Cindy: “God took my never​s’ seriously”

Hi friends, I’m here with the delightful Cindy Kettle. A dear mutual connected us at our home church during the latter part of my mom’s illness (read more about that here). She prayed for us and my family will never forget how she was heaven-sent with her help at my memorial service we held for my mom. 

I’m looking forward to discussing more about her life, her testimony, and more.

Meet Cindy, everyone.

I mean full disclosure here: but you are my boyfriend’s mom actually— or as one of my friends actually call you my future “MIL” (mother-in-law) or mom. You and I connected many months before Matthew came along! You raised the man I love, so you are an automatic favorite of mine no matter what. I love you and Dan (husband) and it’s been so fun getting to spend time together. 

Debbie, you are truly an answer to prayer! Matthew is so blessed to have you, a truly Godly young woman who loves the Lord and serves Him so faithfully! From the start, after we had met, I asked the Lord on how Matthew could meet you… I couldn’t see it happening, since he is ministering up in Alhambra (LA area) and is going to school.. He usually wouldn’t come to our church.

Should we just get out of the way this fun set-up story of how Matthew and I came to meet? We all know I’m excited to talk about that [laughs]

Pastor Mike said, “These two have to meet!” I couldn’t believe it and I told him how I’ve been thinking the same thing all these months! Mike said your dear friend Margo had the same thought! He arranged for you two to be at a dinner at he and Hannah’s home.. Dan and I had the privilege of being there and to witness the beginning of a beautiful relationship! The Lord orchestrated the two of you to meet… to happen!

Mike was so incredibly proud of Matthew, I’ll never forget the day he asked me if I was interested in meeting him. Mike, always keeping others on their toes, told me about Matthew’s life, all of his wonderful qualities before actually telling me who this guy actually was [laughs]… 

And we have been praying for Matthew to meet you for many, many years! He had been discouraged how it seemed like everyone around him during college had someone, but I just continued to encourage him that maybe God wanted him to just focus on school for now and  he would meet “her” outside of school, at church… and then I had prayed with a friend who had known Matthew since he was young and she said that maybe his wife would be someone from his past? And here you are! Such a blessing. We are glad to be gaining a daughter.

Awwww. Well I am so flattered and so very blessed. It’s kinda ridiculous how we’ve all taken a liking to each so quickly. I see you and Dan more than Matthew does actually. Haha.

Now, we can go on and on about Matthew for hours (at least I know I can) [laughs]– but I want to get talk about you and a little more about your life.

So, tell me how you spend your days?

Daily, I start by being in the Word and praying. Then I am off and running! My days look different now, since I am retired and have an empty nest. There are days the Lord sends people He wants me to connect with and sometimes they contact me and I learn about their life situations and needs.

God blesses me with the ability and time to serve them through prayer, and at times, actually to “be there” for them in whatever way is needed… visits, meals, shopping, errands, etc. Flexibility is a blessing at my current stage of life!

That is so sweet. I love that you are so open to what God wants you to do in this season. I have seen first-hand how you so lovingly care for your family and I know you strive for excellence in all that you do, because that’s just who you are.

You are originally from Hawaii. Born and raised. Now how did you come to CA? Can you talk a a little more about your life in Hawaii and career as well?

 Hah! Well God took my nevers…I was content to be a gerontological social worker… to never marry….to not have children…I was completely content! I was settled!

[Laughs] God likes to do that a lot. I said never to a pastor! Well, then someonecame into life and your life took a turn didn’t it?

Dan entered my life when I least expected it!! He was stationed in Hawaii and we together for 2 years before we married. He had to leave for CA so that is how we arrived in Oceanside. Soon after, Matthew came along and God gave me a new career: MOM!

I left my career back in Hawaii, and was blessed to be a full-time mom to my one son, who has always lived up to his precious name, Matthew: “Most Precious Gift of God”

Then, Dan responded to the Lord’s call to serve Calvary Chapel Oceanside… a new calling on my life, from being the wife of a marine, to being a pastor’s wife.

Pastors wives have a special place in my heart. They are all so different and come from so many backgrounds, and support and care for their man as he serves the congregation. How do you feel your background in social work has helped you minister to others at church?

Social work taught me to appreciate how to uniquely and preciously made God’s children are. When God leads me to help someone, my desire is to understand theirperspective of life events that are ongoing. Getting an idea of theirstory, history… it gives me a glimpse into how they are coping with their life events. My hope is to meet each person’s need as the Lord has led me to minister to them.

Can you discuss a little bit about how you came Christ and He changed you?

