‘Tobias’- God is good!

I woke up from a dream that we were having another baby boy… It was 330am on January 31, 2018. I went to the bathroom, grabbed a home pregnancy test, peed on it and then took a shower. As I was drying off, I glanced at the stick and saw two red lines.

I cried.

I cried not because I didn’t want it but because I wasn’t expecting it. If you have been regularly reading my blog and instagram posts, you might remember that we have always wanted another baby since Noah turned 3 years old and have always expected each month for a positive home pregnancy test result, but it never came. (Read previous post about pregnancy Jesus Forgot Us? )

And so we trusted God that He knows what He is doing and that His timing is always perfect. -but it did not feel like very good timing when we got the positive home pregnancy test and then two weeks later at the doctor’s, when she confirmed that there was a sac but no little embryo yet, up to the point when we found out another two weeks later that yes, a baby is growing inside of me!

While the good news was very much welcomed, it was unplanned and we felt came at the wrong time as I was doing 2 regular shows that just started… but who are we to question God’s plan?

What a wonderful opportunity to learn to trust God that He is always right, that His timing is always perfect and that He will provide and strengthen us through this wonderful miracle. What a wonderful gift God is allowing us to have and experience. And we know whatever happens, God is in control and this God who is in control is a good good God, a good Father, who knows what we need and what is best for us.

Our new baby boy, Lord willing is due to arrive this September and we are naming him Tobias Nolan. Nolan means ‘Champion‘ and Tobias means ‘God is good‘ because He is!

It is our prayer that God will keep Tobias in His presence all the days of his life and that he will be a Champion, victoriously conquering all things that will come his way with God who will surely strengthen him. That his life will always declare the goodness of God and bring Him glory in everything he will do and say.

Are you going through something now that feels as if God has forgotten you and has not taken your situation into consideration? Instead of questioning, seek Him through His Word, trust that He loves you and knows what is best for you, take encouragement in these promises:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a bright future…” Jeremiah 29:11

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, He will never leave you or forsake you.” Deutronomy 31:6

“Cast all your concerns on Him for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

When you feel forgotten or forsaken, lift your eyes, hands and heart to God and our good God promised that those who truly seek Him, will find Him.

Overcoming Hormones

If you notice, the last post I posted on this blog except for the one yesterday about the Breastpump Giveaway was last December! December!

And as I write this, all I want to do is go back to bed, lie down in front of the TV and do nothing! I feel so lazy, so exhausted even though I just woke up. And I’ve been feeling like this since I was 5 weeks pregnant. So I should just go back to bed right? I have an excuse, afterall I’m pregnant! My body is making a baby inside and that should be enough reason for me to be lazy and give in to that laziness, right?…

But you see ever since I found out I was pregnant again, I have also been more irritable, easily annoyed at Marco, at Noah and anybody I feel like being annoyed at. And most times for no reason at all! There were also moments when I simply feel sad.

Galatians 5: 22-23 says that the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE, JOY, Peace, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, faithfulnes, GENTLENESS and SELF-CONTROL.

So does being pregnant mean I lose the fruit the Holy Spirit gives? Can I really keep on using ‘it’s the hormones‘ excuse for my laziness, moodiness and kaartehan?

I decided it stops now. (O Lord help me!)

When you’re pregnant, hormones go crazy, it seems impossible to overcome it, but I know my God is greater and more powerful than any hormonal changes my body is going through and as Philippians 4:13 says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Being lazy included me neglecting to spend time with my creator. My prayer time became rushed and there were days when I don’t even read the Bible at all- and I guess this answers why I’m so easily annoyed and why I feel sad- it’s because I have been disconnected to my God. He is my joy afterall and my soul longs for Him. So when I don’t spend time with Him, I lose that joy and that causes me to do and feel all sorts of crazy.

If you have been feeling the same way I have, it’s time to get on our knees and PRAY! Pray that God keeps us and not cast us away from His presence. Pray that God will strengthen us and give us the desire to know Him more by reading His Word.

