Edric and I had multiple sources of stress (big and small) that occurred during the month. From delays in the house construction, car trouble, unprecedented expenses, two cell phones getting water-logged, having just one yaya for a period of time, dealing with a newborn and sleepless nights, losing a part of my breast pump so I had to buy a new one, and then our kids getting sick and being orphaned by us while we were at the hospital, and Catalina ending up with serious infections, not once, but twice…well, let’s just say these things took their toll on us physically, emotionally and spiritually.



I don’t think this was some cosmic experiment to test our breaking point. I know that God is not this kind of father. He doesn’t delight in the afflictions of his children. But I do believe he orchestrated and allowed every single unpleasantry that took place this past month. He used these trying experiences to refine us.

In the Bible God is referred to as a refiner. His word says, “… For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:2, 3 NASB)

According to gold traders on how to refine gold, “refining with flame is one of the oldest methods of refining metals. Mentioned even in the bible, refining by fire is the preferable method for larger quantities of gold. In ancient times, this form of refining involved a craftsman sitting next to a hot fire with molten gold in a crucible being stirred and skimmed to remove the impurities or dross that rose to the top of the molten metal.”

As the master craftsman, God puts us through the same process of discomfort to remove the impurities in our lives. Sometimes these impurities may be blatant sins but other times they may be hindrances, habits, behaviors, attitudes or perspectives that do not meet God’s standard for Christ-likeness.

Taking out these impurities hurts. Who likes 1,000 degrees of heat?! Who likes trial after trial? No one. But just as the heating process is necessary to perfect gold, so also the fiery furnace of life is necessary to cleanse the soul.

Of the many lessons I learned during this past month, I will highlight one. God knew I had to grow in the area of compassion. For example, I used to think that moms who claimed to have difficult babies and were weighed down by the responsibilities of parenting were just making excuses for not showing up at a ministry activity or bible study. I would think, why do you let your baby dictate what you can and cannot do?

I had no idea! For the most part, God allowed my previous pregnancies, births, and the taking-care-of-a-newborn-stage to be relatively easy. And then came Catalina — always wanting to be held, emotionally sensitive and needy. Most difficult of all was her confinement in the hospital, not once, but twice. For the first time I understood what it meant when a mom says, “I can’t be there, I can’t make it,” or “I can’t volunteer” or “I am always tired because of my baby.” Oh honey you bet I understand now!

My compassion meter started working again! (Moms out there, forgive me…)

Sick but smiling with her oxygen tube

More importantly, this compassion extended to sharing the gospel. Previously occupied with my own comfortable world, I was not as tuned in to the spiritual needs of people around me. Sure, I was involved in ministry and I was vocal about Christ in my blog, but I was complacent about sharing the gospel one-on-one.

After experiencing brokenness before God — the kind that left me down on my knees crying out to him — the attentiveness towards the hurts of others was peaked. It was like unclogging a fat-lined artery that should have been working better.

Being in a hospital full of sick people, some of whom were dying, all of whom were hurting and hoping for relief, made me think about how short and fragile life is. I was compelled to reevaluate what my priorities are. I began to recognize how many opportunities I had missed out on in the past to tell others about Jesus. But God gave me new ones — the nurses in the hospital, a street vendor, a woman at the parlor, and a new yaya, among others.

Leaving the hospital

A few days ago, after we were discharged from the hospital, I had a conversation with my dad. He was seated on his lazy boy in the bedroom reading a book. When I came in, he asked how I was doing. I shared with him the doubts I had when Catalina was hospitalized for pneumonia.

“Dad, it was hard for me. I wondered if God loved me…if I was doing something in my life that was displeasing to him, that removed his favor.” And he said, “I felt like that in Europe when we lost our suitcases.” (My parents’ bags weren’t recovered until they got back to Manila.) He explained that when God gives us problems it is to build our faith and character. I suppose I already knew this but it was comforting to hear it again.

The wounds that God allows in our lives are calibrated to be purposeful. He may use big or small events to awaken our spiritual consciousness. Everything happens according to his time table and plan. There are no accidents or miscalculations.

This is so reassuring to me. It is easy to be afraid when you are holding a sickly baby in your arms, wondering if she is going to be okay, aching to take her place so she doesn’t have to suffer. The helplessness feels very real from that microscopic vantage point. But when you step back and see the bigger picture, the hidden hand of God becomes visible. You realize he was holding you, never removing his gaze, cradling the entire circumstance with his love so that nothing happened that was outside of his knowledge, protection, or reach.

Like a watchful master craftsman who knows just how much heat is necessary to purify gold, he minds the temperature of each event in our lives. And when the impurities that poison the integrity he desires in us come to the surface he removes them so we can shine with authenticity for him, so we can better tell of his gospel of love. The process is, more often than not, uncomfortable and even painful. But the end is beautiful — Christlike behavior and character, refined by fire, set apart to do God’s will.

