The Lives We Live

I stir in bed. I know it’s nearing noon, I need to rise up, but my body wants to linger a little longer under the warm sheets. I slept at around 4 this morning, all night long my left leg wouldn’t relent. Of all nights! The discomfort in my legs was more intense than usual last night, it felt like it reached to the marrow and it was hard to sleep. The kids left for school without stopping by. Or maybe they did but found me fast asleep at last. I stretch and get ready for my morning devotion, my eyes roaming around the still-dark room (the undrawn drapes block out the sunlight). On my marble painting table sit the two white orchid plants, a huge 50-piece yellow rose bouquet, and a basket of flowers and fruits. They certainly make the room lovely. And although I have not (yet) received the answer to my fervent prayer, looking at the beautiful flowers make me feel blessed.

This was just a very quick dabble as I have been on bedrest for the past 2 days, but I will do better next time. Promise.

This was just a very quick dabble (using up remaining paints on my palette) as I have been on bedrest for the past 2 days, but I will do better next time. Promise.

Yesterday, alone in my room watching the live streaming of our church’s worship service (hubby and the kids attend church; the kids sing in the choir), a courier delivered a pretty basket of fresh flowers (that included dark pink sweet peas) and fruits. While the maid talked to the courier, I was wondering who would be sending a¬†package since I didn’t order anything. When I saw it, then I remembered. The wonder of it all is that, I always manage to forget about these yearly gifts a beautiful and beloved sister in Christ faithfully sends on my birthday for over half a decade now. So, I am always surprised! ūüėÄ And she lives in Kuwait! And we have never met in person.

But she never fails to make me feel loved and blessed no matter how hard I’m going through. Bless her beautiful soul!

Then last night after midnight, Felix left the room and came back carrying two potted blooming white orchids. They are so lovely I almost couldn’t believe they are real. On his second trip to the garage, he came back carrying a huge bouquet of yellow-gold roses.

“Oh, these are so many! What, 36? 48?”¬†I asked, thinking about all the numbers divisible by 12 ūüėÄ .

“50, of course!” He answered. Fifty yellow-gold roses for my 50th birthday. Of course!

“Happy birthday, mahal.”

Today, Monday, October 2, is my birthday. Beginning the first day of September, I prayed a special prayer: that I will receive the gift of my healing. But nothing changed, in my life and in my body. Maybe in another day or time, I would have been deeply hurt. Why is the Lord Jesus so quiet in that regard? But not today. Today, I will not dwell on hurts or self-pity or discouragements. Today, I will do my best to celebrate and be happy.

Later in the afternoon when the kids arrived from school, I managed to wash my face and brush my hair for a decent picture-taking. Honestly, I just wanted to sit in front of the camera and let it capture what it could. Let it gather all the stories my face, my body, my head would be telling. I wanted my picture taken to share with friends on FB and IG but I didn’t want to “embellish” a perfectly happy and contented facade I wasn’t feeling or carrying somewhere within me. What I wrote on the caption was this:

Sometimes there are so many things- different stories and themes, reasons and motives, thanksgivings and praise – that one would like to say, but time and space and words may not be adequate, so one would think that it’s better to say nothing at all.

If a picture can tell all the battles won and still fighting
If it can reveal how many walks through the “valley of the shadow of death” there were
Or if it can explain the joy that pierces through like a ray of sunshine slicingthe dark, menacing clouds
If it can express all the melodies and lyrics of a song of praise and thanksgiving ithat have enlivened the soul in spite of
If it can show all at once all the hopes and fears, all the desires, longings and despair, the unwavering faith and sometimes tottering perseverance and courage
Then let it speak and the words need not be written.

But one knows that it cannot.

Screenshot 2017-10-10 16.42.16

My family.

My family.

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I often wonder what my life might be called. A half-life? Thinking that I’m not living on normal health and strength. But even that moniker is not correct. For my strength is not even half the normal. What would a life that operates on a fraction of strength and a slew of indescribable and scary physical hardships that is far removed from the normal order of things be called?

Sometimes it feels like it’s all like a child’s play. The things I strive to do to show the world I am living a wonderful life in spite of – it feels like they are not really real or complete or normal. Like I am an alien ¬†trying to live on earth like any other human does. But I know that mine is entirely different and I feel like an “outsider”. They only see that I am sitting there on a sofa with a smile on my face, sporting a light makeup and wearing new clothes. What they don’t see is the wheelchair that brought me there and how hubby and kids scamper to make me comfortable: electric fan directed towards my face, sandals put on my feet, hair fixed, etc.

