14 Best Things of 2014

 2014 was a year that brought challenges to us especially with my health and our relationship, but more than those challenges are the blessings that came. I remember an inspirational video that I watched before, that when there are challenges that come into our lives, a blessing of more value is about to arrive. And when our Heavenly Father, the giver of life and the one true giver of blessings showers blessings upon us, we can expect His generosity and abundance!

With everything both trials and blessings I just want to Thank you Lord for the year that was.

As I would say, also in my entry, 12 Best Things of 2012, There are so many things to be thankful for, a single blog entry would not suffice. So though there were countless blessings in the year 2014, I would just want to share the best 14.

14. Winning 1st Runner Up in Toastmasters Area Competition

I remember that Jason and I just wanted the competition to be over. We were shaking in our boots! Our Toastmaster club didn’t have a representative for the Area contest and since Jason was the president then it was his duty to represent.

It was both our first time to join a Toastmaster speech contest and I must say it was really out of our comfort zone. Imagine speaking in front of people scrutinizing and judging your vocal variety, gestures, speech content, choice of words, delivery, impact etc. We were speaking in front of both seasoned and new Toastmaster speakers and judges so we were quite anxious about being “graded”.

Jason participated in the International Speech category while I participated in the Evaluation Contest category. We tried as much as we can to prepare for it but of course the actual scenario of going in front is another thing. Praise God for giving us the courage to overcome this public speaking challenge revealing to us that this contest is not the end goal but rather to improve our speaking skills as we participate in the building of His kingdom.

Praise God also as we both landed a winning spot of 1st Runner Up 🙂

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13. Summer Art Workshop in KILA school

An opportunity came along from Jason’s good friend, Noemi when she invited us to teach Art Lessons in her school. Jason graduated Fine Arts in UST so I guess that makes him qualified for the post. 😛 But seriously my husband is a very good painter and I am still impressed whenever he sketches or paints and teaches me to improve my artwork.

I am grateful to Noemi and I am also grateful for the opportunity that my husband and I can work side by side teaching kids. He as the teacher and yours truly as his assistant. I am grateful to God for helping us visualize how our partnership would be like in teaching our biological or spiritual children. It was a 10 session Summer Art Workshop at KILA in Cainta, Rizal. After graduation I kind of missed them.

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12. Vienna Teng

VIENNA TENG. I am such a huge fan. Ever since Jason introduced me to her back in 2006, I’ve discovered my liking for that kind of genre. It was our courtship and dating music. Every time I rode Jason’s car before when we were dating, Vienna Teng’s music was playing softly. And last August 2014 I was so glad and grateful that she came here to the Philippines to hold an intimate “concert”. It took me back to those days in 2006 and I was ecstatic that now we are husband and wife and we got to listen to her live.

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11. New Friends (Couples D Group, Mixed DGroup)

In 2013 we prayed hard for a couples DGroup or a Bible Study and Accountability Group. It was a tough prayer to make since we were already attached to our Singles DGroup friends but we knew that we needed leading as a married couple. I am so grateful that last March 2014 we were led to Ptr. Jon and Coco’s D12 and we have been blessed by their teachings, testimonies and friendship. It was truly an answered prayer. Married life is rewarding but it is challenging at the same time and we know that we need to be guided and surrounded by fellow believers to protect our marriage.

We were also able to have an initial meeting with our Dgroup friends, Marge and Fiel last December and I am very grateful for their testimonies and stories. I pray we can share our walk with God more this 2015.

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10. Batulao Adventure

My husband prayed for an adventure in Batulao. And we did have an adventure together with our good friend Toneth! The trekking was supposed to take I think 4 hours up and down (please correct me if I’m wrong) but we doubled the hours!

well no this wasn't the adventure

well no this wasn’t the adventure

Why? Our trail caught a forest fire and we didn’t know how we would go back! We had a choice: 1. Wait until the forest fire dies (indefinite) and the possibility of it lasting until night time 2. Go through the tall grasses (talahib) and brave our way through their thorns.

