Faith

What if you told God you would do anything… and He took you up on it?

I just came across this question in one of the devotionals that was forwarded to me by a friend and it hit me hard, so hard that I suddenly remembered everything I uttered to God in prayer at a specific time of need—What if you told God you would do anything….and He took you up on it?

Alaska wasn’t exactly what we planned. We initially didn’t want to leave the Philippines as Sam and I had other plans but it seemed as though God was leading us away and towards the US, and so we started praying for a job for him. While waiting for papers to be filed and higher decisions to be made, during those times of uncertainty, I now recall specifically praying this way— “Lord, if the US is really our destination, please bless my husband with a job, even if I don’t know what I’m going to do there, even if I’m going to have to quit being a doctor for now, even if I would have to wait for my next step. Please don’t have Sam wait too long, please bless him and make him succeed, make him fulfilled, I CAN WAIT for my turn.” And there you have it. That was when I told God I could do it, that I could wait— for a time when I would be a doctor to patients again; for that bundle of joy; for complete healing from my rheumatoid arthritis and endometriosis; for fulfillment of goals; for my turn.    

And guess what, He took me up on it. I told Him I could wait, but the truth is, I can’t. Who likes to wait, anyway? In this day and age, nobody does. But then, I really don’t have a choice, do I? So I wait, begrudgingly. And then Sam steps in— it is not a question of “if” you wait, rather it is “how” you wait. Boy did that hit me right in the heart, and the head. And then I realized, I’ve been waiting for at least 3 years now, I can wait after all, just not with the right attitude. Waiting without grumbling and throwing tantrums is easier said than done, at least for me. And this just had to change. 

Believe me, I didn’t expect the waiting to be this long (and hard), I don’t even know what I’m waiting for anymore. But then again, there’s this whole list of people from the Bible who have waited for years before they successfully fulfilled what God called them to do, and their waiting period wasn’t easy either. Bad decisions were made in between, and there was a lot of kicking and screaming and pouting and tantrums too, (well not exactly that way because that’s more me, but yes, the waiting struggle WAS real for them too) and some of them didn’t even have it all figured out until the last minute! One could never really appreciate how comforting it is to know these stories, until you actually experience what these men and women of the Bible went through. I am saying this to remind and encourage myself and maybe some of you out there that waiting on God has never been easy for anyone. It’s especially harder when you remember that you were the one who told Him you could wait in the first place. It reminds me of being in front of the counter at KFC in the Philippines, ordering a chicken meal, and then being asked, “Ma’am, we ran out of fried chicken, are you willing to wait 20 minutes for the next batch?” And even if I’m not sure my stomach could, I go ahead and answer, “Sure.” Although God didn’t ask me if I could wait, I actually told Him I could even before He could ask. Sure, waiting is hard. But I know that it’s during the wait that God molds us to be ready for what He has in store. It may not be what we had in mind, but it will be the best for us, for sure. And so, I will choose to look at this waiting period as a blessing. I will wait, not begrudgingly, but hopefully, expectantly. The process may not come easy, I may slip back into the kicking and screaming stage, but I will try and remind myself everyday that this is an answer to my prayer after all. And it is for this and a lot of other answered prayers that I will be grateful.

Psalm 27:13-14   

“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

Isaiah 40:31   

“but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

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Love and Marriage

How God wrote our 2013 story

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For some, 2013 had been a year of joy, marriage, birth, life, reunion. For some it was a year of sorrow, heartache, loss, tragedy, death. For most people active in social networks, it was a year of selfies. For even most, it was just like any other year. For Sam and I, 2013 was a year of change, the kind of change that enabled us to grow and marvel at God’s faithfulness together.

We could never really fathom how much God has been faithful to us ever since we got married. This year had been exceptionally awesome. I still remember us saying goodbye to 2012, both without jobs, praying, waiting, trusting, and hoping for the best. This time, we say goodbye to 2013 with the deepest gratitude, as God had answered our prayers, and specifically at that. And so we document the highlights that have brought color to our 2013, those that have spelled God’s love, faithfulness, and most of all, His majesty.

First, Sam got the job we specifically prayed for. Although I wasn’t particularly excited about living in Alaska because of the cold, it was Sam’s dream and he very much felt led. So where else does the wife go? That’s right, anywhere the husband goes.

Second, I had my third surgery for endometriosis in July, and I recovered pretty well. Insurance covered 98% of the total hospital cost.

Third, I was able to start chemotherapy for my Rheumatoid Arthritis and I’ve been better with less fatigue and more activities, although with almost the same amount and intensity of joint pains. But then again, insurance covers 99% of the total monthly cost. The path to healing has been rough for me, physically especially. Pain has become my friend; it has allowed me to cling onto Him for strength.

Fourth, We’ve been praying for a church where God could use us and whom we could treat as second family here in Juneau, and yes, God has answered our prayers by leading us to Auke Bay Bible Church.

Fifth, we’ve seen the Northern Lights right above our heads! The Aurora borealis reminds us of His majesty and how the heavens declare the glory of God. You could almost see how His hands move as if directing the rhythm of the dancing lights.

Sixth, Sam has learned how to snowboard and is slowly getting better at it. He’s now convincing me to learn how to ski.

Seventh, I started to blog this year. This has allowed me to find something to do besides reading and baking cupcakes. It has also helped me discover new support groups for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Endometriosis. My blogs have become a way for me to increase awareness and advocate support for RA and endometriosis research.

Eighth, we’ve met new people and developed new friendships. I guess this is important for anyone anywhere.

