Blogging for Compassion

It’s been a couple of months now since I signed up to be part of Compassion Bloggers. I’m rather disappointed with myself for not coming up with an article much sooner, getting distracted by my other responsibilities and the usual chores, if not overthinking this whole thing. I have started to question myself why I even signed up for it, especially when I’m already promoting Compassion International by placing one of their banners on this site as well as on my daughters’ website. Until recently, I came face-to-face with the answer and remembered my reasons…

I was with my youngest daughter buying a birthday cake for their aunt as a present, i.e., aside from the personalized gifts both she and her sister had already prepared themselves. While we were there, a boy of 8–10 years of age approached us. He was dressed in a clean shirt and shorts, and he was rather neat to be mistaken for a beggar, not to mention he seemed healthy. He kept asking me for money, even when the staff had also repeatedly asked him to stop and leave the store. For my part, I explained to the boy that money is something that someone needs to earn–even my own children have to work for it by doing certain house chores.

He said he has not eaten yet. I asked what he wanted to eat, but he didn’t reply. I asked where his parents were. He told me that his father’s already dead. I asked about his mother, but all he said was he’s all alone now. I told him then that I would feed him, but after that, I shall ask the police to bring him to DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) because children like him should not be left alone to fend for themselves. At least at DSWD, he would have a place to stay and won’t have to beg for food anymore, I added. He said he did not want to go to DSWD, then moved away.

He went on to ask money from the other customers, only this time, he started to become rude. They just ignored him. When he thought that no one was paying attention to him, he brought out a coin from his pocket and started playing with it, tossing it around the floor.  I came near him and reminded him that he needed the money, so he must save whatever amount he has, and told him not to play with it.

I know I can help the boy in the manner he wanted me to, by just giving him money, that is. But I couldn’t. That wouldn’t really help him. I have no idea why he’s out in the streets, begging for money, but seeing the way he played with the coin made me suspect that he’s into gambling or playing cara y cruz / kara krus, to be exact.

As much as I’d like to shrug it off, I can’t help but feel sad when I see and encounter kids like him.  It’s ironic that despite the technological advances we enjoy these days, despite the number of private vehicles we see on the roads, tall modern buildings being erected everywhere, numerous private subdivisions being developed in the suburbs and rural areas, shopping malls that are always filled with people, specialty restaurants and cafés at just about every turn, hundreds of job vacancies posted online and waiting to be filled… you do get my point, right? How come poverty and lack of education are still a problem in our country? No, we can’t blame everything on our government officials, can we?

As I thought about these things, my own family also came to my mind. I didn’t come from a family of affluence, but I was blessed to have parents, who were responsible and did their best to send me to good schools, provide for my needs, and raise me well. Growing up, I was blessed to have a home, a room to myself, and a comfortable bed that I always looked forward to spending time with my books and toys. When I worked during my teen years (and even now), it was not because I had to, but because I wanted to.

Now, I am blessed to be married to a man, who takes his role of being the family provider seriously. I am blessed to be afforded the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom and not worry about where to get the money to buy my children food, clothes, and other stuff they might need, even some of the things they could want. I am blessed to have smart, beautiful, talented, and healthy children. I have so many blessings and I am blessed to see them, experience them everyday. I am blessed to have Jesus in my life.

But others are not as blessed as I am. Or, maybe others simply don’t–if not refuse to–realize how blessed they are the way I see how blessed I am. Regardless, I want to be a channel of blessings. Even if I would never understand and I shall probably always have this mixture of pity and fury toward the irresponsible parents of these street children. I know I have to help somehow. I don’t have to be perfect, rich, or powerful to be able to help others–none of us does. I don’t even have to help others through finances all the time either. There are so many opportunities to help and we all have talents that we can utilize to help those in need.

After we left the store and the boy behind, all I could do was say a prayer for him and all the other kids like him. I remembered Compassion International too and the things they do for children all over the world to get them the help they need, be it education, food, shelter, or health services, as well as getting to know Jesus.

I wished the boy could be part of Compassion’s family. I hope he gets the help he and his family truly needs and soon. I wish I also did not allow myself to be sidetracked by my thoughts and gave him food, even if that might not what he really wanted that time. I wonder if I’ll ever see that child again. I pray that God will preserve his life and make Himself known to him and his family.

