Discipleship, Kids Church, Parenting

I thank God for VBC

Aaah, Vacation Bible Camp. Not something I have to do, but something I get to do. I thank God for the privilege to be part of a huge team of amazing volunteers. Their passion to serve, their love for God and for the children, their commitment and dedication to do things excellently, to push to the end, their effort to work as one team. If you could see the work that each team put in, how it all came together, you would just be in awe. And yes, they may be talented and skilled, but I believe it’s so much more than that. It’s that love that God has lavished on them, that they are able to also love others through what they do. That love and passion truly trickles down from the leadership of Ptr Carlo and Lea, and the Kids Church staff. Their impartation, and even the care they show us volunteers (shout out to Aubrey and Fely), inspires us to give our best to the kids as well.

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most of the VBC volunteers 🙂 photo grabbed from Aubrey

I thank God for the privilege to mentor the praise dance team! We were rarely complete during practices, some of us had trouble with our left and right, our number of praise dancers fluctuated until the very last week of practice hahaha. We played the stay quiet for 1 minute and then 2 minutes challenge, after which of course their noise doubled! But I would do it again next year. I thank the Lord for the opportunity to work with kids I already love and with new kids I have grown to love. Grateful for their parents as well, who entrusted their kids to us. I believe we all learned something from everything we went through. I am just so proud of the team for giving their best! Through hunger, sleepiness, tiredness, and sickness for some, they gave their best to the Lord for 3 straight days. The same passion and joy from day 1 to day 3. Talk about commitment! Talk about the power of the Holy Spirit in them! How wonderfully blessed the Lord was by His children. ❤

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the praise dance team! all except 1. 23 kids in all! 🙂 

I thank God for the privilege to serve with my girls. The first time I joined the praise dance team, Danae, while a participant, joined me. Then, Noelle, while a participant, and Gianna, the youngest volunteer (1 yr old), joined us. Now I don’t dance anymore. Only they do, with other kids aged 5 to 13. I think that fact alone is amazing! Danae and Noelle were participants first, then volunteers. But Gianna, a volunteer first, then a participant next year hahaha.

Somehow we have taught our daughters to give of themselves — their time, talent, and energy (though it is fun for them, they get tired too 🙂 ). To joyfully serve others, without thinking about getting anything in return (except maybe food because they get hungry easily 🙂 ). To love children. Well, we didn’t really teach them. I guess they naturally like little kids. To work with a team. It is not a show, and it is not about who’s the best dancer. It’s about being in sync, not only in their movements, but most especially in their hearts — the goal is to worship God and teach other kids to do the same. To worship God through their talents. Honestly, sometimes I don’t know because it is beyond what I can see. I see them having fun dancing and singing (sometimes too much fun 🙂 ), and I wonder if they get it. But I believe God sees. God knows. And God is doing something in their hearts, growing them into ladies who worship Him in spirit and in truth.

I thank God for the songs. They are full of truths about God that make you just feel loved and want to love God more. I pray that as they continue to sing and dance the songs at home, these truths will be ingrained in their hearts and minds. I highly encourage you to listen and sing them out loud. Dance, even. Here are the lyrics to one of our favorites…

The Maker (Maker Fun Factory)

I see You in the sunrise

I see You in the rain

I see You in the laughter

I feel You through the pain

Everything that You have made is beautiful

Oh, my God I can’t believe my eyes

But in all of this to think that You would think of me

Makes my heart come alive

Your love is like a mighty fire deep inside my bones

I feel like I could climb a thousand mountains all at once

And I never have to wonder if somebody cares for me

I love the Maker

And the Maker loves me

See if you can spot the littlest volunteer! Thank you for the video, Bless and Aliyah 🙂

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I thank God most of all for His abundant grace. None of it would have been possible, even the patience they tell me I have (which I don’t believe I do — ask people who know me hahahaha), if not for the abundant grace of God. All glory to Him!

