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A shower of blessings for the Negis

27 Mar

We attended their wedding in June last year and now we attended a baby shower for them.

Emcees for the party.

Our friends Shyam and Christy are now expecting a baby boy. Their friends from the Connect Ministry (GCF’s ministry to workers in the BPO industry) organized a shower for them yesterday to bless the new family with love, prayers, and gifts.

There was a game for you to guess what gender will Shyam and Christy’s baby be.

It was just a simple party. Aside from the usual stuff (i.e., a couple of games and some snacks), Shyam and Christy revealed the gender of their baby through a gender reveal announcement. I’m aware of and familiar with the current trend on gender reveals and how it’s becoming a normal part of baby showers but it was my first time to attend one where there was an actual gender reveal announcement so I was excited about it. They’re having a baby boy, by the way.

Showers of gifts.

Of course, the party would not be a shower without the “ceremonial” gift-opening which was more or less the highlight of the event. We also showered the new family, of course, with prayers which Eugene led. We especially prayed for a safe and healthy pregnancy for Christy and the baby as Christy is experiencing some difficulty with her pregnancy.

Caption to the video above: I clicked on the record button too late to capture the start of the gender reveal announcement.

But what I find to really be the highlight and most meaningful during the celebration was when Christy shared the story behind the name they will give to their baby boy due in May. Christy shared that they will name their child Noah because Noah (in the Bible) was described as a “righteous man, blameless among the people in his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (Genesis 6:9). This is inspite of “how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth” (Genesis 6:5) and how “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence” (Genesis 6:11). “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). He was chosen by God to preserve the human race and eventually to save men through Jesus Christ. (Read the story of Noah here).

Showers of prayers and blessings.

And so they are blessing their child to be named Noah because when the time comes (when earth will be more wicked and corrupt than now), Shyam and Christy want their child to be like Noah, a “righteous” and blameless man who will be used by God to save people. Wow! That is a very powerful blessing to your unborn child.

Shyam and Christy with their Connect family.

(And that is also why the theme of the shower is Noah’s Ark).

Shyam and Christy, we pray for God’s mercy and grace to be upon you and Baby Noah. May God’s favor be indeed upon him and may he indeed grow up to be a righteous and blameless man in the sight of the Lord.

Eugene and I with the soon-to-be-new-parents.

We are rejoicing with you as you enter this new chapter in your life. We will also be here for you to walk with you in your parenting journey.

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Pastors and wives retreat: David in the wilderness

21 Jan

We left the house at 6 AM because the car we used was under the coding scheme on Monday, the first day of the retreat, so we need to be out of the streets of Metro Manila by 7 AM. The retreat doesn’t start until noon so we had breakfast and hanged out first before going to CCT. It was so cold! It’s Baby Carissa’s 4th time to be in Tagaytay but our first time to take a picture with Taal Lake in the background.

It’s our nth time to attend the GCF satellite-wide pastors and wives retreat but it was our first time with a baby. We had Pastor Carlos Peña as our speaker for the second time around (the first time was in 2014) and at the same venue in CCT Tagaytay.

Our speaker for the GCF pastors and wives retreat, Pastor Carlos Peña. His sessions were short but very meaningful. I heard he’ll be going to the US very soon for his next assignment. Photo by Ruth Dizon.

This annual retreat is something I look forward to attending every January because it gives us a break from all the ‘work’ we did the previous year and it is very timely to be fed by The Word as well as a start for a new year. This year, Pastor Caloy spoke in four sessions on the life of David in the wilderness, a place where you don’t want to but sometimes find yourself in. I’ll try to capture (major ideas in summary) as much as I learned and can remember below (because it is quite difficult to listen and focus your attention when you have a hyperactive baby with you attending the sessions).

Sharing and praying time after every session. Photo by Pastor Jojun Loanzon.

Session 1. Wows/Wonders in the wild

1. When David had two rare opportunities to kill Saul, Israel’s king, who was trying to kill David (1 Samuel 24:4, 6).

  • At first look, it seems that it was a divine opportunity, that it was God’s plan and God’s will for David to kill Saul since David has been anointed king, but he discerned much better (1 Samuel 26:8, 9-11).
  • Not all rare opportunities are divine. Love your enemy, trust God in His timing.
  • There is a sense of holy in the ordinary.