The reason I signed up to be a Compassion Blogger has become clear to me again. I recognize that I can help through writing, in the same way that I have been helping connect people to the Word of God through my translation and editing skills. By God’s grace, I want to be able to help reach others and get people to help one another through Compassion International, using this blog, too. ❤

Compassion International_screenshot
A screenshot from compassionbloggers.com. Please visit the website if you’d like to know more about Compassion Bloggers or to join.

 

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A day with cancer conquerors

I was recently invited to attend Project Pink Cancer Support Group’s “Look Good, Feel Good” makeup workshop for cancer conquerors as a PR writer/blogger. I thought I would just be there to observe, learn how to put on makeup, write what I had seen and experience, then submit the article to publications. Little did I know that I would be on an emotional roller coaster, given the fact that my parents both died of cancer, and I was surrounded by cancer conquerors. Somehow, just the thought of being surrounded by cancer conquerors made me feel vulnerable.

I was a little nervous when I arrived at the venue. Maybe it’s also because somehow, I already knew that I would inevitably remember my parents… Or, maybe it’s because none of the bloggers and journalists I have invited could make it, given the bad weather and late notice, so I had to be there by myself. I mean, these days, I would be the one to coordinate PR events and contact the writers, who would write about the event, and not the other way around, so I guess that added to my discomfort.

It was such a relief then when I saw familiar faces. It turned out that two of the core members of Project Pink Cancer Support Group and some of its volunteers and staff were my former churchmates. One of them was even one of our wedding sponsors or ninang sa kasal, Dr. Rumalie Alparaque-Corvera, who heads the organization.

joyful conqueror
Joyful cancer conqueror shares her story of faith. Indeed, “Freedom from cancer begins now”. (Photo by PPCSG)

As the day progressed, I felt more comfortable. I interviewed the people seated at the same table with me, and listened to the other cancer conquerors’ stories of faith. Somehow, I could relate to all of them, although listening to them brought painful memories of my mother fighting off cancer. Between her and my father, she had the more painful and challenging experience with this dreaded disease.

I watched how the Maquillage Professional (MP) School of Makeup Artistry consultants and students made the cancer conquerors very happy, too. They gave them free makeovers, aside from teaching them how to apply makeup properly. Everyone was given a free makeover, including myself.

The Project Pink women obviously took a lot of care in making everyone feel comfortable and happy, from the adorable table setting, the delicious foods they served, and the whole program that encouraged everyone in the room to continue to have hope and live a normal life. If I weren’t told that it was a gathering of cancer conquerors (and their supporters), I wouldn’t be able to tell that there was any person in the room battling with or had battled with cancer. Their faces were radiant and their sense of humor, intact.

makeup by MP
Tonie of MP School of Makeup Artistry giving one of the supporters of PPCSG a makeover. (Photo courtesy of Ambe Espaldon.)

I also had a chance to speak with the program host, a cancer conqueror herself, and one of Project Pink Cancer Support Group’s (PPCSG) core members Melissa De Leon Joseph. In case you’re not aware, Melissa happens to be veteran actor Christopher De Leon’s sister and was an actress herself. Melissa was very warm and friendly. She told me more about PPCSG and their activities, and we exchanged personal stories about cancer–she as a cancer conqueror herself and I as a family member and caregiver of a cancer conqueror, leaving me teary-eyed. (Or, was it just me who shared a personal story?)

Host Melissa De Leon Joseph with MP consultant teaching the participants how to look good and feel good, using makeup.
Host Melissa De Leon Joseph with MP School of Makeup Artistry consultant sharing tips on how to look good and feel good. (Photo by PPCSG)

According to Melissa, Project Pink Cancer Support Group aims to empower cancer conquerors living in the south of Manila, i.e., from Cavite, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, and Laguna. They are not a foundation, but a care group that tries to look after the needs, especially emotional and psychological, of cancer patients and survivors, who are more aptly called cancer conquerors. PPCSG educates the cancer conquerors and their caregivers about the disease and its possible treatments, so they would be better informed about what they are dealing with and make wiser decisions for themselves. PPCSG also organizes activities that would help keep the conquerors productive, at the same time, encourage their creativity and lift their self-confidence.

