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Food, Glorious Food!

Everyone seems to be cooking more during this pandemic, and I am no exception. I’ve been inspired to cook more times in the last 3 months than the entire year of 2019 😂. Some firsts for me to try were bibimbap and kimchi rice, and some pastas. I don’t always have the complete list of ingredients, so I like to improvise. I like to use left overs, and I get inspired to make dishes out of them.

I was inspired to make lasagna last week because my lasagna noodles were about to expire. I was going to use my newly purchased italian sausage along with my ground beef, but then I saw pepperoni in the freezer and mechado (beef stew in tomato sauce) in the fridge. I decided to chop them up and mix them in with the ground beef to make the meat sauce. It was a hit!

But my meat mixture was just enough for half the box of noodles, so there were some left. My mistake cooking the whole box! Anyway, I think the following night was taco night, and of course there were leftovers from that too. And so in the next few days, I looked up some recipes so that my cooked lasagna noodles wouldn’t go to waste. I decided to make lasagna roll ups! I made meat sauce using left over taco meat filling and tomato sauce. And then I filled the lasagna noodles with my improvised bechamel (left over from the lasagna), and vivo gourmet’s fresh, delicious pesto sauce before rolling them up. I placed the sauce in the bowl first, then the rolled up lasagna, then I put more pesto and cheese on top, and then baked it. It was pretty good!

Soft tacos, leftovers from taco night!
Yummy pesto and bechamel, before rolling the lasagna up 🙂
Pesto lasagna roll up on taco meat sauce 😋

To finish off all the left over noodles and use more of the yummy pesto, I made roll ups again. I filled the noodles with cheesier bechamel sauce and chunks of mozzarella, and placed the roll ups on pesto sauce. Everyone liked it too, but I think I’ll make it with slices of cooked chicken next time. If only I had leftover chicken! 😂

Before baking….
Baked! 😋

I really believe that we get creative when we are left in a tight spot. We have all experienced pay cuts, job cuts, halts in the business. So we have been more mindful to make do with what we have. We have been getting more creative, stretching our ingredients to make more meals, to stretch our budgets. Now more than ever, we reuse and recycle, to minimize waste. More and more people are growing their own food too.

Kangkong from our yard!

I salute every Filipino who has cried his/her eyes out and who has lost sleep over the effects of this pandemic, and yet has chosen to get up on his/her feet and keep moving forward! You create opportunities for yourself to help your family! I salute you for rolling with the punches, for being willing to sacrifice just a little bit more, to tighten your belts just a little bit longer. I salute you for making the most out of a terrible situation, even extending help to those in need while you are also in need. I salute you for smiling, laughing through all the uncertainty, and encouraging others to keep praying. I salute you for believing still that God is good, that He is in control, and He will save us from this crisis.

May the Lord bless us and sustain us, and may His peace that transcends all understanding guard our hearts from worry. And as we grow in creativity and resilience, may joy and gratitude in our hearts grow as well. ❤️

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Lessons from Frozen

Lessons from Frozen 2? No, actually :D. Let′s start with the first one first. I′ve been watching it lately, and Gianna has been listening to its soundtrack all year, like practically each time she rides our car. I loved the story from the very first time I saw it because of true love between sisters. ❤ ❤ ❤

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Three things strike me most. One is how the Grand Pabbie (the troll) instilled fear in Elsa and her parents′ hearts. He could have been more G or PG (because even the parents were terrified) with the visual he gave them about the danger in Elsa′s powers. He could have started with the warning, and ended with the encouragement that there is beauty in her powers if she learns to control it. He could have acknowledged their fear and guided them to not only control her powers but to control the fear. He could have given them hope by telling them that her powers can be used for good.

Our words, and how we deliver them, have power.

Second is what the parents did in response to the troll′s words. They loved their children so much that it made them afraid for their safety. They agreed to hide Elsa′s powers, instead of hone it. They decided to isolate her even from her sister, to teach her ways to conceal, instead of helping her learn her powers and training her to use them. I know it must have been impossible since none of them had experience with such great power, but they could have at least tried, or sought help from others. I am sure they believed it was for the best, but the result was just incredibly sad. They raised two lonely daughters. One, try as she might, could not escape her fears, especially not in isolation. She grew up believing that she could inflict harm on her sister, which made her fear grow even more. And the other grew up confused and hurt, not understanding why she could not be with her sister whom she loved so much.