We opted for 2. So we slipped and slid and gained piercing thorns in our arms, fingers and legs. ouch. But then again, my husband got his prayer and this Batulao adventure became a memorable one.

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9. Prulife UK Early Achievers Club

This was totally unexpected. Jason told me to aim for just sharing the benefits of Prulife UK and hopefully and prayerfully have 1 sale a month. But God is faithful and He blessed me with more. I was surprised to find out I qualified for the Early Achiever’s Club and received an award last June 2014 and this January 2015 the Achiever’s Club. Praise God!

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8. La Union – Baguio Trip with FFG

I am grateful for the bonding with FFG as we moved from a sunny climate in La Union to a colder one in Baguio all in one weekend. I am glad we had the opportunity to spend the weekend together, celebrate Tine’s birthday, catch up on each other’s lives, pray, and enjoy eating together. It truly is a treasured moment with them that though we already moved out to another Dgroup, I’m glad to keep the friendship.

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7. Honeymooniversary in Phuket, Thailand

My doctor told us to postpone our Phuket trip since I might have an emergency there and might get rushed to the hospital due to my condition (more on this in #6 🙂 ). But prayerfully we discerned that my condition wasn’t that kind of “emergency” matter.

So off we went first time as Mr. and Mrs. Tan to travel outside the country to spend our first year anniversary. I was so grateful that the visitors in the romantic resort we chose, Baan Yuree Resort and Spa opted to spend their day outside that we had the luxurious 3 part pool all to ourselves. What joy! We lounged around nary a care with the world.

I am grateful for the bonding moment with my husband, getting lost with him and finding our way back, experiencing Phuket beach and enjoying authentic Thai food which I love.

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6. Surgery Success – it wasn’t cancer!

Only our family and a few of our trusted friends knew that I had to undergo surgery. We weren’t sure if my condition was the Big C and the only way to find out is to undergo an operation. We were in and out of the hospital taking lab tests and looking for 2nd until 3rd opinion. It was an emotional roller coaster and more than the lab tests it was a test of our faith. Will we still trust in and even praise God even at times of difficulty? But truly trust and faith will only be known and proven in the midst of trials.

 I’ve never had an operation before and the anticipation of finding out if I was safe from cancer was overwhelming that time. It was 3 months of waiting. In my quiet times of prayer, I would pray hard to God that at first it would disappear, and when it won’t, that it wasn’t cancer when I go under the knife. Jason would pray with me and cry with me. It hurt me deep inside to see him cry. It was a challenging but blessed moment in our life when I look back – how he carried me emotionally through those times. I knew that If God wanted to heal me, He would. But He didn’t because He had a purpose.

Praise God that it wasn’t cancer! I am very grateful for this test because only then was it revealed how much of a doubter I was and how I need to increase in my faith and trust in God. I am also grateful that God saved me from the illness.

I am most especially thankful to my mom who helped Jason with the paperwork and her unconditional love for me. For Ate who prayed and comforted me, I felt her love all the way from Singapore. Mommy Darling who even consulted Drs. in the US regarding my condition, and who comforted and reassured me all throughout the ordeal via Viber. Papi Ceferino and Mami Juani who prayed for me.

Thankful to Ninong Andrew, Ninang Julie, Mika, Nicco and Makee+ for visiting me and sending me beautiful peach roses! Thankful also to Tita Billie, Tito Jim and to Daddy Manoy who helped me stand up on my last day at the hospital. Thanks to Tita Yen and Angkul who were there almost everyday to support me, my mom and they also brought me soup for my initial soft diet.

For FFG friends Leanne and Julius who visited me at the hospital and brought me fruits; Gerald who was my first visitor (who isn’t a family member), who brought me fish congee! yey! just in time for my soft diet then and some noodles for Jason I guess. :p Fr. Dodoy for bringing me tea bags as the Drs. said i can initially have tea. Achi Susana and John’s visit and the soft bread they brought. MJulz for visiting and Tine for bringing me rainbow looms to do during recovery. Ate Nang and Kuya Nelson, and thanks to Julius.

