Isabella's Videos

Isabella as Black Swan, May 2017

Christmas in the Park San Jose Tree Lighting 2016

Isabella Phillips for The New Ballet

Santana Row Tree Lighting 2016

European Vacation 2017

May 29, 2017 - June 11, 2017

Monday, May 29, 2017 - Departure Day

Oakland (OAK) to London Gatwick (LGW)

Cecile took us to the airport

Checked-in 3 luggages:
  1. Green Samsonite luggage: Mine and Isabella's
  2. Black Samsonite luggage: Russ' and all our toiletries and shoes
  3. Army print Izod luggage: Mom's and Dad Dennis'
We each had our own carry-on bags. There was supposed to be a charge of approx. $70.00 for Russ' guitar carry-on but it ended up flying for free thanks to Isabella's ballet conversation with the check-in rep whose daughter shares the same passion.

We breezed through security and we had plenty of time for coffee at Starbucks and dinner at Chili's Too before boarding for our 6:35pm flight.

via Norwegian Dreamliner

Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - Arrival in London

We landed at London Gatwick on time at 12:45pm local time. Our 2 luggages were the first ones to come out but my mom's luggage didn't make it somehow. I filled out a missing luggage form and lifted it up in prayer.

We exchanged money and bought train tickets @ Moneycorp right by baggage claim.

We took the Gatwick Express to London Victoria then transferred to another train to North Greenwich and then a bus two stops from the station to our apartment. I was so very thankful for the boys who rolled and carried all our heavy luggages through all the tunnels.  I then realized that my mom's "missing" luggage was a blessing in disguise. God knew that we would end up taking the trains and it would have been even more challenging having an extra luggage to haul.

After 2 long train rides and a bus ride, we finally arrived at Apple Apartments. The only method of check-in was through phone call but our phones were not internationally operational yet at that moment. Thankfully there was a couple (who happen to be Filipinos) who was coming in.  They called for us and we were checked-in into our very nice and welcoming 3-bedroom 3-bath apartment. We were very pleased with the property. They even have a smart phone free to take with us around.

As soon as we were settled we walked to the nearby shopping area for some nourishment. We found a cafe serving lunch and a grocery store (Iceland). Then we headed back to the apartment for much-needed rest.

Phil, Isabella, and I recovered our strength and we walked to Cutty Sark, about a mile away from the apartment.  It was a beautiful time to walk as the sun was starting to set and the weather was perfect. I had a fun time taking photos of the beautiful scenery.

And even more blessed time taking photos of my babies Phil and Belle (Ian was left in the apartment with the rest of the gang who were all wiped out from the long travel)

We walked fast going back to the apartment as the sun was quickly setting down by then and starting to get dark. We were happily pooped by the time we got to the apartment and had no trouble going to sleep.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - A day in London

We all woke up refreshed and ready to take on beautiful London but not before breakfast and prayer. We all walked to Cutty Sark as we wanted for the rest of the gang to see it and we decided to buy our Train and London Passes there. We had time to gallivant around and take photos before the visitor shop opened.

We bought our London Passes as soon as the visitor center opened, walked to the nearby train station and purchased our travelcards, 

and then we were off to London Bridge station for a day of sightseeing.
  • We started at the Tower Bridge Experience (Russ and I were both so scared to walk through the glass floor at the top of the tower bridge)

  • Followed by a quick tour of the London Tower
  • and then lunch at the nearby Paul Cafe

  • Then we walked across the London Bridge to the London Bridge Experience (a horror attraction
  • Then we took the train to Westminster and visited the Big Ben.

  • Then a short walk to the nearby Westminster Abbey. They were on a short break when we got there but thankfully they will re-open (late schedule on Wednesdays only)

  • We walked to Buckingham Palace. (We should've taken the hop-on hop-off bus included on our London passes as it was not a short walk as someone told us) 

  • bus back to the Abbey and toured inside. 
  • bus to Trafalgar Square
  • dinner at an Italian Restaurant
  • Train to Westminster Pier hoping to catch the boat back to Greenwich but we missed it. But we got to see the London Eye
  • Train back to Greenwich

Thursday, June 1, 2017 - Train to Paris

Phil went to the market to get us breakfast. 
Phil and Belle walked to Cutty Sark to buy souvenirs and train tickets
Checked out at Apple Apartments
A short bus ride to Greenwich Station and train to St. Pancras
Visited King's Cross Station - Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4
Phil bought empanada at the street market with our leftover coins
Lunch at St. Pancras
Eurostar Train to Paris Nord
Metro train to Esplanade de la Defense
Checked in at Fraser Suites
Dinner at Japanese Restaurant (Ian at a burger place)