Ninth, we’ve found opportunities to pray for certain people and help them, especially during the Yolanda tragedy. Sam and I have always held on to this particularly important formula in our lives- that we are BLESSED TO BLESS.

Last, we are thankful for our families and how God continues to strengthen and uphold each of their ministries. We miss them a lot but we are confident that God is taking care of them. It is being far from them that moves us to value them even more and appreciate them as they are.

There are more things to thank God and praise Him for but I’ll leave the specific things to memory. God has taught us many things out here- patience, grace, lovingkindness, and more- practically everything we lack, and He still continues to teach us everyday. Yes, 2013 was indeed a year of change for us as we ventured into an entirely different environment and culture with different people. It was hard, but we have trusted in Him and He has made all things beautiful. God has always been and will always be faithful. And so we look forward to 2014 with the same hope that we had a year ago, and the same excitement that He is indeed going to fulfill His promises and unfold another chapter in the story He has written. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

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The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), the first time we witnessed it.
Uncategorized

Being the helper God designed me to be

2 weeks ago Sam and I had an argument about whose turn it was to cook. Both of us actually cook and we both have our own specialties, but because he has more love for it than me, he has done most of the cooking since we got married, and so my role has been the cleaning up afterward (and not just in the kitchen). The situation happened 2 weeks ago- I was cramming for an exam and he was tired because he came from work so nobody went to the kitchen to prepare dinner. We were silently waiting for each other to make a move, until I asked him (expecting him to cook something), “So, what are we having for dinner?” And he replied, “I’m really tired, can you do the cooking? After all, you are the woman.”

That got me. All of a sudden, all the lectures on gender equality and feminism from my college days flooded my mind. Of course I didn’t mention it to him, until we drove somewhere after dinner and we were silent in the car the whole time. I broke the silence by telling him about his lack of gender sensitivity by assigning a role (cooking) to me just because I am the woman when in fact both of us cook and he has actually done most of the cooking ever since. As usual, he responded by citing Bible verses about my role as a helper. I didn’t contest the biblical fact that I am supposed to be a helper. I just didn’t want him to assign the cooking role just because I am the woman. Wait, is cooking specified in the Bible? Well , good thing it wasn’t really a heated up argument and we did arrive at a compromise in the end: If he needed me to do the cooking or anything else for that matter, he could just ask for my help, not tell me to do it “because after all, I am the woman.” It turned out to be just a technicality; he just needed to omit that line. Or was it really just a technicality?

In the Philippines, we literally had a helper, more like a maid, who did most of the household chores when I was too busy attending to my patients’ needs in the hospital. She wasn’t really that efficient when it came to cleaning, so I would often pick up after her when I had the time. Also, because I love (and I do mean that, my friends could attest to it) doing the laundry, handwashing that is, I would usually do the laundry before she even gets to collect it from our laundry basket. Some people just don’t do things the way you do no matter how much you teach them.  That would be my obsessive-compulsive mind speaking. In all fairness, she really did her job by doing the chores that would otherwise be difficult for us to add to our already busy week. In other words, during the first 3 years of our marriage, we didn’t really get to the point of arguing over whose turn it was to cook dinner because we had help then- in the form of another person who wasn’t me. I guess I got so used to being busy in my roles then as a doctor and many other things like managing the wedding shop and being a makeup artist, that I’ve forgotten my role as a wife and a homemaker. However, God is dealing with me right now on that specific aspect and let me tell you that the journey has not been easy.

Sam and I both worked in a Baptist mission hospital back home. We lived in the hospital compound and were being called on during the most unholy hours to attend to patients’ needs. He worked in the lab and of course I was a doctor on call who did 24-hour (and more) shifts. To serve in this hospital was our calling when we were still single and younger (we’re still young ). In fact, the hospital was where we met. After we got married, we continued to work in the same hospital for 2 more years until we felt God urging us to move out. We were uncertain of our would-be circumstance once we quit our jobs, but after almost a year of waiting Sam got petitioned by the hospital in Juneau, and so we moved here.

Bottomline is that right now, Sam’s got a job. I don’t. For me, to be unemployed and not be able to practice my profession- well, to be honest- have been quite a struggle. How long am I supposed to wait until I can be a doctor again so that I could help those who are sick? I have run out of options and the waiting has become unbearable. I have been cleaning, organizing stuff, doing the laundry, paying bills, cleaning again, and doing all the other things that Sam doesn’t get to do, and I still feel that it’s not enough. My life’s mission is in a healing profession. Housekeeping is not fulfilling enough. What I have been doing for the past 5 months (I know, I know, it’s not that long a time) is just not enough. I have been ranting (mostly in my mind) about unemployment, complaining to God and asking Him about direction. Well, not until Sam got sick 4 days ago and I had to do most everything, even getting up at night to give him his medications and massages to staying up all night to watch him and make sure he was breathing normally (he has asthma), to going out in the freezing cold to start the car and the heater so he wouldn’t feel too cold once he gets in and drives to work. Then, it slowly started to sink in. Maybe this was going to be the role I would have to accept and take right now. Maybe this is what God wants me to do- to be a wife to my husband; to be the helper He designed me to be, RIGHT NOW. Although Sam is encouraging me to still pursue further medical training and then perhaps establish private practice, I need to stop stressing over the hows and the whys of that right now. I need to stop grumbling about how much longer I would have to wait until I get that accomplished. I finally realized that I needed to lay aside my own goals and give priority to this higher calling right now. It IS hard. Who said it was easy? I am still struggling, but I know God will give me strength and show me how.

I finally gathered my guts and attended the women’s bible study at church yesterday. And guess what the topic was? “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” (Genesis 2:18)

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“For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.” 1 Corinthians 11:8-9