I was a 21-year-old student that was on “cruise control” for far too long in my freshman and junior years at the University of Hawaii. Suspension from UH was the wake-up call that I needed. It was ingrained early in my childhood that college was a given and not a choice– so suspension was utterly devastating. God found me in that broken place, in the midst of depression and anxiety.  And then, Julia through Campus Crusade, prayed for me one day on campus… I’ll tap her on the shoulder in Heaven someday, and thank her!

That’s so wonderful. It must be crazy about all the time that has passed since that day. And all that God has done in your life since.

 In the time we’ve known each other, I’ve seen how much you have a love for God’s Word. Can you tell me how you go about studying the Word? How does that look for you?

The Scriptures are indeed alive and available to us through the power of the Holy Spirit, to exhort, teach and mold us. The Lord uses His word to teach me about Him, His character, and as Kay Smith always taught– How to leave to please Him! My desire is that I continually grow to be who He desires me to be… to live for Him… and to please Him!

For my personal study, I have a song set on my phone or I use our Amazon Echo to play praise and worship songs. Then prayer, and I dive into God’s Word.

Personally, studying God’s Word in a group setting keeps me accountable. I appreciate structure and time frame to completing Bible studies. It helps me to keep on track and dig deeper! I also love to hear how the Lord speaks to other members of the group through the study, it is so very enriching! I love when the formal group studies include digging deeper into the background behind the Scriptures for the week.

Lastly, can you speak on the different seasons of life and how studying God’s Word looked for you in each one? As a single woman, then married and then as a young mom!

 As a mom of a baby… of a toddler… it was difficult. Time and energy were at a premium and there seemed limited, if any, amounts left for Bible study.

Yet, I was parched and not able to function in the godly manner that I couldn’t accomplish on my own. It was easy during that time to lose perspective, being mired in the busy-ness!

Similarly, when I began working full-time when Matthew was older, many times I came home exhausted, trying to fulfill my roles as wife and mom to a teenage son… without God’s Word and time at His feet, I kept running into a wall! The enemy planted depression, frustration, anxiety, guilt– I was exhausted!

 I learned a very important lesson: being at His feet, first and foremost, changed everything. God will bless and multiply time if you honor Him first in your day. He will allow you to accomplish all that He would have you to do in your day. God is in control and sovereign. I had to learn, I am still learning to daily turn over the reins to Him and let Him reign!


Well folks, I think I just fell in love with Cindy all over again while putting this blog post together. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s not hard to do. Others are quick to say, that she is one of the most thoughtful and genuine people you’ll come to meet.

 She’s pretty fun too and has the most contagious laugh. A fun fact would be that she and I realized that we… are lacking a sense of direction. Honestly, like I think east is west and I can’t get anywhere without my maps app. Once, I got lost in a mall with Cindy and it took me a half hour to get us out of the mall… and it took her another half hour to remember where she parked the car. Also, we both laugh pretty easily and love reading!

Enjoy this picture which accurately describes our relationship (and lack of direction… why am I pointing to the sky?! I guess some of us are more challenged than others.):


New Blog Project & Interview with Emily

Hi friends, Debbie here. This year an idea was birthed of interviewing women in my wonderful church community and sharing it on my blog. One of the books I read this year talked of a godly woman who interviewed those around her she wanted to learn from and found as a positive influence in her life. She tucked these interviews away in a file and cherished the wisdom*

What a brilliant idea. Of course, I had to steal it. But in wanting to make in my own, I’ve decided to post them here on the blog so many more can gain from the wonderful wisdom shared in these pages.

So what to expect? All these women come from all different walks of life, they have impacted my life or someone close to me, are different ages and have different ministries… but they are all united in this: They are all amazing godly women and many are blessed by their lives.

I will try to share one interview per month, to get this thing going…

and where else should I start but with my friends?

(Who am I kidding, everyone is my friend. I love everyone you’ll read about in the coming months. Part of me just feels like I should name this blog series: “Meet my friends”.. Catchy? Yes? Eh, no. OK, I’ll go back to the drawing board… but for now, ‘til I come up with a better title… Meet Emily, everyone–)


Emily is a joy to know and a deep well in her love for the Lord. I got to know her only early this year. Our new friendship taught me to take chances and be open to getting to know new people. Our first impressions or preconceptions of others may completely cloud how view we someone… you might have heard a story or something they said or did might have rubbed you the wrong way and you completely write the person off— I almost wrote Emily off and I was closed to new relationships, but God had a different plan. I’m really glad God didn’t let me get my way or I would’ve missed out on the best fun. I stepped out of my comfort zone and hoped the best in her and fast forward a few months after… and I’m a bridesmaid her wedding only a few short days away!