The Bible says that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us- even us busy mamas and pregnant mamas. We don’t stop being warriors of God just because we are mothers. The battle goes on and God’s grace will always be sufficient for us to do what God has called us to do.

“We can overcome hormones and anything else that tries to get us away from God through Him who is our strength”

More than ever, we as mothers need to be rooted in God’s Word and make God our priority. Not our children- but God. Because only by doing that can we hope to be the best moms we can be for our kids.

If you have beem feeling the same way, let me know and let us encourage one another by praying for each other. Leave your thoughts and name on the comments section and I would love to pray for you.

A New Year, An Anniversary

People around the world will be celebrating on January 1 to welcome 2018, but for me and @marcoalcaraz it’s more than a New Year, we will be celebrating our 7th Wedding Anniversary! (Our first wedding)

This photo was taken almost 7 years ago right here in the beautiful Bristish Columbia… and all I can think of right now is (how I want to fix that collar on my faux fur coat 😂) no really- other than that, how truly amazing God is- to have allowed me to share this life with this amazing man who has this amazing patience no one can top, who is at the moment in the grocery store buying me food after I was so “sungit” at him (how do you say this in english?) but yes Thank You Father God for Marco! I can’t imagine anyone else putting up with me and my moodiness! I can’t imagine being with anyone else at all! (Yung inaaway mo na nga, bibilhan ka pa ng pagkain) 😍 So, although we have 3 more days to go til it’s the new year and our wedding anniversary, I thought I’ll go ahead and post this one (pambawi for being masungit to him) and so that he remembers to buy me an anniversary present 🙊 #pwedenarincash But really, i love you jiamps! Thank you for loving me like Jesus loves us, His church, that even though we always fail Him, He never turns His back on us and still blesses us.

P.S. @marcoalcaraz Love you, bilisan mo gutom na ko.

P.S to others- forgive us if we keep on posting loveydovey photos especially during this time, we just like to reminisce and remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness in our married life. #GloryToGodAlways

📷 mattmurrayphotography.com

http://www.laraquigaman.com

Slow down O Happy Days…

December is here again!

How time truly flies by And yet why are we still so impatient, so easily bored? Like my son, Noah here in the photo (or maybe he’s just bored waiting for us to finish kissing sorry noah, mommy and daddy will kiss forever!)

Back to all the rush and excitement and yet being bored and impatient.. This Season is rushing by so fast I tell you, it’s almost December 2 and before you know it, it’s 2018 and then it’s Christmas again! There are Christmas parties and celebrations left and right, that Christmas gift list you need to finish, the shopping, the deadlines, etc etc etc… and before we know it, we’re too tired to even enjoy our Christmas day… so let us focus not on the gifts, the parties, the traffic, the ‘gastos’ or the food.. Instead,

focus on the One reason this season is all about. “JESUS”.

Use this time to teach our children and to remind ourselves to find the the joy in waiting, to be thankful, to forgive and receive forgiveness, to stop and not to rush… (except to rush to Jesus)

Enjoy this time and remember what God has done for us, what an amazing gift God has given all of us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour!

Oh Happy Day! When Jesus was born on Christmas Day!

24 days before Christmas! Happy December from The Alcaraz

Photo by Joshua De Guzman @littlejphoto

Shangha-I Love You

We were invited once again to watch the NBA pre season game in Shanghai China and since the Warriors were playing, my husband just couldn’t say no.

We were first in Shanghai last October 2015 and as we were planning our trip, i could not seem to remember much of that trip which was just 2 years ago! So it was like going to Shanghai for the first time, fortunately for you and for those who are asking and are planning to visit Shanghai, I documented most of the things we did this time, where we went, what we ate, how we got around and loads of useful travel tips!

First off the list- if you’re a Philippine Passport holder, you need a Chinese Visa. It’s quite easy, you can opt to have a travel agency help you with your application or you can do it yourself and save some money (this is what we did).

Visa Chinese Embassy Link Click this link, to find out what requirements you need and how and where to submit it.

