Courageous Caitie Launches Courageous Light

“There are moments that the words don’t reach. There is suffering too terrible to name. You hold your child as tight as you can and push away the unimaginable.”

These lines were taken from Lin Miranda’s song “It’s Quiet Uptown” from the American musical, Hamilton. I’ve been listening to the album for a few weeks now and I always take a deep sigh whenever I hear this particular song. In this tune, the main characters grieve over the loss of their child and other disheartening situations they experienced. It showed the reality of pain and how we feel and deal with it.

Courageous Caitie Courageous Light (17)

 

I then remembered the story and life of  Courageous Caitie and how her parents (Jay Jay and Tine Lucas) and family shared their hearts, lives, and experiences to us earlier this year.

Their three-year old daughter, Caitie, was diagnosed last March 2016 with Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia (JMML), a rare cancer of the blood affecting infants and toddlers. Last March 30, her family posted an update on Courageous Caitie’s Facebook page which said: “Today our daughter has gone to Jesus already.”

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It has been been quite a roller-coaster ride for the Lucas family these past few months. But, by the grace of God, they still continue to share God’s love, goodness, grace, and power to people from all over the world. One of the many opportunities that God has given the Lucas family is a movement that aims to help families of children with illnesses find God’s hope and purpose. Last Saturday, their family launched this movement called “Courageous Light”.

Courageous Caitie Courageous Light (1)

It was a privilege for me to witness the family gather relatives, friends, and strangers at the Gateway Mall Activity Center where they celebrated the life and legacy of Caitie. Here are some of the highlights of the launch last weekend:

 

1. STAR WARS – Star Wars characters showed a demo of how they used their lightsabers. The men and women part of the groups, The 501st Legion and FightSaber, also visit children in hospitals to help share the joy. They joined Caitie in distributing materials and visiting other kids in the hospital a few months ago too. (In the photo below: Jay Jay Lucas and Lem Enriquez hosting the event)

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2. VIDEOS – Videos of Caitie and her parents and family were shared to the audience. These videos included the first birthday of Caitie, hospital visits, interviews of her parents, wake services in the Philippines and in Singapore, and compilations of photos.

Courageous Caitie Courageous Light (3)

 

3. GOD’S WORD – Mr. John Ong shared God’s Word and what it means to have Jesus in our hearts and lives; to have Him as our personal Lord and Savior.

Courageous Caitie Courageous Light (6)

 

4. GALLERY OF PHOTOS – The family showcased a beautiful gallery of Caitie and their family. From the time she was born up until her heartwarming moments in the hospital with her parents, brother, and relatives. They also shared some of Caitie’s artworks, clothes, shoes, and things by displaying them on two tables (covered in glass) inside the activity center.

courageous caitie

Courageous Caitie Courageous Light (8)

 

5. LIGHT CEREMONY – The couple distributed cupcakes to those who were in the activity center and they encouraged everyone to participate in blowing the candles to celebrate Caitie’s birthday. In the video below, you’ll hear how Jay Jay shared that the light represents Jesus and that it was their desire to encourage more and more people to keep on sharing the light (Jesus) to those around us.

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6. GOSPEL TREES – They posted large photos of painted trees without leaves. It was the task of the participants to paint the leaves using their fingertips. There were five trees in that area which represented these: HEAVEN (Yellow), OUR SINS (Black), GOD’S LOVE FOR US (Red), , NEW LIFE IN CHRIST (White), and GROWTH (Green). This gallery shared about God’s love, hope, and salvation for us.

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Courageous Caitie Courageous Light (14)

 

7. COURAGEOUS LIGHT POSTCARDS – These postcards are printed Bible verses illustrated by different Filipino artists to remind us of the power of God’s Word. There were 100 selected postcards that were divided into four volumes. One volume is being sold at Php 495 each. The proceeds from these postcards will be used to fund materials for hospital visits and other events that can help families support their children with illnesses. They also sell other merchandise like notebooks, toys, shirts, etc.

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Courageous Caitie Courageous Light (16)

 

8. COURAGEOUS LIGHT VOLUNTEERS (a.k.a. Troopers) – The people who worked behind the scenes; those who helped with the program, posters, artworks, decorations, set-up of photos displayed, preparation of materials and merchandise, lights and sounds; the prayer warriors, those who committed to join the team in their hospital visits; and many more. Everyone did a great job! Praise God!