Whenever Emily and I are around each other, we are constantly laughing, teasing each other about how much we love our boyfriends (well fiance for her now) and how much we cry and love to sleep (the power nap is an art we’ve perfected) and how sassy and awkward we can get. We know each other from co-leading some of the high school girls at our youth group at church together, and we love our girls dearly and consider it a privilege to be a part of their lives. God has done so much in our lives through the youth ministry and through mentors living life alongside us that it is an honor to be able to give back in this way.



Recently, I was able to sit down and ask Emily to share more about her and her testimony:

So tell us a little bit about yourself, about your family, how do we know each other?

Well I’m 21 and I moved to Oceanside (our city) about a year ago from Big Bear, CA. I’m from a wonderful family of girls with wonderful godly parents.

I have amazing parents– my dad is a detective, and naturally super protective poured into us growing up. He’s definitely the dad that run background checks on guys and made sure I was safe walking out to the mailbox. Haha. I was heavily involved in competitive dance all the way into my teens and by God’s grace I was able to start a dance ministry in my teens at my church that grew beyond my greatest expectations and I also started and sold a small business that I based out of my home in my teens. I had just always been really crafty and made these headbands that friends and family bought from me and it became really popular that I had started selling them online.

Can you share a little bit about how you got to the Oceanside area? I love your testimony.

After high school I felt God calling me to bible college, which was the best and I made so many amazing friends and grew so much in my faith, but after finishing in 2017, I kinda felt lost without direction and I felt God telling me “we are going to take a step in a new direction” and I was all– OK I don’t know what that really means [laughs] but okay. And soon after there was this opportunity to go to Peru and I was very against it– [laughs] I just, it was out of my comfort zone and very new–

I feel like all the best things God calls us to start with some of our stubbornness, right?!

Yes exactly! [laughs] Even the morning of the trip, I was crying telling my mom I didn’t want to go and she was all, you get out of bed and you are going! [laughs]

Shout-out to Mama King, YO [both laughs] your mom is great!

So I ended up going and God so changed my heart and we were able to help with a church plant and see lives changed– so while we were there a team from CCO were there and great people but I didn’t think much of it.

Director of the bible college in Peru did say said there was an opportunity to go back and work– which I was really excited about, but I came home and had been praying about it and God kept saying no.

Around this time, I was at work and saw a Google ad for Oceanside– never been there before– but there was this joy, and there was no other explanation than it was God pointing me in that direction.

And– at this point, Emily, you had never even visited Oceanside!

Yes, and it could have been terrifying but God just gave me so much peace and so much joy and I just felt really content in this.

So I contact the one person I knew in Oceanside and saw if they knew any people I could rent from and I had contacted the missions pastor from Calvary Oceanside that I met while in Peru, and he had offered me a job, and internship at CCO… and next thing I know I am renting a room from a lady I had never met (she is so nice and sweet) and working at our church at the Children’s’ ministry. It was such an incredible experience. I learned so much.

So talk about how it felt like working in a church was it what you expected?

Oh man, I had started this internship thinking “Oh I’m gonna do so many awesome things, God orchestrated my move and everything and this is going to be amazing” [laughs] but I literally spent the first 3 months of my work filing paperwork. It was really humbling and God changed my heart and my mindset and I realized how selfish I was and thought the year was going to be about the great feats I was going to accomplish things.

And I don’t blame you for expecting that– you’ve done some pretty amazing things in your teens– its sort of been these past years of incredible highs: starting and leading the dance ministry at your church in big bear with 70+ girls, the small business that you started and sold in high school It was one “great” thing after another.

–Yes, and God really taught me so much about just being faithful in the little things and giving in the glory in the smallest things and not seeking to be in front of people and serving Him to be seen. He really just humbled me. I’ve always struggled with being this perfectionist, and many times when I am serving the Lord it slips in me trying to serve Him to get more love which is not right. God showed me that when we serve others it is an outpouring of deep knowing His love for us so that we can share it with others. That is what true service is.

That is so beautiful, Emily. What a beautiful testament of how God works in our lives. I’m still not over it! Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty too, it is one of my favorite character traits about you.

Ok, now to the boy stuff [both laugh], since you’re now “almost engaged” you say– what does that even mean? [laughs] tell everyone about your man and how you met him.

[laughs] Lately, when people ask how I’m doing I say “I’m almost engaged” I will vote is an acceptable status. [laughs]

I vote it is too, I mean you’re practically engaged. I’ll run with it. Almost engaged; it should be a relationship status on Facebook [laughs]

Haha. So if you’ve ever been a single woman new to a church you realize the single guys kind of just pay more attention to you. Or actually, a lot of people do, trying to set you up. [laughs] and there were definitely a few failed attempts at setups that were really awkward and we had dinner at the pastor’s house and yeah, it was a little awkward. And it’s hard when you all work together and go to church together and know each other on all these different levels.

