Family

It’s Been A Year

It’s the end of September. It’s been a year since I experienced my last major health scare. I’m not a worry wart. I get panicked and stressed at times but I don’t think I’m the type who obsesses about the what-ifs and the oh-nos. It might be my personality, yes, but it’s also because I have God to talk to and depend on, upon whom I can cast my cares. He dispenses me with the peace and calm that I need.

So when I felt a lump in my breast around the time of my birthday last year, I did not really panic. I got surprised to suddenly find it, like from not noticing anything to feeling how hard and big it was, of course I was surprised. But there were no water works. I prayed, looked it up (on the net hehehe), hoped for a non-scary explanation. I also asked certain people for advice. I set an appointment with my OB-GYN.

However, it took a while before I was able to see my doctor because of conflicts of schedules — hers and mine. I was able to see her over a month later. She told me that I had a tumor that needed to be checked. Mammogram and ultrasound. Ugh. I have always feared the mammogram because I heard it was painful. I tried to get it off the table but I obeyed anyway because she insisted. I trust her judgment. She has gotten me through 2 pregnancies, 2 births, and 1 case of pre-eclampsia severe.

So by early September, King and I headed to the hospital to get my tests done. I was super nervous because I hate pain. I have, in my expert opinion about myself 😂, very low tolerance for pain. I was preparing for the worst squeezing of my life, but a part of me was also hopeful that new mammogram tech would not be as painful anymore.

God’s grace was so evident that day. All the nurses were nice and friendly and gentle. The facility was excellent and comfortable (only women were allowed inside the area where I had to change into a pink gown). And to my surprise, the mammogram was not painful!!!!! A tad uncomfortable because of positioning and holding still, but painless and quite quick. I was overjoyed! The ultrasound was okay too, until the sonologist said she would recommend a biopsy.

Okay. Biopsy. This was when the questions started rolling in because we had decisions to make. Is there reason to rush? Should I have it done now, when King is scheduled to leave the country in two weeks? Can I wait til after he gets back, which is the last day of October? If I get it done now and the biopsy says it’s malignant, can I endure surgery and recovery without my husband? Or can I get surgery after he gets back? What about the kids and their daily school schedules — 3 kids, 2 different schools, 1 driver/yaya/P.A./tutor (AKA me)? My mind was on surgery, not even on chemo or other treatments. And I wanted King to take his trip. I knew that if he really needed to stay, he would absolutely give it up, but there was no desire for me to keep him from the God-given opportunity to attend his conference in the U.S. and visit his sister whom he hadn’t seen for a decade or so. The struggle was immense. We asked God for wisdom.

We were kind of okay already with the idea of waiting til November, but after talking to a doctor friend, my aunt who’s a pedia, and finally my cousin who’s an oncologist, we decided to have the biopsy done asap. They said with urgency, to not wait. We saw a breast surgeon.

What I kept asking God at that time was for Him to enable me to endure what I needed to go through. I would cry at times but I buckled up for the possibilities. Not so I could look or feel strong, but because I needed my mind prepared, so that I could deal with it already and get on with life. I used my head, and my emotions weren’t overwhelming me……yet. King was kind of quiet that week. I was the one reassuring him, and I was the one thinking of the game plan. Then at one point, I got upset with him for not helping me think and plan. His response made me stop in my tracks: “I don’t want to plan because I want to wait on the Lord.”

There I was, planning, because I unwittingly just accepted what was said to me about my lump — that there is a very high possibility it is malignant. I was operating on the assumption that I would be needing that, let me say more complicated lumpectomy, and so I would need to get my clearances in order, and we would have to move quickly so that King would still be around while I was in the operating room, and he could be around for the first 2 days of my recovery. I thought the faith part was relying on God to align the schedules of my clearances, the schedule of the surgeon, the availability of a hospital room, and the provision. It wasn’t.

The biopsy went really well. I was also very nervous, but the nurses explained it clearly to me. It prepared me for what to expect, so much so that when I felt a small pinch right before the doctor started extracting the tissue samples, I knew to sound the alarm. She stopped and injected me with more anesthesia. She did the biopsy excellently. No pain, just a little bit loud. It was ultrasound-guided, and I only took one peek while she was enthusiastically showing me what she was doing. I closed my eyes the rest of the time 😂. Though there was pain afterwards, I only had to take 1 arcoxia that day and I think the next day. I was in the hospital and diagnostics center by Wednesday to secure my clearance for possible surgery.

But the few days leading up to the biopsy and also immediately after, were when my emotions started surfacing. There was so much fear. I was not (am not) afraid to die because I am sure that my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I was afraid, however, of what I, and my family, might have to endure while I am still alive. And I was so sad for my husband and kids, imagining how sad or angry they would be if they had lost me too soon. I cried out to God. For me. For my family. My mom should not have to bury me. My kids should be able to enjoy and rely on their mother while they are young. My husband and I want to grow old together. I asked close family and friends to pray.

