Monday, December 28, 2015

4 Years

Alan and I reached our 4th year wedding anniversary today. Being a wife to my husband each year is wonderful but this year it is even more so. Now that we're blessed to live happily together, I'm getting to know him on a much deeper level and there is so much more of him to love. 

My family, especially my mom, would tell me how lucky I am to meet such a good man like Alan. To me he is a unicorn, surreal, one of a kind. And I have God to thank for that. It can only be God who could adeptly orchestrate uniting two distinct people, who lived oceans apart to be together. When Alan was younger, he discerned to be a priest. Good for me, it was not his calling. On the other hand, when I migrated to the US, I thought I would marry a blonde-hair blue-eyed man. However, our plans are not God's plans. And God's plans are always absolute best. I couldn't be more joyful that I married Alan, a beautiful man, with a heart. My one and only man in the world, the universe rather (O diba feeling Miss Universe haha)

Looking back at the 4 years we've been married, we hardly get into fights. No dramatic, screaming scenes so far. I guess because Alan has the softest and calmest voice in the world, it is close to a whisper so to yell is alien to him. And I like to take my chill pill once a day regularly. LOL. Kidding aside, we are pretty much a great team. We have each other's backs covered. Such that problems turn into sweet little adventures when we deal with them together. 
At the end of the day, when he snuggles at my back, and my body pressed against his, I could not help but feel like I'm over the moon. This warm feeling of blessedness is still surreal...even after 4 years.

Thank you to our dear friend AP, for the photos below taken at Savannah.




Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The bug was back

December is here, and it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. In the front door, there is a wreath hanging filled with lush red poinsettias that seem almost real. In the living room, a cute pink tree pops in, filled with ornaments glistening in every angle. Yes, our first tree is pink and unapologetically so, always what I have dreamed of. In the dining area, another wreath sits in the middle of the table albeit much more special than the one outside the door. It's an Advent Wreath filled with various evergreen, pine, holly, mistletoe and candles. In our family, we feel that it is the most significant decoration of all. More than a decoration, it's a spiritual symbol that has been part of our family tradition every Christmas time. Beginning on the first Sunday of Advent or first Sunday after Thanksgiving, the family gathers around the table before dinner. We light the wreath, we pray and sing together to remind and prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

There are boxes stacked in the corner of my room waiting to be wrapped in pretty papers. I know I will have a lovely time wrapping them up one by one, if only I can find the time. I remember happy stories of my Lola Remy when she used to work at the wrapping section of Bloomingdale's. Each item she would delicately and beautifully wrap and in return she would receive generous gratuities from her gracious customers. It's sad that they stopped doing that now in the malls. Anyway, I don't really mind wrapping. It will always be a sweet remembrance of my Lola Remy.

Christmas parties have begun here and there. I gaze in to my calendar and my weekends are all blocked! I have one this weekend and another one on the next. Both are potlucks. I know the oven will make a great companion through the course of this holiday season. 

Food food food. Holidays are always a good excuse to mingle and overeat. Except in Alan's case. Over the weekend, we attended various holiday get-togethers and from one of those, he developed a stomach flu. It's draining and it's painful but it's not as bad as his previous flu back in July. My poor hubby got the bug back. He stayed home on Monday and rested. I also took a day off to take care of him. 

I ponder on today's gospel, Come to me … and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28). Perhaps God wanted us to take a break from the restlessness this holiday brings. Although it wasn't the kind of break we wanted, God knew it was the only way that could allow us to receive his rest and rely in his comfort.. Even for one day. All day, my attention and care was all for and consumed by looking after my husband, holding on to God's mercy and grace and not by the holiday frenzy.

Time runs fast. But I hope December will be kind and will run slowly so I could enjoy and spend time with all the people that truly matters. 

It makes my heart swell with so much gratefulness that Alan and I are together this Christmas. Yesterday, he asked me what I wanted to get for Christmas and I couldn't think of anything else. Maybe the reason is I have already received that one thing on top of my Christmas wish list for the past few years, that he and I would finally reunite. Thank you Santa, thank you Lord!


