Vow

 

Okay, so we Filipinos seem to have all been affected by the Jollibee valentine ads. I am talking particularly about “Vow.” It’s a brilliant ad, telling us that no matter what happens, Jollibee will always be there for us, to make us feel loved and happy each time we visit their stores. But really, were you affected by the video saying, “awwww Jollibee, thanks so much for the love and sacrifice…”? Haha. No, I think we were affected by the love story. As a friend of mine said, it’s La La Land all over again!

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image from cdn.ibtimes.ph

I tweeted the other day that I don’t believe in guy-girl best friends unless guy and girl are married, with the hashtags #jollibee #onealwayscrossestheline (which I’ve changed to #oneortheothermaycrosstheline) #wrongvow #usewisdom. I know, some agree and some do not. I don’t mean to step on anyone’s toes. I respect everyone’s opinions and life choices, whether I agree with them or not. But let me try to explain. My tweet was prompted by the ad, but I have been subscribing to this belief ever since I learned about boundaries and healthy, mature boy-girl relationships. Of course, this was already when I was an adult hehehe.

Anyway, that said, I believe there is a danger in a man and a woman, a boy and a girl becoming best of friends. There are so many stories of hearts being broken this way. There is always that very thin line that one could cross, maybe at different points of their relationship. One could be oblivious to it, the other could be deeply longing and believing for them to be together in the end. One could be over it, and the other starts developing feelings. Or both feel the same way but are too young (or whatever other reason) to do anything about it. Or both feel the same way, do something about it, and then end up ruining their friendship. The thought will almost always cross one or the other’s mind. Sorry, but not many women or men have the character and maturity to be able to keep that line clear and distinct. So why put yourself in that position? It’s not wise.

Case in point, the Jollibee ad, which is inspired by a true story. The guy invested so much of his time, energy, money and emotions on his best friend, only to lose her to another man. That would have been fine (maybe, minus the emotions) if they were truly, purely just friends, but the guy obviously had deep feelings for the girl. He was so heartbroken. So for me, that kind of investment should really be reserved for your spouse. That kind of best friendship, between husband and wife, is worth that kind of investment. Husband and wife mutually invest in each other and in their marriage.

To be honest, I didn’t expect the ad to have that twist. I’m one of those who wants the best friends in the story, to end up together. I enjoy those kinds of happy endings. Reality Bites and Some Kind of Wonderful come to mind. ❤ And don’t get me wrong. I believe that God is the best author of love stories and each story He writes is unique. He knows all, knows best. His will is good, pleasing and perfect. He can choose to write a love story between guy-girl best friends. Those stories are wonderful too. But sadly, or many times thankfully, not all guy-girl relationships are meant to turn out that way.

And then there’s that vow, those promises the guy made to the girl. Not to his bride, but to his best friend? What?! I mean, it was great for the drama and all, but who does that? (Well apparently one guy did). Be the replacement/the dummy when hubby is not available? Be the crying shoulder when she and hubby have a disagreement? I don’t think so. And when he marries, what then? A part of him will always be with his best friend. How can he cling to and be loyal to his own wife?

It’s cool to shift our loyalty from one fast food chain to another (I myself have no loyalty to any), but we can’t do that between our spouse and our best friend. A wife’s husband and guy best friend should be one and the same person. A husband’s wife and girl best friend should be one and the same person as well. It’s about unity of husband and wife. Being ONE. It’s difficult to achieve that if King had to compete with “my guy best friend” for my time, priorities, loyalty, affection. If I had “him” to run to and I’m sure at times compare King with, it would become easy for me to run away from issues instead of facing them and working on them with King. If I had “him” to give me my boosts, I might eventually learn to cling to him instead of to King. Let’s not fool ourselves in thinking that we are above such kind of behavior, or that our marriages are strong enough. Our own pride will set us up for a fall. We must never be complacent.

I don’t mean we can’t have close friends of the opposite sex when we’re married. Sure we can. That’s something we discuss and agree on with our spouse. Because they are our priority and they have our loyalty, we respect our spouse’s opinion. We respect their position on the matter, or on any matter. We get on the same page. Not always easy, but that’s part of being married. We continually discover and live out what it is to think outside of ourselves, to give of ourselves. To think not only of “me, my rights and what’s rightfully mine,” but to think of “us, what is best for our marriage, and what will honor God.” It will hurt at times because we are all wired to think about our needs and push our agenda first, but by the grace and love of God, we learn to be selfless. By the grace and love of God, we fulfill the vows that we said before God and men the day we got married. To quote the vows said as bride and groom exchange rings, “As you wear this ring, you acknowledge that you are no longer your own, but MINE.”