❤ ❤ ❤

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Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. Psalm 8:2

 

 

 

 

 

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 
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

Kids Church, My Kids

VBC 2016

We just finished Victory Alabang’s Vacation Bible Camp entitled Waterworks Park! It was a great 3-day event for kids aged 4 (though a few were 3) upto 9 years old. Our Kids Church team has been preparing for this for months — production, design, snacks, registration, tech, team leaders. I once again was privileged to be part of the praise dance team!!!

 

These are just what the design team did on the outside. I wasn’t able to take pictures of the wonderful rooms! We have such talented people serving in church! 

The very first ministry I volunteered in when I came to church and got discipled was Kids Church. I was single, but had always liked kids. As a kid, I was fond of babies. I grew up enjoying playing and talking to kids. My friends trusted me with their babies too. And when I started with my discipleship journey, my victory group leader then was a Children’s Church (4 to 6-year-olds) teacher. She included me in her team. I served in Children’s Church a couple of years, til I got engaged (see here how Kids Church played a role in the start of our courtship), got married and got pregnant.

The baby-making train paused for a few years and so I was able to volunteer for VBC 2013. Noelle was 4 years old, Danae was 7. With two small kids, I knew I couldn’t go back to being a regular volunteer. Summer was the perfect time for me, VBC the perfect event to serve. Both girls were attendees (Noelle’s second VBC, Danae’s third), and Danae joined me also in the praise dance team. However, the train got going again later that year, so I wasn’t able to volunteer for VBC 2014. The girls attended, and Danae chose to be part of the kids’ choir at that time. For VBC 2015, which would have been Danae’s last, we already began our practices when I realized that our family was set to go to Cagayan de Oro for my cousin’s wedding! Thank God we were able to tap my friend Bianca Peralta to lead the team. They were in very able hands.

Early this year, Ms. Fely, our Kids Church staff, made sure we were free for VBC 2016 hahaha. I am so honored and privileged to be part of the praise dance team!!! Bianca and I were the mentors (aka the old ones). And not only did Danae and Noelle join me, their friends decided to join us as well! At first I felt sheepish that I invited 5 additional kids to the team without permission, discovering that there was a limit haha, but I think we all agree that it turned out for the better. This is the first time that we were more than 20 in the team and that there were more kids than teenagers and adults.

The praise dance team, ages ranging from almost 2 to 16 years old. Not included are a 14-year-old and her 20-something-year-old sister, a 38-year-old (me), and the youngest 40-year-old. 🙂


It’s such a joy to see 11-year old Bianky and 12-year old Josh, who have been Kids Church volunteers for a few years already, lead the team. Such a joy to see the faithfulness of all the kids, even the teenagers, to be there for practice week in and week out. I am so proud of the team! The biggest surprise, especially for me as a mom, was Gianna. She was not only such a trooper as I took her to all the practices I attended, but she actually danced with us and memorized all the steps! She is only 21 months old and she already has the makings of a dancer, just like her dad.

Technical rehearsal. Gianna knows all the steps! She loves to dance. 🙂 photo credit: Ms Fely


My daughters make me so proud. They practiced in church and at home. They took it to heart. They were taught first to follow, so that they could lead. And because they are leaders, they must set a good example for the other kids. They were reminded that all we are doing is for the Lord. I love what Ptr Carlo said to us on the last day of practice. How we worship reflects the kind of God we worship. When we worship and dance with all we have, the kids will see that the kind of God we serve is deserving of all we have. They will see that God is an awesome God because His children worship Him so.

Danae and Noelle, and even Gianna when she was not sleepy or distracted by the other kids, gave it their best. Danae stepped up and wanted to greet the kids once we were in the praise dance room. She smiled the whole time she was in front leading the kids in praise dancing. When it was Noelle’s age group’s turn to be in our room, Noelle owned it. She was up there leading her class, smiling and giving it her all.

VBC participants Coleen and Noelle leading their age group (7-year-olds). Their song, “I am not Afraid.”


Josh with the mic, Bianky to his left. Danae also with the other mic (under her elbow). The 8-year-olds’ song, “People Be Strong!”