Monday, November 9, 2015

The Beauty of A Christian Marriage

It's one thing to marry your spouse for the first time and another thing to marry your spouse all over again. There's something romantic in saying "I do" for the second time after being through every difficult situations. Choosing to marry the same person, accepting all their imperfections and forgiving them for all their shortcomings has never been sweeter.

Over the weekend, Alan and I attended the CFC's Marriage Enrichment Retreat 1. (There are 3 series I believe). We were tremendously blessed to have been invited to this kind of retreat as we were profoundly enlightened on our roles as husband and wife, on how to communicate effectively, on how we could build our homes for God and on how we could pastor our future children as a team and with the grace of God.  Unfortunately, our household leader has limited us on sharing the details so we don't spill out all the exciting things that are in stored to the future candidates. But basically, it was such an awesome experience. Really a priceless investment of our time and money.

My decision to marry Alan was the best I have ever did in my life. We are married for almost 4 years now and there's not a single day that I have regretted marrying him. Even when he forgets to throw his dirty clothes in the hamper, even when he forgets to flush the toilet sometimes haha. Especially that we live together now, our relationship is a lot vulnerable to quarrels, misunderstandings, and disappointments. But at the end of the day, we choose love. And by loving each other, we honor the Lord. The God that brought the two of us together for his glory. This is a marriage that is saved by God. Without him and without his humble teachings, this is not possible at all. We couldn't do it on our own strength. It is easy to take each other for granted. It is easy to become selfish. It is easy to judge and irk each other. It is easy to surrender when the going gets tough. But because the Lord is our core, we have a marriage that is enriched with love, understanding, grace, respect, and forgiveness. Our marriage is not perfect, but by God's grace it is perfect in every way that matters.

In the world we live in now, marriages are being constantly attacked by the evil one. And that's why I'm grateful to be part of a community that makes us thrive to have a holy marriage. I'm grateful that we have shared this event with our friends who also have the same goal in their marriages. I'm thankful to all those people whom God used mightily to make this event so much memorable for us and a success.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Birthday Prayer

Dear Lord, I give You glory and honor for You are GOOD. Your loving kindness is everlasting. Your generosity abounds and you give great gifts to your children. I could never be grateful enough to You for blessing me with another year. Thank you for satisfying the deepest desires of my heart. No one else but You can supply my needs dear Lord. Thank you for answering my prayers. Thank you for your everyday love validated through my spouse, my family, my friends, and my community. 

Dear Lord, thank you for Your amazing grace and mercy. Although I may be unworthy of Your love, you still love me anyway. That is how forgiving and compassionate You are. Your love is unconditional. How blessed I am to be loved by You. Day by day, I live by your grace. My life is not always happy happy joy joy, but You are my saving grace. You give sense to all life's trials and adversities. You reveal to me the power of prayer. You teach me to hope and to trust relentlessly. You teach me how to be patient and kind. In Your holy words I find comfort. Through your holy words, I am purified. 

Dear Lord, I look forward as I age gracefully to know you more.  I'm thankful for the 29 years worth of love and wisdom You have given me. My heart is full and I couldn't ask for anything more than You to bless all the people reading this blog. May they too experience Your everlasting love! 


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October rambling

This month has always been special to me. Besides of my birth month, what is there to not love October? The mornings are crisp, the leaves are too. The afternoons are warm but not too hot. The evenings are cool but not freezing. We could go days without turning the AC/heater on. What an energy and wallet friendly month! haha.

This month is also kind of sucking me in a whirlwind of activities. Thus explains the sporadic writing. I decided to gift myself a day off today to rest. But because the weekdays and weekends were hectic, I had no time left to do the house chores. Instead of taking the day easy, I caved in to cleaning the apartment and cooking. Sometimes I wonder if I have developed an OCD in me.   

Although I enjoy them, sometimes I still dream of a perfect, chill day. A perfect day would be waking up without an alarm clock, going out for a walk along a trail covered in crisp autumn leaves, stopping in a cafe and grabbing a cup of tea while I sit for an hour to read my bible and meditate. Then I go back home and watch episodes of my favorite tv series. Invite my favorite people over for pizza, lemon pepper chicken wings, and board games. Nothing fancy, just chill.