It’s easy to say “Marry your best friend.” True, that would be ideal. But like I said, it doesn’t always work out that way. I, for one, didn’t marry my best friend. King and I barely knew each other when we got engaged! But we were both sure that it was God’s will and His timing. 🙂 I didn’t have a guy best friend. King, being the popular guy that he is, had many close girl friends. But we chose to be each other’s best friend. We learned to set our priorities straight and to respect the boundaries we mutually (some spoken, some unspoken) set for ourselves. We learned to be deliberate in spending time and doing enjoyable things together. We learned to forgive each other and make the effort to be better. We learned to stand by each other. We learned to be each other’s home.  

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The true key to a happy, God-honoring marriage, however, is Jesus. Without Him, even the strongest friendship between a husband and wife can still be broken. Loving, giving, sharing, honoring, supporting, encouraging, waiting, understanding, forgiving, learning, healing is possible only through Jesus. None of us can do this successfully without Him.

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Happy Valentine’s Day! #valentineseveryday #loveeveryday May every reader know and experience the love of Jesus, and choose to never live without Him. 🙂

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33

 

Our Apo Island Adventure (Persistence Pays Off! 2)

After our super fun and satisfying day in Manjuyod, we were scheduled to go to Apo Island the following day. When we woke up, it was raining. Staying at Bethel Guest House, we could usually see the Boulevard and the sea clearly. But because of the rain, the sea seemed foggy and the sky was dark and gloomy. King then asked the dreaded question — is it safe to go?

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View from our room in Bethel Guest House, on a nice sunny day.

I thought for a minute and also asked my mom. But before she answered, I already thought about a few boat rides we’d already experienced that were worse, also due to rough seas. I mean we got through okay. We didnt capsize or fall into the water or lose our things. So King and I both said that yeah, it’s fine. Persist we must, haha. Besides, we were assured by our tour operator that the waters going to Apo Island are more calm than in Manjuyod at this time of year.

We were picked up by our van around 7am and we got to the port maybe an hour later. We passed through a market to get there. It was a Wednesday so it was market day. They sold all kinds of stuff including different kinds of dried fish and even lechon, which of course my mom did not hesitate to buy. It was actually good. We also saw the area where the locals auction off their animals (cows, pigs, goats, chickens).

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On our way to our boat. Light rain and loud waves.

We were required to wear life vests as soon as we got off the van, and Gianna had to endure wearing hers haha. It was too big. Our tour guide, who was actually quite nice, told us that it was going to be rough out there but it was normal because of the Amihan (cool northeast wind). My mind immediately went to her words about it being more calm. But no matter. We were excited to see the turtles!

True enough, the boat ride was rough. Our things were secure underneath the boat floor. I was warned about my camera getting wet so I made sure it was safe as well. But it sure was rough enough to make Noelle cry. I had to cross over from where I was seated, to where she and my mom were. On that side, it felt like we were being lifted off our seats. It was like a wet and wild roller coaster ride! But really, it was fine. Thank God all it took was a prayer and mommy holding her. And thank God it took only 30-40 minutes to get to the island. Danae had no issues. Gianna was quiet, covering her face, while King held her.

 

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my view from apo island 

Apo Island is beautiful! Only 14 families, if I recall correctly, live there. There are only a couple of resorts. Power is only via generator. They have worked to protect the beautiful sea turtles, so now it is a conservation area. To watch and swim with the turtles, snorkelers are guided by the locals within a roped area. Like the whale sharks in Oslob, the turtles must not be touched. There are gear for rent and if you don’t have companions to watch your stuff, you can also rent a cottage. I was able to go with King and the girls while Gianna was with my mom and our tour guide, yay! It was actually also Noelle’s first time to snorkel!

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“marine turtle area”

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it’s dude crush!!! the picture does not depict its actual size.

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King and Danae witnessed this turtle swim!!! Noelle and I only saw the other one which was huge!

The guides lead a group of 2-3 to the turtles using a rubber tube, which you can hang on to when you’re tired or are a poor swimmer. There were a lot of sea cucumbers, tiny neon blue fish, and light blue starfish (too bad I have no picture!!!). We would have loved to see more turtles and swim with them, but Noelle and I only saw one, while King and Danae saw two. One of the guides said it was because the tide was low and so the turtles were out in the deeper parts. Still, it was one of the coolest experiences.