Love and fear. As a parent, I understand it. God knows how many times I′ve prayed because of the fear I felt in my heart for my children. I don’t think I could be that afraid for them if I did not love them so much.

But LOVE and FAITH. A possibility only because of Jesus. That there is One I can completely trust to love, protect and take care of my children better than I can. One who is Almighty, All-knowing, and Ever-present. One I can cast all my fears to because He cares for me and my family.

But LOVE, FAITH, and COMMUNITY. Friends, family and spiritual family. We don’t have to do things, carry the burden on our own. How grateful are we to have people around us to help us deal with impossible situations, to whom we can be vulnerable and from whom we need not hide. People who give us godly counsel, who pray for and with us, and are present in our lives.

Third is Anna. Despite years of pain and confusion, the moment she learned why Elsa had distanced herself, she chose to understand. She did not run away. In fact, it was still Elsa who ran away because of her fear. And Anna chased after her because of her love for her. Despite the greatness of Elsa′s powers, Anna was not afraid. She trusted in their sisterhood, that Elsa would never deliberately hurt her. And even when she did get hurt, when the time came, she still chose to try to save her sister.

That kind of love blows me away. And that′s the kind of love that changes people′s hearts. Sacrificial. Selfless. True. ❤

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

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What I Learned From Captain Marvel

So I posted something on Facebook but it turned out to be a spoiler 😂 I took it down and decided to write it (and more) here instead. Consider this your warning!

I didn’t know about the bad rap Captain Marvel or Brie Larson was getting so it did not influence me at all as I watched the movie. I know nothing about the comic book stories, and no one spoiled the movie for me 😬. I enjoyed it! The story, the characters, the action, the heart, and the MUSIC! I don’t normally watch movies more than once in the theater, but I would totally see this one again because of the music. High five to all who love 90s music (save for most boy bands 😬) like I do!

Awwww and the opening…the tribute… THANK YOU STAN! I’m so glad to learn that he was able to finish his scene for this one. I thought they just CGIed him into it. Even our girls, also pseudo daughters who watched with us, were almost teary remembering Stan Lee. It’s bittersweet to see his cameos in the Marvel movies.

So what did I learn from Captain Marvel? Quite a few actually.

THE POWER OF MANIPULATION.

Self-serving motive under the guise of friendship and mentorship.

Yon-Rogg (Jude Law’s character apparently 😂 thank you Google 😂) was fully aware of his goals, his intentions, and his actions. To Vers aka Carol Danvers/Capt Marvel, he was a trusted friend and mentor. Because of the trust and friendship that was built, she not only believed in their cause, she fought alongside them. She was aware of (some of) her power, her gift, but she was not aware that she was being used as a pawn in an unjust war.

Imagine the power Yon-Rogg held over Vers. He had her in the palm of his hands, and she had no clue. He appeared so good and trust worthy. He seemed to genuinely care about her. I mean didn’t you love him at first? I did. And Vers was all in, believing she was one of the good guys. For 6 years. Amazing how deception could last that long. How sad that the person she looked up to was not who she thought he was. Proximity and love can create blind spots.

But I believe that truth is more powerful than lies.

THE POWER OF TRUTH.

The truth always has a way of coming out. In this case, the key was Carol giving Talos the benefit of the doubt and giving ear to his story. She gave him a chance, and she listened!

The truth freed her from the lies that she once completely believed. The truth gave her the freedom to choose for herself — not dictated to her or because she was manipulated — to make her own decision about whose cause she would fight for. To choose to use her powers for what was right and for what was truly good.

The truth freed her from the power of Yon Rogg. Oh how I loved when she blasted him and told him that she had nothing to prove to him! Yessss! It’s like when we overcome our past, our old patterns, our sin. The lies of the enemy are given no more power in our lives because of the Truth!!! The truth of who Jesus is and what He did for us to be forgiven and to be new. We break free and we break through!

And she discovered that she had been fighting with one hand tied behind her back, because they constantly told her to control her powers and told her that her powers could be taken away from her. I would generally agree with that because it takes great character to use great power responsibly, IF they were training her to use her powers wisely. But their intention was to keep her at bay, keep her controlled, so they could continually manipulate her to do what they wanted her to do. What greater powers were unleashed when she refused to be controlled by that chip and by the Supreme Intelligence’s words!

