Misua Again?

Chinese vermicelli, product of the Philippines – in short, its Misua ๐Ÿœ. One of the easiest and most prepared soup in my parents house when we were growing up. I remember I use to always complain and say, “Misua na naman”? (Misua again?) And my Ma would always explain that this is what they could afford at the moment. And then she follows up with a promise to make some chicken or fish when my father gets his next paycheck. My parents were poor, but I just love how my Ma can make something so good out of ordinary noodles and vegetables. 
And since I missed a planned trip to the newly opened Filipino Seafood City in Chicago due to an all day headache, I decided to make this noodles that’s been sitting in my pantry for a while. And it sure brought back happy memories of my mother who was the best cook ever! Now, let’s see if I am able to duplicate her recipe of this, which I don’t think I can๐Ÿค”. But either way, I think it will be perfect for this very cold night. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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The Proposal

Getting my Christmas decorations ๐ŸŽ„out from the storage room – slash – cleaning out stuff as well, and found what I’ve been looking for for so long! ๐Ÿ˜ตAhh. Nothing fancy about it but this old picture of my husband is very special. After 3 years of dating and praying and waiting – he flew to the Philippines again, bent on one knee and asked me to be his wife. I had tears in my eyes, but of course, and obviously – I said yes ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿค“. And although this picture is only a reenactment of the original proposal – it put a smile on my face to remember that moment and how my heart was beating so fast. I’m just thankful I said yes. And I’d gladly do it again if I have to. ๐Ÿ’–โค๏ธ๐Ÿ’–

Time in the Word Brings Joy and Freedom


Spending time in the Word doesn’t always come easy for me. I need to constantly remind and push myself to make it happen. And the joy that fills my heart when it happens is something I will never trade for anything in the world. There is joy and freedom in our pursuit of God, and He meets us there when we seek Him.And I am always also reminded by the constant question my Ma use to ask me when she was still around – If you were on a trial for being a Christian, would there be anough evidence to convict you? Barbara Rainey of Family Life Ministries explains what I fear when I do not push myself to spend time in the Word. And thankful for group of beautiful and godly women who I can journey with in studying His Word.

“Many of us do not really know what we believe in. LIke a cork in the ocean, driven and tossed by the waves, we bounce from opinion to opinion, influenced more by the last book we read than by a lifetime of biblical study. We’ve become activity junkies, seldom stopping long enough to decided what really matters to us, too busy to determine what’s really worth living for, let alone worth dying for. As a result, we live our lives based upon “near beliefs.” Near beliefs have enough truth in them to sound strangely familiar to convictions, yet they’re too weak to inspire us or our actions. Too anemic to influence us to make a decision that demands sacrifiice…When near beliefs are our only source of motivation, tough stands are never taken, feathers are never ruffled, and absolutes are held very closely. Without core convictions to help us navigate, we stand uneasily on shifting sand, and we lack the solid footing with which to stage a life of principle and character.”

When He Was Born

Shepherds in Jesus’ day were at the bottom of the social ladder. They were marginal and disdained. But God announces the birth of King Jesus to them first and it is through them that other people learn about the birth of the Messiah, as relayed in the book of Luke, chapter 2. ๐Ÿค“
Fun time this morning during our Sunday school class as we re-enacted what the Shepherds were doing the night when they were out in the open fields, (probably star-gazing), and when an angel appeared to them to announce the great news of Jesus’ birth. What joy it was to take a closer look of the coming of the Messiah – it felt like we were transported back in time as we ran around the room- rushing to see the new born baby, catching our breath like how the Shepherds did when they reached the place where the baby was. God’s promised Son was born – and He is the Light of the world.

