Family, Just My Thoughts

Remembering God’s Providence

We had our couples victory group meeting last week, online of course, and King asked us, as a warm-up for our discussion, about our favorite memory before the pandemic. Funny that I didn’t know he would ask that question and that he would give his answer. But he was absolutely right. Our favorite memory before the pandemic was our trip to Baguio!!!

In February, a childhood friend of my mom’s based in the US came to visit, and we planned to bring her somewhere special. We needed to work around everybody’s schedules, including hers, so plans could not be finalized right away. Barely three weeks before her flight back home, I read an article about nice vacation homes in Baguio. One of the homes belonged to an old friend of ours, and the pictures were lovely!!! I thought it perfect for a short get-away. I immediately ran this by King and my mom. With their approval and having pinpointed the only dates good for all of us (kids had important school activities, and ballet rehearsals and their recital), I checked the available dates on airbnb. Would you believe that all the dates in the first half of March were booked solid, except for the dates that we needed??? I tried booking online, and I tried bugging King at work so he could book ASAP, but King was busy and I, having limited tech skills, could not successfully do it. I had to directly contact our friend! Hahaha. He was so kind and gracious. We got the booking!

We stayed in the guest suite,
below the main house.
Entrance through the porch on the left side. Click here for more info. 😊
The porch, overlooking the fire pit. 😊
Tiny living never looked this good! My friends are talented — woodwork and design, plus use of actual wood of the old house! 👏 👏 👏
Blessed indeed! 💛
Smores and hotdogs at the fire pit!
Erly, the awesome caretaker, made us a fire.
Iron bbq skewers were provided too! 🥖🔥

It was my mom’s first time to go back to Baguio since 2006, when my dad was still with us. My mom’s friend’s last time there was probably way back in the 80s. Fortunately for us, we’d visited in 2018 with friends, but that was also our first since 2006.

A dessert place in John Hay, 2018. 🍰

There were news reports about the Corona Virus in Manila already, there was shortage of alcohol in stores in Manila, they cancelled the Panagbenga festival in Baguio, but for some reason we were not fazed. We were already pretty vigilant (well I was, at least) with washing hands and making sure the kids did too, and trigger-spraying alchohol on our hands after each time we touched anything. We just made sure we did the same while in Baguio. We also bought our stock of alcohol bottles, since there seemed to be no shortage there. Masks were not yet compulsory then, but we spent most of our time outdoors anyway. There were few people out, we thought it was great! Even Burnham Park wasn’t that crowded. It was either there weren’t a lot of tourists or people were opting to stay indoors because of the virus. We didn’t really know for sure.

We went biking in burnham park! I actually wanted to do the boating thing but the kids preferred this. 🚲
We were the only customers in tree top adventure. In fact, the guy we talked to
told us that it’s a good thing we came so they could keep it open. They were already closed by the time we exited. What timing!
The little one was too little for the “ride” so she and daddy hiked together. 🤗
This was after they went roller skating
(well the two younger ones tried 😂),
still in Burnham Park. They like climbing trees. 😊
At Baguio Botanical Garden 🐘
At Baguio Botanical 🌻
Lunch at Lemon & Olives
before heading down to Manila. 🍋

One of our kids, to be honest, was concerned about school clearance week, so when they announced that classes were suspended, I think on Tuesday, March 10th, I saw it as a favor. She didn’t have to worry about not completing her clearance, though in my opinion, she really had nothing to worry about. Little did we know that Community Quarantine would be announced shortly after.

We got back to Manila late Wednesday evening. That was the last time the kids were out of the house because minors and seniors were instructed to stay home. Well, you know the story. We are still in quarantine today, after 4 long months.

At Jollibee somewhere on TPLEX. Last meal outside our home, nearly 5 months ago 😱

Which is why I really thank the Lord that He allowed us to have that 3-day, 2-night trip to Baguio. Perhaps we were wishful thinking that the virus would not spread as much as it has in the Philippines or in denial that the problem would last as long as it has in the whole world. But who knew?! Who knew how much impact it would make in our lives? Who knew that it would usher us into a new normal? Who knew that it would challenge our habits and way of living?

Who knew that three Sundays before our trip was the last time we’d attend an actual Sunday service as a family because the two Sundays before our trip were spent on the girls’ ballet general rehearsal and recital? Who knew that Noelle’s birthday in January was our last time to go up to Tagaytay (due to Taal’s activity AND the quarantine)? Who knew that our trip to Baguio would be the last time we’d go out, eat out as a family? Last time to explore new places? Last time to sit at Jollibee and enjoy some chicken joy and burger steak? Last time to ride the car as a family??? Who knew that that would be the last vacation we’d be taking this year? It’s only half the year, I know, but Covid is too close and too real. No trips for the rest of 2020.