Bianca and I could have dominated everything, but we truly believe in the next generation. Some were nervous, but they took on the challenge to be the ones to lead, to talk to the kids and teach them the steps, to greet, encourage and even pray for them. It’s such a privilege to witness young worshippers worshipping and young leaders rising. We agree with what Ptr Carlo said in our meetings — we want to get out of the Holy Spirit’s way. We don’t want to be the ones hindering these children from doing what The Lord is calling them to do. We do not look down on them because they are young. We nurture them, teach them, disciple them, pray for them, equip them, empower them.

 

happy servant leaders! 🙂


I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be volunteers alongside my daughters and the future leaders of our church and our country. I pray they will never stop giving of themselves, of their time and talents to serve God’s people. I pray that faithfulness, commitment, servant leadership will be instilled in them. I pray that they not only strengthen their existing relationships, but also establish new ones as they bond over serving in church. I pray that their hearts remain pure before the Lord, living the truth that nothing is ever about them and everything is always about Jesus.

Our awesome volunteers!!! One last dance — Splish splash, it’s a bible bash! 🙂

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” Matthew 21:16

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre. Psalm 149:3

 

My Kids, Parenting, Spiritual Family

Summer Camps

I know, I know, it’s nearly the end of July. Summer in the Philippines ends in May. I just want to finish writing about my girls’ summer activities (this is mostly for me and our family, but keep reading if you’re still interested) before I move on to my next posts. And I’ve been busy, but I figure I’d better get my blog in order before I give birth.

The girls & their friends
The girls & their friends

Danae and Noelle went on the Joshua Camp with King last May 1 and 2. Our church has an annual Me and My Dad Camp, but this time apparently, the moms could join too. Too bad (or good thing? hehehe) I was, still am, pregnant that King and I decided it would be too hard for me. I’m pretty sure I would have survived, but anyway, we wanted the girls to bond with their dad, especially since this is Danae’s second time and Noelle’s first time to be sleeping in a tent up on a mountain. It was also King’s first time to be out on camping grounds alone with the two girls. Haha, it was fun seeing King squirm a little, knowing that the younger one is kinda squeamish about bathrooms and stuff.

 

 

Noelle planting a seedling :)
Noelle planting a seedling 🙂

Noelle was a little sad when she left home because she usually likes to stick close to me, and

Danae planting a seedling too :)
Danae planting a seedling too 🙂

she, as usual, cried for me a little that night. Signal was non-existent there, and so we weren’t able to communicate at all until the next day. I was very happy though, that she and Danae came home happy and excited! She said that “Me and My Dad Camp was soooo fun, mom!” I love that not only did they “survive” the cold water, the bathroom, the heat during the day, the cold and darkness at night, they more importantly enjoyed bonding with King (sleeping in a tent, eating marshmallows and hotdogs around the campfire, participating in the games together), and they got to spend (more) time with their BFFs Ana, Andrea, and Coleen.

 

 

camp equipFrom May 13 to 16, Danae joined Camp Equip, a 4-day daily morning training for kids aged 8 to 12 (if I’m not mistaken). They were given 3 options — dance, theater, or singing. Danae’s initial choice was theater, but because there were only a handful of students, the class was dissolved. She chose singing with her friend Ana, though it was clear that she would have also enjoyed dance. She was actually the smallest and youngest in the class and in the alto group. They were taught not only to sing a couple of songs, but to vocalize, sing correctly with the diaphragm (something I know nothing about) and what true worship means. She made new friends too. They sang their songs as a group during their recital, and though I know she enjoyed every bit of it, she could not help but move and groove when it was the dance class’ turn to perform. And as I expected, she told me afterwards that she will be joining the dance class of next year’s Camp Equip haha. She will also join me as I go back to volunteering with the VBC dance team next summer. I am hoping I can convince Noelle to do the same.

