A Surprise Filled Year!

2017 has been a year filled with surprises. I was surprised with how patient I could be, how much sacrifice I could give, and how deeply I could love. I was surprised with how motherhood could change a woman's life in a blink of an eye, and how this little person could break my heart and fill it with so much joy at the same time.

Every single day, hour, minute, second, mattered. In between breastfeeding and diaper changing, the days (and nights) felt soooo long, yet, when I look back, I wonder where all the time went. My world revolved around these new routines and like grains of sand, this year seemed to have slipped through my fingers just like that. Sometimes I feel like I haven't accomplished much this year compared to the past years of my life, but God reminds me that every single second that I've poured out in the first year of Shiko's life matters because it will impact the rest of his life. The question is not whether I have accomplished much or not, the important question is, "Have I accomplished what God wants me to do at this season of my life?"

I struggled between my new role as a mom, and my role as a wife to Mike. This new season felt surreal and overwhelming at first, but Mike's support, understanding, patience, and love helped me until I was able to find my rhythm again. His selfless service to me and Shiko came as a surprise as well. I can't imagine how I could have been able to survive this year without him by my side.

God surprised us as He led us through paths that were unknown to us. He compelled us to take risks and make decisions that changed the direction of our lives, but eventually opened doors for new opportunities and new relationships. God's one word for me in 2017 was "RELY", and indeed, He never failed to be my rock and my refuge as I relied on Him every single step of the way, most especially during the last two months of the year.

Last night, God confirmed to me that His one word for me this 2018 is the word "GO". I do not know what 2018 holds, but I do know that God is already there, and has laid out every single day of the year for me. As I "Go" with God this year, I know that He will bring me to where He wants me to be. I pray that my one desire for this entire year may only be for God's will to be done in my life and the lives of those that He will entrust to me.

Here's a video summary of our 2017. Blessed and beautiful 2018 to you all! Cheers! 🙂

Shiko's First Birthday & Dedication

Contrary to what many people might have understood, Child Dedication is not the same as Baptism or Christening. For Born Again Christians like us, baptism is a public declaration of our decision to commit to follow Jesus for the rest of our lives, with the clear understanding that our old self has been crucified with Christ, and that a new life has been given to us when we received Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. Obviously, this is something that a little child (or a baby) could not yet decide on, that is why we do this when a person already has a conscious mind and a free will to make such life changing decision.

Child dedication on the other hand, is our commitment to God as parents that our child will be "set apart" for God's purposes alone. It is a vow to raise baby Shiko with the knowledge and awareness of God's love for him,  and to train him to walk in the commandments and ways of the Lord, not out of duty, obligation, or religion, but out of his genuine love for God. 

The Bible says, that God honors our promises to Him: 

“When you make a vow to the Lord your God, be prompt in fulfilling whatever you promised him. For the Lord your God demands that you promptly fulfill all your vows, or you will be guilty of sin. However, it is not a sin to refrain from making a vow. But once you have voluntarily made a vow, be careful to fulfill your promise to the Lord your God." - Deuteronomy 23:21‭-‬23 NLT

Dedicating a child to God is not just a ceremony that we do for the purpose of ritual or tradition, just like our wedding vows, it bears so much weight, because this is a commitment that we are declaring in front of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. It is a ceremony which should be taken seriously.

Long before I conceived Shiko, I already dedicated him to the Lord. Years ago, like Hannah in the Bible, I onced prayed to God, that if He would ever grant us a child, I am dedicating him/her to His purposes alone. When I got pregnant and when Shiko was born, Mike and I renewed our promise to God as we prayed our prayer of thanksgiving.