Since cancer treatments are very expensive, Project Pink Cancer Support Group also raises funds to assist the families of cancer conquerors with the medical expenses. Moreover, they help cancer conquerors continue to have hope and strengthen their faith in God by conducting fellowships and Bible studies, as well as special seminars every second Wednesday and last Saturday of the month.

Melissa added that this was the first time they have invited bloggers to their event. Project Pink Cancer Support Group needs help in letting others know that they exist to encourage and support cancer conquerors. They are inviting more individuals to volunteer. Volunteers could help in various tasks, such as preparing the venue for their meetings and special events, blog about their events, take photos and videos during events, etc., but most importantly, visit the cancer conquerors to help make them feel better.

Of course, at the mention of the word volunteers, I found myself thinking how I could support the group, mentally calculating how much time I could spend in a week or a month helping out with some of the support group’s tasks. Really, how could I not, when I, myself, was a daughter and caregiver to cancer conquerors, and a recipient of others’ goodwill, especially when my family and I were going through very difficult times? Not to mention that volunteering is part of my way of life, although I’m afraid I still need to seriously review my schedule.

As I mingled with the rest of the core group, I could feel the love and compassion they have not only for the members that they have been taking care of for some time now, but also for family members of cancer conquerors such as myself, who have met most of them for the first time. I couldn’t help wishing that Mama was still alive. She would have wanted to be part of this group.

If you know any cancer conqueror living in the south of Manila, please do not hesitate to invite him/her to join Project Pink Cancer Support Group. Although PPCSG regularly meets at Asian Hospital Medical Center and most of them are female, cancer conquerors from other hospitals in the south, including males, are welcome to join.

Moreover, if you have the time, money, energy, skills, or compassion alone for cancer conquerors, please consider volunteering and/or donating. You may contact Angie at 0917 527 6461 or Liza at 0917 343 9077 for more information.

On the other hand, if you’d like to get in touch with Maquillage Professional School of Makeup Artistry, you may visit http://mpschool.com.ph. ❤

P.S. If you happen to live outside of South Manila, you may visit http://www.philcancer.org.ph/support/support-groups/ to find cancer support groups near you.

Praying in the rain

The past few weeks (even months) had been very challenging for my family and me. I have been taking care of my 82-year old father who has become very moody because of his age and illness. Last Wednesday, my brothers finally brought him to the hospital, where he had a surgery performed on him to remove both the air and water that weren’t supposed to be in specific areas of his lungs. Yesterday was my first time to visit him, since I do not have a household help and I still have two very young daughters to take care of (as well as pets and plants).

I was having lunch at the outdoor cafeteria of the hospital (Philippine Lung Center), at the same time tallying the hospital expenses based on the receipts we have, when I received an overseas call from my husband in Singapore. Apparently, he had already been to a clinic because of severe stomach pain, but was sent to a hospital since the clinic could not handle his case. He was at the ER of Changi General Hospital, and he went there by himself.

Hearing the pain and anguish in his voice was all it took for me to start crying, kneel down, and pray. And I didn’t care if people were staring at me. At that moment, it was just me and my LORD. I was reminding Him of His promise that I, weary and carrying heavy burdens, could come to Him and He would give me rest (Matthew 11:28) and that He would “take revenge and pay back” (Romans 12:19) those vexatious neighbors of ours who had been harassing us day and night.

What happened next was amazing. The sun suddenly shone brightly as I finished praying and went back to my seat and continued to cry (and tried to eat again). And then it drizzled and I felt refreshed. I knew God was communicating with me then, letting me know He was acknowledging my prayers, and He will never back away from His Word. At the same time, I have stopped asking Him WHY. I was reminded that it’s not about me. Although I am supposed to learn from the problems that come my way, at times it’s really the people who would be impacted along the way who are supposed to learn from them the most and I am just a channel of God’s blessings.

As the day progressed, I started feeling more optimistic. My father’s disposition has improved, he has become more like himself as I talked to him. He started to eat and became makulit. He even reprimanded me (and my siblings) for not taking care of the lands he inherited from his parents, telling me that we should do something about them immediately.

Just before I went home that evening, I received news that my husband was discharged from the hospital. It’s a good thing that his brother is now a diplomat at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), or my husband probably wouldn’t receive any assistance at all from the Philippine government. Although my brother-in-law is based in another country, he made sure that someone from the Philippine embassy in Singapore checked on him from time to time and took care of at least half of the hospital bill.