 

 

The following week was Vacation Bible Camp — Danae’s 4th time and Noelle’s 3rd. I’ve VBCalways been able to count on Danae coping well in classes or activities, but this was the first time I had no problems with Noelle. She stayed in her class all morning during the entire 3-day event. That’s I think thanks to her BFF Coleen. I don’t think she would have been as enthusiastic and consistent if she didn’t have a constant friend there. I am very proud of her nonetheless. Of course, the girls enjoyed this year’s theme Boomerang Express – It All Comes Back to Jesus. New songs, new lessons, new crafts. We’re excited for next year too!boomerang express

These are summer activities that we look forward to each year. I thank God that our church gives much importance to teaching and discipling children. We as parents are passionate about this and we are happy to be part of a movement that is passionate about the next generation as well. Thank you to Victory Alabang’s Kids Church Team for making it all fun and incredibly worthwhile. Thank you Ptr Carlo, Lea (and Eli :)), Merlee, Grace, Leni, and your amazing volunteers! God bless you all. 🙂

FEATURED, Spiritual Family

Singles Getaway 2013

The last time I was at a Victory Alabang singles retreat was nine years ago in Tagaytay. It was my second ever. I was single, but already engaged to King. We were given the privilege to share our love story then. This year, King and I were given another privilege to impart and teach the singles of our church at our Singles Getaway in Dahilayan, Bukidnon. We had always wanted to join or help in the getaways, but of course my husband would be needed in church. So we thank God for letting us be part of this one!

GIVE HONOR TO WHOM HONOR IS DUE

King and I talking about putting Phil 4:8 in our friendships :)
King and I talking about putting Phil 4:8 in action, in our friendships. 🙂

I want to honor first my husband. Seeing you in action makes me admire you more, babe! You serve with a glad heart, and I see it on your face and in your body language. There may have been a few stressful moments, but you never let any of that get you down. Tiring as it was, I know you loved serving the singles. You were always willing to do what was asked of you. You went the extra mile even, all while making sure I and your kids were doing okay, and making sure we had something great to teach in our session. And you never forgot to have fun! You enjoyed the place, the amenities (rides, if you will), being with the participants, being with the committee, and being with your family. You had many hats on in those 3-4 days, but you never forgot to enjoy all of it. You’re the man, babe! Servant leadership at its finest! It gives me so much joy to see you do what you love to do. 🙂

Being with King is never a drag. :)
Being with King is never a drag. 🙂
King's joy and humor is infectious. :)
King’s joy and humor is infectious. 🙂
Ptr Chico and Maryanne Pena :)
Ptr Chico and Maryanne Pena 🙂

I also want to honor our family ministry pastor Ptr Chico and his wife Maryanne, for being such good friends to us. You always encourage us and support us in the things we do. Thank you for trusting King to help out with the singles. Thank you for trusting us to impart to the singles in one of the sessions. I see your humility and security, that the “singles ministry” is not about you. The singles are not yours, but they are the Lord’s. You are stewards, and great ones at that! Your desire to get personal is so admirable — you guys sitting with different victory groups every so often is just amazing to me. You don’t mind the work of meeting people in small, intimate settings. You make time for the singles, even with such busy schedules of parenting, counselling, doing marriage preparation programs, doing marriage journey programs, and officiating countless weddings! King and I look up to you guys, and we always appreciate what you teach us. And to make everything sweeter, we love all three of your kids! It was a joy for each one of us to be there with your family. 🙂

I want to honor our discipleship pastor Ptr John and his wife Joyce, who took care of the singles for four years! You have taken the

Ptr John and Joyce del Rosario :)
Ptr John and Joyce del Rosario 🙂

singles to Boracay and Bohol, two beautiful cities in our country. And just like our recent trip, I am sure they were also life-changing for the participants. I see your love for the singles, and your desire for them to be great men and women. I know you are excited to witness them enter the season of marriage too. You have made a great impact in so many lives with your knowledge, your passion and your faith, no matter how differently they are “packaged” in each of you. I am so proud of you Joyce, for the woman that you have become. I am so excited to see you as a mom as well! We’ve been travel buddies twice now, and I appreciate both your love for our girls. Thank you. 🙂