I mean to be fair to the guys and everyone else, I remember the same feeling when a new single godly guy shows up at college group, and now being part of a successful set-up with Matthew (my boyfriend) I have the strong temptation to set up people [laughs]

Oh no, matchmaker Debbie. I still can’t believe you tried to set a couple up. [laughs]

You and Matthew are like the 1% of successful set-ups so that’s different! Oh, Debbie [laughs]

I can’t believe it either! Who have I become? I’m happy and I just want to spread the happiness. [laughs]

So I met Caleb when I least expected it while on a missions trip to Mexico at our church (if she never moved to Oceanside she wouldn’t have met him!) and that’s all it took and I could seem to think straight anymore. After getting to know each other for about a month, we started dating, and it couldn’t be any clearer that this relationship was from the Lord. He loves the Lord and is full of His joy. We have such a great friendship, we are both such dorks and laugh all the time and we just have so much fun together. It’s been a great year together with him, we’ve walked through a lot of highs and lows and he knows me so well. He is a constant reflection of God’s grace to me. I love him so much.

Awww so sweet. Thanks for sharing Emily. And thank you for your sweet friendship. I love you a lot and I am so grateful for your influence in my life. I’m so glad that we get to do life together and share many laughs in between.

(if any are you wondering, Caleb proposed to Emily later the same day we did that interview and 3 months after… in less than a week… the two are getting married in her dream December wedding)



*I read about this idea in a “A Woman After God’s Own Heart” by Elizabeth George. An incredible book.

What I Learned From Reading Galatians 


Before I sat down and really went through and read the entire book of Galatians for the first time, I had thought of it as the “fruit of the spirit” book (that famous passage beginning in Gal 5:22.), I think probably most kids that did Sunday school growing up have done a coloring page with apples, grapes, strawberries…

If you’ve been in VBS or grew up in the church you’ll hear it: the fruits of the spirit are….

Actually, this passage has been on my heart for a few months now, and it was a little embarrassing because I couldn’t name all the “fruits”. 

I discipled a young gal and went through a Christian book over the summer… she was old enough to start helping at VBS at church and working on the hand motions to songs she was learning and going through some songs with me and somehow we ended up on one with fruits of the spirit:

I ask, “What are the fruits of the Spirit again? Any hand motions to remember those?”

I answer my own question— naturally, the first 3 come along and those are freebies: 

“Yeah they are ‘Love, joy, peace, patience kindness, long-suffering, long-suffering, self-control…’ “ starting out strong, I didn’t realize I had forgotten the rest of the verse.

my young friends’ eyes’ widened and an eyebrow was raised: “Wait did you just say long-suffering twice? ”

sheepishly I responded, “Ummm…maybe… Yes… I figured if I mixed it in there you wouldn’t notice?”

Note: it doesn’t work that way. 


Simply stated, Galatians is a letter in which the author, Paul, is passionately pleading with some who have lost their way by making what they do—making their work and effort— more important than what Christ has already done. 

Finally, I got around to studying the book of Galatians (the non-coloring book way) using (shout out to Olivia & my roomies from GCU #foreva504roomies for getting me into this great resource to study God’s Word)— and its been a couple weeks since I’ve wrapped it up but this study has really changed me.

I’ve always heard growing up in the church that we don’t get to Heaven by our works, but by Christ sacrifice. 

And when I heard it once, you think “duh, of course, we couldn’t earn it.”

But this time was different: this reading of Galatians found me in a place of change, in shifting seasons, career and life changes— I felt like I was standing on shaky ground, these things and people and goals that seemed so permanent suddenly were gone. 

And this lie so easily crept in:  I need to keep trying, I need to keep doing my best so God will love me more.  I start to believe — God will love me more if I do this [insert church activity, insert good deed, insert “right thing to do”] or God will love me less if [things don’t work out the way I planned, I fail, things fall through, insert disappointment here: __________________ ].

As a recovering perfectionist, a thought crossed my mind— no, it consumed my mind: “Will you love me even if… will they like me even if…?”

It was the way I lived before Christ, before His love. I was slipping into a works-based gospel.

Because the truth is, God’s love doesn’t change regardless of what we do. He loved us at our worst and He knows us at our best. The burden of being good enough, Jesus abolished when He died on the cross for our sins. Because the gospel truth is, without Jesus’ sacrifice, we really aren’t good enough. That’s why there is the law Paul talks about, that’s why there is this natural heavy burden on our shoulders, because without Jesus’ sacrifice we are not enough. 

God’s love for us is more than enough and is unchanging— but like me—The Galatian church was slipping into a works-based gospel. And they were stumbling others into it as well. Paul was really upset angry about this. 