When we were done, we proceeded to the other side of the island so we could have lunch. It was nothing like our fresh sea food in Manjuyod, but it was okay. Our table was set in Apo Island Beach Resort, where the kids enjoyed the beach. Just be wary of foreigners who sunbathe in the nude, haha. My girls were baffled as to why some people do that in public.

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beautiful rock formations 🙂

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we went up a short set of stairs, to this….

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….and then, paradise!

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beautiful 🙂 

We left Apo island around 2pm because we didn’t want to risk travelling through stronger and bigger waves. Halfway through the boat ride however, we noticed the boat suddenly slowed down. The boat men said something broke. King thought it was the anchor or something inconsequential, but to me it seemed like they were talking about the rudder. I understand some Visayan, but unfortunately not the Visayan for rudder hehe. Everyone was relaxed, while I was observing the boatmen handle the situation. They dropped the anchor enough to create a drag I suppose. I heard a tiny hint of panic in the boatmen’s voices but they followed the instructions of the boat driver. I didn’t understand a word they said. Too deep for me, I guess. I also saw their interaction with the boatman of another pump boat that passed us. I was thinking that it would be good to have a boat near us just in case something bad happened. But our tour guide said nothing. Our boat driver seemed calm and confident. Noelle fell asleep on me even, no crying.

When we got to the port, they “parked” in the area that was a bit far from the shore. The tide had risen and the waves were strong, so it was difficult to get down. When our tour guide asked if we could move, they said they couldn’t because the rudder broke. I knew it!!!    Thank God our boatmen did not just say, “Um the boat is broken. Sorry. We’re basically sitting ducks here until help arrives.” Imagine the horror! But they kept going. They persisted. And they got us to safety. They got skillz, haha. Whoo! What an adventure!

Indeed, persistence pays off! Especially when it’s a matter of life and death. And indeed, the Lord is good. He protects and He saves. 🙂

 

TIPS:

Wear aqua shoes. The “sand” is rocky and painful to walk on barefoot. They have those for rent on the island as you pay for the sanctuary fees, but it’s always better to bring your own. We as well will invest on our own, especially the kids’, life vests.

Bring some cash. Some manangs (ladies) sell magnets, shirts, sarongs, and dresses in the island.

Go on a Wednesday, so you can experience Market Day before you board your boat to Apo Island. They end at 2pm so you’ll miss it if you wait ’til after.

Golden!

My in-laws recently celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. First of all, 50 years together? Wow! What an amazing milestone!

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Growing up, I attended the golden wedding anniversary celebrations of my grandparents on both sides. I think I may even have played the piano at one of them. I love that my children will also remember celebrating their grandparents’ anniversary with family and a few friends. They will remember that they got to witness their Dad officiate his parents’ renewal of vows. They will remember the love and appreciation they the grandkids and others expressed for their grandparents. They will remember how their aunts and uncles honored their mom and dad with their messages. They will remember how loved we all made their Wowo Jun and Wowa Remy feel that night. They will remember their grandparents’ legacy of love, a strong marriage, strong family ties, and a committed relationship with God.

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10 grandkids! They sang I WILL as Wowo and Wowa had their anniversary dance. 3rd eldest granddaughter Yelly created and edited a video for them too. 🙂 

 

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With their 5th child and 3rd son King — pastor, officiant, DJ extraordinaire!

 

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My sister-in-law in the US, Leris, with her husband Diego, sent an audio of her message to honor their parents. Each of their children honored them with much love, touching words, and some tears. ❤ 

 

King and his siblings expressed some time last year that they wanted to do something nice for their parents this year. They kind of wanted a repeat of what King organized for their parents 3 years ago, which I was supportive of but absent for, due to a very difficult first trimester of pregnancy. Somebody also suggested a renewal of vows ceremony. To make the long story short, the idea was not at all forgotten, but we were all lacking in the planning department haha. Thank God King and I had some alone time one morning, on our way to a wake, and we had the opportunity to finally talk about the anniversary. It was literally a week away! Things moved pretty quickly from there. King suggested Neil’s Kitchen, we had lunch there and inquired right away. Our first choice, January 21 was booked, so we settled for the next best thing, January 22, a Sunday. We ran it by the siblings, two of whom were in California at that time, and they gave us the go signal. I basically became the very willing coordinator of the party. I guess the hosting skills naturally kicked in haha. Guest list, food, attire, motif were quickly decided. My sister-in-law residing in the US sent teddy bears and candies for our giveaways, through their eldest brother Ronald, who came home the Friday before the event. Thank God for internet. Communication and coordination would have been impossible without it. Good thing I’m married to the officiant too, haha.

