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–)

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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.

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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)

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

Silly Pictures and Pretty Dresses

A couple months ago I had the absolute pleasure of participating in a wedding. 

Thing is, a few years ago, I kinda roped the bride into having me as one of her bridesmaids. 
Okay, that sounds bad. Okay, I can explain. I think.
 
Karla, the beautiful bride, is really one of the coolest adults I know.  
(I call her “Ate Karla”–“Ate” is a term of respect that you call “sisters” back in The Philippines”)
 
 
 
She loves being around people, and, honestly, I think everyone loves her company.
 
During the summers, my niece and I get to spend a couple days with her and act all silly and not think about tomorrow and eat too much and laugh ’til our cheeks hurt and take hundreds of pictures.
 
like this 
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 (Left: my lovely niece, Mary. Right: me)
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(Karla and Mary)
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(I love this one hah)
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 (top: us trying to look cool :P)
One of those summers, we parked in a commercial area, with shops all around us, probably eating ice cream, while trying to plan our future shenanigans.
 
I vaguely remember what we were doing there and where we were going, but vividly remember the discussion we had:
 
 
“Okay, girls! Where should we head to next!” Karla exclaimed.
 
We smile… and try to think of something fun we can do on a budget.
 
Then. Boom.
 
Mary and I start to nudge each other as we spot “David’s Bridal” a few stores down.
 
I was probably 14-15 (don’t quote me on that; I have a horrid sense of time hah.) and Mary was 11-12…
 
 
I think its around that age where girls realize that:
 
  1. Some boys aren’t so annoying after all; 
  2. Wedding dresses are real pretty and fluffy; 
  3. bridesmaid duty is a BIG step up from flower girl status; 
  4. getting your best friends to dress up in your favorite color and look gorgeous alongside you is awesome;
  5. maybe having a day where everybody gasps at how beautiful you are is even better.
 
So. We suggest the most rational thing any sugar-powered teen would.
And of course, the older, more mature one suggests it.
 
 
 
 
“LETS TRY ON DRESSES AT DAVID’S BRIDAL!!!” I scream, as if I spot the Jonas Brothers down the street (Yeah, Bieber wasn’t big back then).
 
“YES!!” Mary echoes. And I think we burst out in some equivalent of a happy dance in the backseat of the car.
 
Karla may have been in her early twenties and single, but obviously she’d be the more believable bride-to-be.
 
ideas started to pour out from the backseat like:
 
“You can try on poofy dresses!”
 
“And we can try on bridesmaid dresses!”  
 
“You can say you get married next month!”
 
“To…um.. a guy”… 
 
“What should be his name?”
 
I love how Karla laughed at the ridiculousness of it all, and presented us with reasonable gaps in our thought-to-be-perfect plan.
 
Like: 
“What if they look for the engagement ring?”
 
or
 
“What if they ask how long we’ve been together or how he proposed?”
 
Which we respond to: “He can’t afford one… or it’s in the mail!”
 
And somewhere in there, I’m pretty sure I present the idea of pretending we can’t speak English or fashioning a trash bag into an engagement ring… or something like that.
 
(I’m just overflowing with brilliance, right?)
 
Reality sinks in eventually, (“It ain’t going to happen!”)
and we laugh a little to cover our disappointment.
 
But Karla asks us the most important question of our then 11 year old and 15 year old lives:
“You’ll be my bridesmaids, for my future wedding right?”
 
NO WAY. Flower girl status.. was sorta subjected to the cute little girl who could walk down the aisle to the music and not eat the flowers.
People liked you. 
That’s cause you were five… and they weren’t taking you home with them.
 
Bridesmaid– now that, was special. 
 
Of course we couldn’t believe it, so I told her, 
“When we get home, you have to get that on paper and sign and date it too!!”
 
“Of course, I want you two in my wedding! And you’ll like my futur husband too, okay? He has to be cool with hanging out with the family and you guys!”
 
Fast-forward a couple years.
Someone gets engaged on a starry night, on a hill overlooking the bright downtown lights.
 
“Did you ask my parents?” she says, trying to contain her excitement.
 
“I did! So what is your answer? To my question?” 
 
“YES!”
 
 
Meet the guy she said “Yes!” to- Patrick. 

 

 

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He proudly serves our country in the military, likes football, legos and filipino food (any food for that matter). He’ll totally take you on in a dance-off, and will play video games for hours with Mary’s little bro. 
 
He and Karla are absolutely perfect together, and he is almost as cool as she is! (teheee ;))
 
We (Mary and I) adore them and look forward to our future summer adventures with these newlyweds!
 
 
 
 
Enjoy these shots from the big day!
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Pssstt….matching dresses could only mean one thing, right? 😉

Zac Efron Indirectly Saved The Dog

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Zac Efron indirectly saved the dog

I kid you not.