What greater power we have when we refuse to believe the lies of the enemy. What greater power we have, to do all things, because of Christ in us!

THE POWER OF IDENTITY.

But even when Carol already knew about the lies fed to her, she was still lost. She still did not understand what she was supposed to do, until her best friend Maria reminded her of who she is. It was then that she regained her confidence and made the decision to continue Lawson/Mar-vell’s fight to end the war.

All the great stories have this element. Losing one’s identity, consumed by whatever in the world consumes them (hate, love, greed, career, relationship, fame, drugs, ambition, and so many more), and then remembering, going back to who they are, regaining their identity. This one’s no different.

We are no different. Once lost, now found. Once blind, but now able to see. Loved, valued, saved, forgiven, redeemed, accepted, secure. Identity anchored in Jesus alone.

How powerful it is to know exactly who you are in Christ and be 💯 committed to Him and His purpose for your life!

Sometimes what we know and believe are actually not the truth. Sometimes who we think and believe we are, or who others think or say we are, is not true. Sometimes, we get lost. May we be open, and learn to be sensitive, to the leading of the Holy Spirit, who guides us into all truth. May we find our way back to Jesus.

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REAL LIFE TALKS

Real Life Talks. I’ve always believed in helping young people get their education. I grew up seeing my grandparents and parents do this. Besides making sure we got our education and despite my so many delays before getting my degree, they supported other scholars. Which is probably why I believe in Real Life Foundation so much. The fact that it is our church’s social responsibility arm and that they help struggling students get through high school and college, were enough reasons for me to support the foundation.

But I thank God that I was there at Real Life Talks a few Saturdays ago. To be reminded that this started really small, is just so inspiring. From a burden that God placed in the heart of one man some years ago, Doc Joey, who saw malnourished kids in Pasig and decided to feed them, to a “project” that other people in their community wanted in on, to a full blown, legit NGO today. Wow. The Lord is good.

 

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Ms Mae Perez talking about how Real Life started. Doc Joey in the background.

 

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The mission of REAL LIFE

 

Because poverty is so prevalent in our country, it is only right that the church be involved in helping our fellow Filipinos. And not just by giving food or financial assistance, though that is good. And not just by giving them tuition so that they can finish school, though that is also good. We don’t stop at merely creating graduates. What makes me more sold out on Real Life is that they (we) help them grow in their relationship with the Lord. Life skills and people skills are taught. Their character is developed. They not only become successful people in their fields and upstanding Filipino citizens, they also become wise, honorable, reliable, compassionate, generous, courageous, loving leaders. They become disciples of Christ. It’s the Jesus factor. 

 

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These are what the students receive, besides tuition, along with training on how to budget, how to use their finances wisely, to be excellent at home and in school.

 

My friend, She, and I shed some tears listening to the stories of some of our scholars and graduates. It’s amazing to know that some of them graduated cum laude or summa cum laude! But more amazing is how they are not only free from poverty, but how they are a blessing to their families, their communities, and their workplace. They practice integrity even when their job might be compromised. They give back and help those who are still in the community they left behind. They volunteer and serve in church. Some of them are even campus ministers now, and if I remember correctly, even pastors! It makes me tear up knowing how Jesus changes lives. What a privilege it is to be part of it.

 

 

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What REAL LIFE teaches our scholars.

 

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Praise God for this! We pray for more scholars in the future.

 

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Pastor Ariel Marquez ending the talks with an encouraging message.

 

We realize that we cannot solve the entire country’s problems. We know that. So why even bother? I love the story Pastor Ariel shared about a young boy at a beach, tossing stranded starfish back in the ocean. The beach was filled with hundreds of them. An old man said that there was no way he was possibly going to be able to put them all back, so what he was doing didn’t even matter. The young boy said that it mattered to each one that he was able to put back into the ocean. Similarly, we may not be able to help every single Filipino, but we can help some. And it may not seem like it matters, it may seem small and insignificant, but it matters to each person we help. It matters to us. It matters to God.    

