Finding Dory. Finding Me.

Finding Nemo is one of my all-time favorite Pixar movies. It was also Danae’s favorite when she was around 2 years old. She would ask to watch it again and again. Needless to say, we were excited to learn that they were making another about the most beloved character, Dory.

Ever since we watched Kung Fu Panda 3, I decided that there was no more going to the movies with Gianna. Not til she’s 3 maybe. She’s really active and loud haha. I used to be able to just breastfeed and put her to sleep, but that’s a thing of the past now. Snacks kept her busy for a short while during Kung Fu Panda, but after that, I could not concentrate on the movie anymore. On and off her seat, up and down the stairs, in and out of the theater! But for Finding Dory, I was in faith that we would both enjoy the movie. There have been other movies but I let King, Danae and Noelle enjoy those without us. I just had to with Finding Dory. And despite some movement and some noise (waving and saying “Hi Vuwan” to everyone), we did it! Gianna now recognizes “Meemo” and “Find Doyee” when she sees them on pictures, posters, videos.

I do not think it was as special as Finding Nemo was, but I still loved it. My favorite part was when Dory discovered that her parents had been waiting for her to find the shells they had been continually setting up, so that she could come home. That just really reminded me of God’s love for me. Dory’s parents never gave up. Despite their daughter’s difficulty in remembering, they still believed that she would be able to find her way home in case she got lost. They loved her, taught her, and took care of her well while she was with them. They encouraged her and believed in her. And when they had lost her, they continued to hope. They made sure they did their part so that Dory could find them again.

I have short term memory loss too. Sometimes it’s so easy for me to forget the goodness of God. When I am faced with a difficult or painful situation, doubts and complaints set in. But God never gives up on me. He continues to draw me to Himself. He tests me, He disciplines me, He teaches me. Sometimes in the process, I get lost. But God is faithful. He always gives me nudges, reminders, revelations to lead me back to Him. He lays out all kinds of shells for me so that I can find my way back home. What a beautiful picture of the Father’s love, faithfully waiting for the return of His child.

Though Dory’s parents did not go and look for her, our Father seeks us when we are lost. God is a gentleman and would never force Himself on us. But He is the one who pursues us and reminds us of His love because He wants to be with us. He wants us to be with Him. He waits until we remember that life is empty apart from Him. He waits until we remember His love, what it is like to be without it and to come to a place of not wanting to be without Him. He waits until we remember that He is home. Dory started remembering that love and she just had to find her parents because she did not want to be away from them a second longer. Even though she already belonged to a new family with Nemo and Marlin, she still was compelled to find her original family, her original home. When we realize that we belong to God and there is no other person we would rather have with us as we go through the ups and downs of life, we come running back. When we do, we are humbled, forgiven, reunited, restored, reignited, faith-filled and complete again. Oh the patience, perseverance, and great love of God! It happens over and over and over, our unfaithfulness and faithlessness — unbelievable. But He remains forever and ever and ever faithful.

I love Finding Dory because the heart of the story is very much like Finding Me.

 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Psalm 86:15

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

 

 

Happy birthday mom! 

Danae left a sweet and quite funny letter on my laptop on my birthday. It shows her personality pretty accurately haha. She warmed my heart and made me laugh out loud. Thank you Naenae. I love you too! ❤️

  

Baby!

One of my friends is pregnant and she recently taught Gianna that there’s a baby in her tummy. The other day, Gianna surprised me by rubbing my tummy and saying, “BABY…SIDE.” She meant baby inside. I thought that was funny-slash-scary since the factory is already closed precisely because I don’t want surprise pregnancies (although if God wants us to have another via a miracle, we would welcome him — haha the older girls do want a baby brother). 

Tonight, however, Gianna gave me a bigger laugh. I put on an old onesie on her after washing her up. It’s a pretty tight fit. She suddenly rubbed her belly and said “BABY…SIDE…TUMMY.”