Friday, June 2, 2017 - Paris

We got conned at the train station
Bought all-day train passes
Sainte-Chapelle - bought Paris Museum Passes
Notre Dame

walked back to exchange Passes
train to Louvre
lunch at Louvre food court
back to hotel
The kids and I went to the Eiffel Tower

Saturday, June 3, 2017 - Versailles

George V station and visited Louis Vuitton shop; my mom almost got pick-pocketed
Museum de Orsay
Ian and Dad went back to hotel
Eiffel Tower
Rushed to LV store to buy my purse but they were closing right when we got there
Arc de Triomphe
Train back to hotel

Sunday, June 4, 2017 - Flight to Barcelona
Checked out at Fraser Suites
Private van to the airport. I gave the driver the incorrect terminal so we had to take shuttle to the right one thankfully we had plenty of time.
Flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Barcelona (BCN) via British Airways operated by Vueling Airlines

We were picked up by Suntransfers private van from the airport to the cruise port
Embarked Norwegian Epic

Monday, June 5, 2017 - At Sea
watched Burn the Floor show

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 - Naples, Italy
taxi to Sorrento, Pompeii, and Naples

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy
walked to train
hop on hop off bus passes
Trevi Fountain

Thursday, June 8, 2017 - Florence/Pisa (Livorno), Italy
shuttle to train
Train to Florence
train to Pisa
train back

Friday, June 9, 2017 - Cannes, France
tender to Cannes
bought Prada
dancing night

Saturday, June 10, 2017 - Palma de Mallorca, Spain

Sunday, June 11, 2017 - Barcelona, Spain
pick-up van no show
taxis to the airport
lost Belle's carry-on bag

arrived Oakland
Suzie and Alvin picked us up
dinner at Gerry's Grill

An Encounter with The Holy Spirit

Sunday, July 5, 2015 We (my mom, my daughter and myself) were driving back from Pismo Beach to the Bay Area after celebrating my youngest son’s 23rd birthday. I was sick with a very bad cold and asthma but we must drive back for my daughter, Isabella's, summer ballet intensive. About an hour through the drive, I started feeling very sleepy to a point of needing to literally hold my eyes to keep them from closing. My mom was already in deep sleep while my daughter, Isabella, was trying to stay awake to keep me from falling asleep. 
I told Isabella: “I think I need to stop and maybe sleep for a bit for safety purposes.” and she couldn’t agree more even though she wanted to get home as early as we can so she can rest for the next day’s ballet intensive.  
“Yes, mom I think you should. I can see your eyes closing”
Then questions started flooding my thoughts: “where will I stop? will it be safe to just stop anywhere and sleep? I don’t know what to do!” and just as I said “Help me God!”, it was as if I got transported to a place where I went into hyper sleep and woke up so refreshed as if a ball of fire entered my stomach, warmed me, and gave me a burst of energy. I actually “felt” it (this warm ball) physically entering my stomach! and all this happened in like a matter of seconds!  I was filled with energy the rest of the 3-hour drive despite bad traffic which is quite unusual for me. I call it my physical encounter with The Holy Spirit. I always feel the presence of God through the eyes of faith but nothing like this has ever happened to me before. At least not in a “physical” sense.

Rewind about a week before:
Our church pastor came over our house to borrow a bread maker for use in her sermon. We had a short fellowship and I opened up to her that I have trouble grasping the “person” of the Holy Spirit. Not that I do not believe but I just have a hard time comprehending the third “person” of the Trinity. She said she has a book that she could lend me that might help. So after church service that Sunday she handed me this book called “The Shack” by Wm Paul Young.

Fast Forward about a week after:
My best friend, Cecile, who lives close to me but who was in New York at the time, called asking if I could pass by her house to pick up her mail and a package that was scheduled to come that day since no one was home. We haven’t talked for a while so we had “catch up” conversation. I told her about my encounter with the Holy Spirit and I started to her about the book that my Pastor lent me but before I could even say the title of the book she exclaimed: “It’s not The Shack is it?” “Oh my! yes it is!” I exclaimed back. “Why?!” And what she told me next gave us both chilling goosebumps. The package that I was to pick up contained the very same book that she had actually ordered for me! It’s one of her favorite books and she said she felt some type of “leading” to gift me my own copy! Coincidence? I certainly believe not. Ok I’m going to stop here and let you form your own thoughts. May your own reflections and meditations be guided by the amazing presence of The Holy Spirit.

And as if all that were not enough, all the programs that i would happen to watch, read, and listen to after this whole encounter, were all pertaining to and centering on the awesome power and presence of The Holy Spirit.