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You can be part of this too! You can go to their website http://reallife.ph. Or come to our church, Victory Alabang in Festival Mall, put your donation in the tithing envelope during service, tick the real life box. Anonymously or not. No pressure with the amount. God sees your heart. And every contribution counts. ❤ 

 

 

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

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My Highlights from the Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman was great! At first I was iffy because Zac Efron is in it. I mean I know he’s a good actor, but I don’t always trust his role choices. But I love Hugh Jackman and I like Zendaya. Plus so many people, including the girls’ friends, kept saying it was sooo good. And of course I’d already seen the videos of a couple of the songs. I love “This is me.” I loved it even more seeing the movie and seeing the choreography. Such an anthem.

Some highlights for me….

  1. Charity’s love and support for Phin. She didn’t pressure her husband or put him in a box. She wished for happiness, not fortune or fame, not even a comfortable lifestyle. Despite her affluent upbringing, she was happy anywhere, as long as she was with her family. I love that scene up on the roof, when Phin apologetically said that it was not the life he promised Charity, that he promised her a life of magic and wonder, to which she replied “Look at those two girls….” I feel the same way. There is magic and wonder in our children. I thank God for them everyday. Anywhere with my family, by the grace of God.
  2. Phin’s celebration of the oddities. It may have begun as a money making scheme, but he gave those guys something to do, something to look forward to, something to be proud of. He wasn’t afraid to be judged, or criticized, or be different. He wasn’t afraid to stand by his team despite the daily threat of a riot outside his theater. I believe we need to celebrate people as well. We all have our quirks and flaws. None of us is perfect. We need to give each other a chance, see each other’s potential, see the good. We need to lift one another up, instead of judge and tear each other down. 
  3. Phillip’s desire for change. Phillip was among the upper class, but he was no longer content being one of them. He didn’t want to be trapped in his parents’ world, where they thought too highly of themselves and looked down on others. We should not be comfortable maintaining and perpetuating the status quo. We must choose to treat people, all kinds of people, fairly and with great respect. We must fight against discrimination, even in our own little way, and stand up for others. 
  4. The distraction, aka Jenny Lind. Phin used Jenny Lind to get the approval of the upper class. He enjoyed the attention and the respect. He got blinded by it, and started neglecting his circus and his family. He left them to go on tour with Jenny, who also almost distracted him from his marriage. Distractions, whether they are people, feelings, things, or things to do, can be dangerous. They can lead us astray. They can make us forget our original purpose, our goals. They can make us neglect, even abandon our priorities. We must be vigilant. Is this what God wants me to do? Does this honor God? Will this honor my spouse? Am I being a good leader (to my people and to my family)? Am I being a good example to my children?
  5. Charity’s wisdom. “When will it ever be enough?” She knew that her husband was chasing something that would never satisfy him. She knew that he had gone beyond what he first dreamed, that he had forgotten what truly mattered. She knew that he needed to let go of the past, stop proving himself to others because he already had everything he should want and need. We all can be stubborn at times. We all need wise people around us to remind us, to keep us grounded, to pray for us, to help us realign ourselves to the will of God. They often see more clearly from their perspective. We need to be humble enough to listen. 
  6. The loyalty of his team. When he thought he’d lost all, even after his neglect as their ring master, his team of “freaks” stood by him. The lyric “A man learns who is there for him When the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold,” from his song From Now On conveys this clearly. They believed in him because he, imperfect as he was, believed in them. They stood by him because he brought them together and because he was the only one who gave them — they who were ridiculed and rejected by their own parents — a sense of family. Loyalty is such a rare commodity these days, but kindness, acceptance, love, hope — these are what breeds loyalty in people.  
  7. Passing the baton. Phin literally passed the baton to Phillip, to continue his legacy of bringing joy to people. Whatever we are passionate about, whatever we are great at, we should pass it on, teach it to somebody. Whatever is good, whatever is noble, whatever is worthwhile and praiseworthy, we should pass it on. The love and transformative work of Jesus, the Gospel — teach others, pass it on. “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Tim 2:2

 

He has told you, O man, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

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Four Favorite Fs at Forty

So it’s February 7, and King is forty today! Fabulously young looking at forty, but that’s not my favorite thing about him.

King is funny and fun, and he has the finesse of Bruno Mars! Yes, he can be corny sometimes, but in the last 13 years and 1 year before that, he has made me laugh countless times. Marriage is fun because we can laugh and be silly together. He is my bestest bestest friend, and I thank God I get to do life with him. He’s ready to go on adventures and trips with me, but he’s also willing to just chill out and do nothing with me. He’s game for anything, as long as he’s not yet exhausted (hahaha, we have to be real, we are not as young as we used to be). And the finesse….he can still move and groove, not to mention he resembles the ever so talented Bruno Mars. I just love that about him. I remember that was one of the things on “my list” when I was single, haha. I thank the Lord He gave me a dancer, especially since we have spawned 3 more dancers.