I want to honor the committee — Nathan, Maeriz, Ninoy, Mark, Joanne, Marvin, Ivin, and Janice!!! You were only a handful, but you guys did a great great job. There are no words to describe how amazed we are by your hard work and service. I may not have seen firsthand what each of you did, but I know each of your roles was essential to the success of the event. There were no big or small jobs, and I saw that all the more from each of you, because you were so humble and joyful. You had no air of entitlement or arrogance due to position or amount of responsibility. It was not perfect, as nothing ever is, but there was not a critical spirit in any of you that it was a joy to talk to and work with you. And I am so happy that even though you were working as volunteers, you were able to truly enjoy the retreat! The work was balanced by so much free time to play! Well-deserved too! Thank you all, for making the Singles Getaway what it was — enriching, relaxing, invigorating, fun, and life-changing! 🙂

The committee and the marshals :)
The committee and the marshals 🙂
Nathan and Mark :)
Nathan and Mark 🙂
Maeriz :)
Maeriz 🙂
Some of the committee and the early comers :)
Some of the committee and the early comers 🙂
FEATURED, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Spiritual Family

Hearts of Service


Some 70 Victory Alabang church members volunteered to bring and distribute relief goods to students and their families in Bayanan, Muntinlupa today. A 1st grade teacher approached King the previous day because she wanted to help her students, and it turned out that we not only helped them, we also helped evacuees in the ALS Library.

It’s a joy to see the hearts of people to serve. They, some of whom were flood victims themselves, willingly took time off their schedules to help out. Others lent their vehicles to transport people and goods. And so many others in Alabang alone donated, packed, and distributed food to Muntinlupa and Bacoor the previous days. Our Victory churches all around the Metro have been at it as well, rallying and efficiently helping the affected communities surrounding their areas.

I love being part of efforts like this. Thank God I was able to leave my kids at home so I could participate and support King, who has been doing the coordinating and delegating since day 1. I am blessed to witness and capture one side of what happened today (there was more happening on the other side). Seeing the volunteers’ smiles as they worked together to bless the kids and their families already made me happy. But seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces as they received their bags made it all the more meaningful. It was completely worth our time and effort. We didn’t have to walk, wade or swim through flooded streets, though I tell you some of us were quite willing to, but our volunteers did great!

We thank each one of you for selflessly giving and volunteering today and the past 4 days. God bless you indeed!

To echo what a sweet little girl expressed to Ptr Carlo as we were leaving, SALAMAT PO!

MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Parenting, Spiritual Family

C.O.R.R.E.C.T.I.O.N.

Victory Alabang held a parenting seminar morning of last Saturday, July 14. Tired from our trip, the girls and I came late, arriving in time for the break-out sessions. I left the girls in one of the rooms to watch cartoons with the other kids, so I could attend the 0-9-years-old group with Pastor Ariel and Shirley Marquez, while others attended the 10-12 group with Pastor Sonny and Malou Oaman, and the 13-and-up group with Pastor Chico and Maryanne Peña.

Pastor Ariel focused on teaching us about disciplining our YOUNG CHILDREN, by communicating with them and giving them the rod. He made it clear that giving our children the rod is NOT child abuse. It is not done to punish, but to correct. It is CORRECTIVE, not punitive. One of the verses he shared is one of the most effective verses we shared to our children, to further explain why we discipline them. I will never forget that night months ago, when Danae read it herself. She was genuinely surprised that not giving her the rod actually means we HATE her.

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. Proverbs 13:24

Our girls understand that we discipline and teach them because we love them.

Here is the acronym we learned.

CLARITY. Rules must be set. Rules must be clear.

OBEDIENCE. This is our goal: to teach them to OBEY without delay, without challenge, and without question. We need to teach them this based on mutual trust. We love them and have their best interest at heart, and they can trust our decisions for them.

RIGHT ATTITUDE. Do not discipline in anger. Have the right attitude when ministering with the rod. Cool down first, or if your spouse is present, let him or her do it. We aim for the rear end, and no other body part. Beware of hurtful words. The sting of the rod will quickly fade away, but the sting of our words can last a lifetime.

RESTORATION. After establishing guilt (ex: “Did you or did you not hit your sister?” – question answerable by yes or no only; asking them why will teach them to make excuses), tell your child that he or she is forgiven and loved.