 

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Function room of Neil’s Kitchen. By no means was it a grand celebration in terms of scale and cost, but it was a joyous, intimate gathering of family and a few friends, with lots of love, laughter, and encouraging words, good food and cool music.

 

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Prayers for Mommy and Daddy ❤

 

It’s funny because King kept telling me that he wanted a simple party. He didn’t want me to add anything to what was part of the package, basically because he didn’t want me to work and get stressed. Sweet, but no. I needed to personalize it, of course! And what I do is always minimal and always simple anyway, never over the top. But he does know how I lose sleep working on the little details, hehehe. But I insisted. My other sister-in-law also said she was making cut-outs of their parents’ initials. She and her husband are excellent in making decor and props like that.

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I cut out 50s using gold crepe paper and stuck them on the little chalk boards I had at home. I covered my votives with the same paper and tied jute string around them. I put ribbons on the base of little easels. And I bought boxes from a bakers’ supply store and cut the gold covers for the Bible verse print-outs.

 

 

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My other sister-in-law Lanie made the J and R! 🙂

 

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I placed couple shots of daddy and mommy through the years in each table, along with the teddy bear and candy giveaways.

 

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I propped the Bible verses up on the little easels. I put the candy giveaways in the votives. I asked some early bird family members to help cut out hearts from the gold box covers, write thank yous, and tie them around the teddy bears’ necks with jute string. We added some baby’s breath flowers as well. 

 

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The cake! Not the usual, formal anniversary cake, but delicious nonetheless. Can’t go wrong with Mango Bravo. 🙂 

 

To me, it became so much more meaningful when I realized this was something I would not be able to do for my own parents because my dad is no longer with us. My mom and dad can’t celebrate their golden anniversary anymore, though I am certain that they would be if he were alive today. My kids didn’t have the chance to see firsthand my parents’ marriage, how they love and take care of each other. I don’t have the privilege to do something for their 50th. This was my only other opportunity, and I’m so grateful.

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The children, from left to right. Ronald, the eldest. Rammil with his wife Lei on his right. Lanie and her husband Larry on her right. Jay, the youngest and tallest, with wife Weng (not in picture). King with me. Leris and husband Diego (also not in picture).

 

I’m grateful that my in-laws are alive AND are still together after 50 years! I’m grateful that we — especially me, my family, and all of King’s siblings and their families — did not miss or waste this opportunity to thank, honor, and rejoice with them. We all worked together to make the celebration possible. I’m grateful for everyone who tried to come and for those who actually came! Some came from as far as Bulacan. We made Daddy Jun and Mommy Remy very happy! So happy that Mommy Remy was overcome with emotion that she could not say what she wanted to say. She told me yesterday that there are so many stories behind their 50 years, and that one day she will tell them to me. I will wait for that day. King has told me amazing stories about his experiences and about his family. I have no doubt that when my parents-in-law share their stories with me, I will be amazed at God’s faithfulness in their lives.

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FAMILY ❤ 

 

Happy golden wedding anniversary Daddy and Mommy! Thank you for setting the bar high, for inspiring us to have strong, God-honoring marriages, for teaching us to love and prioritize our families. Thank you also for showing us that when we get to your age, we husbands and wives can still serve the Lord together. God bless you both so much. We love you! ❤

 

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12

Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Romans 13:7

 

La La Land

Spoiler Alert!!!

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image source: IMDB

I knew it was a musical, but the first scene/number was just ridiculous. Typical. Somebody started singing in traffic, and eventually everyone came out of their cars and started singing and dancing. Haha it was just funny. But it gets better from there, I promise. The lighting, the music, the sets, the characters, the story. Unfortunately, the last ten minutes of the movie was…sigh. I don’t want to spoil anything for you (though I know I will), but it was something we did not expect at all.