Catalina’s name will forever tell me that it is God who makes pure the vessels he intends to use to proclaim his name. He is committed to purifying us again and again for as long as necessary. Although we may fear what this could entail …sickness, financial trouble, business failure, the loss of a family member or friend…we can be comforted that what follows is an encounter with a father who always rescues, strengthens, redeems, and restores those who call upon his name.

“Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You. (Psalms 51:6-13 NASB)






After a crazy week at the hospital, I checked my email and received a disturbing message. A concerned reader of Teachwithjoy told me that there is a blogger who is cutting and pasting from my articles and putting it on her site. This is different than sharing the articles or passing them around. She is using personal stories and reflections of mine and putting herself in them. Or, hacking up things I have written and using the insights as her own.

At first I was just shocked. Who does this? Especially from a site that is about a woman’s grace journey as a wife, mother, and homeschooler. It’s not like the content is that juicy! This is not about the life of a celebrity or famous person. It is not the kind of stuff that people would normally want to plagiarize. These are deeply personal reflections and stories about me and the people I love. These are spiritual lessons I have picked up along the way. They are meant to be shared and passed around in their integrative wholeness, in context, to bless others. But seeing them hacked up, butchered and stolen in this way is hurtful.

So this is what it feels like to be a victim of plagiarism. Ouch.

Admittedly the selfish and carnal me was offended on two fronts. First, any decent, educated person knows that this is plain unethical and inappropriate. Second, my thoughts were…Write about your own life instead of borrowing someone else’s. Don’t have a blog if you can’t do so. It makes you a thief, not a writer.

I did write the blogger to express my concern and sentiment about what she was doing (it was worded nicely) but I have not gotten a response. Hmm…maybe I was too nice? It doesn’t really matter at this point. If she has been doing this for a while, I doubt that a little note from me is going to bring about radical change. The reality is the digital world swarms with people who do this sort of thing. And by putting content on line I would be an ignorant fool to think that it was “safe” to do so. Of course this reality doesn’t make it less troubling.

Last night I told some of my family members about it just to get their perspective. One person was like, that’s kind of a compliment, right? (Umm…no. Violated was closer to how I felt.) Another one offered to spy on them, digitally speaking (also known as stalking them on social media.) Yet another suggested that I put her name out there and expose her publicly. Bingo! For an instant, this seemed like an attractive idea. But Edric cautioned me against doing so. Okay, okay. It would have been in bad taste if I did. It would be morally wrong, slanderous, to be more accurate. Furthermore, I don’t want to turn this site into an avenue for personal agenda.

I kind of let the whole thing go but this morning, my frustration mounted when, out of curiosity, I read another link that Ms. Concerned Reader sent to me. It was an article the blogger posted — a cut-up version of “The Rise of the Unloved Woman”. My agitation grew and I was tempted again to use my site to do an exposé. But the Holy Spirit stopped me.

What do you hope to gain? Isn’t this site supposed to be about God’s grace? Would that be an act of grace?

Of course not. It would be an act of ugly pride.

Here were some other questions the Lord prodded me to answer…
Why are you upset? Do you think you own the content on your site? Have I not given the insights to you and inspired you with the personal experiences to write? That content belongs to me, not to you. Furthermore, do I not know all things? I know what this person is doing. Why should you trouble yourself? I am better able to convict her to stop what she is doing. And if I don’t stop her what is that to you? Is it so bad that someone is copying your articles? Are you going to pick a fight over this and let it steal your joy?

Remember…”The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” (Exodus 14:14 NASB)

I had to acknowledge my selfish thinking and say sorry to the Lord. This blog may be personal but the spotlight is not supposed to be on me. This site is something I have dedicated to the Lord, to minister to others. It is supposed to highlight Jesus Christ. So if people pretend that the thoughts, ideas and stories here are theirs, well, it is a crime they can take up with God. He is the owner of everything I have written here.

It is easy to fall prey to the entitlement mentality. But the truth is I own nothing. Not even this site. God owns everything. He has the liberty to decide what ought to be done with the people, possessions, ministry, and gifts he has given me. A tell-tale sign that I am trying to take God’s place is when I become controlling, anxious, or upset when these things are “messed” with, or when circumstances don’t seem to favor what I want. Pride says, “Hey! That’s mine! Hands off!” It also says, “I deserve to be treated better. Don’t do this to me!” Or, “I deserve respect, recognition. I deserve more! Give me what is due me!”