He pleads with the Galatian church:

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified?… “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?”

-Galatians 3:1,3 NKJV

Paul is saying: 

“Why are you going back to your old ways? Why are you trying to carry your burden on your shoulders?”

Now, why do I so easily pick up the burden of trying so hard on my shoulders?

I am reminded of Jesus words: My yoke is easy and my burden is light… Matt. 11:30

When we live in the truth of Jesus sacrifice, we trade the weight of having to carry the burden of the law, for the completed work of Christ. 

No more trying to be good enough 

No more trying to measure up.

Instead, we are..

Free to do good works in our freedom. (ch. 5, v1)

Free to abound in the fruit of the spirit when we put away the burden of the law and take up the righteousness of Christ instead.

So now, I’m going back and chewing on those verses I needed to work on earlier, and now, knowing the context: to abound in the Spirit, to have joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… only happens when I live in the freedom of Christ.

And regardless of whether I got all the “fruits” of the Spirit down just yet … I’m still loved the same.

…Well, maybe I needed long-suffering in a double portion without knowing it? X

| Hospital stays & birthdays |


A few days late, but still an update nonetheless—This month: Health insurance woes, hospital stays, birthdays and how we are dealing with it all. ❤


I sit at my mother’s bedside reflecting on the events of the past month… my mom celebrates a birthday in just two short days. On November 9th, she turns 66 years old. I feel a mix of emotions. I am thankful we get to spend a birthday together—this was—this seemed impossible when she was diagnosed in December. But I am saddened because minutes ago,


I had to cancel two big birthday dinners planned to celebrate my mom…because the side effects of her medications have caused her to be very confused and disoriented.


Much has happened in the past month.

Two stays at the hospital due to uncontrollable pain (My 23rd birthday was that week!), two nightmare visits to the ER, some more radiation, a change in my mom’s chemo treatment, some more radiation… Insurance woes.. deadlines.. and some more confusion.

What a month it has been.

I wish I could write this blog tied up with a nice bow, saying that all the current issues on the table are solved and the answers are within reach—but no, that’s not where things are right now.


Last week, I was under the crushing weight of life’s worries and I hit my breaking point.

I asked God, “Where is this peace beyond understanding? Does it really exist?” .. and like a child reaching out a hand for help—He answered me in a big way—there was this peace, this joy—I couldn’t explain.


Things were still hard. But that was okay.

I relinquished control of what I wanted. And I was still okay.

I knew things were still going to be alright.

I was even…joyful—of all things!


I felt a joyful expectation of what God would do next.
It was unexplainable peace beyond understanding–


Now, I write this to remember, lest I forget, lest I let this peace slip by as I am so tempted to be gripped by the anxieties of this life.


Things have become even more difficult today: The threat of my mom’s insurance coverage being lost. More confusion. Friends close by whose suffering and uncertainty are even greater than mine. New burdens I shoulder so others don’t have to go through it alone—oh, my heart is so heavy.


Oh, my heart is heavy, but our God is near.


I pray that we all continue to set our eyes on Jesus— our true hope, our peace in the storm, our anchor in uncertainty—Oh, that He would draw closer than ever before!




— my favorite picture of us these days: My mom and I hanging out at the symphony for her birthday last year. My favorite because, it reminds me that since I enjoy her so much, that even if she wasn’t my mom…I would choose her as my friend any day ❤


September 2017 part 2: “Hey, I’m with you”

August was the longest month ever it seems.

Last two weeks of August were dark and deep. Like this heavy cloud was above our home and the thickness just couldn’t seem to let up. Looking back, I don’t even really remember what the month consisted of except that it was really sad.

The fog started to clear a bit for me, and it began with a fun day. I had a lovely respite sharing one of my very favorite places (Symphony!) with a dear mentor & friend. She and I sang along to a well-beloved musical’s score and shared laughs and turkey wraps from her favorite sandwich joint.

We talked about our week, about how the kids were back at school and swapped chicken marinade recipes. I say “swapping” nonchalantly, but there was actually no swapping (hah, in my food network dreams) more like just her telling me that there’s no way a naïve cook like me can mess up a simple chicken marinade.

Oh, my little tank running on empty was filled, not only by the music but by the sweet company and conversation. I had a feeling that my people back home needed a similar change of environment and needed to share laughs and everyday conversations and time with their some of our loved ones, who were just a state-line crossing away.


Sometimes it’s not the deep or moving words that help the most, many times it’s just a hug from others who say “hey, this is messy and sticky- but we’re with you.”

