Dear Emmalee/ 4 Months

Dear Emmalee,

You are now 4 months! 
You are now an international baby. We went to visit your grandma on Panama City and you were a darling on the airplane. People would look at you with a little fear of the rambunctious cries they thought you'd make, but you proved them wrong being a pleasant company on both rides. 
Everyone was crazy to meet you in Panama. The people you and I hadn't met yet but had showered us with gifts and prayers were a wonderful treat. They introduced you to the church and they prayed for you to live a life for Christ. 
This is my greatest desire for you. 
This I will instil in you, and I will guard and protect in you: That you love your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength.
Mommy got a little worried because you became very silent when we came back from Panama, but you are as boisterous as ever! You even wake up and "talk" to yourself in your crib a little every morning.
You are sleeping in your own room! So big girl of you! Daddy insisted because mommy would have kept you close forever, but it was for the best.
You got your first flu. :(
Mommy was vigilant and scared, but even sick you were giggly and affable.
Your new thing is to smile with your tongue out. Makes you look crazy, baby girl.
You LOVE standing up. You cry if I don't place you on your two feet when you want to. It's your most demanding moment. I don't mind. 
Life is so beautiful with you in it. Your favorite place to sleep is still on top of mommy.  
Your hair is as crazy as always, but soon it will be long enough for me to hold together under a headband. You look beautiful anyways. I just care because people won't stop nagging me to comb your hair (as if it can be tame! ^_^)
I am eternally greatful with God for your life, baby girl! You have blessed us beyond my imagination. 
I love you forever,


Heartbroken for my country

I'm here today with my heart broken.
I'm heartbroken to see the kind of planet we live in.
Lately the atheist I talk to no longer try to prove God is not real. My argument that evolution is also accepted by faith makes them not want to go there. Instead, they try to make me reject God with questions like: "How could your loving god kill everyone in the planet with a flood."
I was thinking in these questions the atheist like to make me and I was thinking "I wish God did the same today!"

Today I read of six year old little girl who lost her life riding the bus from school to her home because some man went in to rob the passengers and an armed passenger defended his hard earned, day's pay and started a shooting.
It breaks my heart I read stories like this every single day in my country. Sometimes more than one news a day. News of  a "friend" who killed a family in the heat of a soccer game and many drinks. News of a young man starting his small carpentry business and being killed because he refused to pay the extorsion from gangs. News of a man who killed a two year old girl because she was crying in the night and woke him up. News of a 15 year old girl and her body guard killed when a hitman shot so many bullets to the car they were riding he also killed a woman vendor in a fruit stand behind the car. Or a little boy shot in the chest while playing in his aunt's lap in their backyard because policeman and gang members were in a confrontation in their neighborhood, leaving the aunt and his sister in the hospital while mom was at work oblivious.
It breaks my heart you never hear news of any justice made or murderers captured.
It breaks my heart when our president has the nerve to go infront of the cameras and say there isn't much violence in my country when the city of San Pedro Sula is ranked as one of the most violent cities in the world.
My heart is broken. It hurts for my fellow country men that lose their lives in this narcotraffic, gang filled country of mine. I cry for the innocent that lose their lives for nothing, for corruption. I cry for the brave ones who tried to make a difference in the government and were killed, some alongside with their families.
Today I read the news of the eight year old boy who lost his life in the Boston explotions during the Boston marathon. He was just waiting for his dad to get to the finish line to cheer for him, to hug his dad and say congrats. But some evil men planted bombs to kill innocent for what? For what??!!!!

And so my broken heart thinks of men's evil, perverted hearts and understands why God would consume them with fire and water. If my heart is broken, I wonder if God's is also broken. God, Who hears the cries of the innocent pleading for their lives before murderers, Who sees men walk away from Him and bring suffering to his neighbor, must be heartbroken too.

It's a good thing God is God and I am not.
Today I weep for my country as the Spirit in me gently tells me to forgive and trust in God's justice. I weep eventhough I am reminded I must pray for my authorities even if they are corrupted. The Spirit reminds me to grab hold of love, peace, and joy instead of bitterness, anger, and hatred.
It reminds me to be grateful for the life I am given today and the fact that my loved ones are by my side.
It reminds me Jesus weeps with me as I weep for those in pain far away and so does He.

My heart goes to the families and victims of these horrible acts of violence. Let this be a reminder of life's fragility and how we must not lose time to give the Gospel. Go give someone near you the gospel today. Life in this earth is nothing compared to eternity. Let us not forget the Cross. Let our hearts be broken if someone does not know the beauty of Christ and what He did for us in the Cross. Today is the day.

Dear God,
Let this be my reaction to this violence in my country: that I might shine brighter with your gospel wherever I go! Use me to replace hatred and hurting with Your peace and love. Let us remember You were a victim of violence; You, Who is the Son of God and almighty, suffered for love for us. Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and grace to this evil-doing mankind, for your mercy and grace to me!
I love You.


Our Panama Trip

It was such an enormous blessing to see my mom on Easter week.
My mom had been with us during December and Janaury to help with Emmalee's birth, but since there were so many post-partum complications, I didn't enjoy her company much because I was in alot of pain.
I was eager for her to see Emmalee and see how much she has changed and grown and how cute she is interacting with everyone.
Mom and Emmalee sure enjoyed their time together; it was the first time I heard Emmalee laugh out loud.
It was Emmalee's (obviously) and Rodol's first airplane trip!

