What a joy it is to remember the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ -- that He came to save those who repent of their sins and trust in Him; and that He is coming back again to complete the eternal redemption of His people!
2009 was a full year for our family. We started it with our bi-yearly vacation to the Philippines in January. We got to visit our Filipino side of the family. It was wonderful to see every one healthy and happy! Papa and Mama (76 and 66 years old) celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. We truly thank God for blessing my parents with a beautiful marriage! On the last few days of our 21-day trip, we led a conference of 120 pastors and church leaders. We spoke on apologetics regarding true and false conversion and use of the law in biblical evangelism.
Late this summer, we finally got rid of our purple carpet! We updated our house. The renovation went well and we are very satisfied of how it turned out. Paul worked so hard and excellently in lacquering our woodwork and repainting our walls. Love the wide linen white wood trims! The red kitchen! The humble gold living room walls! The ice blue master’s bedroom! Izzy loves her prominent pink room! And yes, we love our new pattern-textured light gold carpet!
Last month, a follicular nodule in my thyroid was removed through surgery. It was scary being that it was my first time to undergo a general anesthesia. But it turned out well. My surgeon did a wonderful job! I am so blessed to have the most loving and supportive family, friends and church! Surely, God’s hand has been upon me, in healing me and helping me learn to trust Him more than I ever did before.
We can’t thank God enough for all the blessings He has poured upon us. Isabelle turned 3 and she sure is a darling! She has just started to pray on her own for her meals and before bedtime. She loves to sing and dance. She still loves Dora and still lines up stuff in the house. Oh, and she had her first (ever) stage performance this year. She was in a Charlie Brown Christmas play at our church as a Woodstock. It was so fun to see her perform! On the other hand, Paul’s painting business is still blessed with jobs even with our present economy. Paul and I continue to desire to grow in the Lord and be used for His glory. We enjoy our regular witness trips to Crystal Lake Beach and every opportunity we have to speak to people.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family! Paul and Dina and Isabelle
It feels great waking up in the morning in our bedroom in the main floor. Hubby finished repainting it the other night. He did the bath last night. We are so happy with the new colors on our wall. Isabelle's room also has a new dramatic color on the walls. The girl has been really excited, even though at one point, she pretended to be crying not wanting to let go of the lavender color. Funny.
We can't wait for all the projects to be completed. Right now, we still have plastic taped on the walls in the living room, dining and kitchen. Somehow, we managed to be able to use the areas even with all the stuff hanging on the walls. Thankfully, we can use our bedroom, Izzy's room and bath now. We had to be able to make our bedroom in the basement ready for our guest who is coming today from Malaysia. She will be living with us for three months.
We are waiting for our friend to finish the work on the ceiling in the main floor. After that, hubby repaints it and the walls. Finally, new carpet will be installed. We are getting there. Hopefully, the entire project will be completed a week before my surgery, so I can at least enjoy the new look of our main floor.
Our family is currently camping out in our basement because the main floor of our house in under a few renovations. We can't wait for the work to be completed. It has been a little inconvenient to see most of our stuff in the closets upstairs jam-packed in the basement. Our pool table downstairs is holding a lot of clothes. Last night, I couldn't help being bothered by the sight of all the clothes on the pool table that I covered it with a big window scarf. It just looked so disorganized... plus Izzy's toys are all over the floor. I started to breathe better as soon as I was done covering the clothes.
I really thank the Lord for the sunshine today. The last few days was a little bit depressing being that we were not able to go out because of the weather. We were stuck in the basement. Actually, living in our basement is not bad at all. It's nice to be able to use our guest room, bathroom and living room in this floor for a week and a half now... it feels like we are in a hotel. What's even nicer is that I'm so close to Paul's office, which vacant space I turned into a craft area. Izzy and I just need our afternoon walks and we are fine. But the cold, windy and rainy weather the past few days kept us inside most of the day.