Tip: China Eastern airlines offered the best deal during the time we booked plus the flight times are the best as we were able to maximize our days in Shanghai. As for accomodations, you can book at booking.com and choose accomodations that you can cancel 24 hours before you arrive incase you change your mind.

Now that’s ticked off the list. Here are other things you need to do before your trip to China:

  • Download the following applications in your iphone or smart phone that will be very useful for your trip:
  1. Betternet– You need this app inorder to browse through Facebook & Instagram, as these social media apps are blocked in China.
  2. Metro Shanghai – a map of Shanghai’s subway
  3. Google Translate– For your Chinese translation needs! (Don’t forget to download the ‘Simple Chinese’ so you can use it even when your off the internet. It’s important to know a few basic Chinese Phrases.
  4. Ofo (Bicycle) -you’ll need this app if you plan to use one of the bikes scattered around Shanghai.
  5. We chat– The locals use this as their facebook/ viber/ wallet/ for everything! So it might be useful to have it just incase.
  • Have your hotel address ready and printed to show to your taxi driver if you have not pre-arranged transportation from the airport to your hotel

Day 1 We arrived at 8am and just took a taxi (there are a lot of english signs at the airport) going to our hotel (Riverview Hotel on the Bund, booked at booking.com) which is located in the Bund area, (taxi meter: 200 Yuan or P1500) we were able to check in at 1030am which is unusual for most hotels and we were quite grateful as we were able to rest and refresh before we started our day.

We then walked around the Bund area. The Bund is a waterfront area in central Shanghai. The Bund usually refers to the buildings and wharves on this section of the road, as well as some adjacent areas. It is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai.

Our friends who are English teacher’s in Shanghai then took us to Tian Zi Fang and we loved it! It was a good a place to have a ‘food trip’ and do a little bit of shopping. You can find all kinds of weird and new things to eat such as the ‘stinky tofu’ and the ‘smoky cookie’ Check my IG for videos you can also find a lot of talented artists who can carve your face into a stone, make a sculpture of anyone you want and more, just be ready to squeeze in as there are always a lot of people here and the alleys are quite small.

Tip: Remember not to exhaust yourself too much, decide on where you want to go and what you want to see but don’t pressure yourself to tick off your ‘To See, or To Go List’. Enjoy your vacation, take lots of photos and relax!

Day 2 And that was exactly what we did, we had plans but we were not bound to it. On our second day, we started after lunch, took the subway to meet our friend who took us to an outlet where we didn’t really getto buy anything.

Tip: Don’t shop in China for anything branded as it is more expensive than anywhere else, but if you do, you can have a tax refund at the airport. Make sure to bring your passport and go to Customer Services in outlets to get your form which you will use to redeem at the airport.

After walking around the shops, we decided to go to Thames Town. It is named after the River Thames in London, United Kingdom. The architecture is themed according to classic British market town styles. There are cobbled streets, Victorian terraces and corner shops. It felt like we were in another country.

We then took a taxi to have dinner at Sichuan Citizen restaurant in the former French Concession area where everything is sooo hot! Including marco! Hahaha. But really, the main ingredient here I think is chilli! Food was really great though!

Day 3 On our 3rd day, we explored Shanghai on our own. We took the subway! Our friends very generously lended us their subway card. Download ‘Shanghai METRO’ app and you’ll quickly learn and realize it’s really quite easy. From our hotel, we walked to Line 9 which took us about 9 minutes. We decided to go the ‘Fake Market’ (AP Plaza as it’s known) is just located in station ‘Shanghai Science & Technology Museum’ in Line 2.

Aaaahhhh, it was soooo much fun! We were there quite early and the vendors were still very energetic and friendly.. be ready to haggle because it’s so much fun! If they say 1000 Yuan, say ‘How about, 100?’ Always start very low and never go over 50% of the price they gave and don’t feel bad for them, it’s all acting and they will never sell their merchandise without a profit! And they also enjoy bargaining with you so go ahead and get those haggling skills out.