When I was younger my mom read to me the Pineapple Story. It is a story about a missionary who loved pineapples. He had the locals plant them for him but they stole them when it was harvest time. Angered and frustrated because they kept stealing the pineapples, he began to lose his effectivity as a missionary. It wasn’t until he realized that the pineapples didn’t belong to him but to the Lord that he stopped getting angry. The locals noticed a remarkable difference in his personality and wondered what happened…why he wasn’t reacting to the stolen pineapples. He told them they were not stealing from him but from God. This convicted the locals and they repented and changed. But the real victory was this — the missionary began to bear fruit in his ministry because he was not consumed with self-centered thinking. He focused on what he was supposed to be doing — being a blessing and bringing Jesus Christ to the lost.

Similarly, I need to guard against the entitlement perspective in my own life which can side-swipe and cripple me from being used by God. If I am so preoccupied with fighting for my rights when they are trampled upon or taking up a defensive stance to protect what I believe to be mine then I lose the very purpose for which I exist — to lead others to Jesus Christ. When the entitlement mentality infects me, it becomes about me. But, it’s not about me, it’s all about Him.

I am actually thankful that this unpleasant discovery happened. Being a victim of plagiarism made me reevaluate why I write. Is to exalt myself or is it to exalt the Lord?

If it is to exalt the Lord then I need to keep focusing on the priorities God wants me to…growing in intimacy with him, loving my husband, kids, the ladies I disciple, and faithfully teaching my children so I can keep writing for his purposes and glory, plagiarized or not!


Sweet Randomness Part 1

TIANA (3 years old):

Someday in heaven there will be lots of animals. I will ask God, “God, can I have a cat?”

“Sure,” God will say.

“God, can I have a dog?”

God will say, “Okay, good job. Yes.”

“I want to go to God’s house. I want to stay there. He has a new crib for Catalina. He has drawings for me and markers.”

“Where is God’s house?” I ask. (She points up)

“What does it look like?”

“Grandmas house!”


During our homeschooling yesterday…

I pull out the same material that we used two weeks ago when I tried to teach her numbers and then got frustrated with her when she didn’t get it.

She looks at it very concerned and says, “You won’t do what you did last time, right?” referring to the way I chucked the book on to the bed.

“Yes, I won’t. Mommy was very wrong when I did that!” (We had fun this time around. God reminded me to enjoy the time with her and to be positive.)



TITUS (5 years old):

He had the cap of a marker in his mouth. It was a big one and I was concerned that he might swallow it. So I told him, “Titus you need to remove that from your mouth. Remember what happened when you swallowed a marble? But this one is different, it is bigger. If you swallow that one you might choke and die.”

He looked up at me thoughtfully and replied, “Yeah but if I die I just go to heaven right?”

(He got me.)

When his tooth came out…

“How did it come out?” I ask.

“I was just playing with my shirt and putting it on my tooth and boom, it just came out!”

“Did it hurt?”


He was poking the hole where it came out of with a cotton bud. (I guess he has a high tolerance for pain.) Edan also assisted him by putting a cotton ball on it.


EDAN (7 years old):

He is walking around the room folding his hands and curling his toes under his foot so that he sort of hobbles forward.

“What are you doing?” Edric asks.

“Whatever I do to one side of my body I have to do to the other.”

He looked so bizarre. He kept this up for a couple of days until Edric told him he had to stop. Edan gets a little obsessive compulsive sometimes.

About his achievement test…

“How was it?” I ask.

“It was so easy!”

“That’s good to hear!”

“Yah, I only didn’t know…” He enumerates several questions he didn’t answer. Easy, eh?! I love a homeschoolers self-confidence!

EDAN and ELIJAH (10 years old):

Edan proudly says, “I killed a fly today, mom.”

“Wow. That’s great!”

He proceeds to explain in detail how it got caught in the fly swatter, just at the tip, before it could escape.

“I killed ten flies today”, toots Elijah.

I give him the eye for trying to one-up his brother.

“Yah, I can only kill one.” Edan responds, almost embarrassed.

Elijah realizes his timing was wrong and says,”Oh, but when I was your age I couldn’t even kill one fly!”

I love these kids!!!


Back in the Hospital

My daughter, Tiana, curiously asked me one morning, “Where is God? How come I can’t see him?” This was a follow up question to a discussion we were having about Jesus’ death and resurrection. She had watched a clip of The Passion that showed Christ on the cross. Concerned and troubled, she wondered if Jesus was still there and dead. I explained to her that he came back to life and didn’t stay dead because he is God. But she wanted evidence…physical evidence.

It is not easy to convince a 3 year old that God is present even if we cannot see him. Her grasp of what is real is the tangible world she sees, feels and hears. So a description of the spiritual world left her perplexed and baffled.

“But WHERE is he?”

She couldn’t grasp the concept. I had to look up another clip of the movie that showed the resurrection part so she could be appeased. I found something on YouTube and that seemed to pacify her for a bit, but whew, what a discussion.