Last night, hubby informed me that there will be a little delay on our re-carpeting. We chose a really nice texture-patterned carpet last week. The carpet store had to order it and it's not ready until 10 days. That only means that we will be in the basement until at least the 20th of this month. I'm a little worried now because we are expecting a guest from Malaysia next week. I just hope that we could at least make our house look decent before she arrives. Hubby did say that for major changes like what we are doing in our main floor now could sometimes take 6 months, so to have it for less than a month is really good. So, I guess I have to gird myself up for this. But the thought of having a new beautiful look in our house excites me.
What we are doing in our main floor are the following:
1. Replace all doors with a Alder doors. Hubby (THE painter) already stained and lacquered it. They look so sleek.
2. Replace all the woodwork with Poplar wood. The woodworker should be able to complete it today. Tomorrow, hubby starts enameling it. We decided to use linen white paint versus plain white. The woodwork is double the width of the previous one and is very smooth.
3. Finish the process of changing the ceiling from popcorn to knock-down.
4. Paint the walls... with bright colors. I am a fan of bright colors. I like to say, cool neutral colors are boring and that they aren't really colors. I love deep colors... but they must not be in a primary and secondary color wheel.
5. Improvise a multi-media furniture from the cherry-lacquered furniture we already have at our house for our main living room.
6. Re-carpet. We are so excited about our new carpet. It's top-of-the-line texture-patterned carpet. Thanks to one of hubby's friends who is a re-modeler, we got our carpet very affordable. Otherwise, there was no way we would go for it for its cost. Blessings come in different forms!
7. Replace cabinet doors... may not happen before this year ends though. We are not sure whether to enamel or lacquer the cabinets. If they are Alder doors, I would definitely want them lacquered. Otherwise, enamel is pretty too with a deep bright wall color.
I blogged about my health issues here and I wanted to make a quick update on it mainly for family and friends around the world ;) and for anybody who might have the same experience. I definitely welcome encouraging comments and stories.
Anyway, I saw my surgeon last week for consultation and she did a very good job of explaining the whole surgery process on my neck. She seemed to be well-experienced in her field. Before meeting her, I was hoping to see someone older (anywhere between the ages 40-50). For some reason, that's of importance to me. I already had a sense of trust in her being that she was recommended by my endocrinologist. Meeting her in person for the first time, gave me a comfortable feeling that she would do a great job. She mentioned that the procedure would last from an hour to an hour and a half. It's gonna be a lobectomy. This is the case where the entire right portion of the thyroid would be removed. And while I am asleep, they will do several biopsies of the part that would be taken out to find out if there is any malignant cell, which she said is a very slim possibility.
We scheduled my surgery on the 6th of November. A week before the surgery I must have a general physical evaluation to make sure I qualify for the procedure.
The anticipation of an up-coming surgery isn't very pleasant. But I am thankful to the Lord for the courage He gave me to choose that route rather than waiting for another 6 months and then go through a repeat process of tests, which my endocrinologist gave as another option.
I have a month to gather more strength from the Lord before my surgery. And to pray that my surgeon's hand would be guided by the Lord.
We celebrated Izzy's 3rd birthday with P's side of the family much earlier this year. The whole family got together two weeks ago for the party. We also celebrated the birthdays of two of Izzy's cousins. I got to make the cake which Izzy especially requested. She wanted the ice cream cone butterfly cake. She saw it from my cake recipe book. Too bad I wasn't able to take photos of all of the ice cream cone fun cakes... Izzy's cousins couldn't wait to pick their favorite design before I could get a chance to take the photos. Yeah, the little cakes came in different designs- butterflies (Izzy's favorite), flowers and I even made a lady bug. I will probably make another one on Izzy's actual birthday.
Our little girl was so excited to get a couple Veggie Tales DVD's, Kailan and Mr. Fluffy's Bakery set and a Kailan doll for gifts. Of course her favorite is the Kailan doll.
When we went to the state fair on the second time, the Treuenfels (friend Maricris' family) were with us...
Friend Cris and me
The sweetest roasted corn I've ever had!
Izzy and her daddy and Cy and his daddy went on the giant slide! Rides... rides... rides...
My second grilled Turkey Leg!
Friend Maricris, her kiddos- Cy and Jo and Izzy and Me.
We were met by a huge robot at the entrance of the fair. We are still wondering if there was a man inside the robot. He did a conversation with Paul. We don't know if that's possible for a robot to actually carry a conversation like that.
