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 
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 🙂
Just My Thoughts, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Spiritual Family

VBC 2013

It’s been a week since Victory Alabang’s Vacation Bible Camp and my kids still sing and dance to the songs! I have LSS, last song syndrome, of the songs too. Even as an adult, I am so blessed by the lyrics. The worship song Master of the Universe ministers so much to me. Another favorite is God Does Miracles.

Like I said in my previous post, Danae and I volunteered to be part of the dance team. What we did was lead the kids to dance to the songs of this year’s theme, Cosmic City. We danced the theme song on stage, and danced it, along with other songs, in the classroom. There were 5 groups of kids — the 4-year-olds (Noelle’s group) named Red Comet, the 5-year-olds named Green Planet, the 6-year-olds named Yellow Star, the 7-year-olds (Danae’s group) named Blue Moon, and the 8-to-10-year-olds named Orange Sun — who came into our room. We had time to teach the kids around 3 to 4 songs per group. We danced practically all morning for 3 consecutive days!

During lunch after the third day, our Kids Church pastor Ptr Carlo Santos thanked all the staff and volunteers for their contribution to make the whole event a success. He thanked me too for being involved, and I just smiled because I didn’t really know what to say, until now.

I am so grateful for the honor and the privilege to serve again in Kids Church. You thank me, but I really thank you more, Ptr Carlo, Merlee, Grace, and Leni for allowing me and Danae to volunteer! Teaching the pre-schoolers was my very first ministry involvement when I became a Christian and an active member of our church 12 years ago. I love Kids Church! I was so inspired by last year’s VBC that I made sure I volunteered this year. It was my first time to be part of the dance team, and I loved every single minute of it! It was tiring but it was so much fun and so rewarding, seeing the kids enjoy praising God through their songs and dance moves.

Some of us ladies experienced health problems before or during the event, but none of it stopped any of us from showing up and dancing. I just want to honor my team mates for honoring their commitment to God and to the kids. I am so blessed by you!

I have truly missed being a volunteer! Not that I don’t do anything in church. As a pastor’s wife, I am a full-time volunteer. But there’s just really nothing like volunteering with church mates, making new friends, bonding with them, working together, learning and getting impartations from one another. I love being part of a team and “getting down and doing the dirty work.” Now that my kids are older, I can actually do more of it and get them involved as well. I am excited for more!

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35 ESV

Master of the Universe

You are the Master
Of the universe
Of the mountain, seas and sky
You’re the Master of
Every beat of my heart
You put rainbows in my eye

You’re the God
Who keeps on loving me
No matter what I do

In Your world without end
You call me friend
Oh Master I love you

God Does Miracles

My God does miracles
He is strong and powerful
He can do anything
He is Lord of everything

He is awesome
He’s my friend
I can believe in Him
I know that God does miracles

When Jesus was preaching and teaching
A lame man came for healing
Jesus had mercy and forgave his sins
And he could walk again

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Discipleship, Just My Thoughts, My Kids, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Spiritual Family, THE BRAINY BUNCH, YOUTH MINISTRY

What’s The Point?

It was King’s birthday the other day. I was thinking all day what we could do for him when he’d get home from work, until I decided to use the money I had set aside, to give to him as our gift. Noelle told me to just buy him a gift, but I really didn’t know what King wanted. I knew that it was something he was not used to, yet he would appreciate.

I explained to both my girls that the only budget we had for our trip to the mall was for their dad, and that we were not buying anything for them. Danae immediately pointed out that she had money. Noelle also had money. We agreed that they would buy according to how much they had.

King was shopping in the clothes section, while the girls kept pulling me to the school supplies. Danae finally chose a set of oil pastels, which was well within her budget. Noelle chose an art kit, 20 pesos beyond hers. I agreed anyway, figuring Danae’s money would be enough to cover it.

Lining up at the counter, Danae realized that she had left her 200+ pesos at home. She was upset, but I had to remind her of our agreement. I really did not have extra. And it wasn’t the end of the world anyway. She could still get them another time. Noelle on the other hand, had her 100 pesos in her wallet, which she had placed in her bag immediately after we counted her cash. I asked King for the 20 pesos that she lacked.

The whole thing reminded me of what Pastor Steve Murrell shared at our church’s Metro Manila staff meeting regarding passing the baton, after connecting it to a funny experience he and his brother had when they were teenagers. You can run the relay the fastest, but it won’t count for anything if you leave the baton at the start.

Exactly. Danae may have had more money than Noelle, but she got nothing out of our trip to the mall. Since she didn’t have it with her, it was useless.