The movie left me torn. We watched with some of our friends and we were all frustrated, sad, angry about how it all ended! I’d say it’s one of the characteristics of a good movie though. It makes you ponder about life, your dreams and the choices you make. It definitely isn’t a feel-good movie. It’s a movie that makes you feel and struggle within yourself, depending on your values and perspective. La la land? Who knew, right? I sure didn’t.

What would you choose? Your dreams or love? Your future or “the one”? I understand that they could not keep each other from pursuing their dreams. It’s not fair and it might cause resentment between the two of them, you know, the usual. But did they have to give up so easily and let go of what they had? I understand that they were both passionate about their own craft, but was it really more important than building a life together? Why does pursuing your dream have to mean sacrificing your future with “the one”? Why did they choose their dreams over each other and why didn’t they fight for their relationship? I mean, Mia had success in her career AND had her own happy family within five years. Why couldn’t she have had both with Sebastian? And why couldn’t Sebastian have success in owning his own jazz club, keeping jazz alive, and have a family with Mia? It would have been so beautiful! And satisfying haha.

Seriously, we were all affected. But then again, sad as it was, what if that was God’s will, therefore best, for them? Mia seemed happy. Her husband seemed like a great husband and father (and King and I joked that he was going to take the drums and play That Thing You Do hahaha). Sebastian seemed happy too, living his dream. And though their memories of their life together and their what-ifs made them sad, they were genuinely happy for each other.

Sigh. It was a great story. We just don’t agree with the ending haha. We wanted Mia and Sebastian happy, but TOGETHER. Then again, we’re mere spectators. Who are we to dictate to the creator of the story? They bagged a lot of awards for it. The story telling was excellent for sure.

Thinking about my own life, I am so grateful that King and I are happy together. We went through some drama before tying the knot, like all coupes do, but it was never a choice between us and my career, or us and our passions. We decided to pursue “us” because we were (still are) on the same page and had (have) similar passions. We believe in the same God and we want the same thing — to honor, serve, love and obey God together as a couple and raise kids who will do the same. That was (is) our unifying factor. Even if I had a career to think about or a desire to build one, I am fairly certain we would work things out, being guided by God, our spiritual family, our faith and our priorities. Ours was (is) a great story as well. And because it is authored by God Himself, the journey and the ending will always be beautiful and blessed. ❤

 

If you’ve managed to finish reading this despite the spoilers, I recommend you see La La Land yourself. It’s worth it. 🙂

The Holy Spirit At Work

Danae has been asking for a phone for quite a while now. We always tell her that we don’t think she’s ready for it yet. And besides, if we do get her a phone, it would probably be a non-smart one. Basic, old school phone first. She has an ipad because it’s required for school, and we see that she needs to be more responsible with regards to its use and with regards to our rules.

The other night, however, she said that she didn’t care about getting a phone anymore. We were having a heated discussion about her attitude, and somehow being responsible and having a phone was brought up. I took her word, even though I knew she didn’t mean it.

Later on, she apologized for her attitude. She seemed sincere, but sometimes apologies are just words until you see change. But of course as parents, we need to forgive our children despite that, because we are called to love them and model grace and forgiveness to them. So all was well.

The following night, she brought up “her phone” again. I smiled and half-jokingly said,

“I thought you didn’t care about phones anymore.”

She said, with a sheepish smile, “Mommm, I was full of pride then.”

As a parent, that gave me so much encouragement. You know, I talk and talk and talk, trying to give them wisdom while hopefully setting a good example, and hope that something sticks even though many times their actions, words, and reasoning baffle me. We pray, pray, pray constantly for and with them. We discipline them and do our best to deal with their heart more than their behavior. We have Bible time with them. They go to Kids Church, we have victory group. At times, I cry to God because I’m so tired of the craziness — three kids coming at me with their own issues, sometimes their issues are with one another, and often they’re the same annoying issues. Few other times, I check out. I let King handle it when he gets home (poor King hehe 😬).

But when Danae said that, it just confirmed to me that the Holy Spirit indeed is at work in her life. She recognizes the specific issue in her heart, and she listens to the Lord! She may have a difficult time fighting it or controlling it sometimes, but she is aware of what God is teaching her. After her emotions, she eventually listens and obeys. God made me smile as He gave me that assurance. The word of the Lord is living and active. It changes me. It changes my children. The Lord is transforming me. The Lord is transforming our children. King and I are in faith, despite or maybe moreso because of our occasional despair (yes, our children are awesome many times too), that we will eat the fruit of our labor, that our children will love and honor God all the days of their lives. 