Another positive thing that happened was having my eldest nephew instead of my brother (his dad), who drove me to the hospital, pick me up and drive me home. After so many years, we finally got to talk again. (And I mean the deep kind of conversation.) He’s now thirty years old, and for the first time, he treated me to dinner at a really nice casual restaurant somewhere in QC. I wonder what took him so long to do that, when he’s been an engineer/junior manger with MBA for so many years now! (LOL)

Seriously, I have learned to live my life one day at a time. I have learned to be thankful for everything I have, even fort the people who act as sandpapers in my life at times. And I am always thankful for my family (and in-laws), no matter how dysfunctional they may seem at times.

(Featured image by Photo by Axel Antas-Bergkvist / http://www.unsplash.com)

Why I do volunteer work and why you should consider doing it, too

I remember the night before I attended the first Vision Gathering of Saddleback Church South Manila. These were actually the words that I typed in my (other) digital diary:

It’s past midnight now, and yes, I’m still wide awake. I recently received an invitation to volunteer, to work with fellow Christians, former church mates to set up a ministry in the South. I have been thinking about serving in a ministry, yearning so much for it, but I wasn’t sure where or how. All I know is it doesn’t necessarily have to be directly connected with the church I am currently attending. As for what to do and which of my talents or skills to use, I’m sure I’ll figure out what God would want me to do along the way. Who knows, He might reveal to me another area of strength I never knew existed before.

I’m sure it’s going to be fun; even if it would entail hard work, it would be fulfilling. At the end of the day, I would want to be able to say that I have shared something worthwhile with others. At the end of the day, I want my children to realize that we are here to serve one another and God gave us talents or resources to build each other up and further His kingdom. At the end of the day, I would like to be a good role model for my daughters. – 5 April 2014, 1:19AM

Looking back, I believe that God has indeed placed me where I could really serve, utilize my talents, grow, and see my children grow in knowledge of Him and start new friendships that matter deeply to them, too. I am happy to see the growing number of volunteers and members at Saddleback Church South Manila (Saddleback SMLA) as well as its growing number of followers in various social media sites, i.e., Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To date, our social media efforts have already attracted the local blogosphere and social media industry that the head of our Marketing Communications Ministry (MarCoM) is now being invited to various seminars to talk about our goals and strategies. Most of all, I am glad that my children have expressed their desire to be baptized, with my eldest also asking to become a volunteer at the church’s Sunday School.

* * *

Now here are some reasons I believe you should consider rendering volunteer work, too.

1. The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). If you enjoy Jesus’ parables, then you must be familiar with this story. It has been a driving force for me not to be complacent, but always find ways to learn new things, to serve, and to grow. I fear that my talents would be taken away if I do not use them, just like in the parable, and experience God’s immense displeasure! I’ve also known that God created me for a purpose, He gave me talents or skills for a purpose and keeping them to myself is not one of them. No, I was certainly not created to just breathe, take space, make noise, gain weight, then die! (If you’d like to know about your purpose, I suggest you read the Bible as well as “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren.)

2. The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). As a Christian, I am not only drawn to Christ, but I was also commanded to let others know about Him. Yet, even before I truly began to understand the meaning of The Great Commission, I had always envisioned myself doing missionary works when I was younger. In fact, I used to help organize outreach programs when I was in college and taught Sunday school to street kids when I became a Christian. However, I have also realized that I do not necessarily have to go to some depressed or far-flung areas to teach people about God. I can help enlarge His Kingdom with the use of the mighty pen–or fingers, I should say–and the Internet.

3. Volunteering helps me become a better person (Proverbs 27:17; 1 Corinthians 15:33). Who wouldn’t want to meet wonderful, talented, passionate individuals, who also love to serve God and the community? That’s like having ideal workmates that you don’t normally meet in the corporate world, right? And we know how important it is to be in the company of good people, too! Okay, not all of them are always wonderful–in Tagalog, tao lang–but I have to respect my co-volunteers for their passion, talents, and willingness to serve. And for someone like me, who stays home most of the time now, working with such individuals is like being sharpened all the time – something that we all need in order to grow. In the process, my leadership and interpersonal skills also continue to be developed.

