This will be my first ever blog. I knew I wanted to put down in writing my walk as a young grandmother, a wife, a mother of four, as a sister, as a Christian. I didn't know what to write about at first, but when I was creating my account, it dawned on me to start by defining who I am. My pastor recently reminded us to look in the mirror and ask, "mirror, mirror on the wall", not in the Disney fashion but how God looks at us. I learned that how we look at the world is the result of how we look at ourselves.
So, I start...how did your parents name you? Do you know the origin of your name? Were you named after someone?A hero, perhaps? after a momentous event in history? Do you know what your name means? How do you live up to that name?
I was named "Ana Maria" by my parents. I was told that "Ana" from St. Anne, and "Maria", because most Filipinos had "Maria" added in the front or back ends of their first names. My sisters were named: Maria Angela, Maria Rosario and Maria Regina. My mother- Maria Paz. I have male cousins named Jose David and Jose Luis, to further illustrate what has become a Filipino tradition, and may very well have been a hand-down from our country's Spanish influence.
I don't know which parent started to call me "Annette" as a pet name, which is a variance of my Christian given name. And it stuck. I have been called "Annette" all throughout the years, and I would only use "Ana Maria" for legal purposes.
When I married my husband Lito, I of course had taken on his last name "Velasco". I became to be known as Annette Velasco. Only recently did I realize what my new name, my new identity meant. I had casually googled my name in an anagram translator in the internet and "Annette Velasco" actually spelled "A Steel Covenant"!
I thought it was the most awesome insight that God has given me in a long time. He knew that all the time that there will come a season in my life when I would meet Him and He will form a covenant with me that will last a lifetime.
My parents were separated when I was about 14 years old, and being the eldest child, had to take on the responsibility of "mothering" my siblings. After they had both left us with my mother's sister, I had prayed to God to find me a helpmate who will help me raise my siblings. By this time, I was only in senior high, and had met the Lord through one of the then becoming popular revival meetings at the Araneta Colisueum in Quezon City. But, who said life as a Christian was ever going to be smooth? History repeated itself. The husband I married did not know the Lord a this point in time, and we were separated for over 10 years. We both had other children and established new families. I cry now for the consequences that our children have to suffer because of our folly.
But I saw that even in my unlovable state, God did not let me go too far that there is no room for restoration. He had created situations and let my husband and I meet Christian friends who guided us back. When I came to the States in 1992, after having been reunited to my husband the year prior, I had shared with him the Good News and he accepted God's invitation. I couldn't contain myself, because now I know that the family I had dreamed of having is about to be happen. Between the two of us, we have seven children: our first born is a daughter,(Lilet) and in between he had 3 (Leilani, Lea and LJ) and I had two (Reuben Julius and Aaron Samuel) and our youngest son born after our reunion, was Luke. Life still did not promise a bed of roses, but it was now easier to deal with the challenges because there's the two of us facing them. God unilaterally fulfilled His covenant with me when I first met Him. Ordinarily, a covenant is an agreement between two parties in which both make specific promises for the completion of this "contract", - but extraordinarily in my life, I have seen God fulfills His side even though I was not able to, my part. I realize now that I could have received worse than I deserved but His mercies are new every morning!
My Lord did not allow me to perish but made me realize that I am nothing without Him, that His love is unconditional and that He wants me back! That I only need to humble myself before Him by owning up to what I have become - even after I have already had Him in life. I thank God that He has been faithful in spite of my unfaithfulness. His covenant with me is like steel- hard, strong and lasting. That I could only be melted and formed and re-formed by His gracious and loving kindness.
My journey and His story goes on after surviving ovarian cancer and becoming hypertensive and a diabetic. Every day I come to realize that "He saved me (us) not for what we (I) have done but because of His Mercy" (Titus 3:5). That like Jacob, I have been given a new identity. He not only forgave me, but restored and blessed me in ways I could not even dare imagine. His reminder of my past folly is present at all times, but there is no more shame but fullness of joy. Remembering back, the past, gives me hope to the future.
Each day is truly a new day of new mercies. Not that we can redeem ourselves, blessing each other and ourselves but that only God, in all His goodness wants to keep on loving us, if only we do our part - to abide in Him. He promised this with His very words in John 15:7 - " If you remain in Me and and My Words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you."
I pray that you also find your joy in Him who saves, who heals, who forgives and restores. You don't have to have a name like mine to know that God loves you without question or motive! Call unto Him, cast your cares unto Him and you will find that He is a God who keeps His promises. "The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever". (Psalm 138:8)
"Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your Name.
I will praise you, O Lord My God, with all my heart;
I will glorify Your Name forever.
For great is Your love toward me; you have delivered
me from the depths of the grave."
Glory to you O, Lord, my God!
29 March 2010