EXPLANATION. Explain every single time why you are giving the rod. Bottom line: we love them and want them to grow up to be good people, and we are obeying God’s word to teach and discipline them.

CONSISTENCY. The same rules apply anytime and anywhere, and the same corresponding consequences apply as well.

THOROUGHNESS. Make sure you finish it. Complete the process from beginning to end, from establishing of guilt to restoration and prayer. Prayer teaches them that when they disobey Daddy & Mommy, they are also disobeying God (Deut 5:16), and therefore need to repent before Him.

IMMEDIATELY. Minister immediately. Do not wait till you get angry or till you get home. Do not let your anger build up. Do not let your child suffer in fear of his or her “impending doom” (haha). Go back to the car or go to a bath room if necessary.

OUT OF SIGHT. Keep it private. It should be just him or her and you. Keep your child’s dignity intact by disciplining him or her privately.

NEUTRAL OBJECT. Use a neutral object, such as a plastic ruler, a wooden spatula, or a rubber spatula, as your rod. Do not use your hand because we use our hands to express affection to our children, lest they be confused.

It was a good time to realign our disciplining ways to how God wants us to discipline our children. We realized when we got home that we already have old notes regarding the same topic, and yet we still needed to hear all of it all over again. It just goes to show BASICS are always important, and it never hurts to be reminded of them from time to time. 🙂

My Kids, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Spiritual Family, THE BRAINY BUNCH

My Kids at Vacation Bible Camp

Danae and Noelle at Pandamania, May 17-19Danae attended her 3rd Vacation Bible Camp this summer, while it was Noelle’s first ever! Danae attended her first Me & My Dad Camp last April, an amazing time for her and King. She also wished for a Me & My Mom Camp and a Me & My Sister Camp after that haha. She joined McDonald’s Kiddie Crew and had piano lessons too. But because Noelle’s only 3 and she already had her summer school last year to sort of prepare her for Nursery this school year, we didn’t have anything lined up for her to do except VBC (though technically, kids have to be at least 4 to join).

I never had much problem leaving Danae in any class because she was almost always willing to stay even without me. Noelle is the complete opposite. Her summer school experience last year showed me just how clingy she was, and she was the same even in “Kids Church 3” (she means kids church for 3-year-olds) this year. When she was interested to go, she didn’t want to join Danae’s age group. She wanted her own age group, but she wanted me to stay with her, which I did.

One Sunday, however, I was able to leave her in her class room and I was able to attend service! I guess our never-ending pep talks, encouraging her not to cry in class because she’s a big girl, finally worked. The teacher only came to get me during the last 15 minutes because Noelle was asking for me, but with no tears!!! What a breakthrough! I knew then that I wouldn’t have problems during VBC. I was so proud of her.

All in all, my kids’ VBC experience, or I should say OUR VBC experience, was really memorable. As usual, Danae enjoyed her time with friends. There was no doubt that she would actively participate in the activities and learn from the shows, songs, and stories, which she did. Noelle, as usual too, did not participate as much. There were a couple of times I saw her just sitting with a teacher or a classmate, while others danced and a few more others ran around haha. She did her crafts and watched the shows, but I only saw her sing and do the actions during graduation (in her seat and with her teacher). But that didn’t really matter. The fact that she actually stayed in class for nearly 3 hours for 3 consecutive days already made me extremely happy! I also appreciated what Ptr Carlo said about Noelle, that she would approach and comfort any classmate who was upset (so cute). He also said that my two girls knew how to respect authority. Praise God for that haha.

Noelle’s the type who listens only to what she wants to listen to. When we’d read books, it’s like she doesn’t have time to sit and finish the story! I didn’t really expect her to understand or remember the lessons in VBC, but I was surprised that she was able to share with me the stories of Elijah (though a lot unclear haha), Moses and Hannah. She’s got a wild imagination, so some were accurate and some were not hahaha. Still, it made an impact on her, enough to make her remember.