Interestingly, I had the same discussion with the Lord last night as I looked over at my baby, Catalina. She was lying in a plastic crib with a tube in her nose for oxygen, a second tube in her hand for IV and antibiotics, and a third chord attached to an oxygen, pulse and breathing monitor. Her breathing was slightly labored but she was sleeping. It must have been close to 3 am.
Admitted yesterday morning for pneumonia, Catalina is back in the hospital again. We brought her in to the ER of Cardinal Santos as advised by our pediatrician after I communicated to her that Catalina was lethargic, not eating, and her cough had worsened. It sounded tight and deeply obstructed.
I’ve gone through some major crises in my life but none has ever compared to the pain of seeing my children suffer. If I knew what it was like to get my heart torn out of my chest, well, that would be it. Apart from the loss of a loved one, I cannot imagine a greater hurt in this world than seeing the afflictions of my children and feeling helpless to save them.
The hope I had for Catalina’s recovery grew dim as she struggled through Monday night to find comfort. I could provide no remedy. I had suggested to Edric that he sleep in the kids’ room because the AC was turned off in ours. (He had already dealt with so much interrupted sleep in the past month. Getting to sleep on the floor of the kids’ room was a luxury!)

Of course this meant that I was alone in our room. I cried and cried out to God that he would heal Catalina, pleading with a desperation I had not felt before. Edric came in to check on me and he saw me bawling. His words of assurance were sweet and tender but I was lost in my grief.

Is this what it was like to be Hannah in the Bible? She was consumed with the desire for a child and no one could comfort her for being denied one, not even her husband. And I felt the same kind of obsessive desire, wailing for help, asking to have my child back. I wanted her back to being demanding and needy if that’s what it would take to have her healthy again.

God gives an instinct to mothers that makes her keen at interpreting tell-tale signs of distress and peculiar behavior in her children.

I recognized that something was gravely wrong when Catalina became uncharacteristically quiet and disinterested in feeding. Having grown accustomed to her demands to be carried and nursed frequently, I knew her cough and cold took a turn for the worse.

When our pediatrician confirmed that we should bring her to the hospital the next day, I felt both anxious and relieved. I suppose I knew what was ailing her but I suspended my thoughts until Dr. Joy checked her. The prospect of getting a confirmation was almost comforting. I wanted to know what we could do to cure her.

Edric cleared his schedule so we could do this together. I always say that Edric is my knight in shining armor because he is consistently present when I need him most. He will take charge and do whatever he can, sacrificing his own time, comfort, and needs to be there for me or the kids.

On the way to the hospital, I asked him if Catalina’s lips appeared bluish but he said it was probably the lighting inside our van. I didn’t think so. I had looked at those lips for the last 36 days of her life and knew what color they ought to have been.

We got to Cardinal Santos pretty quickly, avoiding the traffic because we left after school started. Since our pediatrician, Dr. Joy, is a friend, she made sure we were well attended to as soon as we got to the ER. Her residents were on standby and she came almost immediately after we arrived. At her instruction, Catalina was given a tube for oxygen. She was not getting enough air into her lungs. If the normal reading is 95 above, she was only at 81%. The oxygen helped to bring back the pink in her lips and cheeks.

I observed Dr. Joy’s expressions as she placed the stethoscope on Catalina’s chest. She didn’t seem pleased with what she heard. She had this way of coupling objectivity with deep concern that softened the blow of her initial diagnosis. When she said there was phlegm in Catalina’s lungs and that it was most likely pneumonia, I broke down. She hugged me and said, “Don’t worry. I will be here. This is treatable.”

I knew what this would entail for Catalina. We had been through this when she was born…tubes, needle pricking, blood tests, antibiotics, living in the hospital. Edric and I did not like that part, but knowing that her pneumonia would be arrested and treated was good news. It was caught in the early stages, occupying just the inner lungs.

Where is God when these things happen? When crisis seems to negate the promise of his blessing upon those who follow and obey him, what is the impact? I seemed to have found myself asking the very question that my 3 year old Tiana was, “But where is he, how come we cannot see him?”

In faith I believed that God would heal Catalina while we were at home. I didn’t expect to be in the hospital again. Yet here we are. And I have been honest with God. I expressed that I was hurt and grieved that he allowed this. There was a dark moment when I felt unloved and unconsidered. But last night while I watched Catalina sleeping, I believed with all certainty that God was present. He had not abandoned us or forgotten his promises.

He made his presence felt in a number of ways:

– He caused my maternal instinct to kick in, to respond with a sense of urgency when I realized something was wrong. Had I waited too long, Catalina would have been deprived of oxygen.

– Dr. Joy’s commitment to care for our daughter was and has been of great assurance.

– We happen to be staying with my parents as we transition to finish our new house, so our four other children are not alone. They are with their grandparents and with their cousins.

– God has also embraced us and covered us with the prayers of family and friends, their well wishes, and kind words.