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While I was going around the activity center during the event, I caught glimpses of the couple and how they interacted with friends and strangers. Some of the guests who went there brought their child/children with illnesses to seek comfort from Jay Jay and Tine. It was very heartwarming to see the couple graciously welcome, encourage, and share Jesus to them that afternoon. They continued to point to Jesus for the source of joy, hope, peace, and security even during difficult moments. WOW.

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Courageous Caitie Courageous Light (10)

Just before I went to another part of the gallery, I saw that the couple was being interviewed by one of the reporters in the area. As I watched them eagerly share, I thought to myself “Wow. Many years ago, they wouldn’t have imagined going through what they went through these past three years. But, despite the pain and loss, God’s love, hope, and grace continues to shine through the hearts and lives of the Lucas family. Even though I don’t get to communicate with them often, I am very much encouraged by them to keep my eyes on Christ even if I stumble or go through major bumps along the way.

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“You hold your child as tight as you can and push away the unimaginable.” [The Musical: Hamilton]

In the case of the Lucas family, they aren’t pushing away the unimaginable. By God’s grace, they are going through it; witnessing God’s hand at work in the lives of hundreds of thousands who are being blessed by their testimony of God’s goodness. And this new movement that they are starting is just the beginning of another opportunity to share Jesus to the world. Thank you, Lucas family, for continuously stepping out in faith and trusting in the Lord. I pray that He would embrace you, give you wisdom, strengthen you, keep you from falling into pride or sin, and guide you as you honor Him with the resources He has blessed you with.

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“Don’t let your lights go down. Don’t let your fire burn out.
‘Cause somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe

So when you get the chance, are you gonna take it?
There’s a really big world at your fingertips and you know you have the chance to change it.”

-Britt Nicole’s “The Lost Get Found”

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” –Ephesians 3:20-21

 

The gallery will be displayed at the Gateway Mall Activity Center until August 13, 2016. But, for the succeeding Saturdays (until Sept. 3), there will be activities for parents and kids. Feel free to drop by! For more details, you may visit the Facebook pages of Courageous Caitie and Today with the Lucas!

Unshakable: Standing Firm in Changing Times

Last May 17, 2014, my family and I attended a one-day conference with Dr. Ravi Zacharias, Krish Dhanam and Dr. Nabeel Qureshi at the CCF Center. It was entitled “Unshakable: Standing Firm in Changing Times”. The humble speakers shared about the principles they have been learning from God’s word, their experiences in sharing God to others, and their testimonies and encounters with Him.

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with Dr. Ravi Zacharias

I have listed down some of the encouraging things they have shared at the conference. May these encourage you too. Have a blessed day! :)

KRISH DHANAM: 

Pray before making decisions.

Learn to shift through life and steer the things that do not matter.

You have to learn to start. Don’t just stand there. Do something.

A half-baked job is a no-no. Swerve. Do your best.

Outlove the people around you. Show them Jesus – who is most powerful in life.

Take one step at a time: Person to prepare, Passion to pursue, and Price to pay.

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DR. NABEEL QURESHI:

God intentionally created you. You are not a purposeless piece of carbon.

Ground yourself and know your Creator. Start fueling your life with what God has designed for you.

God has crafted you to be a world-changer. All things can be done for others. All things can be done through Jesus.

You’re here to produce, not just to consume.

Keep your eyes on the cross.

Taking God’s name in vain: You carry the name of Christ. Live like Christ and don’t take His name in vain.

Bring your shame and your past to the light. And in the light, walk with Christ and He will use you to be a blessing to others.

You have eternity secured in Christ. How are you using your time here on earth if you’re too focused on youself?

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) – Delighting in Him means loving Him with everything that you have, knowing Him, and studying His Word more. Then, God will craft the desires in our hearts.

with Dr. Nabeel Qureshi
with Dr. Nabeel Qureshi

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DR. RAVI ZACHARIAS:

A calling is that position in your life that brings and converges your disciplines, convictions, and desires in life.

Whatever you do, wherever you are, do it in the name of God and treat it with honor.

God is always within reach from wherever you are.