King is a family man. I love that he always wants to come home to us. When we’re not with him, he rarely stays out late, by choice. It was never a spoken rule, but something he has practiced since we got married, and especially when we started having children. I love that he prioritizes our family. We are on the same page in raising our children, in our values, and making choices based on what is important to us as a family. He makes sure he puts in date nights in his schedule, not just with me, but with his daughters individually. The girls always request for those dates. They enjoy spending time with him, and are always excited to see him when he gets home or when we meet somewhere. They look forward to Me and My Dad camps too! Team work makes the dream work. We are a team. He’s not perfect but he genuinely loves us and does his best to take care of us.

King is a faithful man. To me and to his children, but most especially to God. Recently we received a prophetic word during a presbytery, and the word for King was faithful. My tears started rolling because it was a confirmation of what I’ve always seen in my husband. Through the excitement, the silence, the highs, the lows, the small victories, the epic failures,and everything in between, he has remained faithful to the Lord and to his calling. Even with the occasional temptation of giving up or walking away, he would hold on and keep on keeping on. “Just be faithful” is kind of our mantra. What a wonderful gift to hear that the Lord’s eye is on King and He is pleased with His servant.

King fears the Lord. Not the “I’m so scared that God is going to smite me” kind of fear, but a deep love and respect for God. This is where his wisdom comes from. He knows God is a loving, kind, gracious, merciful Father, but One who is also holy and just. One who is sovereign, powerful, and infinitely wiser. He does not want to mess around with trying to fool God or to go ahead of Him. He lives his life wanting to wait on God, so that he can obey God. When our tendency is to depend on our own abilities, he reminds his children, me included, to pray and ask the Lord. He also lives confident of God’s goodness and faithfulness. This, and by the grace of God, is where his ability to be faithful, to his audience of One, comes from. Grateful to be used and to be able to serve.

 

Happy 40th birthday babe! You are my favorite person in the whole wide world. I pray that you will continue to grow into the man God is shaping you to be. I love you. ❤

 

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She shines like GOLD!

Before we get farther and farther away from July (I started writing this July 31st), I want to honor a friend of mine who recently celebrated her birthday. This woman shines like GOLD.

 

G – generous! She takes every opportunity to be generous. She shows her love through generosity. She welcomes us into her home. She loves to bless us with food! She’s an excellent cook and baker. She makes our birthdays and meetings extra special with her goodies. She is so thoughtful with gifts as well (she just gave me one the other day!). She’s generous with her children! She entrusts her young kids to me. Me, who often times feels like a kid, amidst the many wise women around me. I’m so thankful for this, not only that I can teach and minister to them, but that my kids and I can hang out with them. Heehee.

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#squad ❤

She’s generous with her wisdom and her talents. She teaches us, imparts to us, not only her love for the Lord and His people, but her love for her family. She sets the example of a servant leader, a loving and faithful wife, a hands-on and supportive mother, a creative and joyful home maker. She’s a blesser. In big ways and in small. Whether seen or unseen. Her heart is to be a blessing to others.

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We are all July celebrants. She made us each a “cookie cake” that year. It was her famous to-die-for chocolate chip cookie recipe. ❤ 

 

O – outstanding! She is an outstanding individual. She exudes excellence. She does not settle for “okay na yan” (though she is also not too uptight to say “okay lang yan” when necessary). She is a learner, a reader, and a writer — she loves wisdom. She is firm with her beliefs and strong in her convictions. She has a standard for what she does. In fact, it shows in the ingredients she chooses when she bakes. She does not compromise the quality of her work. Whatever she puts out there – teaching, training, tablescapes, food, writing, even pictures – she makes sure of quality. She is an excellent planner and she always comes prepared. But she is willing to learn, get ideas from others, in order to improve herself and/or her creations. She is also always so put together. One look at her eyebrows and you’ll agree with me, haha. Her home is always pristine, whether there are people coming to visit or not. Everything she does, she does with excellence. And not because she is haughty or proud, or because she is a “pastor’s wife,” but because she believes in giving her best to the Lord. Take out that title, and I believe she would still be the same person, loving and honoring God with everything she is and has. She does this out of the overflow of her heart, grateful for God’s love and His grace in her life.