Going back to the cooking, today I cooked Arroz Ala Cubana. It's a family recipe and a great comfort food. It's made of stir fried ground beef/pork, bananas, eggs (I like mine over easy), and rice. All of my favorite food in one dish. I enjoy cooking. So much so when Alan eats more than I expect. Most of the time I encourage him to eat in moderation which he does so well, but when I cook, that rule doesn't apply any longer.

Other than cleaning and cooking, today has been really a good day! Besides my hour long nap, I got some good news in the mail! Alan's green card finally arrived! Long story short, his initial green card that was supposed to arrive after a month of his arrival unfortunately got lost in the mail. So we had to re-apply, mail another application form, go to the whole bio-metric she bang and pay another ridiculously high fee. What a pain. After 8 months, he finally got his green card. America, you know I love you but this is not a good way to welcome immigrants who strive to come to your country in good order.

Anyway, that's about it for October. Life has been good. Busy but good! 


Friday, September 4, 2015

Moving in

It was a cloudy morning and the sun imposed not to show up. I was worried that the gloomy weather would cripple our plans to move out. Alan and I headed out to the apartment and tackled the final inspection, put down the required fee, and got the keys. It was drizzling a tiny bit. While we were in the car, I kept on singing these words from my mouth: "Push the clouds away and let the sun come our way" in a tune of my own making. Magically, the fat dark clouds suddenly vanished and the sun gloriously revealed itself. Thank the Lord!

Upon stepping my foot inside the apartment, I took some time to soak up the moment. I stared at the white walls (1 free accent wall; Icelandic blue), smelled the new paint, felt the new carpet and hardwood floors. The room was blank like a canvass waiting to be filled with colors, waiting to be showered with life. While the place was impeccably bare and pristine, I gave myself a moment, took pictures and happily  marveled at it's emptiness before chaos took over. 

Then we stepped out and went to the U-haul store. Alan initially reserved a 17 ft. truck. However, we found it unavailable at that day and so they replaced it with a 20 ft. truck free of charge. Puzzled, Alan and I looked at each other as we asked ourselves, can we possibly drive this? Left with no choice and time constraint, Alan got in the driver's seat, said a prayer and carefully drove the truck and ourselves safely home.

When we got home around noon, we found our gracious friends waiting for us. My heart leaped for joy. To say they are our friends is an understatement. They are our brothers and sisters in our Christian faith and therefore, they feel like family! :)

At first, I thought we wouldn't be moving a lot of stuff. We weren't owning any furniture aside from our beds. But as people knew about our move, our boxes started to accumulate. My aunt Ida gave us a set of pretty dinner plates, salad plates and bowls that my Lola Meding bought when she worked in Bloomingdale's. My Lola bought all of her three daughters one set each. A pamana (heritage) we will forever treasure. My aunt also handed us utensils, serving dishes, baking dishes, and other glassware she would no longer need. My other grandmother, Lola Lou, who also moved in to a new place, handed us pots and pans. My mom also inherited my Lola and Lolo's beds and dressers. Lastly and the biggest piece we had to move was a glass dining table set given by my former manager's close friend, Cindy. I can never thank these people enough for their kindness and generosity towards us.

The following day, after church, we took some holy water to use in our simple house blessing in the evening. We invited our Ninong Butch and Ninang Ida to join us for dinner.  Our Ninang Clair and Ninong Vic gifted us prayers and blessings to protect every corner of the apartment from every evil. We sprinkled every nook and cranny with holy water as we said our prayers. 

We're glad that the weekend move went pretty well. 

Day by day, like puzzle pieces, furniture, mirrors, paintings, lamps, rugs and all other bits and bobs seem to fit. As I am sitting in our white Ikea Ektorp couch (which by the way I got for a good deal from a garage sale!) I am still left in the surreal sense that this is now home. 

PS: Thank you once again to my small group, especially to the Tonidos, Dilags, Abellanosas, Masons, and Ton-Leah. Thank you also to the Grutas, Ninong Butch, his brother Ronnie and my cousin Chris for all your help! We deeply appreciate the time and energy you put in on our move. And for all your best wishes and prayers, thank you so much! God bless you all! 