That’s exactly what God did, when you think about it. He sent Jesus,  and in some places in the Bible, He’s called Immanuel, which translates to “God with us.” Jesus came to be with us, in our mess, in our trenches and we He plants Himself and says He’s never leaving.

So soon after, my little clan of three plus one (mom, dad, me and our ever loyal and sweet-looking but fierce bichon-poodle mix, Henry) packed our bags for a last-minute escape to Arizona, where the 2/3 of the Enverga daughters and their people do life. It used to be where I did life at GCU too.

One of my favorite memories of the trip was when us three sisters gathered together in the living room and recounted stories of how mom worked to bring the best out in us—some things we couldn’t quite understand, but at least we were all laughing about it now. Mom provided commentary, and answered our dying questions like—“Why did you make us all eat oatmeal every day?!”  “Did you really send 10-year-old Maui to the supermarket?” “What were you thinking letting me wear those ugly shoes?”

To which she responded:

Yes, because my parents did that with me and it [oatmeal] helps with constipation.
Yes, she was so shy- it brought her out of her bubble.
Yes, Deb- you were so hyper and those shoes protected your toes.

Mom, what were you thinking?

I was trying to hone your character.

What about my feelings?!

Your feelings don’t hone your character.

… said like a true Asian mom.

Later in the week, I made a quick visit to my old stomping grounds, GCU. It was the place I called home for a single semester before our world turned upside down.

I found my friends moving into new apartments, entering nursing programs, hanging new pictures, unpacking their boxes… I thought being back would make me sad, but as much as I missed campus and everything it stood for–I just knew I didn’t belong there anymore.


My forever school bestie, Ruthie and I got to catch up as she started her very first week of nursing school! She and I tackled the first semester at a new university together, both as pre-nursing students. We were the friends each of our moms back home were praying we would find. We had so much fun being together (we even have a whole video of our very fun semester), we had even planned to coordinate our future RN work schedule and get our future kids into the same homeschool co-op (naturally, since we were both homeschooled).

This was so us. We dreamed about our future like it was as easy as planning our weekly movie nights and downtown outings or organizing our shared Spotify playlist.

Oh if only things could be always as easy as that! Even though I entered September wishing for no more cloudy days, I realized that the cloudy days only make the sunny ones much brighter. That sounds like a line, and it probably is, but it has truth behind it.

As Christians, we realize this: Jesus didn’t promise us a trial-free life, or blissful days on earth with no trouble. In fact, he guarantees trouble, because of the fallen state of this world. But He says that we don’t have to go through it alone because He’s right there with us. He’s overcome it all, and we can overcome through His working in us. Oh, for grace to trust Him to be enough!

My clan has been back home in our breezy San Diego for awhile now, and there have absolutely been cloudy days- some days of uncertainty, fear and sadness and pain. Though, there have been moments of great joy and growth all the same. I can’t fathom or seem to explain it, but God uses the hard things- the hurt- to get to a place in my own heart, that only He can work on and get to. Fears and insecurities are exposed in times of crisis, and trying to plunge the hurt on my own can be maddening because it never seems to stop. We weren’t meant to fill that void- Only Jesus can.

And he so willingly jumps in my trenches, the hard places where the real work is done and says- “Hey I’m with you.”




September 2017: “People Keep Telling Me I’m Tough…”

When my mom spends a day at the doctors, we usually fill the entire day with back-to-back labs, appointments and IV treatments. There’s usually some down time in-between all of these, so we spend some time waiting. I bring my books and my laptop. She’s good with her phone.

I think her oncologist knows our family by the number of things we carry with us into the office.

you know it’s bad when the medical assistant says, “I’ll grab an extra seat for your things”

On an average day, we’ll have at least 5 bags. I’m not even kidding. 2 purses, snack bag (because food = priorities), emergency bag (clothes and things of the sort), a cooler (with mom’s favorite juice, yogurt and lunch.. yes, food again). I used to fight mom about how ridiculous it was to bring everything because we don’t even use half the things (“Why can’t we leave the emergency bag in the car? Why are you carrying bricks in your purse?”). But, alas, I realized that having these things with us made her feel safe and secure. That’s fine by me.

So… here we are at the elevator, I hit the elevator button “up” with my elbow to take us to the third floor. My arms are filled with bags, as mom holds onto to my elbow for stability. (What stability? I think I am about ready to tip over with our things–)

Laboratory. We sit and wait. Doc appointment #1. Then, some more waiting. IV treatment next…. Doc appointment #2…

During the waiting, I power on my computer and stare at a blank blog page. I need to write something to follow up the post on mom’s cancer. But what about?

Mom sets down her iPhone and I set aside my books— we try to brainstorm on what to write about next. I ask her questions on her perspective of her illness, treatment and daily life, in an effort to come up with some new topic. We talked about faith, we talked about family… it was neat practice to recall the events of the past few months.