Hahaha. :) 

I am Martha

I don’t think I ever appreciated my second name. Yes, I have a second name. My real name is actually Phoebe Martha. I know my parents gave me my second name after this American lady in the newspaper the day I was born. I don’t know if growing up I knew that my name is in the Bible. I do know that when I discovered what the name Martha meant, I did not like it. Martha means bitter. Who wants to be bitter? Certainly not me. I want to be free from unforgiveness, anger, and bitterness. It didn’t compare well to what my first name means — radiant, shining. Phoebe is my mom’s name as well and it is written in Romans.

And then of course there’s the character that Martha is known for. She’s always busy doing things serving the Lord, that she forgets that being in the Lord’s presence, spending time with Him, listening to Him and enjoying Him, is most important. I am many times very much like her. Who wants to be reminded that she often misses the mark? Well, yeah, me. I need to be reminded. But I really do not want to relate so much to her. I want to be like Mary!

Until I read John 11 again a few days ago. I am sure I’ve read these verses many times. It’s the story of Lazarus. But for some reason these four words just jumped out at me and I felt so wonderfully loved.


Wow. It doesn’t matter what my name stands for. Doesn’t matter that I make mistakes constantly. Doesn’t matter that I sometimes make other things more important than Him. Doesn’t matter that I sometimes make myself out to be greater than others. Doesn’t matter who I am or am not connected to. Jesus loves me. Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, loves me. That’s just who He is. His love does not depend on who I am or on what I do, but on who He is. He loves me. No conditions. Completely. Perfectly.

 
I am Phoebe Martha. And I am loved.

 

How about you? What is your name? Jesus loves you too. ❤️

The Productive Wife 1: Submit? No thanks!

SUBMISSION is a difficult word to swallow for most women. Maybe they think submission means that their freedom to think, speak or make decisions will be taken away when they get married. Maybe they feel that they become less because they have to “obey” their husband. Maybe they’re afraid to relinquish control to the husband. It’s natural for us women, especially strong women, to raise an eyebrow when we are told that we need to “obey” somebody. Like when we need to give our license at the guardhouse of a private village — we get annoyed right? Haha. I know I used to. But I eventually learned that it’s better to just abide by the rules instead of fighting against it. I eventually learned and accepted that that practice is good especially when it is done in my own village. I want my home and community to be protected too.

Anyway, I think part of the struggle is the wrong notion that the husband becomes the wife’s boss. Being married for nearly 12 years, I can say that marriage is about teamwork. Between the two of us, there is no boss, only a leader and teammates. I may not be the leader in our marriage but I am a valuable teammate. I am consulted, I can assert myself, I can share my thoughts and ideas, I am free to be myself, I am respected and well taken care of. King is my leader AND teammate. We work together. We support each other. Even our children are our teammates, and daddy is the leader (though we have told the girls that daddy’s the boss hehehe). I have a strong personality, but honestly, I do not want to be the leader of our family. The responsibility is just too huge and way too heavy. I appreciate that King is ahead of me, the first into every battle. He leads, he serves, he provides, he protects. Whether the battle is heavy or light, short or long, easy or difficult, he goes first, ready to lead and ready to DIE for those who are behind him — ME and the kids. Ready to win and ready to lose. Committed no matter the length of the journey, no matter the outcome of each battle.

One of the reasons I married King is because I trust him. We have the same faith, we have the same values. We may be different in personality and how we accomplish things, but our desires and our goals are similar. It is not always easy, but it is also not hard to let him lead because I know his heart. I trust that he has a strong, personal relationship with God, that he listens to and obeys God. I believe that he makes decisions not to serve only himself, but to serve the whole family. So instead of fighting against his leadership just because “I’m a brat and it’s my way or the highway”(yes many women are like that and are oddly proud of it), I cooperate with him and do my part to support him. Instead of thinking that I’m smarter, I’m wiser, I know better, I can share my insights AND listen to his insights. Instead of insisting on what I think is best (because sometimes, not always haha, we women are right), I can exercise my faith by praying for King and waiting on God.

There have been occasions when I had gone ahead of him, but thankfully they were of no consequence. They were minor. Major decisions are always done together. Just the same, King is not perfect. He makes mistakes as I do. When mistakes are made, we forgive, we learn, we wisen up and do better. Neither of us is the boss, but we both have a boss in the Person of Jesus. As long as He remains the boss, there is peace in our home.