4. Volunteering helps me realize how work is truly an act of worship (Ephesians 6:7). You see, working from home or volunteering from home during my spare time is one thing. But having to go out, get stuck in traffic, deal with unpleasant PUV drivers and sweaty passengers, and not even be reimbursed for transportation, communication, or food expenses, not to mention I still have to meet deadlines and there are times when I even have to drag my daughters with me? Wow, that’s altogether another story! I could only thank God for His provisions, my husband’s full support, and the fact that I actually enjoy what I am doing. Believe it or not, despite all those things, I’d still experience a sense of fulfillment, and to me that’s what really matters – that’s when I could truly say that my work is an act of worship! More, because I get to bring my children with me at times and they see the fruits of my labor, they begin to understand that working does not always equate to getting paid and amassing wealth; rather, work in general is one way to worship God and serve others.

5. Volunteering helps strengthen my marriage (Hebrews 10:24). My husband and I met at a church, where we were both members and volunteers for its DVBS (Daily Vacation Bible School) program. My husband’s one of the most talented and generous persons I’ve ever known. If you ask him to do something–and normally he could because he’s very talented and knowledgeable in so many areas–you could expect him to do it, especially if we could work together. Hence, volunteering, especially with my husband’s full support, makes me feel that we are partners not only in marriage, but we continue to be partners in various ministry works as well (just like the old times), not to mention we get to talk about more topics aside from our kids, finances, and home improvement plans. Lastly,

6. By volunteering, I hope to influence my children to become good servant leaders someday (Galatians 6:9). Our society seems to be badly in need of God-fearing leaders. I probably cannot do much about this situation now, but there’s always the next generation that I know I can invest in. And, as a parent, I have a huge responsibility to be a good role model to my children. I recognize their leadership potentials, their intelligence, and the talents God has bestowed upon them. I cannot just always tell them what to do or share with them the things I’ve done in the past. I have to role play before them how to use one’s talents and be of service to the community, even look for opportunities for them to serve (alongside with me).

These are all very personal reasons, you see. It doesn’t mean that you should have exactly the same reasons before you start volunteering. Volunteer work is something that you can do at least 2 hours a week, and it can also be done from the comforts of your home, like what I do most of the time. I encourage you to find an organization where you could volunteer and see how you’d grow as an individual emotionally, socially, mentally, and spiritually, too. You might want to check out listings at the bulletin boards or websites of your church, alma mater, Red Cross, environmental groups that you support, charitable institutions, animal shelters, fire stations, etc. Or, you could us at YouVersion (youversion.com/volunteer) and Saddleback South Manila (saddleback.com.ph). You’d be surprised to find out that you do have many talents and there are many ways for you to serve!

In case you find yourself unsure of where to volunteer (or work, in general) or which talents you should nurture the most, try reading Anthony Pangilinan’s “Designed for success: Discover who you are and what you do best”. This tiny easy-to-read book can guide you, using the C.E.N.T.S. method. (C.E.N.T.S. stands for the following: Can I contribute? Can I excel? Does it involve my natural ability? Does the idea of doing it turn me on? Is the Spirit within me leading me to accept this opportunity?)

(Links to) Bible verses:

1. The Parable of the Talents – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+25%3A14-30&version=ESV

2. The Great Commission – Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

3. Proverbs 27:17 (NIV) As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.

4. Ephesians 6:7 (NIV) Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.

5. Hebrews 10:24 (NIV) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds

6. Galatians 6:9 (NIV) Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Little Z shares Jesus to others

This afternoon, my preschooler Little Z went home excited to tell me how she shared Jesus to her classmates. She said two of them were fighting again, so she told them to make peace and say ‘sorry’ to each other. After telling them about Jesus, she said the little girl was so afraid that Jesus won’t forgive her. To further assure her that Jesus would, my Little Z said she drew a cross for her.

After hearing all this, I swelled with both pride and shame. Pride, knowing that my child is on the right track. Heck, that’s a six-year old girl carrying out The Great Commission! And she happens to be my daughter. Shame because a six-year old child has been trying faithfully to carry out The Great Commission ever since her Sunday School teachers gave their class the assignment to “share Jesus to others”, whereas I, who happens to be her mom, has not seriously done that for years!