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezrkiel 36:26-27

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,

    who walk in obedience to him.

You will eat the fruit of your labor;

    blessings and prosperity will be yours. Psalm 128:1-2

 

Persistence pays off!

We just came home from our family vacation in the Visayas. We went to celebrate Noelle’s 8th birthday! I chose Dumaguete because I wanted to see the Manjuyod sandbar again with my family. I’d been there with my parents before, like more than a decade ago. The sandbar wasn’t visible anymore at the time we went, but we were able to swim. We also went dolphin watching and the dolphins gave us a show! I only had a regular, non-digital camera then, so I wasn’t able to capture much.

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A day before she turned 8, in Sans Rival. 🙂

 

My mom was the one planning the whole thing (haha, yes I chose the city and dates, but she planned almost everything), and she got our contacts through my cousin. She was told by one tour operator that it was not safe to go to Manjuyod in January because of the Amihan, or the cool northeast wind. My mom says it’s my hardheadedness (I call it my persistence and faith), but I just did not want to believe that we were going to Dumaguete and not be able to enjoy the Maldives of the Philippines. I needed to hear it from the tour guide/driver/boatman myself that it was not safe, before I was going to concede. We kept it in our itinerary.

Thankfully, our other contact assured us that the coastguard would advise the boat operators whether it’s safe to go to sea or not, and that they in turn would advise us. And it was a go! It was definitely safer than our boatride to and from Apo Island (our 3rd day), which we were told would be more calm haha. It was a little windy, but the twenty minute boat ride to the sandbar was uneventful. And the sandbar — massive and beautiful!

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On the boat, with the sandbar in sight. The sandbar is 7km long.

 

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With my mom, Gianna’s first boat ride ever. 🙂 

 

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King and I took a walk on the sand, but didn’t even get to any other end. It was huge! And we had to go back to our kids haha. Gianna didn’t want to leave the shore.

 

We got there at the right time. Good thing I researched and read a blog that said low tide was between 6am and 9am, and that by 10am the sandbar would be submerged already. You could still swim of course, but you would miss the sandbar. So we made sure that our van picked us up around 6am, and we got to Bais by 7am or so.

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the birthday girl happily playing with her little sister 🙂

 

When we got to the Bais port/pier, the boat owner’s wife asked us what we wanted for lunch because the boatmen were going to cook our food for us on the boat! She bought the ingredients for us in the nearby wet market, and in about twenty minutes, we were off to the sandbar. The water was so blue and just beautiful! The kids immediately got off the boat. The boatmen told us that we should just get our picture taken first with the sandbar and go dolphin and whale watching, then come back for lunch and swimming. But then Gianna was so happy on the beach, not even changing into her swimsuit, that we decided to just enjoy the sandbar. We’d gone dolphin watching in Bohol and swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob a few years ago already anyway.

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Gianna dumping sand on the patient starfish haha. Don’t worry, it was not harmed. 🙂 *No starfish was harmed by us on our vacation. We were gentle in handling them and putting them back in the ocean.

 

And our lunch! Grilled pork, sinigang na hipon, grilled okra, huge wild scallops, seaweed, coconut juice in their shell. Soooo good! We ate with our hands so I couldn’t take photos haha. The bonus was those wild oysters in vinegar that we bought from a couple of boatmen. They were selling the whole container for only 300 pesos. We opted to just buy 10 pieces for 100 pesos, because we had too much food already. And it was the highlight of our lunch! Unforgettably yummy!

The best part? Noelle kept saying “best birthday ever!”

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It’s alive!

 

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A tiny starfish family under a shell! I found them when I picked up the shell, but put it back right away. 

 

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Gianna wasn’t afraid to touch, but she was gentle as well. 🙂

 

 

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Beautiful spongy starfish 🙂

 

 

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Our boatman caught a couple of sea dragons and showed us. We tried to take a video in the water but they swam away way too fast! They literally zipped away as soon as manong released them to supposedly let Danae hold them. So he caught another and placed him in a container so we could take a good look. One of the coolest sea creatures ever, with a tail and dragon wings (fins). We put him back of course. 🙂

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Our boatman/diver/cook/boat owner. He found a crab to show the kids. Super cool!

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The tide was coming in at 930am.

 

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I think this was around 1030 to 11am. The sandbar was submerged in water already.