2. When David flees from Saul and reached a dead end, he allied with the Philistines, an enemy (1 Samuel 27).

  • There is no comment in the Bible why David did such.
  • Sometimes we find ourselves in unwanted territory/unappealing circumstances brought by ourselves or providentially. In such cases, we should rely on God. Do not compromise, rather, choose righteousness and stay faithful. There are no right answers all the time. Take each moment at a time.
  • There is a sense of mystery in the messy.

3. When Saul finally died (a very gruesome death), with his son Jonathan, David’s friend (1 Samuel 31).

  • Istead of rejoicing that he can finally take his place as king, David mourned and grieved genuinely (2 Samuel 17 – 27, The Mother of all Laments, as our speaker describes it).
  • As king, there is a new life for David. All things do come to an end.
  • There is a sense of destiny in the story.

The pastoral life resembles the wilderness, but it can be a graceful, hopeful, and joyful experience. It is a matter of perspective. We must not escape but rather embrace it.

Hanging out at Starbucks. The schedule of the retreat was very relaxed it affords us time to go out of the venue. We are the young pastors and wives of GCF, that includes our Senior Pastor Larry Pabiona with his wife as well as Pastor Erik Dizon and his wife. Photo by Ruth Dizon.

Session 2. Women in the wild

1. Abigail: The peacemaker (1 Samuel 25).

  • David had been watching and protecting Nabal’s property and sheep (v. 16), but when he asked a favor from him, Nabal refused to grant it. David then prepared to attack and kill Nabal and his servants (vv. 21-22).
  • However, Abigail, Nabal’s wife, tried to pacify David and sent him gifts (vv. 28, 30-31). David did not attack Nabal then.
  • There is beauty in the midst of the ugly.
  • An appeal to a higher calling: to diffuse anger.

2. Bathsheba: The power broker (2 Samuel 11).

  • David’s use of power was evident when he sent for Bathsheba. However, when she became pregnant, Bathsheba ‘used’ her power to break David’s. She sent for David as if to say, “You’re dead, I’m pregnant.”
  • An internal war/battle waged inside David whether to hold on tighter to his power or to let go. He decided to hold on tighter (vv. 14-18).
  • Warning to unbridled power: like money, we need to manage it. It is great but it is also a temptation.

3. Abishag: The presence (1 Kings 1).

  • When King David was dying, he was reduced to a problem to be solved (vv. 1-2) and an opportunity to be seized/an instrument for someone else to assume power (vv. 15-17).
  • Abishag, however, was the only bright spot in David’s deathbed. She served and attended to him. She saw King David as a man to be served with no other agenda (vv. 4, 15).
  • The ministry of being there (serving).

Group picture of GCF Center and satellites pastors and wives during the retreat held from January 16-18, 2017 in CCT Tagaytay. Photo by Pastor Jojun Loanzon.

      (I was not able to listen well in Sessions 3 and 4 so below are Eugene’s notes).

      Session 3. Wimps in the wilderness

      Wimps are people with different agendas, motives, purposes. The story is about Joab, Abner, Baanah, and Recab and their cycle of silly games and vengeance in 2 Samuel.

      • Revenge + Insecurity + Personal ambition = Death.
      • Though wimps are accounted for in God’s economy, they can never destroy your faith-journey in Jesus.
      • Be wary of people who look after your interests but not God’s.
      • God’s way isn’t just about destiny, the journey is just as important. Wimps are instruments to mould you. The journey is not from Point A to B but from Point A to being B.
      • Don’t wait for the opportune time before you take God seriously. There’s a good chance circumstances will not get better, it might only get worse. Start life right now, don’t wait.

      Pine trees!

        Session 4. Wind and whirlwind in the wilderness (2 Samuel 13-19)

        The story is about rape, revenge, rebellion, revolt, retribution, ruin, and regrets in the life of David and his sons in 2 Samuel.

        David as a father failed because he was:

        • Out of sight
        • Out of sync
        • Out of shape

        The lesson: when pushed into a choice, always be a great parent. You can settle to be a mediocre pastor or anything else but always choose to be a great parent.