Thursday, August 27, 2015

To our long time host family

Dear Ninang Ida and Ninong Butch,

No words could ever express how grateful we are to you both in opening up your home to us for the past 7 years. We have never felt more blessed to have such a generous and thoughtful family like you. Without your help and guidance, we would not have made it this far. I don’t think we’ll ever forget every good thing you have done for us. 

Ninang Ida- thank you for:
  • Teaching us how to be clean and organized. 
  • The good meals you have cooked for us.
  •  Inspiring us to be responsible and dependable sisters and daughters.
Ninong Butch- thank you for:
  • Preparing our tax returns.
  • Helping us fix our cars and other broken things in the house. 
  • Teaching us how to save money and live better (Walmart?) lol

There are tons of things we are grateful for but most of all, we are greatly thankful for leading us to the community, CFC and inspiring us on how to be good servants and followers of God. 

Inevitably, we do have our shares of misunderstandings and disappointments as well. That's why we would like to take this chance to apologize if there were times we have caused you problems unintentionally. Not all families are designed perfectly but we are perfectly designed by God to relentlessly love and forgive one another. The great thing is we love and serve one God who unites us all and helps us overlook our imperfections. I guess that's the key in keeping a peaceful, gracious, loving and tight family bond.

Also, we wish you well on selling the house and finding a new home. 

As you know, we are just a few minutes away. Please drop in whenever you like, our door is always open. 

Thank you both so much! We love you!

Joselle and family

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Moving out of our sweet spot

We live in a 3K square foot home. When we first moved to Atlanta, we were very fortunate. My mom's sister, her husband, their only son, and our grandparents graciously adopted us in 2008. In Filipino culture, having extended relatives living in one roof is crazy typical.

Tons of beautiful memories bloomed out of this house. My favorites were those of our grandparents and our Saturday brunches. The only time we could enjoy breakfast all together in a week. My sisters and I would wake up early to cook a hearty breakfast. Fried rice, eggs, spam, tuyo, corned beef, kielbasa, longganisa, tocino, and our fave, mala-chicharong crispy fried bacon in flour. Then we would wait for our lola and lolo, our mom and our aunt to come home from their adoration and 9 am mass. In some glorious days, we would take it up a notch and have a little picnic on the deck and reminisce about the good old days for hours. 

There were immeasurable life lessons learned from this house and with a grateful heart, all of those lessons would be carried over to the next chapter of our lives.

Next chapter? Yes! This young wife has some big news to share! Now that Alan and I are together, it just seemed right to move out, move forward and start a new beginning. We knew this day was going to come anyway and we reached that point when we knew we must already begin to stand on our own.

It's always challenging and daunting to move out of our comfort zones, isn't it? However, our hearts are filled with hope and trust that God will always provide. He is with us. He loves us. Even if we can’t see the whole plan, He can. That's more than enough and that's all we really need to know. 

As we begin a new chapter in our lives, we are beginning to see our dreams slowly being made into reality. Wherever God takes us, as long as Alan and I are together, it will always be sweet, it will always be home.

Lake View at Night
Gorgeous lake promising us of many happy days ahead :)

Monday, August 17, 2015


Last week, our eldest sister who lives on the other side of the world came to visit once again. It wasn’t long as we’d hoped for but it was sweet nevertheless.  Because time was so fluid, I took a day off and took the family for a long weekend bonding and family time.
Aside from Georgia, I loved for my sister to see other parts of the US so we decided to take her to Tennessee. From north of Atlanta, it took us 3 hours to get up to the smoky mountains of Pigeon Forge. The view going up was breathtaking. The sky was so immaculately blue and the clouds were as white as cotton balls. The mountains were just full of lush green trees. The air was so fresh, so inviting. We saw animals that we’ve never seen before. We were just left in wonder of how God majestically made all these beautiful things.