– When the doctors needed to find a vein for Catalina’s IV and it seemed impossible because many of her veins were unusable due to her previous confinement, Dr. Joy asked her friend, Dr. Apples (an anesthesiologist) to find one and she did…on her first try!

– Had she been sick soon after her stay in St. Lukes, giving her antibiotics would have been complicated because the bacteria might have developed a resistance.

– The stage of her pneumonia is early and treatable. Some people have big spots of the bacteria in their lungs, Catalina’s occupies just 1/3 of hers.

– So far, her first blood culture has showed nothing, and her CBC has no elevated white blood cells.

– Last night, she slept peacefully in intervals of about two hours which allowed me to rest, too.

– We are in a room right beside the nurses’ station so they respond quickly to our needs.

– Personally, I have been very blessed by Edric. He has repeatedly communicated to me that he will take care of me and be here for Catalina and I.

What an eventful first month of motherhood I have had! So much pain, joy, fatigue, faith, worry, frustration, hope, darkness, and deliverance personally packaged to help me grow in character. I do not know what else is in store for me, for Catalina, for our family. I sent a text message to Edric this morning because he has been out today for work:

“I miss you but it’s good to be alone to process all of this. I feel very broken — emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I know God is present through all this and this comforts me but it still hurts that he allowed this to happen. It’s like the weariness of being in a war where the victory is certain but the fighting is necessary.”

His response…”I love you babes. I will take care of you.” (Awww)

I read this passage in Psalms today and I know it was for me — to declare and praise God. Whatever is happening now doesn’t change what I know to be true about God’s character. He is good. And I will praise him whether smiling or in tears, whether joyful or afflicted.

But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and of Your salvation all day long; For I do not know the sum of them. I will come with the mighty deeds of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, Yours alone. O God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still declare Your wondrous deeds. For Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the heavens, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You? You who have shown me many troubles and distresses Will revive me again, And will bring me up again from the depths of the earth. (Psalms 71:14-17, 19, 20 NASB)20130918-154629.jpg20130918-154647.jpg20130918-154703.jpg20130918-154654.jpg20130918-154709.jpg20130918-154715.jpg


Here We Go Again! Round 2…

I have always been stubborn about bringing my babies out earlier than they ought to be. I just figured it wasn’t realistic to have them isolated at home for the first three months of their lives like my pediatrician and friends would always recommend. With every other child I’ve had, they were out and about within the first few weeks and they remained perfectly healthy.

Elijah attended his first birthday party at 9 days old. Tiana had her first photo shoot at 9 days old. All my other babies were in church with me by the second week, hidden in a sling. So I figured it was no big deal to do the same with Catalina. She’s been to several groceries, meetings, our house construction site, the Manila International Book Fair, a seminar I gave last week, restaurants, church, bible study group, and anywhere else I have had to go because I am her bottle. 20130916-231713.jpg

Well, now I am kicking myself for being so carefree. She picked up a cold and cough in the last three days that has been miserable for her (and for me!). I’m not 100% sure the bug came from outside the home because her siblings and cousins were coughing and sniffling this past week. They could have been the source. I would put Tiana up there as number one on the list of suspects, too. She came pretty near Catalina’s face a number of times.

I learned too late that everyone who is sick in the house must wear a gauze mask to avoid infecting an infant. By the time our pediatrician told me this, the virus was already incubating. All the while I assumed that babies who get breast milk have a superior immune system. Apparently this isn’t always the case. My doctor said they are better protected from gastrointestinal infections but not necessarily the respiratory kind.

Taking care of Catalina has been such a journey for me as a mom. She is just a month old but she has introduced me to many firsts. For instance, she was the first of my babies to ever be confined in a hospital. She was the first to adamantly refuse being put down. And now she is the first one to ever battle a virus at just a few weeks old.

I was tempted to worry, especially since pneumonia cases are on the rise. However, yesterday morning, I was encouraged as I watched the live stream video of our church’s Sunday message. In Isaiah 6:1-3, it says “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ’Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
the whole earth is full of His glory.’”

No matter what is going on my life, God remains on the throne. He is the majestic and holy one who sits as King over all the world. And he is present with me, right here, right now, even as a write this. When I start to feel stressed I think of how big, awesome, powerful, and perfectly holy God is, and my problems diminish in their gravity.

I don’t know why he allowed Catalina to get sick again after all she went through during her first two weeks of life. When I ask the why question, I am inclined to draw all kinds of inconclusive reasons. Is it to humble me? Is God not pleased with me? Is it to teach me faith? Is it to make me more dependent? Is it a lesson on choice and consequence (I took her out of the house and compromised her immunity)? I have no idea.