I was so moved by my daughter’s story that I was speechless. All I could do was go to our bedroom, cry, and pray. I remembered my realizations during my quiet time yesterday, my answered prayers… I could see more clearly now how God has been moving in our family. No, I do not consider myself as a very good role model for my children at all, as much as I try to influence them positively. All I could give myself credit for is my being prayerful, I believe. I mean, I always pray for my husband, my children, my father, relatives, friends, even strangers. I’m a great believer of the power of prayer, especially when done collectively by believers. I’ve heard about the power of a praying woman, wife, and mother. And I hope to manifest that power for the good of every member of my family and for His name’s sake.

Indeed, to the children God’s kingdom belongs.

My road to recovery: Dealing with peripheral neuropathy

Notice how the flesh beneath my right thumb is slightly bigger than the other one?

I am that type of person who gets an adrenaline rush just from the prospect of having to do so many things at the same time and accomplishing them all by the end of the day. But not anymore. I have been on leave from work for about two months now. I have not also been writing and my laptop has been reduced to being a plaything to my daughters. I sometimes feel like a total invalid, and for a busy body like me,that thought could be very depressing! Worse, I could no longer feel the warmth of my children’s touch on my skin.

Truth is, I could no longer run, jump, skip, not even walk for more than 30 minutes. I could no longer travel alone with my little girls as I always encounter small accidents–slipping, tripping, even falling flat on my face. I have lost my appetite for food–and most things–yet I seem to gain weight (probably because of lack of exercise). I get tired easily. I can’t hold an object in my hand for more than five minutes, including my usual companion when my daughters are in school or busy with something–my iPhone. Standing or sitting for more than ten minutes makes me tired and uncomfortable too.

My muscles are simply weak. I have also become more irritable, and there were even times when I feel helpless and very emotional. My face sometimes feel numb and tightening sensations would envelop my scalp, especially before bedtime, making me wonder whether I would still wake up the following day and see my little girls. Every night, I would cry myself to sleep as I pray.

I remember waking up one morning a couple of days before Christmas and feeling that something’s wrong with my body, particularly with my hands and feet. The tingling sensations had started as well as the numbness, and they simply won’t go away. Right after Christmas, I went to see a cardiologist (the only available internal medicine specialist in the hospital at that time) who tagged my case as peripheral neuropathy. I later on found out that this is a rather vague term, as it could have different causes, at the same time could represent symptoms of different illnesses as well. In my case, everything’s still unclear. I had undergone a series of blood tests, which revealed that my case has nothing to do with diabetes, malfunctioning thyroid glands, etc. so I was simply given a 5000-mg Vitamin B complex to take everyday for a start.

Just before the New Year, I had this not-so-brilliant idea that a body massage might do me some good. Well, it did nothing but worsen my condition. On top of my literally raging nerves, my whole body started to ache all over–every part of my body that the blind masseuse had touched, that is, including my face. (And I still couldn’t understand why she had to touch my head and face!) I don’t think I’ll ever have another body massage in the years to come and I definitely would never go back to that massage spa (at the second floor of SM Muntinlupa) if I ever decide to have it again.

Anyway, I finally saw a neurologist and has been under medication (Gabapentin + Neurobion 5000) since then. She required me to undergo a nerve and muscle test (NCV and EMG, respectively), which I refuse to be subjected to mainly because it  could be extremely uncomfortable according to the articles that I have read. I just can’t imagine myself sitting through the whole ordeal even for just a few minutes, with needles being poked on my muscles and nerve endings, especially that I have very low tolerance to pain and have developed the fear of electrocution since I was young. Not to mention that I have to pay the hospital a substantial amount for it (e.g., it’s PhP4,000 at the University of Perpetual Help Hospital in Binan, Laguna and PhP7,000 at the Asian Hospital)!

My daughters, ages five and eight, have become my guide and helper in just about anything that I needed to do. I feel bad about it, but at the same time, I am grateful to have discovered that they are more than willing to aid their granny mom in any way they can. I have looked up so many information online about this illness and even met a 78-year old lady who has the same case. However, there’s no clear-cut answer as to how I have acquired the said illness, which is rather common to athletes, the elderly, and those who have experienced a stroke, shock, or some serious accident.