Panama City is beautiful. We really enjoyed it.
On our first day we took a walk on the historic city center "Casco Viejo." We enjoyed buying some souvenirs for our loved ones back home and enjoying the beach and city skyline views for pictures together.

Next day we visited the Panama Canal Musuem. For a Civil Engineer husband, it was like entering a candy store.

We checked in on the Westin Hotel Resort that my mom got as a courtesy for all the medical conventions she has hosted there. Can I hear a "Woo hoo!" for free stay at a gorgeous new hotel? :)
Emmalee enjoyed her first time "in" the pool.

 I only let her feet in the pool because I considered her too young to be exposed to such chloride content. She rocked her bathing suit though!

Are you liking her matching headbands made by mommy?

Can I hear a "Hooray!" for fancy hotel meals?! The hotel had a barbacue themed night that had melts-in-your-mouth steak. Happy hubby again! Emmalee looked soooo cute on her formal dress.

After checking out of the hotel :(, we got to have a super fun, family bike ride down the Cosway.

Last day was shopping day and we visited the local Great Comission Church in Panama, but we took pics of that day with my sis' cam. It was truly a blessing to meet my mom's friends that had been sending us gifts for Emmalee and showered us with prayers during the pregnancy. They have blessed us from afar and we were more blessed to meet them at last. Lilly and I got to sing Heart of Worship during the service and the pastor presented Emmalee and prayed for our family's lives. It was a wonderful time.

Thank You, Lord, for being so good to us. We are undeserving!


Loving thy enemies and life's astounding contradictions

I have an enemy.
I realized this today.
The fact that I had not realized he was my enemy had made me ignorant of the condition of my own heart.

I think of myself as forgiving. I don't know if forgiving is the right word or just not-given-to-resentment. The things is I don't hold grudges. I would self righteously smile at any meeting in church where the sermon was about forgiveness and the Pastor would ask: "Do you have anyone in your life you haven't forgiven?" I would smile inside and say: "No :)."

Oh how blind we are to how much transforming of the heart from God we need; at least I am.
Truth is I've been hating this person for a very long time. More than two years to be exact. In all this time I haven't stopped and think of how I am disobeying God. All this time I've felt entitled and justified to feel like I do towards this person.

I never thought I'd hate anyone. No one has ever wronged me to a point where I would hate them. This person is wronging someone I love; and that makes it harder for me to forgive, especially since this loved one of mine being wronged is very fragile and hurting. The situation is pretty bad and this person keeps making it worst and worst. I've felt I have the right to despise him and I confess I've even wished him dead. How come I've been harboring such horrible feelings without feeling ashamed with myself instead?

Matthew 5:44
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I hate this person. Even after reading these verses, I know I hate him still. I don't want to. I realized that all this time I have never prayed for this person, even though he is a brother in the faith. As I mentioned before, I've wished him wrong. If I heard he was in some sort of accident, I'd be rooting for him not to make it. It's horrible! How have I felt justified to hating him so? Is it because of what he has done and keeps doing. So? Are the verses above in any moment justifying hating an enemy and free me from the commandment of loving him?

What if he really disappeared from our lives? Would everything be fixed? What if something did happened to him? Would I rejoice?

I was watching a movie with the hubs where a burglar murdered the wife's husband and kids. I told my hubs: "If that happened to me, I'd hunt that man down and kill him. I would even take my time and give him a slow painful death." I stopped and then said: "But God says 'Vengeance is Mine'. Would I obey God, just forgive, and let Him do me justice? I would have to. That would be hard to do."

So I am able to reach to that conclusion with a scenario as horrible as that one, but not reach to the conclusion it's the same with this person? The consequences of his actions are devastating to our family. He has contributed to us hurting for almost three years. He refuses to stop and leave. Even my husband has expressed desire of beating him up.

I haven't stopped to think if he is hurting or what he has suffered as well. I really don't care. But I am commanded to love him. I am commanded to pray for him. I am commanded to help him. Maybe all this time this is what has been missing in our family to do to finally see our prayers answered. God uses everything for His glory and He is teaching us a very hard lesson and we are missing it. We must obey. Only in obedience to God is there freedom to sin. Only in following God's way is there true joy and happiness amidst trials.

So, new resolution: I will forgive this person. I will pray for this because I don't know how to. If I look at myselft and realize how God should me too and I have wronged His loved ones and He still loves me and forgives me, is not as hard as I think. I will ask forgiveness to this person for my feelings and towards him. I will pray for his life and that he might do God's will. I will never speak ill of him again. I will share this to my family and ask that we all practice this loving thy enemy. I will be mindful of my heart. I will realize that being forgiving includes forgiving those who wrong my loved ones.

Life is astoundingly contradictory to me. I can not understand how horrible times coexist with happy times.
I had just heard from my mom that a friend of the family had shot himself in the head. My heart sunk in terrible shock and pain for the family. I was there at my desk praying for his family and feeling pretty gloom. Minutes later I was laughing at a joke some one told me. I thought: "How can I laugh when someone I know and love is terribly hurting." It felt like a huge contradiction. To me, life should stop in those moments. I should feel sad and have no room for any other feeling. Life should stop. But it doesn't and I still laugh. That makes me hopeful. If you know what we have been suffering, you would probably understand why this makes me hopeful.

After all, the only truth is that God has commanded us to love everyone around us. We never know when we might not have a chance to this with the people around us so I must do it everyday. May God show me and guide me to live this way.