Or when I take photos of my “teascape” and share them on IG. They only see the pretty tea set and the inspiring caption, but they don’t see the hands that washed and put them there. The hands that assisted me while I sat and waited. A child’s play.

But my behind-the-scenes role as a wife and a mother is downright real. I pray hard and pound on heaven’s door for my family just like any other healthy Christian mom does. My writing/blogging and watercolor painting life, thank God, is also very real!

I hope that I don’t sound like I’m whining, because honestly I’m not. I’m just trying to share and explain how hard life like mine is. I could use the word “difficult”, but it doesn’t say anything except that it’s difficult. But when I say it’s hard, I may be describing a hard wall, a hard ground, a hard place, a hard situation, a hard hand, a hard deal.

But in the hard, I beg the Lord (just as much as I beg for my healing) for fruitfulness in the Holy Spirit. For what is a life without fruit? In a desolate land, in the wilderness, one could still be fruitful. And maybe even more so. Because in the wilderness, one’s bread is the Word of God. It is the manna that one gathers each day for one’s sustenance and growth.

A fruitful life is the Word of God lived. Each and every day. And that is my light, my encouragement, and my hope.

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Wilderness Journey

Vacation, vacation, vacation! Everybody seems to be going everywhere. People cannot stay put. But this is something our family can’t and doesn’t do and it’s a gnawing pain deep inside. Ten years ago before my illness, we went everywhere, too. In September 2003, I planned for our family to Christmas in Australia, but came October and illness, and we never got to fly ever since. The last time our family set out for a very short vacation was on New Year’s Day, a place 12 kilometers from our house. Yes, 12 kilometers, to a hotel cloistered atop the hills overlooking the metro. Just looking for a reason to leave our home for a while and breathe in some fresh mountain air.

Before summer, buoyed by our New Year’s Day furlough, I planned for another super-short vacation in a resort deep in the mountains, this time, about 20 kilometers from our house. (You see, counting kilometers is important to me, whether my body can travel the distance or not). But this plan didn’t pan out, for then, I could not travel again however near. So, the whole summer, I planned for the kids’ trips, the daddy accompanying them, while I stayed at home and waited. They came home with hundreds of photos I could feast on. But they can’t go far, like Disneyland or Singapore, unless I’d be willing to live in constant anxiety, not eating or sleeping for days until they return.

No, our family stays put. And on long weekends like the last, you will probably find us home, the daddy and son maybe flying a remote-controlled helicopter in the yard, or the kids frantically looking for a dozen rubber lizards and iguanas that the daddy hid everywhere in the garden for a prize, and me cheering. Or me navigating through Thoreau’s Walden (by the way, it’s free on Kindle), or just gazing at the bald narra tree, at the green grass, or catching a glimpse of the birds flitting from branch to branch.

But we’re still dreaming of acquiring a farm in the province that we can’t go to and enjoy, but maybe in the future? Or sometimes thinking about a property we haven’t seen or gone to for a decade now. One that is beautifully situated near a ridge where Tagaytay and Batangas meet and where one looks out to a dormant volcano sitting in the middle of a lake.

Ah, at times these thoughts bring pain to one’s heart, but this is what I’m looking at: the Israelites journeying in the wilderness. There was only manna, day in and day out. There was no recreation. No, they were far from having a grand vacation in all their journeyings. The time that they lusted for meat, many were plagued even before they could sink their teeth into the luscious quail. They mourned and wept. And this is the most significant part: they journeyed at the commandment of God.

21 So it was, when the cloud remained only from evening until morning: when the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they would journey; whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud was taken up, they would journey. 22 Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud remained above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would remain encamped and not journey; but when it was taken up, they would journey. 23 At the command of the Lord they remained encamped, and at the command of the Lord they journeyed; they kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by the hand of Moses. (Num. 9:21-23, emphasis mine)

They are God’s people and He dwelt among them. He wanted to reign in their lives, to be their Lord and King, and wanted to feed their souls with His words more than the food they craved to fill their stomachs. He wanted to humble them and prove their hearts. But the people rebelled. They lusted for other things. They dishonored God by pouring out their souls’ bitterness and complaints. They despised the life the Lord was giving them and His plans for their future; they wanted another. They would rather go back to Egypt. They said life was better there.

But going back to Egypt was going back to bondage. Do I desire that, too? Going back to the old life with all its pleasures? But going back to the old life is going back to a life of sin controlled by satan. The Lord reigns in my new life and I won’t have it any other way. So, in my own wilderness journeying, I don’t cry out to be brought back to the old life, but this, “Heal me, Lord, and send me to Thy harvest!”

(Photo courtesy of my good friend Perla Frisberg of Malmo, Sweden, and edited at

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