Paul loves the chocolate-coated fruit slices on a stick. Izzy's favorite thing to do at the fair is watching horse show. She could basically sit watching the Rodeo, especially, for hours if we let her. It was so fun. I enjoy it a lot as well.
A pose with Simon, the black sheep. It was nice to see the sheep at the animal barn.
The butterfly nursery was also fun to visit. Izzy really enjoy that experience. She couldn't believe butterflies would freely come to her and stick with her until she pushed them away.
Love the big crowd at the fair. More than a hundred thousand people visit the fair each day.
I'd come to the fair excitedly mainly for the grilled Turkey Leg on a stick! Super yummy!
Randy, P's brother, came with us on our first visit.
I've been very healthy. I try to be disciplined in eating well and exercising every morning. I am not a big sports person. I swim. Work out. Walk as much as I could. Bike for miles. Play basketball and table tennis. But I don't do sports competition. I wouldn't be seen me in a triathlon or in a basketball competition(although I kind of did that when I was in Mongolia). Despite all the efforts done to keep me fit, I am not a hundred percent perfectly well. I have struggled with a couple issues regarding my general health.
Right after I gave birth to my daughter, Izzy, Bell's Palsy hit me. Thankfully, it didn't last long. I had it for only a month. It was frightening! It felt like it would never go away. One month felt like forever. It deformed my face like crazy. I was sad but was able to overcome the frustration that came with it by God's grace. A couple months passed after the Bell's Palsy disappeared on its own, I had my friends over for lunch at my house. One of them was a Filipino doctor. She noticed that the right side of my neck was abnormally bigger. I quickly checked the mirror and realized that it's true. My neck was bigger than it normally was! My husband and I went to our doctor in Fairview Ridges for consultation. She confirmed that my right thyroid was enlarged. She recommended me to see an endocrinologist, which we did immediately.
My endocrinologist said that there was a nodule in my right thyroid and it has to be biopsied. Ultrasound-guided biopsy would be the only way to know if the lump was benign or malignant. Being that I was nursing my daughter during that time and was planning to nurse her until she would turn three, I didn't want to do anything that might have divided my attention as a new mom. I had the issue of my enlarged right thyroid at rest. Somehow, I wasn't worried. I did well in enjoying my life as a full-time stay-at-home mom. I knew that once my daughter was completely off from nursing that I would start dealing with my own physical condition.
Two and a half years had passed and it's time to see my endocrinologist again. She noticed that my neck was a little bit bigger than when she saw me last. Once again, she recommended an ultrasound-guided biopsy immediately. And I was ready for it.
I had the biopsy last week. It was somewhat scary. The ultrasound technician, the nurse and the radiologist were super nice. The very young Chinese radiologist stuck a total of 4 very tiny needles in my neck. The first one was the Novocaine to numb the nodule area and the next three needles were to draw sample cells. It went well.
The biopsy result came in yesterday. All the sample cells turned out benign. Praise God! However, my endocrinologist gave me two options... one, wait 6 months for another ultrasound; two, surgery. I am leaning toward having the nodule removed as soon as possible being that it is getting bigger. As it gets bigger it pushes in and will cause me more dry throat. Yes, my voice has been really affected by the nodule. I've noticed how I lost my voice after singing or teaching Sunday School. I've been struggling with forcing my voice out at times. My endocrinologist explained that it is the lump in my thyroid that has caused this.
My perspective about sicknesses has been checked. I used to persistently pray that God will take away all of my physical problems. And there's nothing wrong with that kind of prayer because it is God's will that His children enjoy good health. But the prayer has to have, "Your will be done, Oh, God." I have learned to pray for more of His grace and strength to carry me through most trying times. God is my Jehovah Rophe yesterday, today and forever. However, there are times that He uses sickness to build our character in Him.
Many of us don't act differently than those spoiled brats. We only want to eat what is sweet. We want God to remove every uncomfortable and painful experience. Apparently though, God uses painful experiences to make us become more like Him. Character is being built up and solidified through trying times. Thus, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:1-4
What would have happened if King David did not run and join the Philistines, his enemy, when King Saul and his men hunted him down?