I do feel quite good for the past three days now, however. The tingling sensations on my arms, legs, and head, which tends to intensify whenever I exhaust myself from doing house chores and running errands, have now been reduced to 20%. While my toes seldom get numb now, my hands feel nearly 100% normal again. I can now wash my hands comfortably, although I still use rubber gloves when washing the dishes and continue to take hot baths regardless of the weather or the time of day. Moreover, my back pains are gone while the muscle pains on my thighs have substantially subsided. Although my leg muscles still easily get tired, somehow, I am able to move around more and a little faster now. And, yes, I can now write again and use the computer, obviously.

Indeed, I have lost extra income from my home-based jobs, and my activities have been limited. I miss doing a lot of things too. However, there are positive things that my illness have also brought about. Sure, there were times when I have felt so broken, even hopeless. But I have learned to lean closer to God. Good friends have shown their concern for me and tried to encourage and help me in any way they could. One of my girl friends, an occupational therapist in London, even sent me a set of therapy gloves and an exercise guide. My children have never been more helpful and caring to each other and to me, too. Best of all, my husband has been showering me with gifts and affection like he’s never done before.

hand in glove

I have learned to relax now and appreciate the things and people around me. I have come to acknowledge that I also need other people to get through certain situations in life and that I cannot do all things by myself. I am now taking care of my body better than before. Aside from the physical therapy sessions that I regularly go through at a nearby hospital, I exercise any time of the day or whenever I have sufficient energy to do so, even when in bed (yoga). I try my best to get enough sleep at night and take a nap during daytime as well. I try to keep negative emotions at bay by being more prayerful, by reading good literature, and by refusing to become easily angered as well as by avoiding to comment on situations that I have no responsibility. Lastly, I try to think of happy thoughts–mostly about the wonderful days I have spent with my husband as well as the blessings my family has been receiving from God. Instead of thinking that I might not grow old with with my hubby or live long enough to see my children grow up and each have a happy family of her own because of my poor health, I have started thinking how I could show my love to my family each day.

One thing I have noticed is that I feel so much better and able to do more stuff around the house whenever I am happy, when I take things easy, and keep my faith that I shall be totally healed soon by God’s grace (without having to go through more tests). After all, why worry so much when I know who holds my future? 🙂

* * *

Addendum

I still haven’t gone through the NCV and EMG tests, especially after another doctor has told me in all honesty that although the results of the said tests could help, it wouldn’t really provide a very accurate diagnosis of my case. For one, since the tingling sensations were all over my body, it couldn’t be carpal tunnel syndrome, which the NCV and EMG are most useful (for). He advised me to avoid getting stressed instead and I think he’s right, especially that the tingling sensations would become severe whenever I’m deprived of sleep, exhausted, or very anxious about something.

However, I never stopped researching about peripheral neuropathy (PN), and I was willing to try just about anything that could promise to help improve my health condition. Eventually, I came across this article stating that PN may be be connected to having a weak immune system, just like most diseases. And so my search for potent immune boosters began, and incidentally, I was blessed to have met people who introduced me to Nu Skin|Pharmanex, a direct selling company that has been around for about 30 years now in the US, specializing in anti-aging products, including food supplements. I began taking LifePak, their super-immune booster food supplement in July 2012 and experimented by gradually lessening my intake of doctor-prescribed medication (Neurobion 5000 and Gabapentin) as well as some known brands of multivitamins that I’d been taking, until I felt bold enough to stop taking all of them.

You see, I normally wouldn’t last a day without taking the said doctor-prescribed medication, but since August 2012, I have been relying solely on LifePak. These days, I would only experience very light tingling sensations on my toes whenever I would stress out myself – usually from too much walking or doing a lot of house chores during the day, coupled with lack of sleep for two to three consecutive days. In addition, since taking LifePak, I started experiencing migraine less, I only experienced sinusitis once in a while and it wasn’t even half as bad as it used to be, I no longer feel very sluggish the following morning if I stay up late at night, and to date, I’ve never had fever.

Nu Skin|Pharmanex recently launched ageLOC R2, by the way, which is supposed to make the person’s body 10-20 years younger, and it was featured on Discovery Channel Asia in December 2012. It is listed in the Physician’s Desk Reference in the US, aside from being available in approximately 50 countries, including those with very strict regulations when it comes to food and drug, such as Singapore, Japan, and Canada. I am hoping that ageLOC R2 would help totally extinguish peripheral neuropathy from my system. I shall chronicle my experience once I start taking it.