We see the awesome power of God when we understand and see His exactitude in all (our bodies, the earth, the universe).

You are building memories. Make good ones.

Take seriously what God can do through you.

How is your prayerlife?

The way back to any broken relationship is the communion with God.

It is vitally important to choose the right partner. Seek God’s wisdom and do the right thing with the partner you choose.

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Dad and Mom

 

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with tita Jean Geronimo and Ptr. JP & Tita Rochelle Masakayan.

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

 

If I Gave You this Cupcake for Free…

…would you still have to pay for it? Or would you simply receive it?

One of the prettiest things I’ve seen in Google Images is a picture of rainbow cupcakes. I guess there really is something about the combination of the colors: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet that sort of makes me smile. Interestingly, if you do some research in the internet or in books, you’ll find out that these colors have different meanings too. :)

This week, it has been raining like crazy here in Manila. Sorry to say, even though I wanted to, I was not able to see a rainbow after the rain. :( And it’s funny because somehow God told me “Hey, Nic. It’s okay if you didn’t see a rainbow. Why don’t you just make rainbow cupcakes instead? Just like the ones you saw in the internet.”, and boy did I smile. The next day, I went to the grocery and bought the ingredients that I needed to make the rainbow cupcakes.

I enjoyed my time preparing the batter of the rainbow cupcakes because my workplace in the kitchen looked so colorful. I couldn’t believe I was really making cupcakes because it actually seemed like I was just playing with paint. :)

After preparing the multi-colored batter of the rainbow cupcakes, I decided not to bake the rainbow cupcake batter first.  I immediately went to my box of baking ingredients and gathered the following food colorings: Yellow, Black, Red, White, and Green. I did so because these colors remind me of something that was more beautiful than the rainbow; something that changed my life. I’ll be sharing more about these below.

I placed the cupcake paper liners in the baking pan and poured in one color at a time. :)

For the first layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the YELLOW batter.

It says in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

The bible didn’t say “For God SORT OF loved the world…” or “For God WAS FORCED to love the world…”. God clearly wanted me to remember how much He loves me; how much He wants me to have a personal relationship and a meaningful life with Him; and spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

And what’s cool about that is He didn’t say “For God so loved Nicole Obligacion only…”, He said HE LOVED THE WORLD, which includes you too! HE LOVES YOU and WANTS TO SPEND ETERNITY WITH YOU. :) 

For the second layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the BLACK batter.

When ate Camille (my sister) went in the kitchen and saw the black colored cupcake batter, she immediately blurted out “WHAT?? BLACK? Why did you use black?” I just laughed and told her “Eh basta, you’ll see. Hehe.” 

Personally, when I see black, God reminds me of darkness, emptiness, and the biggest problem on earth: SIN. Ate Camille was shocked when she saw the black cupcake batter. I guess it’s the same way too when God sees me enjoying or dwelling in sin.

When I fall into sin, it’s as if I can hear God telling me: “WHAT? You know that I love you so much, Nic, and I give you the freedom to choose. But why choose SIN?” Sadly, that’s reality. I admit that I am a sinner. I lied, I cheated, I stole, I did things that did not please God before. SIN. This is one big problem because…

Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death…”

Sin separates us from God. As hard as it sounds, the payment for our sins is death. The Bible even talks about two kinds of death: The first is physical (we all know this); but did you know, the second one is actually spiritual death? (This is eternal separation from God :( ) (Revelation 21:8 “…This is the second death.”)

Years ago, when I first heard about this, I started to feel bothered because I knew I’ve done so many wrong things in the sight of God. I just felt so ashamed before God. He has been so good to me and there I was sinning in front of Him. However, one of the many things that I am grateful for is the word “BUT” in the Bible. Why? Because Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death BUT the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God uses the word “BUT” here to remind me of hope and of His grace, which leads me to the third layer.

For the third layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the RED batter.

The color red reminds me of the blood of Jesus when He paid the penalty of our sin by dying on the cross.

When the red batter was poured in the cupcake liner, God reminded me of the hope that I have in Him. I realized that I really cannot pay for the penalty of my sin, no matter what I try to do (good works, religion, other efforts…).

This is because of Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is BY GRACE that you have been SAVED through FAITH – and THIS NOT FROM YOURSELVES, it is the GIFT of GOD – NOT by WORKS, so that no one can boast.”