 

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Beautiful Philippines 🙂 

 

If I readily accepted what we were told from the beginning, we would not have been able to experience the beauty of Manjuyod! Persistence with prayer pays off! Faith with wisdom pays off! Thank you Lord for allowing us to enjoy and be captivated by the beauty of your creation. For surrounding us with your angels so we can safely travel on foot and by land, air, and sea. For giving us the opportunity to celebrate and build wonderful memories with our family. We are so grateful.

DCIM103GOPRO

 

Me and my forever travel buddy  ❤

 

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Me and my little sisters hehehe ❤ 

 

My DIY stars and Jesus

I am super happy with my DIY stars! I used the thin wires I have at home and doubled it up so that I could get the sturdiness of a thicker wire. I realized later that I’m supposed to use a board and nails to perfectly shape the star, but I’d already winged it. I like the imperfection anyway.

I decided to make 2 more and hang them with red ribbon, on our curtain rod against the white curtain, along with medium silver balls as well. I love silver/gray and red. It’s a super simple but pretty way to decorate a portion of your home.


I like the significance of stars. It reminds me of the star on the first Christmas, guiding the wise men to Jesus. It reminds me that Jesus is the light of the world, and we are children of the light. It reminds me to seek the light, to follow the light, to remain in the light. It reminds me that Jesus is the reason not only for the season, but for everything. Me minus Jesus equals nothing. Me plus Jesus equals everything.

Thank You Jesus for allowing yourself to be born into the world, to be God, powerful and infinite, and yet be confined in the body of a helpless baby. To be God, glorious and great, and yet be a servant to your people. To be God, whole and lacking nothing, and yet be broken, sacrificing yourself to pay for our sins and be our bridge back to the Father. Your humility and love always blows me away. Thank you Lord, and happy birthday! ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Funny Gianna

I haven’t been able to update Funny Fridays, but here’s a bunch of them. Gianna cracks us up constantly. 🙂 

1. Last night, she slapped King’s bottom and laughed. She said, “HIGH FIVE BUTT!”

2. Last Dec 1, we were at a baking goods store in Uptown Mall BGC. Gianna usually comments “so kyut” or “ilovett” when she likes something. She saw a single cupcake holder/stand and said it was cute. She raised her hand.

Me: What are you doing?

Gianna: Call miss.

Me: Why? Why are you calling the miss?

Gianna: Ask miss how much dis.

Imagine my surprise and laughter. Hahahah.

3. Ants intrigue Gianna but theyalso  scare her. Lately she’s been able to kill the little ones herself. But when she saw a few big red ones the other day, she asked for my help.

Gianna: Mom! Ants! Mom! Kill it!

4. Same day, Gianna was insisting that I play a video for her on my phone.

Gianna: I want video. 

Me: It’s not working (over and over).

Gianna: Mom! Try it!

Kill it and try it surprised me, haha.

5. You may notice that I am Gianna’s favorite person in the whole wide world. She is selfish with her sisters, even with her dad when it comes to me. She sees them hugging me and she gets upset. She says “hey!!!!” and pushes whoever is on me away. She surprised us one time by saying “Hey, that’s mine! That’s my mommy!” 🙂
6. We teach our girls to pray, so sometimes when Gianna has an owi, she asks us to pray for her, “pway, pway.” One time I asked her to pray for someone’s owi, I think it was her dad’s, she immediately prayed saying, “Lord, I’m sorry…” Hahahah. That’s the start of our prayer after she gets the rod. Yup, she’s been getting the rod since she was 1.

7. We watched Moana a week or 2 ago, and Gianna would call it “Disney Gwamma.” I guess the grandma in the story made an impact on her. That and “maui, maui, you’re so amaziiiing.” Now she calls the movie “Muna-na.”

8. I gave Gianna the rod this afternoon because I caught her quietly dropping mashed potato (on purpose, yes I’m sure) onto the box she was standing in and mashing it with her feet. 

Me: Gianna, what’s throwing food?

Gianna: No-no.

Me: Don’t throw food okay? That’s wasting.

Gianna: Kay.

Me: You’re supposed to eat food not waste it.

Gianna: Oh!

For someone who eats so much, she “forgot” that food is for eating. Amazing! 

Hey, pretty girl!

Hey pretty girl,


Nice outfit, nice hair too.

Yeah, you!

You always look put together. 

From your eyebrow down to your shoe.

 

Hey pretty girl,

Stop fussing, you look great.

Look in and around you.

Your heart, your character…people hold more weight.