If you have the same medical condition as mine, you might want to re-evaluate your lifestyle, and start taking high-quality food supplements, like LifePak, along with healthy diet and regular exercise, too. Of course, remember that a positive mindset, a happy disposition, coupled with faith in God always bring about miraculous effects! 🙂 – The Musing Mom, 4 July 2013

The Jonah in me

When I think about my own relationship with God, I remember the stroy of Jonah. This morning, instead of reading just the first three verses of the Book for my irregular daily devotions, I read the whole Book. Reading it made me face the fact that I am being rebellious again despite my attempts to mask the attitude.

“Have you any right to be angry?” the LORD asked Jonah on two separate occasions.

And I found myself in the same boat as Jonah, being asked the same question.

No, I have not been faithfully reading my Bible lately or being obedient to God’s Word for that matter. My prayers are too shallow–I recite them with no feelings at all. Sometimes, I would only pray because my children urge me to lead them or because the situation seems to call for it. And because I have not been meditating on God’s Word, I get easily irritated or angered lately.

So why am I acting rebellious again? What’s making me feel angry that sometimes, like Jonah, I felt “angry enough to die”?

Let’s see. One, as of last counting, there are two cysts on my thyroid gland. I have been praying to God to take them away, even cried and fell flat on my face as I prayed numerous times, but well, I can still see the bulge on my throat. My operation’s supposed to take place next month, but that is not likely to happen. I have not saved up anything for my medical expenses, there’s no one to look after my children during my operation and recuperation period, and I don’t think my whole being will ever be ready for it. I just want God to take them away without me having to go through any surgery.

Two, since I could not enroll this term, I have–for sure–lost my scholarship. The school allows filing of LOA only once for scholarship students / financial grantees. This would be the second time for me, which would mean forfeiture. I know I have decided to give it up for now because it’s unfair to my children–waking them up early on a Saturday morning even if it’s raining, just to dump them in my father’s house in another city so I could attend school. Besides, they need more of me to help them with their school work. I guess I am angry because I have no idea when I would be able to go back to school and finish my graduate studies and because I cringe at the idea of having to pay my tuition and miscellaneous fees in full all by myself on my next enrollment.

Three, my eldest child did not perform well in school last year and now that she’s back to that same old school that I hate, I am very apprehensive on how things will turn out this year. The administration would not accommodate my request to transfer her to another class handled by supposedly the best teacher in that grade level. Why do I want her transferred? Because her class adviser last year was such a bogus and I am very uncomfortable that they’re giving my daughter again to a new teacher in their school. And yes, because all throughout my elementary school days I was in section one, so I am very disappointed that my daughter didn’t make it to the star section this year. I thought it was very unfair especially that we we were able to establish the incompetency of her former class adviser. Hence, my daughter’s skills were not properly assessed and she did not reach her full potential because of her.

And then there are all those little things that add up and start looking like mountains to me: areas in the house that need to be fixed but my landlord chooses to ignore, my deceased dog’s ticks that still plagues us, the fact that I still haven’t found a school service for my younger daughter, and having very limited finacial resources, plus debts to pay and very little savings.

I am getting very irritable lately. Indeed, a messy room and a child that would not instantly obey are like red flags being waved before me.

Moreover, I refuse to pray for and totally forgive my in-laws, especially my mother-in-law. Because like Jonah, I knew that God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and relents from sending a calamity (Jonah 4:1-3), especially when He sees sincere repentance. I wanted Him to punish my in-laws instead for all the wrongs they had done to me and my relatives. I do not want Him to forgive them easily, especially when they have not even apologized to me.

But then, have I any right to be angry?

Despite my little acts of rebelliousness, I know that God continues to care for me and my family. He never lost hope in me and He loves me despite my iniquities. Moreover, my rebelliousness only separates me from Him and my loved ones, especially my children.

No, I don’t have any right to be angry, especially with Him. He isn’t only God or a Father to me. He’s a God to everyone else, too. His love, compassion, and forgiveness isn’t just for me, but to all other sinners like me as well. I just have to accept that fact and be the light that I ought to be.