I thought about it before and realized that even if I did try to save myself and try to go to heaven (after dying) through my own ways, such as doing good works (or others), how will I know when I’ve done enough already to save me? There is no security. There is no assurance. My efforts will not be enough to save me from the penalty of my sin. I really cannot save myself. ONLY ONE can save me. ONLY ONE can save us all. And that ONE is JESUS CHRIST.

John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus did not say “I am A way and A truth and A life.” He is not an option. He is the only solution.  Also, 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 shows us that Christ’s resurrection proves that He is the Son of God, the Messiah, and the only Savior. It brings me to tears to know that someone took my place on the cross to pay the penalty of my sin, which is death.

Jesus didn’t deserve to die and yet He did because He loves us so much. So, what must we do now that we know: how much God loves us, how we have sinned, how Jesus is the only way for us to spend eternity with God in Heaven?

Photo taken from Google Images

We must choose to be reconciled with God and accept the gift of God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Jesus is personally inviting all of us to restore our relationship with Him. Years ago, I made a decision to fully surrender my life to Jesus, I admitted that I am a sinner and I cannot save myself; I believed that He died to pay the penalty of my sin and He rose again; I accepted Him as my personal Lord and Savior; and I claimed Jesus free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

Taken from Getty Images

If it’s your desire to have a restored relationship with God, I’d like to encourage you to tell God everything that’s in your heart right now. Even before we talk to Him, He actually already knows what we want to tell Him. Just like what I did years ago, you can also let him know the desire of your heart by praying to Him; admitting that you are a sinner and cannot save yourself; believing that Jesus died to pay the penalty of your sins and that He rose again; receiving Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior; and claiming his free gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

For the fourth layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the WHITE batter.

White represents cleanliness, purity, freedom, surrender, etc.

If you decided to sincerely place your trust in Jesus then I’d like to encourage you because…

  1. YOU are 100% forgiven. All your sins are forgiven – past, present, and future. (Seen in Colossians 2:13)
  2. You are a childof God and nothing will separate you from your heavenly Father. (John 1:12; Hebrews 13:5)
  3. You are a new person! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  4. You will go to heaven. YUP! And you will live with God forever. Eternal life begins the moment you place your trust in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. (1 John 5:11-13)

For the last layer, I poured in two tablespoons of the GREEN batter.

The color green reminds me of GROWTH.

Now that I’ve surrendered my life to Him, I want to be able to maximize what He has given me to love Him and love others more. I want to grow more in my walk with Him. And I’d like to encourage you to do the same too! :)

Here are some of the things that we can do to GROW more in our relationship with Jesus:

  1. Read the Bible regularly.
  2. Talk to God through prayer.
  3. Obey Him.
  4. Talk to others about Jesus and the free gift that He has given us. (Just like what I’m doing now: Sharing it through Cupcakes! )
  5. Join Bible studies or groups of people who also want to grow in their relationship with God.

I didn’t want to let this day pass by without sharing to you what Jesus did and how God changed my life because I really, really, really, really, really, really, want to encourage you to KNOW HIM MORE. :)

I think it has been 5 years since I’ve fully surrendered my life to Christ. I actually grew up exposed to this truth, but I just didn’t really want to absorb it in my life back then. However, God changed my heart and life, and since then, I’ve been experiencing the best years of my life with Him.

singing praises to God during one of our practices

Going back to my cupcakes, after preparing both batters, I finally baked them and placed vanilla buttercream frosting on top.

If I gave you these cupcakes for free, would you still have to pay for it? Or would you simply receive it?

God gave us the FREE GIFT of ETERNAL LIFE with Him through Jesus Christ. Would you still have to pay/work for it? Or would you simply receive it? :)

RECIPE: Billy’s Vanilla Cupcakes (featured in Martha Stewart’s Recipes)

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CUPCAKE BATTER:

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

STEPS:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Line cupcake baking pan with paper liners.
  3. Using an electric mixer, combine both types of flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined.
  4. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla.
  6. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients slowly.
  7. Beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
  8. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full.
  9. Bake (for 17 to 20 mins), rotating pan halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Use a small spatula or a piping bag to frost tops of each cupcake.

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time.