While on the road, we talked about life, love, and dreams. We talked about exciting things coming our way. Of course, our road trip won’t be complete without Ate Joyce filming lip sync music videos. She loves productions, always. I remember the days when we would all sing along to the entrance songs of the cartoons we used to watch. And then we would put actions on it and choreographed dances. It was like having our own little Broadway show at the comfort of our home. How fun it is to be surrounded with girly girls.

When we arrived, the first thing we did was go to an outlet mall. Yes, I drove for 3 hours to go shopping because it was my sister’s request. According to her, she held herself shopping for the whole year cos she planned on buying an entire new wardrobe when she got here. Luckily, that weekend was tax free weekend for TN! We spent half of our day there.  Going back to when we were little, our mom would only buy us clothes during Christmas and whenever school starts (school uniforms). The rest of our clothes were hand-me-downs, gifts from our thoughtful families in the states or handmade dresses by our nanay (papa’s mom). We only had a few but enough to get by. As long as they were clean without any holes, we were fine. (Thank God for uniforms).

God has really blessed our family in so many ways. Now that we make our own money, we can make up for things we were lacking before. But still always mindful and grounded by the teaching that we are only mere stewards of God's resources.

Back to our trip, Alan quickly followed right after work. He arrived right in time for dinner and completed my day! 

We made sure that this trip will make us strongly bonded, we booked ourselves, all 6 of us in one room! 2 queen beds and 1 sofa bed. Mom and Ate, me and Alan on the queen and the younger sisters on the sofa bed. We shared one bathroom too! Hair dryer, make-up, toiletries, hair brushes all happily lying above the bathroom counter. I’m glad Alan is always a trooper. He didn’t care. He was used to being surrounded by a lot of hormones. He grew up with 2 sisters and he loved the energy of her 7 lovely Ochoa aunts (his mom’s sisters).  

The next day off we went to Dollywood! I wasn’t aware that there was such a place until my manager recommended it to me. It’s a theme park owned by the famous country singer who was born in TN, Dolly Parton. The park reminded me of Knott’s Berry Farm in California. Anyway, because music is in our blood, we enjoyed the musicals and the shows more than the rides. Did you know that “I Will Always Love You” most popularly sang by Whitney Houston was composed and originally recorded by Dolly? The most thing I was fascinated by Dolly was that she grew up dirt poor. It was just inspiring to learn how she achieved her dreams and still remained close to her roots and to her family. 

Half of the day was spent in that theme park and it was more than enough for us. After eating mostly southern food for the entire trip, we couldn’t wait to eat our favorite meal! So as soon as we hit home, we headed for some Korean BBQ, tofu soup and steamed white RICE. Ahhhhh!

The following day was our last day with Ate. We took her to the airport without saying GOODBYE but till we meet again! 



Tuesday, August 4, 2015

10 Things I'm thankful for my Mother-in-law

1. One bright sunny day, my M.I.L and I visited a tailor who did our dresses for my sister in law's wedding last year. Mommy happily introduced me to the tailor and said, "this is my daughter in law and  I’m blessed to have her". My heart gladly jumped with joy and I said in response, I am blessed the same. I thanked the Lord for that special moment we had.

2. Although she is not my biological mother, I thank her for loving me as her own!  
3. She currently works as a professor in Ateneo.  She teaches English and has a master’s degree! Can you imagine her reading my blog posts and the pressure that I have to make sure my grammar is correct and that I have all the right punctuation marks set in the right place? And yet I’ve never heard a single criticism from Mommy. In fact, she’s always the first one to like my posts. Thanks Mommy and sorry if I’ve ever made you scratch your head. 

4. I thank her for the unwavering support she always has for us. She’s certainly always been supportive and understanding of all of our decisions. She’s made my role as a wife so much more easier. I owe a great deal of gratitude to the Lord for giving us a good relationship. 
5. Like my own mom, I’ve always admired Mommy’s simplicity. She would rather present herself comfortably than fashionably. I thank her for inspiring me on how to be practical. 

6. Like me, she loves food and parties. She makes every reason to celebrate so we can all gather as a family and eat some delicious food! Hahaha.

7. I thank her for her daily inspirational posts on Facebook. Because we are miles away from each other, FB has become our channel of communication. Thanks also for tagging us on every family picture. We miss you guys so much!