I admit, it is easier to submit to a husband who is godly, to be supportive to a PRODUCTIVE HUSBAND. But how we are as a wife should not be dictated by the kind of husband we have. Just as we hope that our husband’s love and leadership is not dictated by the kind of (imperfect) wife we are. It should be dictated by our faith in a loving, faithful, limitless, miracle-working, good God. It should be dictated by our commitment to God and to our husband. It should be dictated by our desire to obey God. It should be dictated by the hope that we have for a growing, healthy, and godly marriage.

BY THE GRACE OF GOD, we CAN BE godly, PRODUCTIVE WIVES. We can choose to see the best in our husband. Believe in him. Get down on our knees and pray for him. Be faithful to him. Honor him. Be patient with him. He has a lot on his plate too. Love him. Be humble. Submit to his leadership. BE A BLESSING TO 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. Ephesians 5:22-28

The wise woman builds her house,
    but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1

 

Food, glorious food!!!

Like Noelle when she was little, Gianna loves to eat. 

The other day, she and I were about to have lunch. She sat down and saw the food.

Gianna: Tota! (Torta – meat and potatoes dipped in egg and fried) Tota pees (torta please).

Me: Okay torta. (I put torta on her plate)

Gianna: Echap (Ketchup)?

Haha. She loves ketchup and apparently she knows what food goes with it! 

Last Sunday, as we were walking through Robinson’s to get to the parking area, Gianna saw a box of   cookies.

Gianna: Tooties (sometimes she says cookies) buy? Buy this. 

Me: No we’re not buyung cookies.

She let it go and walked. I was ahead of her and I heard her say cookies again. When I looked back, I saw her picking up a small pack of cookies. She brought it to the counter which she could barely reach, and said “Miss!” 

Hahaha. Good thing no one was at the counter.

She raises her arm at restaurants too and calls the “Miss” even though it’s a male waiter. The other day she said when she saw a picture of fries, “Oder dis (order this).”

Haha. Clever little girl. :) 

No….

Ok so I know I said Gianna is a yes-girl. She still is for the most part, but she’s saying No more often these days. 

King: Can I kiss you?

Gianna: No….

King: Why???

Gianna: Uuhhhmmm…. Fetee…(“let’s see” methinks, but I could be completely wrong!)

Haha she never changes her answers.🙂

The other day, the girls and I were watching the video of the Zootopia theme song as requested by Gianna. The video that followed was another song by Shakira, the Wakawaka. Those are the only Shakira music videos deemed safe in our household. Anyway, the two older girls were trying to copy the dance moves. I stood up and showed them the dances that I knew and used before. Not 5 seconds later, the little one sort of panicked and said while waving her pointer finger:

No na, mommy, no na. Deet down.

Hahaha. I obeyed. :) 

Yeah.

Like I said in one of my previous posts, Gianna is a yes-girl. She says yes to almost everything. She no longer says Yesh however, but says Yeah.

Do you like it? Yeah.

Do you want to eat? Yeah.

Are you going to read? Yeah.

You want me to “deet down?” Yeah.

Even when the question is not directed at her, she answers Yeah. Sometimes, she answers with Opo. I forget what I asked Noelle, but I was speaking in Filipino. Gianna answered Opo. So I tried something on her.

Me: Gianna, are you sleepy? You want to sleep?

Gianna: Yeah.

Me: Gianna, tulog ka?

Gianna: Oo. Opo.

Hahahaha. It would seem (the operative word, of course) that she can distinguish between English and Filipino.🙂

 

What will you say?

Gianna is 1 year and 10 months old. I think we started giving her the rod 4 months ago when we saw that she would throw stuff when she was upset. That was our first rule — no throwing. Of course we know the difference between play and disobedience. We also taught her how to pray (she would clasp her hands and bow but look up ever so cutely!), to look us in the eye (though lately she has learned to look up and away to avoid my eyes haha), and say sorry (gentle stroke of the hand on the face of person she’s saying sorry to). These days, the rules include no dabog or tantrum, no screaming, no hitting. We also have to balance the Nos with Please Do This Insteads — please ask nicely, please obey, please speak calmly and softly, please be gentle. 