If there’s one big thing I learned about Noelle this summer, it’s the fact that she listens, pays attention, understands, remembers more when we make the stories animated and acted out, not just read. Which means, the VBC volunteers did a great job conveying the Bible stories through their plays. They got through to a 3-year-old! All the volunteers were actually amazing. Their dedication, their energy, their heart….WOW!

I can’t tell you enough how great it was, except by telling you that I got so inspired to join and volunteer next year! It’s simply not enough for me to bring my kids there, wait and pick them up again. I want to be a teacher (and a dancer) too!

So to Pastor Carlo, Lea, Grace, Leni, Merlee and all the staff and volunteers who labored out of love for God and His children, thank you! You guys are the best! 🙂

FEATURED, Spiritual Family

Christmas Traditions 2

Victory Alabang’s November 18 Christmas Traditions event was such a fun, informative and inspiring time. The bibingka. The decor and the ambiance. The music from the choir. The home schoolers’ bazaar on the side and the younger home schoolers’ musical number. My Father’s House kids’ blessing trees. Prizes and giveaways.

Not only did we learn what Christmas traditions to start, how to start them and why we do them, nor did we just pick up gift wrapping and table setting tips, we also learned some simple delicious holiday recipes from Chef Len Santos-Ding!

ASIAN NOODLE SALAD
4 servings
Ingredients:
200 g glass noodles (sotanghon)
hot water
1/4 cup carrots, grated or cut into strips
¼ cup red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 Tbsp green onions, minced
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup toasted chopped peanuts
Dressing:
½ cup oyster sauce
6 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp calamansi juice
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
pinch of chili flakes or fresh chili

Put noodles in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water, let it stand until just tender; drain and set aside.
In another bowl, mix all dressing ingredients together.
Toss noodles with the dressing, vegetables and herbs, leaving enough vegetables for topping. Arrange on a plate. Top with the rest of the vegetables and chopped nuts.
Salad may be served hot, room temperature or chilled.

COFFEE RUBBED CHICKEN
Ingredients:
Rub mixture: (good for about 4 kilos)
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 c brown sugar
½ cup instant coffee powder
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Ground black pepper
2 Tbsp salt

1 k chicken thighs
¼ cup canola or vegetable oil

Mix ingredients for the rub mixture and keep at room temperature in a well-sealed container.
For 1 kilo chicken pieces, use ½ to ¾ cup of rub mixture. Rub the spice mixture on the chicken pieces. Add canola oil. Marinade for about 2 hours or even overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Arrange chicken on a baking tray, skin side up. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the chicken is golden-brown and cooked through. Baste occasionally with the pan juices. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for five minutes before serving.

BANGUS PATE
Yield: 2 cups
Ingredients:
1 bar cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup all purpose cream
2 cans bangus in oil (or Spanish style)
fresh herbs like basil or dill (optional), to taste

Separate bangus meat from oil (do not throw away bangus oil). Remove skin and bones from bangus if any. Mix softened cream cheese, cream and bangus together. Mash well with a fork. You may also use a food processor. Add chopped fresh herbs. Keep the mixture refrigerated. Serve with crostini or crackers.

VANILLA PANNACOTTA
6-8 servings
Ingredients:
1 1/3 c fresh milk
1 cup heavy or all purpose cream
1/2 c sugar
3 tsps Knox gelatin
1 tsp vanilla
1. Prepare and measure all ingredients and equipment.
2. Mix the gelatin with 1/2 cup fresh milk.
3. Combine the rest of the milk, 1 c cream, and 1/2 c sugar. Cook over low heat until simmering.
4. Add fresh milk and gelatin mixture until completely dissolved.
5. Strain.
6. Cool for about 10 minutes. Add vanilla OR other flavors.
7. Pour into molds and chill (or freeze).
8. To unmold, dip in warm water.
*can be chilled (covered) for 1 week or frozen for 1 month.

Mango Sauce

1 cup mango juice
6-8 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in water

Boil mango juice with sugar. Thicken with cornstarch. Cook till it boils again. Strain. Cool. Transfer into a squeeze bottle. Serve as a topping for pannacotta.
*use within 1-2 days

ENJOY! 🙂