There was a shift at that time too. A wonderful thing that happens in marriage. While I was the one feeling down, King was the one who had his faith way up. He said he did not want to accept it and he was claiming, declaring my healing. He constantly encouraged me, you know with his happy, excited face. I so wanted to believe him. I believed that God is able to heal, but there was a part of me that was afraid to wholeheartedly claim my own healing. Like yes, God heals, but will He heal me? He is sovereign and I submit to His will. And whatever He does or allows to happen to me, I will receive, by His grace. Which is why there was a struggle in my heart. I didn’t know what His will was for me. You’d think this would be easy-peasy for me since God has saved me once before. But no, it was still easier to believe God for His enabling power than to believe Him for my healing.

That 5-day wait for my results was emotionally tough for me. But it was also within those 5 days that God spoke to me. He revealed a sin that I needed to repent of. He reminded me of my own words to myself. There had been times I had said that I will die early. Why? That might be for another blog. 😬 I believe that the tongue has the power of life and death. I know this so well. I teach it to my kids all the time. And God showed me that I had been speaking death to myself. It was such a revelation to me! I repented and somehow God enabled me to speak life and claim, with conviction, healing for myself. This was the faith God wanted me to exercise. 

And not a moment too soon. If I remember correctly, it was Friday, the day before I got my results. I so needed the courage to declare, out loud, that my tumor is benign! Then my friend and leader sent me these verses on Saturday morning. Nehemiah 8:10-12.

10 And Nehemiah[b] continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

11 And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.” 12 So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.

I was praying/crying, so encouraged by this! God was telling me not to worry! Hush, don’t weep!!!! This is a sacred day! As an act of faith, I asked my girls what they wanted us to bring home from the hospital. I told them that we would celebrate!!!! I asked them to pray for me. Noelle told me with such assurance that I was going to be okay. I thanked the Lord my children were in faith for me as well.

 

McDo is life 😂

 

We got to the hospital, all nervous and in a rush because I misunderstood our appointment and King had a teaching in church. Thank God we got there on time. And whaddaya know….. the doctor told us that my tumor is indeed BENNNNNIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!! She said some other things too, but we wanted to rejoice in this win!!! When we got to the car, I could not help but bawl like a baby. I kept telling King that God saved me. He saved me!!! When we regained our composure, we ate some Japanese to celebrate! We had a feast!!! 

 

That afternoon, I asked God for a specific Word. His specific, personal Word for me. He gave me Isaiah 46. I was iffy with the first few verses, but my eyes started welling up as I reached verse 3.

Wow. I hold on to God’s promise of a long life, His promise of caring for me, carrying me, and saving me. It’s been a year. God is faithful. I am still here and I will grow old with King. We will serve the Lord together for many years to come. I will enjoy my family. I will live through this pandemic and beyond. I will go back to Japan. I will travel to Switzerland and other awesome places. I will see the Northern Lights in Norway. I will walk where Jesus walked in Israel. I will see my girls thrive and live their lives honoring and serving God through their talents and their profession. I will see my girls get married to godly, honorable men, and I will enjoy my lovely, God-fearing grandchildren. In Jesus’ holy and mighty name. Say a big amen for me, friends. ❤ 

Just My Thoughts

Just Be Faithful 2

King taught a class I was in last week, and one of the topics he discussed was the Christian character of faithfulness. At the end of that session, each group answered a question:

Why is faithfulness a critical component of the character of a leader? Describe a leader in your life who has been faithful and explain the impact of that in your own life.

I raised my hand and said something, but it was incomplete. As usual, I think I’m a better writer than I am a speaker. Anyway, what I really wanted to say was that in those times that we leaders feel ineffective, useless, unappreciated, offended or tired, we must remain faithful. Just as Dory sings “just keep swimming, just keep swimming,” we must remind ourselves to just be faithful. By the enabling grace of God, we keep going. We don’t give up. Why? Because God sees. God sees you and me. God sees our heart. He sees our effort to reach out to people and to love them. He sees our obedience. He sees our willingness to be inconvenienced, to step out of our comfort zone. He sees our servant leadership and selflessness. He sees our faith. HE SEES. And His pleasure is enough reason for us to be faithful. His honor ought to be the ultimate reason we keep going.

Being faithful is a critical component of a leader’s character because while it is easy to lead when you have a title or position, things are going great and everyone is on board, united and all, it is difficult when things go the opposite direction. Problems arise (theirs or your own), people disconnect, people get offended and discouraged (including you), people and situations change. A leader must not walk away from what God has called him to do.

No question, the leader who has been faithful and has made an impact in my life is King. His faith and his relationship with the Lord is something that I have admired since the year I met him. The day I found out that he was on a mission trip, after weeks of preparing a video and a dance presentation for the opening of our center in Festival mall, was the day I saw him with a new level of respect. I mean come on, I married the guy a year later! Haha. He is by no means perfect. Our life is not perfect. But we have been married for nearly 13 years. He has been a faithful husband, despite my oh so many flaws. He has been a faithful father to our three girls. He chooses to love us and take care of us. I see it in the small things and in the big things — his time, his availability, his presence, his words, his prayers, his resources. He chooses to honor his vow before God and his vow to me.