We took the subway again (we felt like locals at this point) to go to the NBA Fans Appreciation Day in Oriental Sports Center

Got back to the hotel with just an hour to prepare for the NBA Shanghai Game Welcome Dinner at Roosevelt House. (The Roosevelt House and Sky Bar offers one of the best views of Shanghai’s Skyline, located in 72nd the Bund) We had a great Date Night here!

Day 4 We wished we discovered how these Bicycles worked on day one! It would have saved us a lot of time walking! Anyways when you go to Shanghai, you will notice a lot (and I mean a lot!) of Bicycles parked everywhere! And they are all for rent. You can get them anywhere and leave them anywhere too! There are a lot of brands, but Ofo is the only one that accepts mastercard for payment and deposit. So deposit is 199Yuan, which you can get back right away and 1 hour use is only 1 Yuan! Which is P7! And there were times we only used it for half an hour and we were n’t charged at all!

We rode around the area of our hotel and later in the afternoon, went to another fake market (which I will not tell you where as I don’t recommend going there!) we tried the Ramen Burger at ‘Oh My Burger’ in Jianguo Xi Lu and went to this cute little cafe called ‘Cafe Fay’ that prints any picture you want on your drink!

Our last day did not end there! The reason we came to Shanghai was to watch the Warriors play! And it truly was a memorable experience! Ang gwapo ni Curry! Kilig na kilig si Marco!

Tip: Don’t forget to switch off Cellular Data in your phone if you don’t want unwanted Roaming charges by your Network .You may also want to buy a local sim card with data at the airport in Shanghai once you arrive so you can have reliable internet connection throughout your trip as our local network’s roaming plan often failed us.

By the way here are other photos of places we visited in Shanghai 2 years ago. Check it out on our facebook page

www.facebook.com/TheAlcaraz

Hope this write up helps you plan your trip, if you have other tips or travel advise or want to share your travel stories, please do share them in the comments section or send me an email.

Ghosts Not Welcome

(October 2015)

Noah’s playmates Aira and Irish, sabi ni aira while looking at the mirror: “Multo oh! Multo!” (“Ghosts! Ghosts!”) Pointing to her sister teasing her. But I told them walang ghost dito, bawal multo in this house, the only ghost here is the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit.

Btw incase some of you didn’t know, Ghosts are demons, not dead people.

Hebrews 9:27 “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”

That is what happens to a person’s soul after death—judgment. No in betweens. Heaven for the believer and Hell for those who reject Christ.

Don’t be deceived.

#OneWayJesus

Trick or Treat? Yes or No?

Should Christians participate in or celebrate Halloween?
(I first posted this 2 years ago, but the message is still true for me)


Noah’s school informed us that this week is Halloween Celebration week and their lessons will include teaching the children all about Halloween and there will be a party on Friday where the kids will have to dress up and do trick or treats. I even bought chocolates earlier to bring to school and asked Noah what he wanted to dress up in, but he started to cry and said he didn’t want to (I feel that this is one way of God telling me something) Before God took the veil off my eyes, no alarm bells rang off and I did not see anything wrong with Halloween. But now I’m not so sure, after all Halloween celebrates ghosts, witches, etc.

Now you might say ‘But what harm could it do’ and that I’m being a killjoy and taking this too seriously.. But I have to take this seriously! After all Jesus took me seriously when He died and suffered for me, for us! So in everything I do, I want to please Him and give Him glory.

For now, I will continue to study God’s Word and find out God’s say in all this. The plan for now- if I will allow Noah to wear a costume, I won’t dress him up in anything that would glorify the devil. I’ll dress up him up in something good. If Noah doesn’t want to- I simply won’t force him. I will also talk to Noah’s teacher and find out what lessons they will be teaching the kids and tell her about Noah’s fears. When I give out treats, i’ll stick little Bible verses on them and use the occasion to share the Love of God to the kids and their parents.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:2 NIV

To all my Christian brothers and sisters, especially Christian parents, what is your stand on this? If you could provide scriptures that would be great!

Here are some of the comments I got from friends when I first posted it. Let me know what you think.