Without him, sweet dottie would be out in the cold all night…. Or worse.

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It was a night a couple weeks ago where Kate and Maddie (names changed for confidentiality’s sake 😉 and I had an impromptu sleepover since our parents all happened to be out of town.

It was 1 am,

We were watching “The Lucky One” (efron is the leading man, of course)…
And he worked at a farm…
Where they so happened to train dogs.

in one scene, Efron (not so ‘high school musical’ looking anymore; think ‘navy seal’) was walking around with his very well-behaved German Shepherd.

Kate remarks, “when I move out one day, I hope to get a dog as nice as his.”

(When I was thinking, “When I move out, I hope I marry someone as good looking as Zac Efron”….
But– Kate is married to a really sweet guy. )

then she goes…”hey, has anyone seen Dottie (the family dog)?”

Maddie and I in turn respond,”No- wait- I think we have- no, actually we haven’t”

Then while Kate panics and checks every room of the house, screaming dotty’s name… And I’m pretty sure checking every crevice that dog could fit in..

Maddie and I walk up and re-check those rooms and echo her name.

I was filled (and I am sure the feeling was mutual) with guilt as my mind replayed the events of that evening:

-fun time cooking dinner-we didn’t burn the down the house- baked BBQ chicken and quinoa!
-funny stories like this
-looked at wedding pictures and sighed
-watched wedding clips and sighed
some more
-watched Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke’s wedding video and sighed even more
-talked about life
-talked about books (my favorite)
-spent more time then I would like to admit taking a perfect funny picture for instagram
-talked about sending texts to the wrong people
-one of us talking to her mom (kidding),”We burned down the house!”
… Little did she know she would lose the dog.

Now back to finding Dottie-

We concluded that she was not in the house the whole evening, (while we laughed and giggled and took pictures) since she didn’t touch her food.

(Aren’t we wonderful people?)

Kate rushed to the room to grab her gun.

(My internal dialog: “COYOTES!! Oh no!! Poor Dottie!
I am too young to have blood on my hands! Noooooo.
I can’t go to jail.

I need a good lawyer.

What will the jury think of me?

I need to become a nurse!

Kate’s mom is going to hate me!

I love her!

Remember to google “lawyers in the area”

Dottie! If we find you alive, I will love you forever”)

Maddie and I were also armed,
a rake and a flashlight, respectively.

(We were so like the Charlie’s Angels-
A blonde, brunette and an asian!)

We screamed her name out (yes, at almost 2am at this point- sorry neighbors) and checked around the yard multiple times-

And Kate was fearful that at each turn that she would find a dead animal carcass.

When we exhausted our search of the yard, we returned inside and (hopelessly, I think) re-checked all the rooms and the garage.

“Has anyone checked the front room?” One of us question.

I open the dark room to find the window blinds open, and step in…
I thought I saw some movement on the other side of the window…

“Could it be her?”my heart quickens with expectancy at the possibility.

Now, In the hallway, Maddie says, “She must have gotten out when we went to the video store- when the garage door was open-”

“-that means-” Kate counts,
“5…6..7 hours. She’s been out there in the freezing cold for 7 hours.”

Ours hearts were filled with dispair.

And I exit the front room, to join the girls, putting to rest any hope of finding dotty alive;
blaming the movement on the front porch as my reflection.

“Has anyone checked the front door?” Kate asks, as a last effort;
As if she was ready to be met with disappointment, once again;
Ready to swing the front door open, and feel the cold winter air and envision her poor, lifeless dog in a ditch someplace holding on to dear life.

While she and her friends laughed and ate BBQ chicken and looked at wedding pictures; all in the warmth of her own home.

Her opening the door, I do not recall,
But all I remember were the screams that followed.

First Kate screamed as if she saw a ghost.
Then, followed Maddie.
And finally, me.

“DOTTIE!! DOTTIE!!!”

“Why did you scream, Kate!”

“I thought it was a coyote!”
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Just know that belly rubs and hugs were abundant that evening (morning?).

she even got some of the leftover chicken from the night.

And Kate held her in her lap, for the remainder of the movie.
Dottie stayed still (which she never does!) and you could see the terror in her eyes and feel chill on her dark, black fur.

(Did I mention we were only about 15 minutes into the movie?).

Lesson: In the words of Samuel Coleridge,

“He prayeth well, who loveth well, both man and bird and beast”

So. There you have it. Thank you Zac Efron.

Ok, not really. Thank you God.

Friends, hug your loved ones pets tonight.

Confession: Yours truly was inspired to write this post because she loved the title so much. 😉

And just ’cause she was out in the cold for 7 hours… another one of Dottie:

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