It has been a while since I’ve written anything here. I have also not been that active on Facebook and Instagram lately. Life — a beautiful, “messy,” busy life — has been keeping me occupied, and juggling tasks related to home life (including chores, caring for an active toddler, and *trying* to keep a homeschooling routine), work, and ministry is no easy feat. (Praise God that I am not entirely “helper-less” though; because my husband and older kids have been doing their part at home!)
On top of everything else, we have started preparing for the Philippine Homeschool Conference, so you probably can guess why I have been more “quiet” than usual here.
Yet, I could not help write this post.
You see, I recently celebrated my birthday but this year’s celebration was very different compared to previous years.
A few days before my birthday, we received the heartbreaking news that Baby Yen Natividad, the youngest Couples for Christ missionary to date, had passed away.
Our hearts are broken for the Natividad family, Lord. We had been praying with and for them, from the time Baby Yen was born. We stormed the heavens with them last Sunday, when Baby Yen was battling for her life. We felt so helpless, knowing that we could send only prayers and virtual support and messages of love and hope to the family. And now, she is back in heaven with You. 😭 Our hearts are broken, Lord. Our tears are flowing. We may not understand why this happened but we know who You are. You are never-changing, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-merciful, all-kind, all-good, ever-faithful. YOU ARE GOD. We are not. We may not be able to see the good in this now but we trust in You. We run to Your Mother — oh Mama Mary, pray for us! And we try to seek comfort in the words of the Psalmist: Psalm 62:6-7, 9 R: In God is my safety and my glory. Only in God be at rest, my soul, for from him comes my hope. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed. (R) Trust in him at all times, O my people! Pour out your hearts before him; God is our refuge! (R) Dear friends, please pray for our young missionary couple friends Paskee and Julie Natividad. And their whole family. Their Baby Yen, the youngest Couples for Christ missionary to date, was born in Timor Leste just recently. She joined our Creator at 15 days of age. Thank you, little #YenMaria, for teaching us to love God and love life more. Ba maun-alin sira iha Timor Leste, obrigadu barak ba imi nia suporta no domin ba Paskee no Julie, no Xia. Ami reza moos ba imi hotu. Nai Jesus, ami fiar ba Itaboot. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21
I could not help sobbing in grief when Julie, Yen’s mother, sent us the message that their precious little Yen had died. Because Julie and her husband, Paskee, and their eldest daughter Xia were in Timor Leste on mission, our family considers them “special” in a way, because we had been there on mission, too. Our first and second children were born there. Like Baby Yen, they both had to stay in the hospital after they were born. But their medical conditions at that time were unlike hers. The doctors in Timor could not tell why she was sick, so they advised Paskee and Julie to bring her home so that further tests could be done.
However, since she was still very young, no airline would allow them on board yet because of Yen’s age and condition. So they had to wait until she was 16 days old first. But she died before their supposed flight back home.
Our hearts broke for them, and I cannot even begin to imagine what they have been through these past few days. As I write this, they have probably already landed at the airport here in Manila, with Baby Yen’s remains. (Please do pray for them!)
So my birthday “celebration” was somber in a way. It was made even more somber because my sister‘s father-in-law also died last weekend. They flew back to Manila for his wake, and while I was happy to see Ate and her family on my birthday, I wish it had been under different circumstances. (I love you, mi familia! Missing my dearest Papa and my youngest brother, and the rest of my older brothers’ family in this photo!)
Just before my birthday, many parts of the world had been affected by Hurricane Irma, and the Philippines was battered yet again by not one, but two typhoons. The kids and I were at my parents’ place when the heavy rains started pouring… and eventually, we had to evacuate to another place, just to be sure that the kids (my own and my brother’s) were safe.
A child with a 38.9 fever. Floodwater rising in different areas outside the house (the kids and I are at my parents' place in Cainta now). This photo was taken by my brother around 30 minutes ago. Down the street from our house. We are getting ready to evacuate. Many people are in need right now. In the Philippines. In Timor Leste. In the U.S. Across the Caribbean. EVERYWHERE! Different situations, different needs, all reasons to pray. Let us pray for one another! Stay safe, everyone! God bless us all! 🙏 #MaringPH #LanniePH . .
Added to all these… our youngest child came down with a fever, just before my birthday. And now his sister is sick too. (Please pray for their healing, as well as everyone who is sick in mind, body, and spirit all over the world!)
So yes, it was a different kind of birthday celebration indeed. A mixture of sorrow, grief, worry… but beyond these, I can say that I was and still am very grateful.
Grateful to be alive. Grateful for family and friends. Grateful for our God. Our God is a gracious, faithful, loving, kind God. He has been faithful through all generations, and no matter what we may face in life, He will see us through.
We only have to look at the words of the Psalmist for today, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (emphasis mine):
R: Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Hearken, my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable, I will utter mysteries from of old.(R)
While he slew them they sought him and inquired after God again, remembering that God was their rock and the Most High God, their redeemer. (R)
But they flattered him with their mouths and lied to him with their tongues, though their hearts were not steadfast toward him, nor were they faithful to his covenant. (R)
But he, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not; often he turned back his anger and let none of his wrath be roused. (R)
God’s mercy is everlasting. He is our Source of comfort, strength, healing, hope, forgiveness! He allows things to happen — sorrowful, painful, heartbreaking, frustrating things — for a purpose. We may not understand why but we can trust that He knows best. He has a plan for us all.
So yes, sometimes we may not be able to celebrate certain occasions like birthdays the way we had hoped (my plan was just to go to Mass with my family before a talk I was scheduled to give to a group of parents but I wasn’t even able to do that because of our sick toddler).
And sometimes we might find ourselves overwhelmed by life and all the storms and trials that may come our way.
But again, through it all, we can hold on to God’s Word:
We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 37-39)
So, if you are going through something now, please take heart! God is with you. He is with all of us. And that is definitely something worth celebrating.
P.S. Thank you to all those who sent me birthday greetings and prayers! God bless each and every one of you!
P.P.S. If you’re a mom, I have a special invitation for you! Please join us this Saturday, Sept. 16, 8.30-10.00 a.m. at The Parenting Emporium for the launch of Diamonds Among Diapers! Register via 0917-8110821 or here. Entrance is FREE!
To my fellow moms… 😊Inviting you all to this new "baby" of mine — something that I prayed about and felt led to start (even if part of me doesn't want to! Haha! 😂). But my good friends @theparentingemporium believe in the importance of this, so I know I should too. 😉 . . Diamonds Among Diapers is my newest "baby", as part of my desire to encourage and inspire others through TrulyRichandBlessed.com. While #TrulyRichandBlessed is supposedly not just for moms, I still am very much, well, a mother… one who hopes to help other mothers discover — and grow — the "riches" they already have, especially the "riches" of motherhood.💗 . This support group meeting on September 16 is open to all moms who just want to share their trials and triumphs with their fellow moms. It's a time to laugh (or cry!) with one another; a time to rave (or rant!) about our families; and, most importantly, a time to pray for one another!🙏 . Hope to see you! 😍 Just register via 0917-8110821. +AMDG+ #TrulyRichandGrateful #TRBFaith #TRBSelf #TRBRelationships