I was amazed to hear another perspective on this account in King David's life. I heard one speaker said that when David ran away from King Saul and his people for his life and eventually joined the Philistines forces, he was actually taking a detour in his life. The detour was not originally planned by God. As a matter of fact, during this several-month detour, sons who later despised him and caused tragedy in his household were produced. King David was discouraged! He was scared to death! And he fled from the land that God promised him to be king. What would have happened if he didn't escape? We all the know that David was already a hero even in his youth. People loved him! Do you think they would not protect him from the hand of Saul? But wait, what happened to the priest who gave David holy bread and Goliath's sword? Oh, he and his entire clan were annihilated by King Saul. I think the people already knew that King Saul had totally lost his sanity and was capable of killing anyone who dared saved David. (my idea) No matter what the situation was, I believe that God had another way to preserve King David, without him becoming a fugitive.
I love the analogy of this perspective as we apply it to our walk with the Lord. There are times that we find it hard to wait upon the deliverance from God and instead we resort to create our own solution for our problems. And as we detour from the Lord's will, troubles are being produced. Some of the sad results of our failure to wait upon God do not arise until later. How tragic it was for King David to have a son like Absalom, who started a coup against his own father. He betrayed his own dad. Absalom, was one of David's sons during the time that he was a fugitive... sons who brought him so much pain. How frightening it is to take a detour in our walk with the Lord.
Our church held a conference last weekend. It was a three-day meeting. Pastor Hilton and his wife came from Tennessee to minister. Mrs. Hilton is quite the singer. She ministered us through her beautiful singing. She sounded pretty much like Kathy Trocoli. I admit I am not a big fan of Trocoli because her range is too low. Mrs. Hilton though, despite her limited range, she has a beautiful voice when it reaches higher. Anyway, it was nice to hear a recording artist sing. Not only that, she was such a good encourager. Pastor Hilton, on the other hand, was a bold, anointed and cute-humored speaker. I found his style very nice. He spoke clearly and effortlessly. His message was very clear and straightforward. We are so blessed to have him speak four times.
During this conference, our church also commemorated its 65th year anniversary. It is amazing to know that with in 65 years, the church only has 2 senior pastors, the founders and the pastor at present who was the founder's associate. It speaks a lot about strong commitment on the part of the pastors and the faithfulness on the part of the members. We are so thankful we are a part of this church.
Paul and his softball team got to play with other really good teams in Minnesota. The games were up in Brooklyn Park. While Paul was playing softball,Izzy and I were at the fair by the softball fields. Izzy enjoyed the fair so much. She got to pet animals, bounce on jumper combos, ride the kiddie train and even had her first horse-back riding ever! That was a fun day, except that Paul's team didn't win in any of their games... that part was absolutely a bummer.
On our family date at Lord Fletcher's Restaurant, we had an expensive dinner... We were basically happy with the food but when we saw our check, we sighed. I could definitely make that kind of meal for 10 bucks but I guess we were actually paying for the place. It was not bad after all because we don't eat out that much and it's a pretty place by Lake Minnetonka. Plus, we got to see our neighbor and friend, Kelly, played beach volleyball after we ate. Oh, and the minute her team won their game, the thunderstorm blew hard on us. Paul managed to run to get our car and picked us up at the main entrance of the restaurant. At the scale of 1 to 10, that date was a 9.
It took me a while to really think if I want to apply for US citizenship soon or not. I figured out that it is really want I want to do. After all, my husband and daughter are American citizens. I guess I was not ready to deny my Filipino citizenship until now.
Today, I am printing the application forms for US Naturalization. I am planning to fill up the forms and send them to the USCIS as soon as possible.
Today, Pa turned 76 years old. I called and greeted him this morning. Izzy sang him the "Happy Birthday" song and recited her new memory verse. It touched my father's heart.