It can be unsettling to live with unanswered questions and to keep speculating. So I will not dwell on the why. Instead I will cling to what I do know. God loves Catalina and God loves me. He is a good father. When he allows affliction, he doesn’t abandon his children while they struggle through it. He knows how hard it is for Catalina to be sick. He knows that it pains me to see her this way. He knows that I am getting even less sleep at night. He knows that I want her to be well. It is of great comfort to me that he sees all and knows all. Nothing escapes his notice.

My part is to keep seeking God and move towards him, instead of withdrawing or questioning his ways. He gives and he takes away as Job says, but He is blessed still. So this is an opportunity to praise him for who he is and to remember that all things belong to him — my children, my life, my comfort, my wants and desires…

On the practical side, I am doing what I can to help Catalina get better (most of these things were advised by Dr. Joy Ty-Sy, our paediatrician):

1. Use a Nebulizer 3x a day. Titus needed this when he was very sick two years ago. So we invested in one for our home. It has been put to good use since then. Whenever my kids have bad coughs, nebulizing allows them to recover more quickly. 20130915-221723.jpg

2. Spray saline solution into nostrils. To keep the mucus soft, I use a saline spray called salinese. I have used it for my other kids too. Of course it’s uncomfortable but it does decongest their nostrils.

3. Give plenty of time to rest in a quiet room. I was busy last week so Catalina was out with me. This affected her sleeping patterns which probably lowered her immunity also.

4. Keep the head propped up so it’s easier to breathe. When she lets me put her down (which is becoming more frequent, hurrah!) I use a pillow. But I don’t let her sleep without someone watching her. (It’s not ideal to have pillows around the crib for babies. They can suffocate if they roll over. So someone has to be with them.)

5. Avoid the use of air conditioning. The cold, dry air aggravates the throat and makes her more prone to coughing. Without the ac turned on, she slept more soundly.

6. Suck out snot using Nose Frida. Thankfully, Mothercare sells Nose Frida, the snot sucker. It is the best! I was planning to order one online and have it sent to Manila for future use but my sister-in-law, Jennifer, told me that it is available at Mothercare in Global City. So after dinner last night, Edric and I drove over there and got one for P660. We used it right away and it cleared Catalina’s nostrils very efficiently. 20130915-221704.jpg61FEKPXUIfL

Nose Frida works well for babies and young children who cannot blow their noses themselves. All you have to do is place the tip of the syringe at the opening of each nostril and then you suck out the snot using a mouthpiece that is attached to a tube which is connected to the syringe. It sounds disgusting but the snot never reaches your own mouth. There is a filter that blocks this from happening. Plus the syringe is pretty sizable to contain the snot so it doesn’t travel up the tube. I actually found it fun to get all that gook out of her nose. My, how unglamorous I have become!

It’s not easy having an infant who is sick. I am being stretched in a new way as a mom. Catalina has thrown up several times because of her cough. And she is not nursing as much. I tried to mix breastfeeding with breastmilk through a syringe to feed her this evening just to make sure she is getting enough. 20130916-220459.jpgOn the up side, Catalina seems to be sleeping longer in between feeds. And she has been lying down in her crib or on our bed! It doesn’t always work but what a relief when it does! Wonder of wonders!  I have also been able to leave her at home with our househelp several times in the past few days to run errands.

Catalina is not yet well. Dr. Joy says I still need to observe her and watch out for certain danger signs — high fever, changes in her cough and breathing. This feels like round 2 of our hospital experience except that it’s all happening at home.

Well, when I start feeling down about Catalina being sick again, I think about passages in the Bible like this one… Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is God from of old, creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny. He gives power to the faint, abundant strength to the weak. Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)   20130916-231632.jpg

The Danger of Self-Centered Homeschooling

My imperfections as a homeschool mother have been magnified as of late…especially my impatience. It is a real struggle every time the kids don’t cooperate the way I hope they will. And this has been my very problem. I want my kids to cater to my needs right now. I need them to be easy to teach because I don’t have an easy baby to take care of. So I hold them to a set of expectations and I feel frustrated when these expectations are not met.

Today I put this pressure on my little three year old, Tiana. She blanked out half-way through our lesson like she didn’t know anything and I was so irritated. I tossed her work on the bed. She cried, I cried. I felt like a monster-mom. I WAS a monster-mom!

Tiana inched away from me, took hold of her stuffed tiger, walked over to the other side of the room, and climbed up on to the bed. She curled up in a fetal position facing the window. This was the first time she ever saw me lose my temper. She withdrew from me, emotional pained by my outburst.

God, I need your help. This is not the kind of mom I want to become. I feel like such a failure.

I have always told moms to make learning enjoyable. Sigh. I even give seminars about this! However, I did the very opposite. Tiana was not motivated by a love to learn this morning. She was afraid of disappointing me. I saw it in her eyes. She would point to the answers (the ones she was guessing) without confidence. And she would gaze up at me to see if she had my approbation. When I seemed stern, she would look down at the work in front of her, uncertain of how to proceed.