Every child is precious. Love the Children’s Ministry and the amazing things that God is doing – but also now praying for the next ministry God may lead us to serve next. We are excited. Pray with us! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป

He Shows Up When We Look Up

Last week was probably the week when I looked up to the sky the most โ€“ both during the day, and at nightfall. I say that because I have taken more than 150 pictures of the sky with my phone, (not including those ones I took from my husbandโ€™s phone when we were out together and when we were home). I actually shared one photo on Facebook last week about that one night when I spotted my husband while he was viewing the waxing crescent moon and the passing clouds at dusk from our living room window. Beautiful view. So beautiful that I found my feet glued to where I was standing and quietly enjoyed the view myself. But more than the feelings of awe that covered me as I stood there โ€“ there is something more special that I felt. I felt a sense se of security and peace to know that the One behind the vast sky that I behold with my very eyes, is standing there and is looking back at me – more mindful of me than the beauty of the young moon and the boundless sky. David, the shepherd boy in the Bible probably felt something like this when he wrote this in Psalms 8:3-4โ€ฆ

โ€œWhen I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,

the son of man that you care for himโ€?

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My husband viewing the waxing crescent moon from our living room window.

 

In his introduction of the first of three elements on how to create a conducive environment to our spiritual growth as part of a new series on transformation, our church Pastor shared how the first half of Psalms 19 talks about creation and what it reveals about God, and then it transitions to the importance of truth that can be found in Godโ€™s Word as you read through the rest of the passage. It also felt special when he said that creation is like Godโ€™s invitation for us to come to Him and get to know Him better. Have you ever received a wedding invitation or any invitation for a special event? You would notice how the invitation cards are designed elegantly and are usually made of special kind of stationery paper and with highly decorative handwriting on it. Such effort is exerted for a wedding invitation because this serves as the first glimpse of the event which conveys a message that this is something very important and not to be missed. Itโ€™s kind of the same with how God invites us through His creation so that we would come to Him. He mixes the colors of orange, red, yellow, purple to paint a beautiful sunset. The intricate design and jaw-dropping beauty of Godโ€™s creation declare that this could not happen by chance. There is an important message behind it and it is Godโ€™s way of directly speaking to us โ€“ inviting us to draw near to Him. This thought blows my mind away. That the God of the sea and the dry land invites me and offers me the opportunity to witness His glory with every wind that blows, and with every bird that sings, with the morning sun, with the moon and stars at night, with every pound that the waves of the sea make against the rocks, and the changing sky above our heads. How awesome is that, and how can one decline such invitation. The works of His hands are expressions of His glory โ€“ and should not be missed. Psalm 19:1 clearly states that.

โ€œThe heavens declare the glory of God;

The skies proclaim the work of His handsโ€.

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View of the sky from the train tracks by our neighborhood.

 

 

A few months ago, I had the privilege of sharing with my Pastor about a family situation when my father was hospitalized and my siblings and I were left to make some crucial planning and decisions. Yes, big words. And we are a big family of many different perspectives and opinions. You can easily guess what happens next when we all get together to talk and figure things out. Everybody insists that what they have in mind is what needs to be done. It was a difficult moment of taming the tongue โ€“ and most of the time, our conversation did not end very well. I shared with my Pastor how I participated in those strong arguments and he encouraged me to ask for forgiveness for hurting their feelings with my words. I remember how I nodded in agreement, but deep inside I felt a certain amount of resistance because what he was asking was too difficult for my hardened heart to give in to.

 

I took a deep breath before I hit the answer button on my phone when my brother called me a few days after. After he relayed what the current situation is about our father and that all seems to get well in terms of his health โ€“ with a broken voice, I started to ask if he can forgive me for saying hurtful words towards him. I rehearsed the rest of what I wanted to say but he cut me off to say that he should be the one to apologize. He said he is taking the full responsibility of why our meetings and discussions were messed up because of his failure to listen and extend understanding โ€“ especially with me who live the farthest from everyone. I am thankful for this sweet reconciliation.

 

In his email reply after I shared that great news, my Pastor wrote that it sounded like God really โ€œshowed upโ€ in my phone conversation with my brother. I so believe He did. God meets us there when we step out in faith. As I stood behind my husband that night in our living room, and while looking up to the night sky, God brought me back to remember how He โ€œshowed upโ€ in our family situation and how He humbled and healed our hearts โ€“ and restored my father to his health. Every day of last week, whenever I look up to the sky, God shows up. He tells us that He is near, watching over us, shows up when we face difficult situations and invites us to come to Him. He shows up when we look up.