But I saw the providence of God. The timing of it all — our available dates, our accommodations, home the day covid was declared a pandemic, home before the quarantine. We got to build precious memories with the family, precious memories in a beautiful house in a beautiful city, and everybody stayed healthy. My tita even got to fly back home to the US, days later, without a hitch. (Well, almost. There’s a funny story attached to that, but one that might be better kept among ourselves.) All by the hand of God, I truly believe.

This week, I and a bunch of friends were supposed to go on a trip outside the country — my very first without family. While it is sad that it didn’t push through (I’d already bought my tickets), it was wise to cancel it even months before we knew we would still be in quarantine (modified enhanced community quarantine at that) today. Once again, the providence of God.

In a season of tremendous uncertainty, unexpected happenings, difficult transitions, and heavy losses, it’s good to remember the better times, our better times. To listen to other people’s stories and see God’s faithfulness in their lives too. To look back at what God has done before, so we can endure, remain grateful and trust in what He is doing now, and look forward to what He will do again. Remembering keeps our hope alive.

I imagine all of us around a bonfire, sharing stories, singing songs, lifting each other up, being there for one another. My prayer is that each one of us receive and recognize the abundant grace of God at work in our day-to-day. He is in the details, as well as in the big picture. My prayer is that we carry each other through prayer and encouragement, and rejoice together when we overcome. God is never not in control and He always takes care of His children. ❤️

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does. Psalm 145:17

Family, Just My Thoughts

What are you grateful for?

It’s been more than a hundred days of quarantine! How have you been? King asked us the other night what we were thankful for, being home now for more than 3 months. Common answers from the kids were bonding and food. I guess they know their priorities. 😂 Thought I’d share my answers too.

First, I’m grateful that we have not gone crazy and killed each other, being home together 24/7 all this time. We had a good laugh about this, but all agreed. I believe it helps that everyone has his or her own space to retreat to. Well, except maybe me, because Gianna seems to have a homing device set to always find mommy. I guess it’s a good thing she’s not sick of me yet. Unless of course I go outside and do my weeding. When I ask her to help, she does the opposite and stays away 😂. I should go do that again this week 😉. A space in the back to see some green, gaze up at the sky, and to get some fresh air, is very much a blessing as well.

We were recording outside for VBC 🙂

I also believe that our connection to the outside world helps keep us all sane. Thank God for technology and a techie husband! The kids are able to talk to their friends online. King and I are able to talk to (and laugh with) our friends. We may be stuck in one place physically, but we are able to enjoy staying home, and somewhat enjoy our friends. The older girls even watch shows or movies online with their friends. So gen z, don’t you think?

But it also goes to show we genuinely enjoy one another. There are disagreements and certain issues, needless to say, but we are a close knit family. King and I are deliberate in bringing our family together, but I think we gravitate to one another anyway. It’s either I bug them in their room to give/get hugs or just goof around, or they come into my room to snuggle or tell me random stuff. About anime or a favorite band or a favorite character or whatever. I joke that my new name is Momluk, because everyday, one or two or all three call me to look at whatever they want to show me. “Mom, look!!!” Yes, at the same time sometimes. And sometimes, “Mom, look! Mom, look! Mom, look!” I keep telling them that it’s torture what they do to me. 😂😂😂

Second, I’m grateful to be living a less hurried life. No rush to get out the door and bring the kids wherever, or get to a meeting, or juggle my schedule to accomodate their needs and mine. I’m able to rest. I’m able to spend more time reading my Bible, praying and journaling, without as much distraction as before. I’m able to cook dishes, read, draw and make art with Gianna, hang with the girls, watch some shows (though I’ve only finished one and a half seasons of one show on netflix), have devotions with the family, continue decluttering, play, dance, write.