What’s the point of all this learning, growing, equipping, if we don’t bring it and use it? What’s the point of running the race fast, if we don’t bring the baton and pass it? What’s the point of knowing the Gospel, of experiencing the love of Christ, of learning to live life to the full, of being discipled, if we don’t GO share and teach it to others?

Let’s not miss the point. Let’s not miss our mark. Honor God. Make disciples. #Discipleship2013 #Victory #EveryNation

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Family, FEATURED, Just My Thoughts, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Spiritual Family, Uncategorized

SALTIMBANCO and CHURCH!

We had the privilege of watching Cirque du Soleil’s show called Saltimbanco at the Arena about two weeks ago. As usual, they were amazing! The live music was awesome too. I have seen two shows of theirs in the past, and I can say that Saltimbanco is so much more entertaining than Alegria, which we saw in Singapore. It doesn’t measure up, however, to their Las Vegas show Mystere.

Saltimbanco stage at the Arena
the stage. no picture-taking allowed during the show.

Danae was most especially entertained and got inspired to be in the circus. Noelle decided to take a nap during a fourth of the show. It was their first time. We certainly oohed, aahed and laughed a lot. Then we got a taste of some flood in the parking lot as the rain poured. We managed to stay dry when the unnamed southwest monsoon hit that week, but my Chucks, socks, feet and jeans weren’t spared that night haha.

Some thoughts on the show. The TRUST they had for each other was extraordinary. They leaped into the air, back flipping and somersaulting, absolutely certain that the spotters would catch them WHENEVER and WHEREVER they landed.

There was a part where a girl was on a swing high up in the air. For the first part of her routine, she had no harness on. The spotters below her had a cushion, ready to catch her if something went wrong. They did not look down, not even for a second. They looked up at the girl until she finished. Their eyes never left her until she put on her harness and started swinging, doing more stunts. The girl was assured of her safety, while the spotters made sure she was safe.

It reminds me so much of God and how we can trust that He is always with us as we move, upholding us and giving us the grace we need to do even the impossible. We can absolutely trust Him to catch us when we make mistakes and fall. He meets us whenever and wherever our own faith fails us. His eyes never, not even for a second, leave us. He promises never to leave nor forsake us. More than doing a job, GOD LOVES and VALUES US. When He makes promises to us, He keeps them.

During one of the leaping routines where they would be catapulted, landing either on the cushion or another person, the final person who was catapulted into the air to somersault did not correctly land on the chair that was meters off the ground. We were all surprised and waited in anticipation as she tried it again. When she did it, everyone clapped and cheered for her.

We all, even the best among us, make MISTAKES. When we do make mistakes, it’s not the end of the world. We can pick ourselves up and try again. I realize that most people (not all) won’t boo you or kick you down more to show you what a failure you are. They actually ROOT for you and even CHEER for you when you overcome! I am grateful for the people around me who see my flaws, weaknesses and failures, yet love me, pray for me, encourage me, and rejoice with me.

The circus is made up of hundreds of people, each with a different role and responsibility. Besides the people in the acts themselves, which are many, there’s the band, the camera men who sit beside the lights way above the stage, the light men, the sound tech, assistants, stage director and probably more that I can’t think of. Not all get the recognition they deserve, but they each do their part and they all work together towards one goal: to give us a great show.

It looks a lot like church. We are made up of many people. Besides the pastors and staff, the unsung heroes are the VICTORY GROUP LEADERS and VOLUNTEERS. Many may not always get the recognition or appreciation that they deserve, but we each do our part and we all work together in UNITY towards one goal: TO HONOR GOD AND MAKE DISCIPLES.

Family, TRAVEL

OUR CAGAYAN DE ORO ADVENTURE!

SEPTEMBER 1, WE WOKE UP A LITTLE LATE, LEFT A LITTLE LATE, GOT TO THE AIRPORT A LITTLE LATE. WE MISSED OUR FLIGHT TO CAGAYAN DE ORO….AGAIN! Same thing happened last year when we went for my cousin’s wedding. Ugh! Good thing the bad start didn’t define our entire vacation. WE HAD A BLAST IN CAGAYAN!