Hey pretty girl,

That’s enough. Don’t try so hard.

True beauty comes from within.

Hair and makeup can’t hide it. 

Toner or wash can’t erase it.


Hey pretty girl, 

I know how you look is important.

It makes you feel secure.

It makes you feel confident.


Hey pretty girl,

Your looks will one day fade.

No reason your security should fade with it.

No reason your confidence should wane.

 

Hey pretty girl,

You’re not just pretty.

You are beautiful.

Did you know?

But not beautiful as the world perceives or dictates.

Not beautiful that is all for show.


Beautiful girl, 

You’re beautiful because you were made with such a grand love.

You’re beautiful because you are patterned after your Maker.

You’re beautiful because you are made for a purpose.

You’re beautiful because you are loved and cared for by your Father.

 

Hey beautiful girl,

Take care of your heart.

Don’t let the world lie to you and destroy you.

Instead, let the Word grow and transform you.


Hey beautiful girl,

You are whole, you’re complete.

Jesus died to save you and give you a full life.

Though you are imperfect, He says you are worth it.


Hey beautiful girl,

Don’t be afraid. Take your true identity. 

Be you. Be true beauty. Be who God designed you to be.

Live fathered. Live forgiven. Live loved.

Live favored. Live grateful. Live free. 

 

*written sometime August, but finished today 🙂

DIY Advent Wreath

We start our Advent Wreath tradition this Sunday, November 27th! We usually sing carols, read Scripture and have a discussion, or read significant Christmas stories every Sunday for four Sundays before Christmas and on Christmas day. We light up one candle before we begin and the kids blow it when we finish. We light up one candle on the first Sunday, two candles the next Sunday, three candles on the next, four candles on the fourth Sunday and finally all five including the center or Christ candle on Christmas day.

I enjoyed making my own advent wreath for Cherished Traditions. I thought I’d share with you a few ideas, using old and new stuff. I like to recycle even broken ornaments. There is always some use for them. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Materials: 4 small used jars (some are Gianna’s baby food jars), 1 taller used jar, 4 old pine cones from broken Christmas decor, one old thin garland, 6 old berry embellishment thingies, 4 new tea light candles, 1 new long metallic white candle, 1 old round dish

 

 

Assemble like so. I put little pebbles in the tall jar to hold up the tall candle. I keep a pack at home for when I need them. I wish I had white pebbles though.

 

 

Oh you can tie ribbons around the jars to make them pretty. I used jute rope for this.

 

 

I used 5 tall candles for this, and an old poinsettia from broken decor.

 

 

🙂 

 

 

Materials: Basically the same things except a white dish which I placed upside down, and 4 small wreaths I bought for 60Php each from a bookstore.

 

 

Again, I wish I had white pebbles. It would’ve looked so much nicer.

 

 

🙂 

 

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You can also use a bigger center candle if you want.

 

 

Materials: Basically the same things again, except for the new big center candle (less than 300 Php), 4 new fat but short red candles (200 Php total), and a new twig of berries I bought in Divisoria for 20Php.

 

 

Bend the twig into a circle, and arrange everything else like so. I added detached leaves from old decor.

 

 

🙂

 

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Tall candles for this one, and the old poinsettia. The Christ candle is the one in the taller jar.

 

 

Materials: 4 old wine/champagne glasses (not really sure what they’re for, but I’ve seen these glasses in our home ever since I could remember), basically the same materials, a new small wreath (a little pricey at 399 Php), and a wooden tray that King got on sale months ago for less than 500 Php.

 

 

Assemble like so, using the red candles. Just slip the glasses under the wreath.

 

 

White tea light candles for this one.

 

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Materials: wreath, twig of berries, big white candle, old pine cones, red candles, and an old “patungan” for hot plates. Haha message me if you know what this is called. Seriously.

 

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Arrange like so.

 

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This is our advent wreath this year. I placed it on the piano, on the other side of which is our Belen or Nativity Scene. We don’t have a coffee table at the moment, but even if we did, it’s still better off up there because the little one would have no problem picking it apart haha. But that’s not to say she doesn’t get up on the piano. She does, but she plays with Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the gang. 🙂

 

Hope this inspires you to start your Christmas traditions with your family this year! Keep it simple, doable, and meaningful. Remember that Christmas is about Jesus. This is a wonderful way to teach our kids, family members, even friends about Him. Merry Christmas everyone!!!