Thinking about my father reminds me of God's faithfulness. Five years ago, Pa suffered from Tuberculosis. The disease ate up his weight. He became smaller and weaker each day. We were so worried and thought that he would die with it. It was also the time when he decided to give up his church to my oldest brother. His retirement from being the senior pastor didn't help him. I guess he missed preaching at church every Sunday. I was positive that he didn't miss the administration part of his pastoral ministry because he always didn't enjoy doing that part. When he finally gave in to our (his children) demand for him to see a physician, he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. We were all very concerned. Good that the government in the Philippines provides free treatment for TB. We have no idea where he got the disease. With our oldest brother's help, Pa was able to avail the free medication. Pa's very disciplined personality helped him take his medication every single day. Lots of prayer and the medication took the TB completely away from his system after three months. The treatment was supposed to work after 6 months of religiously taking the pills every day. Day by day after the TB was gone, his strength slowly came back. His appetite also came back. He started gaining back the weight that he lost over a couple years period.
One day when I called him, he said that he is amazed at how his body is gaining back strength that he never thought possible for an aging man like him. He said that the strength from his youth has even doubled in him now. We got to see the evidence when we flew to the Philippines six months ago. We were amazed that he even climbed a mountain with us! He is really excited about his renewed strength. We encouraged him to go back into preaching. He was even more excited. Now, he preaches on air via DXGB every morning. What is more amazing is that he chooses to walk 3-4 miles early in the morning everyday to get to the radio station and back. He said that he noticed that the more he walks the stronger physically he becomes. It is also a perfect time to have conversations with the Lord.
His story has continued to amazed us of what the Lord can do in His people's lives. My mother is the same way. She suffered from heart and skin problems and is now completely free from them without the help of any medical specialists. God is awesome. He blesses my aging parents with good health and, most of all, joy.
Talking to my mom and dad this morning was such a breath of fresh air. It is so nice to hear my mom talk for an hour. She just has a lot of stories for me. All stories are of God's loving kindness. It was also wonderful to hear Pa's youthful golden voice. Yes, his voice has not changed over the years. That is one reason why many people love to hear him on the radio. At home, he's always the "man of a few words". But when he is preaching, he is so equipped with words... not just words... but words full of wisdom because they are from the Word of God.
I am so grateful to God for my father. Pa provided us a silent yet strong and wise leadership growing up. I don't have any memory of him spanking me. Well, he gave my mom all the right to spank me and my sister. He did spank my brothers. He just thought that a strong man should not spank a weak little girl. Makes sense. But he never failed to correct me whenever I needed it. I have so many memories of him holding me as a little child and praying for me. I can also remember how he told me of his wonderful dreams for me. One of them was to see me someday playing the piano. I failed him. I didn't make that particular dream come true. But he didn't mind because all of his other dreams for me came true.
Pa is my earthly savior. As a toddler, I lost my life one morning. Pa and Ma found me literally dead on the floor. He picked me up and begged God to give me back my life. And... God did! Oh, the whole village was celebrating when my dad told them about it. When I was nine years old, I drowned into the river while swimming with my brothers and sister. Pa, who was at a conference nearby, left in the middle of his sermon, obeying a still small voice to go look for his little Dina. He found me... drowning. All he could see was my long hair floating on the river. I was already unconscious after I gave my life up to Jesus. A great swimmer, who had already saved a few people from being drowned in the ocean, my dad dove and swam into the river to rescue me, not wasting time to take his tie and dress shoes off. He successfully saved me! What a father he is!!! I want to say he is the reflection of how God is as a father to His children but it is not right for me to even compare God's perfect and matchless love.
I have more to say about my Papa. But maybe I should stop here for now before our house become flooded with my tears.
We had our church picnic last Saturday. P's mom and dad drove from Winona to go with us to the picnic. It's a once-a-year thing and we like them to come with us to fellowship with our church people. Picnics are a really good avenue to know our brothers and sisters in the Lord more. I like conversations in an informal setting... over food, yes. I was hoping I would be able to play volleyball, but it seemed like nobody from my age level was interested in it. So I talked to friends and cheered for Izzy and Paul more than play. Isabelle was in a few-meter sprint race, blowing bubbles, tug of war, and candy hunting games. It was cute. Paul was playing with the "men".
This is how I do "picnic"... sitting pretty! Musical friends... Julie and Diane (daughter and mother)... P playing with the men. Izzy in a sprint race... Izzy and her grandma making cookies...