After the rod, this is how our conversation goes.

Me: Gianna, what’s (insert offense – let’s say throwing)?

Gianna: (crickets, while she looks elsewhere, either on purpose or because she’s distracted)

Me: Gianna, look at mommy. (It takes a while sometimes, but she obeys)

Me: What’s throwing?

Gianna: No-no.

Me: It’s no-no. I gave you the rod because you threw your toys. Don’t do that again okay?

Gianna: Otay.

Me: What will you say to mommy?

Gianna: Tetoo. (Hahhahaah — she says thank you)

Then I tell her that she’s supposed to say sorry, and so she strokes my face wih her hand. I tell her I forgive her, then we pray. :) 

Just Be Faithful

So last night was Every Nation’s Induction and Ordination Ceremony 2016, where new pastors were ordained and new campus missionaries inducted. Three of our own from Alabang were ordained as pastors — Ptr Ed Caducio who now serves in one of our Japan churches, Ptr Rein Tatlonghari who serves in Alabang, and Ptr David Bernardo who serves in Muntinlupa. Ptr David used to be part of King’s team of campus missionaries when King was Alabang’s youth pastor 10 years ago. Michelle Galarosa, who was once part of my victory group, was inducted as campus missionary as well. She serves in Sorsogon. Ptr Ferdie Cabiling, who was overseeing the youth in Ortigas during King’s Youth on Fire days, was ordained Bishop after 25 years of serving in church!

Our whole family was there because King (along with other pastors who have served 10, 15, 20, 25 years) was appreciated for his 10 years of service in church. Gianna was relatively quiet for the first maybe 20 minutes of the program. I had to get her out of there when she started calling ate Jiggy, tita Iris and tita Janice loudly while one of the pastors was speaking! It was a good thing that I opened the door when I heard our senior pastor Ptr Ariel talk, because it was then that he called King on stage! I was thankfully able to take a few pictures of him up there. After that, I was outside with the girls, along with many other moms and little kids haha. I’m sure the bishops and pastors had great, inspiring messages. My season will come when I can sit, listen, and concentrate.🙂

Proud of you, babe!🙂


The Victory Alabang pastors and staff were so sweet and supportive. They gave more than 3 hours of their time, not including travel time, to be there. They even wanted to have dinner together, which we did in Army Navy.

Thank you for the photo Iris!🙂


When they all had left, King and I got to talking. I was happy to support the hubby, but at first I didn’t quite understand the recognition. Neither of us has been counting his years of service. Like what King says, he’s just always “happy to serve!” But it dawned on me as I was articulating my thoughts that yeah, 10 years in the ministry IS a feat! I realized that through the victories, breakthroughs and all the good things that have transpired, through hardships and the uncertainties, through discouraging and disappointing situations, the Lord has been faithful AND King has been faithful. It’s easy to be encouraged during the highs, but my constant words to him during the lows are “just be faithful.” Even when it hurts me too, I would encourage him to just be faithful.

By God’s grace, here he is, still in the ministry after more than ten years. By God’s grace, he is growing and maturing, continually laying ambition and self at the feet of Jesus. He wakes up each morning ready to fulfill his God-given calling, thankful for the opportunity to do what he loves to do. With the trust given him by our leaders, he is able to lead and serve God’s people. With godly counsel, discipleship, and brotherhood, he remains a rookie, willing to learn and be taught. By God’s sufficient and enabling grace and for the glory of God, he is able to be the many things he needs to be and wear the hats he needs to wear, while being a loving and faithful #productivehusband to me and being a great father to our daughters.

Thanks everybody! It’s an honor and privilege to serve with this team. We love this church!🙂


Wow. God is indeed good. We did not expect the recognition, but we receive it with humility and much gratitude. And we are so encouraged by it! So to the tune of Dory’s song, we will, only by the grace of God, continue to “just be faithful, just be faithful, just be faithful, faithful, faithful.”🙂

 

Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:24

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24