When Life Feels Complicated

A little backstory. Even before Mike and I entered into a relationship back in 2010, he already shared to me almost everything about his past... his dark, messed up, ugly, complicated past. I was shocked by his story at first, but at the same time, I was amazed with how God could turn someone's life upside down and use it to lead people to Him. In fact, it was Mike's life testimony that inspired me to also seek a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Part of his past was a baby that he chose not to acknowledge because he wasn't ready to face the responsibility back then. For nine years, he hasn't heard anything about his ex and their baby, until a few months ago, she tried to reconnect with him, and with me through facebook (we are very grateful to her for reaching out to us). Mike is no longer the same person that he used to be and we both know that we have do what is right and obey what God is telling us to do. We decided to once and for all confront the past, take responsilibity, and welcome the child as part of our family.

To be honest, the first few weeks after I had my first communication with the mother of the child was the hardest. Even if I was already aware of the possibility that a child would one day claim Mike as her dad, having to face the reality that it was now happening was not easy.

I have always had this mental picture of the kind of life that I want to have for my family -- Me and Mike, and the number of children that I dream for us to have... how the rooms of our children would look like, our homeschooling journey, our family travels, etc.. etc.. When Shiko was born, I knew that it was the start of God fulfilling every dream and prayer that I have for our family. I guess the harderst struggle that I've had to face in this season was to let go of those dreams and imaginations that kept me awake at night for many years, and to accept that God has a different plan for our family.

I remember a night when I was crying while asking God, "Lord, I know that this is what is right, and this is Your will... Pero kaya ko po ba talagang harapin itong path kung saan mo kami dinadala?" 

And God spoke a gentle whisper in my heart while I was reading a Loop Devotion, He said, "My Princess Misce, I will not bring you to a place where I will not be... " 

I told Him, "But Lord, this is just too hard, too complicated, too uncomfortable for me..", And He once again answered, "I have work for you to do with Me, yes. We will go and I will push you to lean on Me and trust Me and do things uncomfortable for you to do alone... I am here with you, holding your hand, not leaving your side. I am enough. My presence is enough... You are not made to cower and fret and wring your hands. You are made to walk with eyes up, head held high, so you can see the path I take you. Together we go, just one step at a time, and into territory that may be unknown but will be safe and familiar too . . . because I will be there." 

Most of the time, obeying and doing the will of God feels uncomfortable. Uncomfortable, because surrendering to God's will means death. Death to our own plans, our own dreams, our own desires... desire to be in control, desire to just always play it safe.  But this death leads us to experience the presence of God in the most intimate way... this death, this total surrender and reckless obedience leads us to where God wants to bring us... This death leads us to the true life.

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." -- Matthew 16:24‭-‬25 NASB

While my dream is to have a simple, happy family with a comfortable life, God's plan is to bring healing and restoration to every area of Mike's life. For him to receive forgiveness from the mother of his child so he could be completely set free from the guilt and the shame of his sinful past. For a daughter to experience the love of her real father -- a father that would protect her, provide for her, comfort her, and lead her to Jesus. God's plan is to make all things (yes, ALL, including all the skeletons in our closets) to work together for good, and use them for His glory. God's dreams for our lives are always bigger and better that what we can imagine.

When life feels complicated, I fix my eyes on Jesus, and He untangles all complications. With my pillow soaked with tears I came to Him. I opened my hands and laid these complications at His feet. God reminded me of His purpose for me and all of a sudden my life is simplified again. God did not put me on earth to just live a comfortable life, be happy and die. My purpose is to glorify Him, to let His light shine through my life, and use this little light of mine to lead people to Him. God made me to be Mike's wife, for such time as this. Coleen may not be my biological daughter, but more than a Stepmother, I could be her Spiritual Mom. I could pour out my life to her and share the love of Jesus to her. I dream to one day see her passionately in love with Jesus too. I dream to one day see her serving God, fulfilling God's purpose for her life, and making an impact to her generation. It will be such a privilege for me to somehow be a part of God's plan for her life. Now, that is bigger than my original, earthly dream. God gave me a new dream once again, a dream that would impact eternity.

"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." - Colossians 3:2 NIV

As of the moment, we're still waiting for God to lead us towards the next step that He wants us to take. We know that His ways and timing are always perfect so we continue to trust Him as we look forward to spending more time and creating new family memories with Coleen.

Dear Shiko, The Beach Was Never The Same

Dear Shiko,

We just came home from a 3-day vacation. It was your first beach experience, and it was my first time to have a vacation at the beach as a mom.

It was never the same. 

Before, packing was a breeze. Just a few clothes and toiletries in my back pack and I'm good to go. Now, it took me more than an hour to finish packing to make sure that I brought all you needs -- from diapers, to sunblock, to your body wash, rash guard, and feeding essentials... everything had to be complete.

I used to listen to reggae music, sleep, and relax during the road trip. Now, I was there reading a book to you, or feeding you a snack just to keep you still in your car seat. I was there trying to pacify you by singing to you, or playing with you when you were already feeling tired and bored in the car.

I have always loved the beach and I used to bask and let the time just go slowly while I lay down on the sand, enjoy the sound of the crashing waves, and feel the sun kissing my skin. But now, I was there making sure you were safe. I was there introducing you to this new surrounding. I was there playing with you on the sand even when I wanted to swim and explore the sea. I was there accompanying you to go back to the cottage because you wanted to latch and eventually sleep, even when I wanted to stay at the shore and enjoy my most favorite part of the day -- the sunset.