Last November 4, Mike and I decided to publicly dedicate Shiko in time for his 1st birthday. As Pastor Bong Saquing mentioned during the ceremony, publicly dedicating Shiko means that we are giving authority to the witnesses (our families and friends who were invited during the event), to rebuke, correct, and remind us should we fail or stumble in keeping our promise to God. What struck me the most in his message was his reminder that "Shiko belongs to Jesus", we do not own him. It is our humble privilege for God to entrust him to us and to be used by him to prepare Shiko for God's plsnd and purposes for his life. No matter what, we should allow God to do whatever He wants to do in his life. He has given, and He has the right to take him away from us. Whatever He decides to do to Shiko's life, we must continue to fix our eyes on Jesus. That last part  is a reality that's not easy for any parent to accept, but dedicating our child to God, means that we are totally surrendering every detail of his life to God's will.

It was a simple yet a memorable occassion. We took the opportunity to share our testimony including every detail of our struggles during the waiting season, and how we experienced the faithfulness of God through it all. We sang and spoke our declaration of blessing to Shiko's life. We are thankful to our family and friends who took the effort to join us in that day of thanksgiving and celebration. Our words could never be enough to give God the glory that He deserves for everything that He has done in our lives! To HIM alone be all the Honor, Glory, and Praise! :)

Here's the video of the highlights of the event:

Shiko's DIY Cake Smash Shoot

Two months ago, in preparation for Shiko's 1st Birthday and Dedication, I planned to use a cake smash photo for his poster invitation. Husband and I didn't want to spend money for a professional photoshoot so we decided that we were going to DIY this project.

Our family volunteered to help us make this project possible. My sister-in-law offered to bake Shiko's smash cake. I really appreciate her effort since she had to research and test recipes with ingredients that were approved by our pedia. Since Shiko was only 10mos and 3weeks at the time of our shoot, the cake should be non-dairy, and with no egg, and sugar. I chose a rainbow dripping cake design to compliment Shiko's party theme, and my sister-in-law was able to pull it off. Shiko's smash cake was already baked and ready a day before the shoot.

At almost 12 midnight, my SIL, sent me a viber message telling me that there was an ingredient that we forgot to consult with Shiko's pedia -- the food coloring! Since both of us were not at ease to let Shiko eat the food coloring, we needed a last minute change of plan. We decided to use fruit toppings instead of the food colored frosting.

She woke up early the following morning to bake a new base cake, while my husband together with my mother and brother in law went to the grocery to buy some fruits. She gave me a new cake with a plain white frosting, and allowed me to design the fruit toppings. We tried to still follow the rainbow colors so we used watermelon (since there was no strawberries available), kiwi, and mango. I wasn't able to include the bananas because of lack of space. :)

The cake was ready! But we had to wait for my others sisters in law who were going to do the background set up. It was already past 3pm and it looked like it was going to rain so I was worried that we wouldn't be able to maximize the natural lighting from our window. My cousin who brought the DSLR camera that we were going to use was also with them.

When they finally arrived, we had to rush with the set up. They pumped the balloons, and arranged the lanterns that my mom bought from divisoria. We also created a diy reflector using aluminum foil. When we were all set and ready, I had to play around with the setting of the DSLR camera to find out which one will work. I am not a professional camera user so it took a while for me to find the best setting. I tried taking pictures using my husband's phone too, and it also worked well, but of course, the shutter speed of the DSLR camera was more reliable.

At last! Baby Shiko was ready to devour  his cake! :) His first pick was an easy choice -- watermelon! He enjoyed eating the fruits first before he realized that the frosting was also edible! Later on, he ate chunks of the cake too! Since he is a BLW baby, he knows just the right size that he can handle. He would sometimes bite a huge chunk and spit it out, then bite a smaller one instead. I'm so proud of him!

All of us enjoyed the session! It was so fun watching him enjoy playing and eating his cake! The mess was all worth it! Shiko went straight to his mini bath tub after the shoot. Husband took charge of the after care.

 It was indeed a memorable milestone in Baby Shiko's life! I can't believe he is turning one year old in less than a month! Here are some of the output from the shoot (edited via Photoshop and Photo Director):