Ballet San Jose
October 2014
Photo By: Scott Belding

Precious Prayer from my Backseat Angel

submitted for St. Paul UMC newsletter
originally written March 2007

...pray for each other so that you may be healed.
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
-James 5:16 -

My usual chauffeuring schedule back in 2007 included taking our third son, Ian, to his high school around 7:30A.M. while I left Isabella at home with our eldest son, Phil, who did not normally leave for school until later in the day.  As soon as I got home from taking Ian, I prepared Isabella for school and then I took her around 8:30A.M.  But on Thursdays, during the spring quarter of 2007, Phil left for school before 8A.M. requiring that Isabella come with me when I took Ian to school.  Then we returned home to prepare before I drove her to school.  Isabella used to get a little car sick this early in the morning.  When we got home on this particular Thursday, she said: "I don't feel very well, Mommy."  I paused and said: "Let me pray over you."  And I prayed a brief prayer of healing for her.  Shortly after my prayer she said: "Mommy I'm feeling so much better.  Thanks for the prayer."  So off we went to school.

I went about my day and met with my new friend, Tessie, who came with me to my 9:30A.M, dance class.  Then we had a blessed fellowship over coffee.  Not long after that, it was time for me to pick Ian up from "minimum day".  Then Phil arrived home after his first class, since his next class was not until 3pm.  We had a wonderful mother/son bonding time over lunch at Yanagi Sushi.  Then I cleaned the house for a bit, and before I knew it, it was time to pick Isabella up from school.  Time certainly flew especially my day had been fun and fruitful thus far.

During our drive from school to home, Isabella and I normally talked about her day while we enjoyed the beautiful view of Pismo Beach.  Many times the awesome view made us pause in silence allowing us to absorb and savor the beauty of nature.  In our short moment of silence, I inadvertently uttered out loud to myself: "I'm not feeling very well."  Isabella's precious voice from the backseat: "You just need prayer, Mommy, and you'll feel much better.  Let me prayer: Dear God, please let my Mommy feel better, she's the most wonderful Mommy.  In Jesus' name I pray. Amen."

Needless to say, I felt heavenly after my precious backseat angel's prayer.

My soul, overpowered with a sense of spiritual ecstasy,
seemed to have soared to heaven
to give an ever so tight embrace
to the One who makes all things possible
for bestowing heavenly moments such as this
for His unfathomable sovereignty, goodness, and mercy.

Battlefield of the Mind and Prayer

(submitted for St. Paul UMC February 2013 Newsletter)

Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer is our small group's first study for the year 2013. Though I've read the book in bits and pieces, and even had the privilege of attending Joyce Meyer's live teaching on the topic last September, I'm still excited to learn more and re-learn or be reminded of ways we can fight the “battle” in our mind. I believe that we all need constant reminders that we are in a daily spiritual battle but we have weapons that we can use against our enemy, one of which is prayer.

Ever since I came to know Christ, I am very joyful and thankful to declare that my life has taken the path of joy and peace. But that is not to say that I don't have moments when negative thinking gets the best of me. But through prayer and the study of His Word, I am able to snap out of my negative thinking quicker and quicker as I get to know Christ more and more.

As Joyce Meyer often says, I may not be where I need to be, but thank God I'm not where I used to be. I believe that this is a wonderful affirmation to remember as we begin the new year. With that said, I thought I'd write down three major changes or transformations Christ has done in my life.

  1. I am not as easily offended. If I do get offended, by the grace of God, I am able to somehow quickly move past the offense, remembering Christ's words: “forgive them for they know not what they do”.
  2. I am less judgmental. The cross made me realize that ALL have fallen short of the glory of God. We all have our own weaknesses and struggles and only God can change other people, not us.
  3. Prayer has become a major part of my daily life. Sometimes I think prayer is just all I could do in moments when I can't really do anything. But the truth is, prayer is the best thing we could do especially in those moments. Prior to my personal relationship with Christ, I wouldn't think of prayer as my first response. If anything, it was my last resort. And let alone praying for other people! But these days, I am happy to say that I even learned, and now enjoy, praying even for strangers.

I have learned to use any and all available “empty” time. In our study of Battlefield of the Mind, I learned that we have to consciously choose what we think about. Otherwise the enemy will fill our passive minds with negative stuff. “Empty” time for me is while waiting, cleaning, or sometimes driving. My daughter, Isabella, is the one who actually showed me that I could pray for strangers while driving, when one commute day to ballet she pointed out a car pulled to the side of the road and said out loud: “I hope that person is ok.” Ever since then, we offer a quick prayer whenever we see someone pulled to the side of the road.

As for free time while waiting for Isabella's ballet class to end, I have learned to observe and look for any prayer need. Sometimes it's someone trying to parallel park on a busy street. I pray for both the one trying to park and patience for the one waiting. Sometimes it's a parent having a hard time with a misbehaving child. Other times it's a motorist getting a citation, or worse, getting towed. The list can go on and on. And before I know it, Isabella's class is over. I have found that praying is the best way to make use of my empty time and the best way to fill my thoughts with good stuff thereby coming out victorious in my own “battlefield of the mind”.