 

Time in the Word – and Basketball

Time in the Word this morning โ€“ and it was a little struggle because I couldnโ€™t get my mind off of game 7. ๐Ÿ€ So I ended up praying that the Golden State Warriors will have a sweet home victory against the Cavaliers in spite of Lebron being – Lebron. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ
King David defeated Goliath (1 Samuel 17), and Abraham believed the Lord (Genesis 15:6)

The latter verse is actually what my time in the Word is about on this beautiful Saturday morning while I sent my husband to wash the cars โ€“ and it also happens to be the memory verse for my Sunday School Kids last week. Oh, and I have a really sweet Sunday School blooper/story that I have been wanting to write about and I will tell you the best ever excuse from not being able to write it yet โ€“ NO TIME. ๐Ÿ˜›
But back to the Wordโ€ฆโ€ Abraham believed the Lordโ€ฆโ€ Just when I thought we are on the right track that God had somehow, all of a sudden, allowed some more of lifeโ€™s stop signs, and detours, and changes, and more changes redirecting your footsteps to something that you do not and cannot know yet. And the only word left to speak for me from the past week was โ€“ wow. And so today, while preparing the rocks we collected from the river bank for our Sunday School Kidsโ€™ Fathersโ€™ day craft for tomorrow โ€“ the lesson asked me to review our memory verse. I read it aloud more than once, and then another, and it felt like the words came off of the handout and danced in a wave kind of motion right in front of my very eyes. I felt comforted. I had tears. I felt peace. ๐Ÿ˜ŒPeace that comes from believing that God knows what He is doing โ€“ and that whatever He does is perfect. 

Abraham obeyed God because he believed in Him. And God blessed him in the end by giving him his son back. Obedience brings blessings. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ I have seen this so many times. And still sometimes, I tend to forget๐Ÿค”. But thankful this morning, for a timely reminder through Abrahamโ€™s obedience and faith. ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ’–
Go Warriors! I told you, canโ€™t get it off still โ€“ and canโ€™t wait till game 7 is over. No more overthinking please. Happy weekend y’all! ๐Ÿ˜˜

Aunt Pat

Aunt Pat! ๐Ÿ˜„

Gino’s aunt, Aunt Pat, is a happy aunt๐Ÿ˜„. We took her out earlier today to eat and to just spend time with her on this beautiful day. She has been forgetting things too quickly lately. She forgets my name and Gino’s like every 3-5 minutes and we had to re-introduce our names and tell her who we are, again and again – yes, every 5 minutes or so. Whenever she realizes who we are, her face lights up in excitement and says, “Oh yeah, Gino and Mona! How are you guys? It’s so nice to see you. It’s been what, 2-3 years”? We had to remind her we were just with her yesterday, and then she realizes and says, “Oh yes of course, I did not forget that”! ๐Ÿ˜‰
And then she calls us different names again, so we had to start over again and kind of like do an F5 key or click the restart button๐Ÿ˜Œ. That is pretty much how we spent the whole 2 hours that we were with her. And I loved it the whole time๐Ÿ’–. Because I love beginnings. I love introductions. I love F5’s and restarts. She reminds me to never lose joy and passion in knowing or discovering something new and to not be afraid to start over again ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ’–. With the whole Franco family grieving for the loss of uncle Frank, her cluelessness deviates us a little bit from such an overwhelming sadness to a hope for new beginnings. ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ’ž
She is precious and we love her and we are praying that even when she forgets our names – she will always know in her heart, what her mind can not remind her, that she is precious and that we love her. When we took her back to the home, she told us we are her family and that she will never forget us. I just nodded – because I will cry if I try to say something and ruin the beautiful time we just shared๐Ÿ˜Œ. And I watched her and my husband held hands together as they walk away. ๐Ÿ’–

Uncle Frank


We were sitting at a dear friend’s wake last Wednesday evening when we learned that Gino’s uncle, uncle Frank, passed away. Our already grieving hearts turned even heavier to receive such news. I froze for a minute after my sister-in-law and I talked over the phone about it. Interestingly, my husband was just telling me Monday to not make any plans this Saturday because we are going to spend time with him in the hospital where he was confined. He planned to play more of uncle Frank’s favorite music and just grab some lunch around the hospital area. 