I knew it was a work day for Julius but he went out of his way to be there during the operation (3 hours), to support Jason and pray for him and me.

Most of all thanks to Jason for enduring those moments with me and caring for me and bringing me gorgeous yellow and red roses I am really thankful to those who visited and prayed for us; Mimi and Lors, Toneth, Mama who was at home as well as Jason’s parents and siblings who prayed for the success of the operation. Grateful for Mommy Julie for referring Dra. Matteo to us who introduced us to Dra. Decena, my surgeon who is honest and reliable.

I now have a C-section cut, though they didn’t take out a baby. The cut is now a scar and it reminds me of my struggle with God and yet how He was still faithful and gave us grace to spare us from the illness. (More in another entry)

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5. Xiamen Family Trip

I am grateful to God for Jason’s parents for modeling how to be gracious and generous parents that we can strive to be like them someday. I am grateful for the bonding and the quality time, for getting to experience China and exploring and food tripping with my favorite lifetime travel buddy. 🙂 It was a merry Christmas indeed. 🙂

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4. White Cross Storytelling

We are also grateful for the opportunity to minister to the children at White Cross orphanage thanks to Diana Ong for sponsoring the event as celebration for her birthday. Jason and I had the chance to share the gospel to the kids through a wordless book. It was a blessed moment to see them enjoying the activities and having fun with their ate’s and kuya’s in costume.

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3. Testifying in Grace to Be Born 

It was a struggle to expose myself and my story, but I am grateful for the opportunity to share God’s grace in my life. I am glad to share my story as part of my mom’s story in Grace to Be Born, a halfway house for soon to be mothers. Thank you to Rey Pineda for inviting us. I was anxious to share our story but God impressed in my heart that it wasn’t mine, but His story for His glory.

2. Milestones

2014 was a year of milestones.

Just a side note, turning 27 is no big deal, but I feel that it is one thing to be thankful for. (I don’t know where to place it but I’ll just put it in this category). To survive the ordeal and spend my 27th birthday with my loved ones – my family and friends. And with my husband who planned quality time for us by reminiscing our wedding moments as we didn’t enjoy Crowne Plaza’s facilities on our wedding day, ending it with a celebration with family and friends. Thank you Lord for these.

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I am grateful to God for the life of my mom and her modeling of unconditional love for me and my sister and showing us what sacrifice means. 2014 she turned “nth” year and I am grateful for her health, her encouragement, support, faith and wisdom in life.

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2014 was the year my grandmother turned 80! We were able to surprise her together with family and friends and it was pure happiness to see how much she teared up with joy. Priceless! I am grateful to God for my grandmother, her good health, skills in cooking (the only person i’ve seen who cooks with much hard work due to love) and keeping us filled in our bellies, her grace and faith.

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I was also privileged to witness the reception of Tita Bem’s and Tito Efren’s marriage of 40 years which is celebrated through a renewal of vows. Wow what a milestone! It made me hopeful that even if the world promotes division in marriage and even if divorce is left and right, there are still the ones that last for a lifetime.

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1. Only by God’s grace, a sweeter marriage

Lastly, I am grateful to God for 2014 for giving Jason and I more time to spend with each other and create memories together just the two of us. To iron out our differences, to discover the heart of each other, to see each other at our worst and still commit to one another, and to bear each other’s burdens.

2014 was a year when our non-negotiables were challenged and our answer is unconditional love and commitment.

2014 I felt the “in sickness and in health” vow of marriage was slightly tested. After the operation my immune system seems to be weakened. From November to December I experienced various illnesses every week and Jason was there to see me through it like what he vowed on our wedding day. (I praise God for you and I pray you stay this way 🙂 )

With 2014’s challenges I realized it is only by God’s grace that Jason and I are together and loving and respecting each other more than the year before. I am grateful to my Lord and I can only pray that our marriage be stronger and sweeter always than the year before.

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With the trials and blessings, I have nothing left to say but Thank You Lord for 2014.

I pray that you would all have a blessed time this 2015 walking with the Lord and spending with your loved ones!

Have a Blessed New Year! 🙂