Let me start with our family (my dad’s sister and family), who always always takes great care of us when we’re there. Ever since we were kids, we would spend nearly every summer in Cagayan. I learned to swim, bake, play tennis there. We even took English classes and the like. We grew up close to our cousins and would travel places together. There was even a time that my brother and I went to the US without our parents, but with my tita Lucile, tito Rolly, manang Baba and Rando. Today, my cousins and I are all grown up. Manang Baba is now married to a great guy, Desi Fournier, and Rando is dating this mystery girl (hahahaha). Many things may have changed, but the love still remains. King and my girls are experiencing the same love and care that I did growing up. They accommodated us and fed us delicious food in their home (which is really like a 2nd home to me), drove us everywhere, took us to great restaurants, organized awesome activities for us! Not only that, Baba & Desi baby sat the kids while we were out one whole morning, Wowa Lucile gave my girls vaccinations (3 each – yeouch!), and they gave us really really really nice Crocs! 🙂

Hot spots! The restaurants we went to were all in one lane in Lim Ket Kai (a mall). If you like delicious Thai food, go to Siam. I especially loved their bagoong rice, which had green mango toppings. The best I’ve ever tasted! If you want to taste authentic New Orleans flavors, go to Bourbon Street Bistro. The chef/owner is from New Orleans, married to a Cagayan local. I loved their shrimp popcorn, their grilled shrimp, and their baby back ribs with yummy mashed potatoes! For great desserts, salads, snacks and coffee, go to Candy’s, also owned by a Cagayan local. Practically everything I’ve tried there I like, but we always order this 4-cheese spread thing with pandesal and this ball of vanilla ice cream encased by chocolate cake. Really really good!

Another hot spot in Cagayan is my cousins’ CROCS store in Robinson’s, in Lim Ket Kai. They’ve got great new styles for both kids and adults, and they’ve got this awesome promo going on with increasing discounts, the more you buy!!! They also newly opened this wonderful clothes  & shoes store called BLISS, also in Ket Kai, that carries a lot of local brands. Very chic and stylish, yet affordable! Both stores are worth checking out. The times that we dropped by, they were almost always full of customers. I am truly proud of my cousins. 🙂

Cagayan’s town plaza is called Divisoria, which they turn into a night market every weekend, with music, food, and all sorts of other things. We weren’t able to try it then, but we did get to visit the SLERS cafe there. SLERS is famous for its yummy chicharon (pork cracklings) and delicious meat products. It’s locally owned and their products/brand has been around for decades. I enjoyed their pastrami sandwich, and we brought home some of their tocino, longganiza and chicharon! 🙂

Ptr Auggie Rabara took us to another restaurant called Sentro in Divisoria too. We just had a light snack there, but we actually enjoyed their chicken fingers. What makes it more interesting is the fact that it’s right across VICTORY-CDO. They’ve got a beautiful center and a growing congregation! Wish I had pictures to prove it. Wish I had pictures of King preaching that Sunday too haha. 🙂

Adventures! When I was still single, my cousins took us tubing on the Cagayan River. We went through the rapids riding those donut-shaped salbabidas that were strapped together, so we were actually on the water the whole time. It was really fun! I almost even went under one time haha. Oh, I forgot to mention that the starting point of that trip was near a steel bridge, and we had an option to jump off of it. Rando and I jumped off, of course. So I guess you know where Danae gets her guts haha. For our honeymoon, before proceeding to Camiguin Island, King and I went tubing as well, but neither of us jumped off the bridge. This year, we went white water rafting! We were asked if we wanted our ride to be mild or wild. Everyone was willing to go wild, including my 62 year old mom! But my good husband wanted it mild. I guess you know where Noelle gets her timidity haha. To be fair, King was worried about his dislocated shoulder, hence his apprehension to flip the raft a lot. And it was a good call because we saw what the other raft went through! We did flip once, and it was a major major flip! Our raft went up a huge rock before flipping over and spilling its contents (us, the guides and our things) into the water! When I went under, I felt someone’s body on me that pushed me further down. Turns out it was my mom haha. I drank in some river water, but it was cool. It’s not white water rafting after all, if you don’t experience that!

The day before we went white water rafting, we went up to Dahilayan Adventure Park. It was an almost 2 -hour drive, passing Del Monte farms even, but it was really nice! They have pine trees and very cool weather, almost like Baguio. That’s where they have the Zorbit, that big transparent rubber or plastic ball that you get into and roll down a hill. They also rent out ATVs, you can go horse back riding and wall climbing. What we did, however, was the amazing ZIP LINE!!!! The first one, which Danae was allowed to try but as a tandem with King, was long and high enough. The second one, which Danae did solo, was shorter and lower but also fun. The last one we went on was the longest and the highest! We had to leave the kids with my uncle because my mom (yes, my mom!), King and I had to ride this monster truck who had a monster driver haha (he drove fast and hard!), to go up to its starting point. Your blood starts pumping from the ride alone! Super fun!  The zip line is 840M long, and it’s the longest zip line in Asia. Not only that, we weren’t merely strapped and hanging or sitting on our harnesses. We were on our bellies, like Superman! What a rush, whoo! Everyone who goes to CDO must try it. It’s definitely worth it! Check out the videos on the right side of this page! or click here.