        The retreat ended on Wednesday noon. Because we switched vehicles which was under the coding scheme again for that day, we needed to stay out late before heading home and be off the streets of Metro Manila not earlier than 8 PM. Our friends accompanied us to kill time and hang-out. After we left CCT, we ate merienda in Paseo de Sta. Rosa, went (window) shopping in HMR, then ate dinner and had coffee in Nuvali. We went home very late still not wanting to go home. Haha! Photo by Phoebe Rueda.

        A baby shower for Andrei Nigel

        15 Jan

        ​We threw a baby shower for our fellow pastor’s wife, Nikki, wife of Pastor Gelo Tuanqui, yesterday. We held the party at Pastor Manny and Ate Tintin Enriquez’s house in Quezon City.

        It was just a short and simple party where we played a couple of games, had fellowship over food (of course), and, where we gave the soon-to-be second-time mom words of encouragement for the upcoming birth of their baby boy. Nikki is due very soon now.

        The soon-to-be second time mom, Nikki, with Ate Betty, wife of Pastor Sam Rendal. Photo by Bettylyn Rendal.

        What I find the most meaningful part during the shower was the short ‘devo’ given by Ate Ruth Dizon (thank you, Ate Ruth, by the way). She shared her experience when she became a first-time mom in her early 20s, how she was so clueless how to care for a newborn, that she went through PPD, and that she was fearful of so many things, one of which was the desire to be in control of her kids (two boys). But as she grew as a mother, she learned to release them to the Lord in faith. She said that the fears in raising kids will always be present, but we can find comfort because God will care for them even in the tiniest detail of their life. He is in control. I like the hashtag Ate Ruth used to caption our group picture she posted in Facebook: #ParentingInFaithNotFear. Indeed, raising a child in this fallen world, it is very comforting to know there is a God we can cast our fears to and put our faith on.

        Those who were veteran parents among us also shared some of their experiences of going through a difficult and painful time with their children but those trying times were, eventually, used by God for His purpose.

        Ate Ruth also shared ‘A Parent’s Prayer‘ by Pastor Arnel Tan which was taken from his book ‘The Language of Grace: Meditations on Prayer.’ I quote below…

        A Parent’s Prayer

        Abba,

        It is so comforting to know that You’re a parent, too. The moment You gave us our kids, You gave us a rare chance to know Your heart a bit more. The responsibility of rearing our children is immense; and our task to guide them through life is even greater.

        We come to You for mercy over our tendency to rule without relating. We ask You for grace so we could learn how to respect, and gradually release our children to become the persons You designed them to be.

        As parents, make us willing learners. Make us alert. Help us to not repeat the abuses in our past. Make us humble to admit the mistakes of the present. Make us confident in Your sovereignty as we face the unknown realities of what’s ahead.

        Grant us children who will do their best for Your glory. Don’t exempt them from pain, but equip them with faith so they may learn to depend on You. In the busyness of our lives and in the unbelievable demands of the urgent, teach us to be still and know that You are God. Give us the will and the wisdom to be truly there for them in times of crises, and of celebrations.

        Lord, when the time comes to give them up to marriage to the spouse they choose to love, help us to delight in releasing them so they can soar high on their own. And in the twilight of our parenting years, fill our memory banks with pleasant thoughts, with contagious laughter, and with hearts grateful for the privilege of becoming parents. You allowed us to see a glimpse of Your heart when we became parents ourselves.

        In the name of Your son, we humbly pray, Amen.

        Pastor Gelo, Nikki’s husband, prayed for her, to cap the night off.

        Group picture. GCF pastors’ wives showering Nikki with words of encouragement, prayers, and gifts for their soon-to-be-born Baby Boy. He will be named Andrei Nigel. What a very lovely name. Nigel is a combination of the parents name, Nikki and Gelo. Photo from Nikki Tuanqui’s Facebook.

        Ministry from the inside-out

        29 Jan

        The past three days was not only a welcome retreat but a much-needed Sabbath (which was, very aptly, the first session during the retreat). I am grateful for the break from the daily grind, for God’s Word, for the fellowship, the fun, for the open space and nature, and, yes, for the very cold weather in Tagaytay.

        Ptr. Caloy Pena came all the way from Singapore to encourage us with the Word of God.

        Ptr. Caloy Pena came all the way from Singapore to encourage us with the Word of God.

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