Then it hit us, Why not write about this? Can’t we share our conversation?

So, here my friends, is an edited, impromptu interview/conversation of a few of the things we talked about that day.

Debbie: Okay. Let’s talk about things. You were originally diagnosed in December.

Teresa: Yes— we’ve come a long way, it was in my brain and eye then, radiation took care of that. I take morphine daily, there is always pain in my body and I can’t drive anymore because of the medications [she takes]. I am a lot weaker and my eyesight is not the same. I keep hearing the word “terminal” a lot but I’m not ready to be labeled that. I don’t want to die with this illness.

Debbie: How about treatments and care? They’ve been working well because we are now in September, which is more time than we ever thought we would get when we got the news in December. 

Teresa: We are really fortunate and blessed to have insurance and care. We go to Scripps [in San Diego] and right now I am on Gefitinib, it is a chemo tablet that I take once a day. My cancer cells respond to that to “freeze” where my illness is, the doctors say. For topical pain, I use CBD cream and oil which really really helps the pain. I also use those sublingual CBD drops. It is very good for healing.

Debbie: How are you feeling about all this?

Teresa: I’m just so very tired of being tired. I cry. A lot of times I am tired of fighting…. I want to be here with you and dad. With my daughters. I don’t want to die with this illness. I know God has the power to heal me. But I know I should want God’s will for my life, and I am learning to be ok with whatever He wants. It is hard. Waking up with pain is hard.

Grabe ka lisod. Grabe. [She says this in Cebuano; translation: This is so very very hard]

Debbie: We’ve been talking a lot about our faith. We are Christians, obviously. But will you talk a little more about how integral our faith is to our lives? 

Teresa: Without Jesus in our lives, I can’t imagine my life. I always say, without Jesus, without Him, where else would I go? Jesus died for our sins, He went to the cross, so I could experience eternal life and a life with Him apart of it. 40 years walking with Christ and I cannot imagine it any other way.

Debbie: We’ve had a lot of support, from our faith community, like prayers, from loved ones. Plus, a few kindred spirits get to be apart of our everyday lives via text and phone calls. How does this encourage you? 

Teresa: Knowing that others are praying for me really comforts me. Also knowing that others have gone through medical experiences like me, helps me feel that I am not alone. I’m surprised by who God is using and how he is using them to minister to me. You’ve learned who your true friends are through this too, Deb. 

Debbie: Yes that’s true. It’s been an eye-opener for me. I’ve been hurt, but I’ve also been so very blessed by who has stuck around even if my life wasn’t fun. A crisis reveals your truest friends. I am thankful to know who they are. I am surprised by it! But the truth is, my greatest comfort is Jesus- He is the best, my closest friend ever. He heals my heart and never gives up on me. 

Debbie: So, mom, what can people keep you in prayer for? 

Teresa: I believe the trauma from all the change left me with depression. That’s what people call it. I never used to believe in depression- It comes and it goes— I feel like giving up and I am just used to crying everyday—

Debbie: … but you always come back. It just, the fight. It is so very hard. I’ve noticed the fight to get out of your darkness gets longer it seems. 

Teresa: Yes. It is a thin line to trust God and be still and then to be filled with fear and panic. So I suppose prayer for that. The physical pain also affects the depression and it is very hard to distinguish the two sometimes. 

(Here she flips and asks me a question, instead!)

Teresa: How about you, Deb? It [my depression] affects you? Are you depressed too? You had to stop school and your life all for me.

Debbie: I don’t know. I am for sure not going through anything as difficult as you are, but yes I get sad a lot if that’s what you’re asking. 

I used to think I had to be strong for everyone and that meant hiding my emotions and never addressing them— you are so tough, mom! You would never seem to flinch in hardship when I was growing up —  but I don’t know if that’s necessarily the best thing to do for me. I don’t know. I’m not there yet.

*laughter* I’ve been saying I don’t know a lot these days— I am still figuring things out. 

Teresa: Yes, we really don’t know much about our future or anything for that matter. I wish I could be stronger to help you. Except we know God is faithful. Even if we do not understand, our relationship with Jesus is what we can hold on. 

Debbie: Your passion for telling others about Christ is so very apparent in your life. You are so very disciplined and laser-focused and tough and… strict— I can say that, right? Yes, I can. *laughs* And it is apparent in ALL areas of your life, and I love that you devote that discipline in your walk with Christ. I would not be the person I am today if it were not for that. You taught me to run hard and fast to Jesus. 