Chy

For your white water and zip lining adventures, I highly recommend GREAT WHITE WATER TOURS! Jerome, who has been on tv quite a few times, and his crew have been the ones taking care of us ever since. They’re the best! What are you waiting for??? Book now! 🙂

Parenting, Spiritual Family

EN2010 Through A Mom’s Eyes

We just concluded our 3-day Every Nation 2010 World Conference at SMX last Saturday. What an awesome time, coming together from all over the world as one church, hearing the most inspiring testimonies, learning from the most diverse bunch of speakers ever, and worshiping God in our own ways and languages! Check out the article on Inquirer.

When registration opened, we were out of town, and we asked a friend to register for us, including the kids. It was not cheap, I tell you, but we knew it was best to bring them along. Aside from the fact that we didn’t have a choice on who to leave them with, I couldn’t also bear to leave them for 3 days. The most we’ve left them at home was for about 10 hours, 4 hours of which they spent sleeping. Anyway, going to the conference last Thursday, I was slightly nervous about leaving Danae in Children’s Church by herself. She’s almost 5 and quite independent, but I guess my protectiveness prevailed a bit over my confidence in my daughter. Kids Pastor and our friend, Larry Uy, said  I was more concerned than my daughter was. I kept expecting to see Danae’s name on the screen haha, as they might need me to get her, but Ptr Larry was absolutely right. Danae was perfectly fine in Children’s Church!  She was there for 4 hours on Thursday night and around 7 hours (not continuously) on Friday. She even told me she met new friends. Ptr Larry’s presence there made me even more at ease, too. I’m so proud of her! The problem came only when it was time to go home and she didn’t want to be separated from her cousins. She loves them so much and misses them since they don’t see each other often, that she’d cry every time. Having said that, I am so blessed by the wonderful fact that King’s family is also part of our spiritual family. My parents-in-law served as ushers at the event even. 🙂

So where was Noelle? With King and I, of course! She was manageable enough, except when she started making too much adorable noise or when she started pulling me to walk around outside. It was a riot having her around though. She had really really funny moments! She danced, made friends, charmed everyone’s pants off. Every time she saw a baby at the back or outside, she approached them, pulled her shirt up and showed her tummy for some reason haha. She didn’t stop eating her snacks. When one session was over, her favorite “Aris” (Tito Francis), took a piece from her stash and just held it, asking if it was okay with her for him to eat one. She responded by staring at first, then putting the rest of the cookies in her mouth and taking the one that was in Francis’ hand! Hahaha. She didn’t want to share at all. I saw many dedicated dads and moms alike, taking their kids up & down the escalator to entertain them when they got bored or restless. Noelle loved that escalator! It was a long and fun ride for her. When she got outside, she almost always refused to go back into the huge doors.

Truth be told, I missed some of the preachings and testimonies because I had to attend to Noelle, but thank God for my husband who did not mind doing diaper duty when needed! And because there were times that Noelle was occupied with the music, with eating, or coloring or writing (on the chair even — sorry!), and quietly distracting others hehe, I was able to sit through many of the sessions. I learned a lot, got encouraged and inspired a lot, and my faith got stirred up a lot!

The first 2 days with the kids, however, were extremely tiring for me. I slept tired and woke up tired, especially since on the first night we ate dinner in Makati  really late (MOA was closed & other restos nearby were full) and got home around 2am thanks to SLEX traffic. Poor Danae missed school the next day, which starts 7:30am, because she was also bushed. We let the girls sleep longer so they’d be ready for day 2 of EN2010. But as you can tell from the picture, by afternoon, during the break as we had our early dinner with a friend and delegate from Victory Cebu, Noelle was out cold! We actually decided from the first day that we’d leave them at home on the last day. We wanted the kids to rest and I wanted to rest too. My muscles were aching from carrying Noelle, I lacked sleep, and I just didn’t have the energy anymore. It was the right decision, although we missed them and talked about them constantly, because we were able to spend time alone and I was able to worship and listen without much distraction. And I’m sure the others around us were able to do the same haha, although they did miss Noelle’s presence too.

Looking back at EN07, I remember bringing Danae with us as well. She was 1 year and 8 months old then. This year, EN2010, Danae is 4 years and 8 months old, while Noelle is 1 year and 6 months old. It was definitely inconvenient, but I wouldn’t change the fact that we brought our kids. Even though they don’t actually listen to the preaching of the Word or sing praises to God (well, Danae does now), I believe something supernatural happens in their minds and hearts. We are starting them early, exposing them to the huge, world-wide spiritual family that we have, to praying and worshiping together, and to appreciate the beauty of our God that resonates through and transcends the diversity of His people. We are sowing God’s Word, sowing seeds of faith in our children. That alone makes it worth it! EN2013, God-willing, here we, the Luceros, come! 🙂

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! 🙂