Uncle Frank holds a special place in our hearts. Him and aunt Connie. They were one of Gino’s family who welcomed me with open arms and made me feel so at home. They have very pleasant personalities and there is never a dull moment with them. I also appreciate how they were there for Gino when he got sick last year to help In taking him to his Doctors’ appointments. They were almost like 2nd parents to Gino. 
Uncle Frank also served in the US Navy and was stationed in the Philippines in the 1960’s . He has stories about my country more than I do! And I love that he regarded me like his own – almost making me feel and claim like I am his long lost daughter ๐Ÿ˜Œ. ๐Ÿ’– I will never forget him and his gentle countenance and so this is my loss too. When Gino briefly shared the gospel to him last Saturday and when asked if he wanted to invite Jesus in his heart – he said yes. Gino prayed with him which makes it hard to feel too sad because we know he is with Jesus now. But its still a loss and it hurts to say goodbye – because he was a good man and we will greatly miss him. ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ’–

How 1st John Reminds me of Her this Mothers’ Day

I am a daughter and I am motherless – for about 14 years now. ๐Ÿ˜Œ 
But everyday, I celebrate the wonderful mother that I once had. ๐Ÿ’– And before this Mothers’ Day end, I also want to pay tribute to her because she loved me and prayed faithfully for me to become the best woman that I can be. In my almost 7 months of study on 1 John in the Bible with godly and wonderful women at our church from October last year, I’ve had many moments when I saw and remembered how my mother was so much like the apostle John. She had the same passion in proclaiming the truth and had always warned me to be careful on who I listen to – like how John warned believers about false prophets and antichrists. (1 John 2:26, 4:1-7) John also like to call or adress believers as “little children” and this reminded me so much on how my Ma would always also call me “anak ko” (my child) ๐Ÿ’– Beautiful study of 1 John that led me to remember with great joy – the wonderful journey I had with my Ma. ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ’ž
So cheers to the mothers who have gone before us. As a symbolic Mothers’ day greeting , my husband and I flew 2 balloons for his mom and mine earlier today. ๐Ÿ˜˜
And this concludes my week-long vacation. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ Goodnight world, and happy Mothers’ Day. โœจโ˜บ๏ธโœจ

Don’t Stop Even When There are Detours…

So proud of this man ๐Ÿ˜˜. Two Thursdays ago, he surrendered his At&t IDs, company laptop, phone, building keys, and parking passes back to the company after a year of being out for disability. He worked for At&t for 20 years. His long term disability application was denied and is officially not with At&t anymore – again. ๐Ÿ™ The first time he got cut from the company, he waited 4 years for them to hire him back. We don’t know how long we will wait this time. What an unexpected surgery has done right? But no – we believe God has His plans and they are perfect – and He could be in the process of unfolding a new chapter in our lives. We also have high hopes a second appeal will be granted – which is already in the works. And I love that despite the denial of his request – he never loses his inner joy in him. He was thrilled to show me that he made copies of his ID’s as remembrance for that last term. Personally, I want him to retire already and do other things that interest him, like arts, sports, and the like. But he loves electronics and he is the best Telecomm Specialist! ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ๐Ÿ’–
The next day however, an electronic company that At&t referred my husband to, called him back to say that they want to hire him. To cut the story short – after passing interviews and tests – he is officially starting with them next Monday. And his new office is just 2 blocks down his old building in downtown Chicago. Hence, our supposedly scheduled vacation in June to the Philippines for our 10th year anniversary was moved to this week instead – and the reroute to Washington DC and neighboring States๐Ÿ˜ฏ – which I am loving so far. ๐Ÿค— ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š
God is faithful and He answers prayers. ๐Ÿ™๐ŸปSometimes sooner, sometimes longer, sometimes He even allows detours for us to learn to honor and appreciate His perfect plans for us. His itinerary includes STOPS that encourage your journey. What can we ask Him that He hasn’t given yet? He has given more – and has done much! And my soul is so satisfied. For His love satisfies. I can only give Him all the praises and glory, with tears in my eyes. ๐Ÿ˜”
“Continue praying, keeping alert, and always thanking God.” – Colossians 4:2