When I realized how I had hurt her, I said, “Tiana, please come to mommy.” (I was kind of immobile because Catalina was nursing.) Tiana walked over with her big brown eyes still watery and red with tears. I pulled her close and embraced her. “Will you forgive me? I was wrong. I am so sorry. Mommy will help you to learn.”

She looked up at me and started to sob again. But she said, “I forgive you, mommy” and she reached out to touch my hand. I held her for a while and kissed her head. How could I have hurt someone I love so much?

A few minutes later, I told her we would try math again. Our take two was much better. There was joy and laughter in it. I decided to appreciate her small victories and I made the effort to be positive and encouraging.

This was a lesson on parenting for me. I can’t ever think that homeschooling is about me. It’s not about my agenda — my own goals. I have been entrusted with the fragile and vulnerable hearts of my kids. And I am accountable for that trust. It is about stewardship.

My main responsibility is to disciple them — to teach them to love God and obey him, and to help them develop their gifts and abilities for his purposes and glory.

If I get angry because my kids don’t know their academics as well as I want them to, then I am violating the trust of stewardship. If I wound them emotionally because they fall short of my expectations, then I cannot disciple them effectively. I become a self-centered teacher. And self-centered teaching does not amount to the greater good of my kids.

Lord help me to be a Christ-centered teacher and not a self-centered one. I need to improve in the area of patience and I cannot have victory if I am always thinking of what is most convenient for me or what I would like to accomplish. Direct my teaching so that I accomplish what you want me to in the lives of my children.



Live with Anticipation

Yesterday was my first attempt at homeschooling four kids since I gave birth to Catalina. She wailed several times during the morning so I had to teach while breastfeeding. Had my four older kids been more cooperative, this wouldn’t have been such a bad set-up. But, they got used to the liberties they had while I was busy with Catalina this past month. It was hard for them to settle into study-mode.

Edan seemed so disinterested, Elijah was distracted, Titus kept gravitating towards the IPad, and Tiana didn’t want to do her Sing, Spell, Read, and Write material. I sat there, on the bed, with my disheveled hair, nursing bib, Catalina in one arm, and the tears started to fall. This wasn’t going well.

“Why is your face red, mommy?” Titus asked in his curious way. Elijah said sorry because he knew why I was upset. Edan looked over, quiet and concerned. Tiana was clueless.

I didn’t want them to worry about me. So after admitting that I was having a hard time, I shifted emotional gears, sucked it in, and continued.

I proceeded to teach Tiana her numbers. She kept getting confused with numbers 1 to 10. So we tackled just 2 numbers — number 1 and number 2 but even that was hard for her to grasp.

My impatience started to kick in. What?! She doesn’t know her numbers?!

Tiana’s face began to show signs of distress. “Mommy, don’t be mad.” She could tell I was agitated so I had to apologize and watch my tone.

Edan actually said it was his fault for not teaching her so well this past year. He was supposed to be my teacher’s assistant. Of course I didn’t blame him. He is 7 years old! I’m supposed to be on top of these things. I really didn’t do much with Tiana this past school year in terms of academics. Therefore, she is at ground zero.

For the remainder of the morning, I homeschooled while sitting on a bed and surprise, surprise…My kids actually got through science, world history, local civics, and some Filipino (for the older boys). Edan squeezed in a little bit of math. Titus and Tiana did their phonics and math. It was a bumpy morning but we survived.

This is going to be a fun year. I’m trying to be very positive because I know it’s going to be incredibly challenging.

I like what my mom says. “Live with anticipation.” She is a model of what it means to smile at the future and anticipate what God is going to do — how he will solve and fix a problem or issue.

Years ago, she had symptoms indicative of multiple sclerosis. The doctor told her she most likely had MS. She left the hospital imagining that she could end up in a wheel chair in the near future but when she got into her car, she said, “Thank you Lord (in advance) for what you are going to do. I know you are going to take care of me.” Her nervousness was replaced with faith and calm as she applied the verse,
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6, 7 NASB)

When we found out what she was up against we were all concerned, especially my dad. But we all prayed and committed her health to the Lord. She also did a lot of research on how to combat her nerve degeneration with natural remedies. After a few months her symptoms did not progress and she got well! We all believe that God cured her, but my mom said the key was applying the “thanksgiving” part of Philippians 4:6-7. She lived with anticipation that God was going to do something miraculous and he did!

I may not be battling a sickness or disease, but I find myself at a point in my own life where I must live with anticipation, trusting that God will give me favor as I homeschool. Yesterday was a foretaste of my new normal. It’s not going to be easy to give each of my kids the attention they need, but I am excited. I’m looking forward to how the kids and I will grow and mature this year. God has something special in store for us.