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Our lovely hostess. She joyfully cooks and bakes EVERYTHING for her guests. ❤ 

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Like a mom, she enjoys seeing us enjoy. ❤ Look at the haaaaam. 🙂

L – loving leader. She genuinely loves us and cares for us. She shares in both our happy moments and sad. In our successes and in our struggles. She cares about our families, how we honor our husbands, how we raise our children. She encourages us and believes in us. She pushes us to be excellent, not in an overbearing or forceful way, but by example, in a way where we want to learn and follow. She has taught us so much about character and integrity, with the way she and Pastor Ariel live and lead. She is not perfect and she is not afraid to share her flaws. She is humble. She can laugh at herself. She can admit her faults. Because she understands the grace of the Lord and believes in the power of God to transform her. That’s where her compassion for people comes from as well.

We really look up to her and we want to learn from her. When she calls for a meeting, we go. Even when we know she’d understand if we couldn’t make it, we do our best to work our schedules so we can be there. But there are also times she “strongly encourages” us to be there, which means “be there,” haha. I think that’s testament to her kind of leadership. She has “earned” our respect and our loyalty because of her genuine love for us and for the church. Because of her passion to obey the Lord. Whatever it takes, for the sake of the call. She takes her platform as a pastor’s wife with humility, and she uses it with great respect and responsibility.

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This was during our recent training, which she led and organized for us pastors’ wives and campus missionaries. She baked for us too. ❤ 

D – designer. She has an eye for beauty. I believe anything she gets her hands on, she can make into something beautiful. She is an artist. Cakes, cookies, party set-ups, table settings, flowers, event set-ups. Give her leaves and she can make them pretty on a table! Give her a small room or an entire facility to design, and she’ll make it absolutely breathtaking. She pays heed to the little details AND the overall effect. She is just beyond creative. She has great taste. And I get so encouraged when she tells me that I’m creative. I’m nowhere near her talent, but I’ll take it, haha. Coming from her, wow. She inspired me in so many ways, Christmas most especially. So now I’m always on the lookout for Christmas stuff haha. Decorating our home and doing our Christmas traditions. Making it memorable and Jesus-centered every year. My family loves it.

 

 

Get wisdom; develop good judgment.
    Don’t forget my words or turn away from them.
Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you.
    Love her, and she will guard you.
Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do!
    And whatever else you do, develop good judgment. Proverbs 4:5-7

Oh, the joys of those who do not
    follow the advice of the wicked,
    or stand around with sinners,
    or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
    meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:1-3

10 “But he knows where I am going.
    And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.
11 For I have stayed on God’s paths;
    I have followed his ways and not turned aside.
12 I have not departed from his commands,
    but have treasured his words more than daily food. Job 23:10-12

Thank you, Shirley, for being you. Belated happy birthday! Stay ageless. Stay secure in your identity in Christ. Stay passionate about God and His call for your life. Stay passionate about your family. May the Lord grant you the deepest, secret desires of your heart. And may you grow more and more like Christ. I love and appreciate you. ❤

 

FEATURED, Marriage, Relationships

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. 🙂

FEATURED

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.

 

 

🙂

 

 

I used tea light candles in the old jars for this one.

 

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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!!!

 

Family, FEATURED

Cherished Traditions 2016

A week after Pasko at Pamilya, our Alabang church had its own Christmas traditions event which we call Cherished Traditions. It was a busy day for me as I had to prepare for my DIY corner, do last minute shopping for some candles and Danae’s hoodie, and get some lab test results. Of course when you have 3 kids, things don’t always go the way you would hope. To make the long story short, I was late for call time and I came with a gloomy disposition. I had to ask my DIY partner, Belle, to pray for me. Thank God things started looking up from then on.

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photo credit: Capella Manalang

I was happy with my table for the DIY advent wreath. People got to see and try out different ways to make an advent wreath. I got to share what we do as a family when we light the advent wreath candles every Sunday for 4 Sundays before Christmas day and on Christmas day itself. The other DIY corner for the advent calendar was also super nice! Eden was in charge of that, with her partner Liza. We also do the advent calendar with our kids every Christmas season. Our senior pastor’s wife Shirley Marquez created a beautiful dessert table. She’s always spot on with her creations. We wives learn so much from and are inspired by her. She decorates our center every year too! I did one tablescape in Sta Rosa, but for Alabang Ms Gigi Escosar generously set up 3 tablescapes! They were all beautifully Christmassy!