Less hurried but still having busy days. In May, I had Mom Talk, where I shared, along with 2 other moms, about Faith and Journaling online. It was my first time to do something like that ever. Another faith-stretching, character-building experience for me. Noelle continued ballet classes online. King also had Me and My Dad Camp (at home) that month with Gianna. It was her first time to participate. We all also spent some days recording and editing stuff for Vacation Bible Camp. The girls had an online math enhancement program provided by their school for two weeks last month, and we got a taste of what it will be like in the coming school year. It will be another adjustment for all of us, but hey, we were built to adapt. God’s grace is abundant. 🙏

They were in a tent at the backyard for Me and My Dad camp, while we were having a movie date. 🙂

Each of our girls finished the program for their level 🙂

Third, I’m grateful that church and discipleship did not stop. It’s amazing how the church quickly adapted to the change. Livestreaming for Sunday services and daily devotions were set up. Leadership convergences and trainings, marriage talks, youth services and others were put up online. Our church community is alive! Our meetings with our leaders continue via zoom. Our meetings with our own couples discipleship group continue via zoom. In fact, the young professionals group I was supposed to start with two ladies in April pushed through in June, but now with five ladies. 

Monthly meeting with the Pastors’ wives 🙂

Bi-monthly meeting with the wives of our couples group 🙂

Even Kids Church could not be stopped. There is kids church online every Sunday. Me and My Dad Camp, which is usually held in camping grounds in Tagaytay or Rizal, was held in the participants’ homes. And there were at least 70 families who signed up and joined! And VBC! We started meeting for this in January, and the praise dance team started meeting for practices in February. We thought that because we were unable to gather due to the lockdown, VBC would be pushed to next year. But the Kids Ministry team and volunteers made a way for this to happen online! What a privilege for the praise dance team to still be part of it. And would you believe we had nearly 200 participants??? Gianna was a first time participant too! Amazing what God has been doing. ❤️

Danae and Gianna with some of the praise dancers for VBC at Home!

Opportunity. This is what was presented to us in the last 3 months. Did we find it? Have we used it? I hope that instead of complaining about how the quarantine is limiting us, we find the opportunities in our situation. The opportunity to spend time with our loved ones. The opportunity to bless our frontliners. The opportunity to contribute to the livelihood of others by buying local and buying from our friends. The opportunity to connect with people, whether at home or online with people we haven’t spoken to for some time. The opportunity to mend relationships. The opportunity to read. To learn something new. To be creative. To teach somebody. To hone our skill by sharing it to others. To start a business. To write music or poetry. To slow down, refocus, realign, recalibrate. To serve. To pray. To use our platform to encourage and to impart faith.  

There is always opportunity to be grateful. I pray most of all that this is what we have learned in quarantine — to find the silver lining and make the choice to be grateful. ❤️🙏❤️

 I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1

Family, Just My Thoughts

(not so) Happy Easter

Thirteen years ago. April 8. Easter Sunday. But instead of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, we were mourning the death of my dad. He passed away on Easter Sunday of the year 2007. His death surprised us. His death saddened us. His death hurt us. But there was grace and there was hope. And it is exactly the resurrection of Jesus that gave me that hope.

The hope that my dads death is not the end. The hope of my dad enjoying eternal life with Jesus in heaven. The hope of reuniting with him when it is our time to go.

I am assured of this because he grew up with parents who loved Jesus and prayed for their children (and grandchildren — I believe I am a fruit of their prayers). They were faithful and active church-goers. And big Bible readers. My lola would make it a point to grab one of her apos to share bible verses with us while she sat in her rocking chair. I honestly disliked the interruption to our playtime. I dreaded being chosen haha. I believe she was the one who taught us and got us to memorize Psalm 23. So if she sowed prayers for me and seeds of faith in me, that are, by the grace of God, bearing fruit to this day, she definitely sowed the same seeds in my dad. I know this too because some time between his passing and Giannas birth, I found a certificate saying he led the youth of Church of the Risen Lord for a year or two. Faith in action right there.

I am also assured because though my dad seemed to have lost his way, he told me during one of what would have been our last visits in the hospital, that he needed to keep his faith up. I don’t remember praying with him, but I know King and some of our friends did, and I made sure to let him know that we, including his one and only favorite grandchild at that time, Danae, were constantly praying for him. I know he was seeking, praying, and going back to God at that time. And I believe the Lord showed up and led him back. He and my mom experienced the love of Jesus through family who donated their platelets, but also through the church — people they did not know personally and who did not know them personally, but gave of themselves to help my dad. They knew as well that so many were praying for his healing.

My dad is gone. That Easter Sunday was not such a happy one. But that does not at all diminish the true meaning and significance of Easter or my gratitude for it. Thank you Jesus for taking our place on the cross and, being the only One qualified, dying to pay for all our sins once and for all…to redeem us, so we can have a way back to the Father. Thank you Jesus for conquering death, and rising again on the third day. Because of your resurrection, we too can enjoy life after death, with You in heaven. Thank You for giving that gift to my dad. Thank You for offering that gift to each one of us as well.