My Baby Shiko, it hasn't been the same.

But I'll never trade a single moment that I was able to spend with you during this trip. I cherish every moment that you cried because you only wanted to be in my arms. That even while you were busy playing on the sand and the shore, you wanted me to always be close... because I know that my presence made you feel secure in this place that is so big, so new, and could have been so overwhelming to you. I cherish the moments when I wanted to stay out longer during the night so I can just stare at the moon and the stars, but I chose to go to bed early and embraced you as you fell asleep while latched on. I cherish how you share your wonders and amazement with me as you discover new creatures and try to pronounce their names in the best way that you could. The laughters, smiles, and giggles on your sun-kissed cheeks will forever be imprinted on my heart.

Dear Shiko, I only have a handful of summers left before you leave my lap and enjoy the beach... and your life... on your own. I'm cherishing these moments as much as I can, because one day my love, I know that it will never be the same.


Sun, Sand, Sea & Shiko

It's Shiko's first summer as a toddler and Mike and I were very excited to bring him to the beach. We had a booking at  Pico De Loro but we decided to cancel when we learned that Pico Sands Hotel is not beach front. We checked for other possible options until we decided to go for La Luz Beach Resort in Laiya, San Juan Batangas. We booked their Premier room because we need a bigger floor space for Shiko to roam around. It was very timely, because last minute, Mama beck decided to come with us. La Luz doesn't allow bringing and cooking your own food because they have a mandatory meal package which costs 1,710php per head (inclusive of lunch, pm snack, dinner, and breakfast), so we thought that this is a perfect opportunity for Mama Beck to relax too! :) 

Shiko's longest road trip experience was 12hrs. That was when we went to Ilocos when he was only 7 months. I knew it was going to be different now that he's more active, so I wanted to prepare him even if it was just going to be a 4hr-drive. The night before we left, I explained to Shiko that we were going to the beach and told him that he needs to behave in the car. He understood and said, "Gogogo!" with giggles.

It was the Monday right after the Holy Week vacation and we anticipated that the traffic was going to be heavy so we left Pasig at 5am. We had to arrive at the resort before noon time since the first meal to be served will be lunch. Shiko was very cooperative. I have hoped that he would stay in the car seat during the entire trip (because when you're traveling with a toddler, it's like winning the lottery!), but he didn't. He sat there during the time that we were in SLEX and Startoll though. Not that bad, since he slept during the whole time that he was on my lap.

We arrived at La Luz before 10am. Check in time was 1pm so we had to wait at one of the cabanas. We maximized the time by taking pictures. 

The beach never felt crowded during our entire stay

Shiko enjoyed playing in this sandbox while our room was being prepared.

Their staff were very nice to allow us to check in as soon as our room became available even if it was before 12nn.

 Good for 4pax, but they allow up to maximum of 6 with extra charge.

At exactly 12nn, buffet lunch was ready. The food was delicious! We're glad we decided to push through despite reading some not-so-good reviews about the food in La Luz, because for us,  their mandatory meal package was worth it! (and this is speaking for all the 8 meals that we had during our 3-day stay).

Shiko enjoying his lunch!

After eating lunch, it's time to swim! Shiko was amazed at the sea that he went for a dip  with Mike immediately. He loves the pool so maybe he thought it was going to be the same, however, when a wave hit his face, he was surprised! I think he tasted the salty water. After that, he was afraid to go to the water anymore so he prefered to just play at the shore. He missed his regular noon time nap because of too much excitement.

Snack was served at 3:30pm. I wasn't able to take pictures because by this time, Shiko was already very drowsy, he even slept while eating pansit. Dinner was served at 6:30pm. 

The full moon illuminating the sea was very stunning that night. Shiko and I gazed at it until he fell asleep on my lap. Too bad I wasn't able to take a picture because my camera wasn't with me when I took Shiko for a walk. 

We woke up early the following morning and enjoyed the morning sea breeze while waiting for our breakfast to be served at 7am.

We planned to rent a kayak or a jetski, but since Shiko was being very clingy to me, we changed our minds because we wouldn't be able to maximize them. We spent the rest of the day swimming, playing on the sand, and fish feeding. Yes, La Luz has a very nice marine sanctuary. We didn't even need to rent snorkling gears. We just threw small pieces of tasty bread on the water and the fish came to us even while we were just near the shore. They were beautiful! I told Mike we have to buy a GoPro so we would be able to capture moments like these next time. :)

Shiko learned some new words during our vacation. "Da-gah" (dagat), "Pe-bow" (pebbles), "Ga-gey" (goggles). Shiko saw some "Je-je" (jellyfish) too as there were some  near the shore around late morning and noontime. 

The pebbly sand of La Luz

What I loved the most  was that Shiko was able to freely play on the sand and explore the place, though we had to keep a close eye on him because he kept on trying to eat the pebbles from time to time! I've read that letting the children experience the sun, sand, and sea at an early age is very healthy for their brain development and overall well-being even if they wouldn't remember everything about it when they grow up. 

Going on vacations like these is also healthy for the relationship of the whole family. We are grateful to God these moments!

Photoshoot ops with Shiko