Teresa: You know, people keep telling me I’m tough, but I really don’t know what they are talking about. I’m just being myself. I guess I am tough, huh? I am different now, so wobbly and weak. I am just surviving on God’s strength. 

Debbie: You’re still so very brave. You following God out of love and discipline has become such a knee-jerk reaction that you always go back to it. What you said [about strength] reminds me of that verse in Isaiah 40 that talks about renewing our strength like eagles-

“But those who wait on the Lord

Shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.”

Teresa: God’s Word is all we have. It is good medicine. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to me when I am overwhelmed though. Has that happened to you? 

Debbie: Oh yes. I hear that is normal. I feel that way too sometimes. Just cling to your one special verse and work through it. You have a special verse for this season you said. That would be a good place to end. Would you like to share it? 

Teresa: Yes, it is Isaiah 41:10. I get so fearful with test results and scans, everything is so uncertain. I get afraid when I feel alone that God reminds me, FEAR NOT.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”

Debbie: Thanks, mom. I know things aren’t ideal, but you’re doing such a great job in the midst your incredible difficulty. I hope I make you proud!

August 2017: “For Just This Moment, Let’s Stop Trying to Be Perfect”



Dear family and friends, some of you know of our mom’s recent stage 4 cancer diagnosis. The news came in December of last year and life has been different ever since. God’s continued mercies are ever-present and ever-sure even when life gets pretty foggy.

I, Debbie, with the support of mom and our family, decided to start blogging to track our journey— and to let others who are praying to get a little peek into lives.

We would so covet everyone’s love and continued prayers as time goes on. ❤

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” -Romans 8:28 NKJV

August 2017: “For Just This Moment, Let’s Stop Trying to Be Perfect”

This month marks my mom’s 5th month on her targeted treatment. She hasn’t had radiation this month, which is a nice break. Although, this month, she did break her foot tripping over something. Just a reminder of how fragile her bones are. The potency of her treatment is in question though, as her doctors said this week that her high liver enzymes could mean we need to switch treatments (side effect of the treatment) or that the cancer has metastasized to the liver. More tests and scans will be done to determine what’s next.

We’ve made waves in adjusting to our life. Adjusting to her “new normal” (which is what we’ve coined post-diagnosis life) is hard as she is regaining some of her strength but still needs to respect her limitations. She likes to sweep in our small patio in the mornings and has ambitions of trying to cook again. She cannot stand for that long (yet). I would love for her to be able to cook and see her over the stove again. Not only would it do her good… It would do me good too. I try my best to take her out to do fun things we once did. One fun thing on one day usually means two days after of her having to rest afterward. There are some things that are worth it, and some that are not. We try to find a balance. I’m also trying to get better at sharing how she is doing on social media with concerned family/friends and others who are on a similar journey (ergo, this blog).

Tears are a normal part of life for us. Sometimes my mom cries because things are hard or because of the pain. She believes God will completely heal her without a doubt… we differ on that. I believe that healing is so possible but with her terminal diagnosis, healing in Heaven is most likely in her case. Her faith is incredible—and almost all that I know about God and my faith is because of her. So, it pains me to be on two separate pages. God’s will be done. I have noticed though, that her best days are the days where she accepts that Earth is pretty much a dump compared to the greatness that Heaven brings—and the future that we as Christians have in store.

Now, she asks me, amidst tears while gripping my hand for comfort- “Do I still feel like Mom to you?”

And that kind of breaks my heart. She means, do I still feel like the mom you can run to when you have problems you don’t know how to fix or when you need a hug or when you just need a sandwich?

I say to myself, No- you’re not anymore and I’m so sorry you never will but I still love you the same.

I tell her, “I know things have changed a lot, but you will always be my mom.”

In earlier months, I had my friends to depend on and help me sort all these changes. Things are different now and life has pulled us all in different directions and we are not as close we once were. I have to admit: I miss my friends dearly. I miss the support and the laughs we once shared. I could go on and on about how we find who our true friends are in the midst of adversity. But I understand people need to move on and go on with their lives… I guess part of me is hurt that they are no longer apart of my life as they were before. I really do wish they would make more of an effort to be involved.

I keep telling myself, if they aren’t present and God withholds no good thing* from those He loves, then I don’t need anything more than God has given me right now.

My mom in her wisdom said that gratitude was the key to living our new normal well.
She goes on about “perfecting the attitude of gratitude in our situation.” Getting things perfect when I’m still learning what’s going on kind of intimidates me. Mom is a perfectionist so I think the word “perfect” is a motivator for her. I say “why don’t we learn first then we can worry about getting it perfect?” Let’s learn to walk before we run. Let’s give ourselves grace and just take things one day at a time. Isn’t today all we can take care of anyway?

*Psalm 84:11