8. I thank her for the sacrifices she took upon as a wife and as a mom when she decided to move to Japan with Daddy. I’m pretty sure it must have been challenging for her to put her career on the side and chose to be a housewife and take care of everyone. For the invaluable life lessons that shaped your children’s lives, especially Alan’s. Thank you! 
9. Thankful for the inspiration she gives us on being a good Ate to her 7 younger sisters. I admire how solid your love and affection is towards each other. 

10. Most of all, I thank her for bringing Alan to this world and I thank the Lord for choosing her to be his mother. I thank her for countenancing me with what was difficult for one mother to do, to entrust the only son she loves to another woman to love. 
Happy 60th birthday Mommy. We praise and thank God for you!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Don't bug him

My husband is ill and is on respite for 3 consecutive days. My poor guy caught a bug floating around somewhere. Nothing major really compared to the near-death-dengue virus he had last year. But still I couldn't help but be frantic.

I think from all that have been given to him, the acetaminophen, vitamin C, loads of rest, soup, care, love, and prayer, he should get better soon. I have a big hope in my heart that this too shall pass. And a big God that is good. 

Indeed, God is so good! Because the good news is Alan got a job! After a few amount of interviews here and there, a job offer finally came at hand. He's so happy to join the work force again. He just had enough time to finish all the TV series he brushed off on the side. Enough time to take care of my yummy breakfast. Enough time to train on household chores. And lots of time for prayer. His little daily routine goes something like this: breakfast, prayer time, job hunt, lunch, check emails, TV series, dinner, chores, prayer time. Before an onset of his career, the heavens gave him a break to focus and delight in the things that really matter- time for himself, for me, and for the Lord.

He starts next week and praying he'll get better before he goes off to work.

Hoping he recovers fully before our mini getaway to Savannah this weekend! I feel like it has been quite a while since our last wanderlust although this is not quite as long as I hoped for. This quick one will just have to do. It could just help me recover from the busyness of June and gear me up for what July has to offer.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Selfless Soul

I woke up in the crack of dawn to get ready for work. I arose from my bed earlier than usual. My younger sister asked a favor from me to drive her to her internship as her "carpool buddy" is on vacation. With a cheerful heart, I agreed cos that's what families do. They lovingly help each other :) Her office is further than mine so we had to leave an hour earlier than my usual time. I informed my husband about this the night before and to my delight, he responded, "I'll drive you both to work." :)

Lunch time came and my husband asked me to go out to eat. On weekdays, I really don't go out for lunch and I always bring my baon (packed lunch)with me to work to save money and unwelcomed calories. So going out to eat in the middle of work is such a lovely treat. Off we went to this cute tiny place across the street, called Tuscany Cafe. This little cafe is delightfully charming with a European ambiance. Relatively the prices were not so cheap so Alan and I decided to order one meal and split it because 1. we're conscious of our spending 2. the portions were huge 3. I didn't want to go back to work sleepy after eating a big meal. I was craving for pasta and a steak and fries for him. Both of us wanted two different orders. I know how my husband loves his steak and thought it would be a nice treat for him for waking up so early in the morning so I told him he can get the steak and I'll just have some soup.  So this gracious waiter came up and Alan told him, "can we get the Fettuccini Bernadette and Mushroom soup please". I was touched that he gave up his steak and went for what I wanted. 

I know Alan has always been shy when I post things about him but this is my blog. Sorry my love but MY RULES. hahaha. I never let a single small act of selfless love unappreciated and most especially, the big ones. My husband proves to me many times over and over that he's more than willing to give up everything for my sake. Apart from Christ, I've never met a man so selfless who will treat me highly before himself. A guy who will give up his work in a reputable international bank back home and take his chances in the US and be with me. A guy who will spend half of his fortune to marry me. A guy who will give up his favorite thing to pave the way for what I want. He just fascinates me every single day. I'm greatly blessed for his selfless heart beats for me. I couldn't be any luckier. I'm just infinitely grateful and in awe of how God molds this fella everyday in His image and likeness.