I pray that whoever reads this, receives this gift of salvation. By faith, which the Lord Himself will supply you with. Especially in this current health crisis, with so much uncertainty about the future.

Would you pray with me?

Heavenly Father…. I am tired. I am sick. I am worn down. I am burnt out. I feel lost. I feel empty. I feel hopeless. I feel alone. I feel rejected and unloved. I am overwhelmed. I am confused. I am afraid. I don’t know what to do anymore. I acknowledge that I need You. I acknowledge that I don’t have the answers. You know better than I. I don’t have the power or the control. You do. I acknowledge that it is my sin that has caused my separation from You. I thank You that though I am a sinner, You love me anyway, so much so that You sent Your Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for my sin. I believe that He died on the cross for me. I believe that You raised Him from the dead. I am sorry for my sins. Please forgive and cleanse me. I surrender. I want to turn away from everything that is not right in Your eyes, and I receive Jesus as my Lord, Master, and Savior. I receive the gift of salvation. Thank You for taking my burden from me and setting me free! Help me to love, serve, and obey You, for the rest of my life. In Jesusname, Amen. ❤️

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:6-11

 

Please feel free to message me or email me if you have prayed this prayer and want to talk about this more. Or you may get connected to our leaders at the Victory Alabang Facebook Page. God bless you!

Just My Thoughts

Weeding in the Time of Corona

My husband likes to pull out the weeds in our lawn, and a few days ago, I decided for the first time 😬, to help him. I am sure I had a chance to do this growing up. I had forgotten how fun and satisfying it is, especially when you’re able to pull them out from the roots. One of my kids mentioned that its like pulling out daddys white hair 😂. It was a good use of my time during quarantine. Nice opportunity to be out in the sun. Good bonding activity with the hubby and kids. Good source of inspiration as well.

img_1419
this may not look much (well its probably half of what we pulled), but we spent a couple of hours doing this. 😁

I actually learned something from it! There are different kinds of weeds invading our frog grass, the majority of which is one particular kind (judging only from appearance of course, I am no expert). I found that some were easy for me to pull from the roots, while others were pretty hard. Some were also pretty obvious because of their height and size, but there were many that blended right in with the grass especially when wet. You would notice them only when they’re dry and up close.

Weeds are not healthy for our lawns or gardens. They compete for the nutrients and the water that are meant for our grass and plants. Much like some of our habits, our attitudes, our life choices, our beliefs. They take up space in our life that push God out of our hearts. They compete with our time and devotion to God. Some of them are so noticeable that others make us aware (whether intentionally or unintentionally) of them, and we ourselves desire to change them. There are those we are able to easily pull, so to speak, out of our lives. Sometimes effortlessly. Why? Because the roots aren’t deep. The roots are young and shallow. Maybe that habit or attitude or choice or belief doesn’t have much of a hold on us. Maybe a meaningless thing that was quickly picked up, one that could also quickly be given up. Maybe removing it from our life does not cause much pain or discomfort.

Then there are those that we are able to get rid off only superficially. In terms of weeds, you successfully pull out the blades above ground, but leave the root intact. Its root has gone so deep that simply pulling it out does not work. It requires much more time and effort, and pain, to remove. (Some roots have thorns. And I pulled so many weeds that my fingers were already sore and greenish in color. In frustration, I honestly just left those I could not pull from the roots. I stopped caring after a while and just moved on to the next ones. 😬)  So from the outside, it may seem like the bad habits or attitudes, former choices, or old beliefs have been removed from your life, but really, its only the appearance, perhaps the behavior or words, that has changed. The root of the issue is still intact and could rear its ugly head anytime it is triggered. The root is still deep, its hold still strong, that whatever progress you make is eradicated when you are tested. The “weeds” continue to grow, while your own growth is stunted. Or worse, the “weeds” choke out everything that is growing in you. Not only do you stop growing, you go backward, regress, backslide.

Its funny that as lazy and indifferent as I was to work on the roots left in the soil, my husband took a spoon from our kitchen to dig out the roots. That determination, the willingness to put in the work, that belief that freedom from weeds is possible, the humility to recognize that he cannot do it on his own are the very things needed to get to the root. Now lets be honest. We are human and we live in a broken world. There will always be a battle against our own undesirable attitudes and habits, and we will constantly need readjustments in our choices and beliefs. But how should we respond? Like me, who cared for a while but then gave up on those that were just too hard to deal with? Who settled to just let the “weeds” keep growing? Or like King, who put in the time and effort, and upon realizing that he could not rely on his own will and strength, got help? Who cared enough to keep his “lawn” healthy?