This passage ministered to me…
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:35-39 NASB)

Snapshots of the kids at work…







Happy Hostage

It’s 6 AM and I have about 10 minutes to write a post before my darling baby, Catalina, wakes up and wants to be fed again. If I’m lucky, I might get 30 minutes.

I thought for sure she would be my easiest baby. But, of all my children, she is the one baby that doesn’t want to be put down and left alone. I’m hoping this passes after the first few weeks.

With my previous babies, I could lay them in their crib or bassinet after they were fed and they would dose off to sleep. This would free me to do what I wanted to. Catalina, on the other hand, will fall asleep while I’m holding her and wake up crying a few minutes after she realizes she isn’t in my arms.

I’ve also had to feed her 8 times almost every night. When she does better, I can get through a night with just 5 to 6 feedings. If I want her to go for longer stretches, I have to cradle her in my arms so she feels secure and wakes up less. But this means I have to be in an inclined position. Waaaah!

Even though Catalina is my fifth child, going through this stage again makes me feel like she is my first. I suppose this is because of all the energy and resolve I’ve had to invest in taking care of her. Even though I prayed diligently during my pregnancy to have a baby who was easy to take care of, she has turned out to be my most challenging. First, there was the confinement at the hospital. Now, it is her feeding schedule and personality. I feel like such a rookie. I also feel like a hostage!

I feel like my liberties have been taken away. I feel like I am being controlled by a 3-week old infant! My sense of duty makes me fulfill all my motherly responsibilities and of course, I love her to bits, but on the flip side, I am a little bit resentful that she is a “difficult” baby.

How ungrateful the human heart is! How selfish I can be as a mother! I wanted a baby that was easy to control and now that I find myself being controlled by Catalina, I am grumpy. I’m ashamed to admit it, especially since I know women who have ached and longed to have a first child. Here I am, with my fifth, ranting about the un-pleasantries of motherhood. Somebody slap me.

Edric has commented several times, “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you accept that this is what it is?”

My initial counter-thought was…you have no idea what you are talking about. Do you have to breastfeed every 30 minutes or 1 hour? Do you have to perpetually hold an infant so that you can’t even use the toilet or take a shower? Are you awake at 3 am, looking at a very awake baby and begging her to fall back asleep so you can too? Have you put your whole life on pause, including very important responsibilities and the activities you enjoy so you can be available 24/7 to meet the needs of your child? Do you change poopy diapers and wipe a poopy butt every other hour…

Of course I didn’t say this. Edric has his own cross to bear. It was one of those useless, imaginary dialogues in my head. And besides, he was right. What’s wrong with me?! I love my babies. I wanted to have another child. Edric may not understand what it is like to be a mom, but he was right about accepting things for what they are.

I can’t force-fit Catalina into this baby mold…this idea I have about what all MY babies should be like. So, either I change my perspective or I continue wallowing in self-pity and miss out on enjoying this stage.

When I woke up this morning thinking about how hard it has been, a wonderful thought came to my mind. God ministered to me by reminding me that he doesn’t allow difficult circumstances without reason. For every challenge, he supplies greater faith, greater capacity, and greater grace.

He is definitely teaching me to be thankful and grateful. I have the privilege of being mom to another healthy, beautiful child. She is a gift from the Lord and not an inconvenience or an interruption like I am ashamed to admit she sometimes feels like…especially when I am really tired and want to change her personality. She may be more needy, clingy, and demanding than my other kids were as babies but on the brighter side, she doesn’t projectile vomit like Tiana would after every feed. That was pretty miserable. And she doesn’t pee on me like my boys would. That was always gross.

Thankful people are happy people. I haven’t been rejoicing too much this past week because I haven’t been grateful.

Thankfulness is saying, “Lord, this is not what I wanted but you know best so I thank you for putting me in this circumstance. Help me to trust that this is exactly where you want me to be right now and give me your joy so that I glorify you with the right attitude and behavior.”

The Lord is also teaching me to be humble. Sometimes I can act like such an expert for having been there and done that when it comes to being a mom and having babies. But here’s a reality check. Everything I am able to do and everything I know is not to my own credit. My enablement comes from God. Successful parenting is possible only when I remain connected to the source – Jesus Christ. The moment I feel like I am completely capable on my own, I’m in big trouble.

Honestly, I was assuming that this was going to be a breeze. My overconfidence bordered on arrogance. I had this vision of homeschooling while holding my baby in one arm, writing in the afternoons, reading stories to my kids, cooking meals for my family, pushing my baby in a stroller to the park, and being able to go out on dates with my husband. ALL FANTASY!

Greater faith, greater capacity, greater grace. God knows I need this more than I need an easy baby. Will I be able to do all the things I listed above? I imagine that in time, the answer will be yes. For now, I’ve got to go attend to Catalina who needs to be fed again or wants to be carried. But I’m smiling! I’m choosing to be a happy hostage because God’s word says… Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:3-5