He has been a church volunteer since the 90s. Name it, he has volunteered for it. He has been in full time ministry for more than a decade. He has worn different hats as well. He’s the kind of man who will do what needs to be done, no matter his title or position. No VIP treatment just because he’s a pastor. He is always ready to serve. I’ve seen that character in him all these years. He is faithful. Even when he has taken hits. Even when he is discouraged. He remains faithful. I believe it’s because he knows to Whom he is being faithful. It’s because he has no illusions Whom all this is about and Whose grace makes it all possible. And that’s more than enough for him. 🙂

“Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; Deuteronomy 7:9

 

You may also want to read part 1 here — Just Be Faithful.  

Just My Thoughts

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

 

 

Just My Thoughts, Spiritual Family

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

Family, Just My Thoughts

UNDESERVED BLESSING

We had the privilege of staying one night at a nearby hotel as we were generously blessed by a friend. We used the opportunity to celebrate my mom’s birthday with my family and my brother’s family. As we were telling the story about how we got the overnight stay and that we weren’t the only ones blessed by our friend, one of them quipped that King should keep being “good” so that more of such blessings will come our way.

There was nothing wrong with what was said, but it just made me realize something. I know that this was not given to us because King was “good,” though indeed he is. Or given to our other friends because they were “good,” though indeed they are. I believe it was given to us because that friend of ours who blessed us, really just wanted to bless us. It’s about his desire to give, his generosity, not about how “good” he thinks we are.

Just as God blesses us, it’s not about how deserving we are, but it’s about His generosity. A lot of the time we are undeserving, but He blesses us, is gracious to us, is faithful to us anyway. When we respond with grateful hearts, we get blessed even more — we got upgraded to an awesome suite! 🙂

FEATURED, Spiritual Family

We Love You, Hern Family!

Pastor Robert Leading P&W with King on the bass. (Baguio)

We went to Maileen Hern’s memorial service last night and once again I had no words to say to Ptr Robert. When he thanked us for coming, all I could say was “Of course.” All I knew, going there, was I wanted to support him and his family. We wanted to be there because we love him and his family. We’re not close, actually, but I admire and respect him so much that I felt compelled to be at the wake and the memorial service. King, of course, has known him for many years and worked with him.

I take away many things from the passing of Ms Mai. Number one is her faith. Her faith was amazing, even amidst great physical pain and amidst the pain of leaving her family. When she knew it was almost time for her to be with the Lord, she spoke to her daughters and told them not to be angry with God, but to always be grateful to Him no matter what. Ptr Robert’s faith to fight for Ms Mai’s life and then to let go when God spoke to him, was also remarkable. Even Betthia knew that God prepared her for her mom’s death through a dream. I cannot imagine what they have gone through and are going through, but one thing is evident. The Hern family loves the Lord and trusts in His ways. I hope to have the same strength and faith when I am faced with such adversity.

Among all those that spoke about Ms Mai, there was one that touched me and made me cry the most. She actually did not even speak. It was on video, and Ptr Robert was the one who read her letter to her mom. When I saw Shaunese cover her eyes while her letter was being read, I just felt so sad for her. I could not imagine what she must be feeling at her age, 5 years old I think, having lost her mother. I could not imagine my daughters going through the same thing. That thought just overwhelmed me. And yet her letter was one of pure love for her dear mommy, saying “I love you. Don’t forget us okay?”

I am just so grateful for Victory, my church, my spiritual family. Like what Ptr Steve said last night, we truly are one big family. Ptr Robert said he is able to go through this by the grace of God and because of his spiritual family, who are continually holding them up in prayer, supporting them, encouraging them and just being there for them. I experienced the same love and support when my father died 3 years ago, and so did my mom who isn’t even part of our church (yet).

We always speak of legacy, what we leave behind on this earth. I love what Ptr Steve said about Ms Mai, that her thumbprint is in every building or facility that Victory has ever built. She was an architect and she helped each church with the building of their facilities, including the ENLI building in the Fort. Some foreigners mentioned that the ENLI building still looks new, and Ptr Steve said that that speaks of the kind of work Ms Mai did — excellent. She did not only leave her mark on the buildings, but on the lives of many people as well — her family, her friends, her small groups, her co-workers, and now me.

Last night, even though we were crying, we were also laughing, remembering Ms Mai and as Ptr Robert was speaking. Oh yes, even in this sad time, Ptr Robert could smile, laugh and make others laugh. It’s pretty amazing. It is because of the assurance that Ms Mai is in heaven already, pain-free, resting and enjoying God. They did not fear death because death is not the end. All the more that I am grateful for Jesus. He saved me, gave me a new life, and I can also look forward to being with Him in heaven when I die.

Hern family, we love you! Thank you for your awesome faith. God bless you! 🙂