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Shirley’s dessert table

After our guests were free to go to our DIY corners, check out the tablescapes, have their pictures taken in many picture-worthy areas, and enjoy their Krispy Kreme donut and hot choco, our cool father-daughter hosts Ptr Chico and Nina opened the program with the raffle! The raffle table was full of prizes! We had about 40 winners if I remember correctly. We also had a fun icebreaker, after which our kids gave us the most awesome dance number. Haha. Yes, I love my own. It was a joy and a privilege to teach our kids, the pastors’ kids, to dance. Thanks to the ever talented Luchie, for the song. She was the one who found Mandisa’s Joy Unspeakable. I’m so proud of our kids. They did really well despite the lack of practice, and they gave it their best. Each one of them wanted to make God smile as they danced, and I believe they did. 🙂

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Ptr Chico and Nina Peña (photo credit: Nina). Nina also wrote about the event here. 🙂

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Julio Peña, Noelle Lucero, Bianca Gidor, Ana Marquez, Andrea Marquez, Lovely Ramirez, Danae Lucero, Benj Gidor, Coleen Huang photo credit: Capella Manalang

Ptr Ariel and Ptr Janssen & his family were our speakers. Ptr Ariel delivered such a moving testimony. Truly, he and Shirley lived their message that Christmas is not about us, but about Jesus Christ. When Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration, they went through the toughest time of their lives when their son Jerome fell ill and passed away 13 Christmases ago. Despite the painful memories, they still choose to celebrate every Christmas because it is Jesus they celebrate. Jesus is the point of every Christmas tradition. Ptr Ariel shared the why of Christmas traditions. The Morados family shared the how, the message they also shared in Pasko at Pamilya. 

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Ptr Ariel Marquez (photo credit: Nina Peña)

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Ptr Janssen, Ging and Andee Morados

The whole Huang family rendered us a lovely song. It was their first time to perform together, and we all went AWWWWW when we heard their youngest Coleen’s beautiful voice. I made sure our dance crew was there to support their fellow dancer. Christmas is love. Jesus is love. It was like magic. Sigh. From the parents to each of their children, they are just gifted. ❤

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The Huangs

Somewhere in between, they also showed our kids’ video, where they share about their favorite traditions and what impact it makes on them. To end the event, we gave each guest a really nice giveaway and they called back the dancers. It was supposed to be a celebration with everybody dancing, but I guess they enjoyed just watching the kids haha.

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Our comms team is super talented. They made our shoots easy and enjoyable, the photos and videos so beautiful! I got so kilig seeing my creation on our invitaion and tickets heehee. I didn’t know about it. We also shot DIY videos that were shown on screens beside our DIY table. 🙂

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Got to share some loved recipes at home in 2014. Got to get creative with plating too. 🙂

Cherished Traditions is always something we wives look forward to and work together to bring to others. Thanks to our leader Shirley who has imparted so much to us about the love of God, His love for people, about generosity, about love for family, being deliberate in making memories with our family, discipling our children and passing on our values and traditions to our children. Thanks to her leadership and Maryanne’s, and to each wife’s valuable contribution on the scene and behind, it was another fruitful event. I am just so grateful that I get to be a part of it. Things I never imagined I would be doing, they’ve given me the opportunity to. Plus it’s always a joy! It never feels like work. The motivation is always the desire to honor God, to serve and be generous. Because each one has that mindset, everyone works well together. I’m so thankful that that is the spirit I am surrounded by. Unity. Love. Servant leadership. Thank you, my sisters. It truly is an honor serving the Lord with you. ❤

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South Hub Pastors’ Wives ❤ Top row, from left to right: Eden Ramirez, She Ramirez, Aileen Gidor, Maryanne Peña,  Shirley Marquez, Malou Oaman, Phoebe Lucero, Ging Morados, Liza Divierte, Thine Canda ❤ Bottom row, from left to right: Belle Villanueva, Gigi Escosar, Luchie Huang, Lea Santos. Photot credit: Nina Peña