In this time of Corona, this season of ECQ, weeding is a worthwhile pursuit. Let’s take a good look at ourselves, with humility and honesty. What are these things that we do, these activities we participate in, these ideas and people we allow ourselves to be influenced by, these emotions we allow to take over, these words we speak to ourselves, these beliefs we have embraced — what are these that take precedence over things that God has called us to be and do? What are these that, if we are not mindful, slowly push God out of our families, our decision-making, our parenting, our work and finances, our government and business dealings, our relationships, even our ministry? Lets ask the Lord to expose our weeds, and lets enlist the help of trustworthy people that God has sent us, to walk with us and help us through the weeding process. We cant do it alone. We cant do it just once. This is a life long process of surrendering to the Lord, dying to ourselves, to keep Jesus enthroned in our hearts.

 

That, however, is not the way of life you learned  when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:20-24

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes!
With my lips I declare
    all the rules[c] of your mouth.
In the way of your testimonies I delight
    as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts
    and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes;
    I will not forget your word. Psalm 119:9-16

 

Just My Thoughts, Parenting

What Can We Do?

We are on enhanced community quarantine right now. I have not tried leaving the house since I last bought groceries from small stores, last Saturday. So far, we’ve been okay. Kids are somehow productive. I’ve been hearing the ukulele and piano more these days. We have been playing volleyball and badminton in the backyard. The kids have been baking and doing some reading. We have started watching The Chosen.

There is always something to do, especially with Gianna who wants to do different things and play different games all day. But I woke up this morning with the desire to set some daily goals for our family. I am the kind of person who wants to volunteer and help others, and right now I feel helpless. I feel like I can’t do much because I can’t go out apart from buying supplies. I want to obey the directive to stay home. I have no business being out. As I stay home, I protect myself and I protect others.

So I will do my part here. I will use the opportunity to spend quality time with my kids and teach them.

Goals for the kids. Remains flexible. If some are not done, that’s okay. Try again the following day.
I must not stress about the list, but focus on the overall goals. 😉

I admit, our family is not great at keeping a routine. I know this because of the years we have homeschooled. But I believe at this time, when they have no choice but to stay home and they have no more school work (4th quarter final exams were done early, providentially!) and they can’t give me their usual excuses of being tired, we can set daily goals. I want to be deliberate and yet give them some freedom to choose their individual tasks, such as the game, the chore, the art work, the song/piece. Other tasks of course, we have to agree and do it together. And they will also have ample free time to do what they want — play in the backyard, do other art, read other books, talk to friends online, tiktok, dance, exercise, bake, cook, netflix and chill. We will keep the schedule flexible. If we don’t get them all done daily, that’s okay. The overall goals are to bond as a family, to keep learning, to stay productive and active, to learn life skills, character building, and to stay in God’s Word. We may not be able to do much for others right now, but we can do much for and with our immediate family!

And I will pray. Anytime and all the time are good times to pray. I pray when I am reminded of other people. I pray when I see posts and videos and hear news reports. I pray when I talk to people online. I pray when worry strikes. I pray when my imagination goes wild. I pray when I watch my children sleep. Prayer is our friend and our weapon. Let’s pray God’s promises over our families and our current situation. Receive the calm that prayer brings and the peace that Jesus gives. Fight the enemy through prayer, using God’s very words, deafen him with our worship to the Almighty. Bless others with our online presence and our sincere how-are-yous, uplift them with our encouragement. Let’s stay connected and pray for one another — so that as we face the facts of our situation, we can rise up in faith together!!! We may not be able to physically help others at this time, but our prayers are powerful! And the Lord is faithful to hear and answer them!

PARENTING AND PRAYER. Worthwhile endeavors during, but definitely not limited to, these unusual times. 😉

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer, 1 Peter 3:12a

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:17-19

4 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

Just My Thoughts

What A Week!

It’s been quite a week! And I still go back to what I posted on facebook a few days ago.

Do I fear? Do I worry? Am I concerned?

Of course! I am a mother. And I am human. I have all those thoughts and feelings, and probably more.

BUT… I am also a believer of the One who protects, sustains, heals, and is in control of everything. I submit all my fears, worries, and concerns to Him. And He gives me PEACE.

I will move with WISDOM and do what is doable, cooperate with what the government is doing with regards to the community quarantine and now the enhanced community quarantine, but I will still put my TRUST in the Lord.

Read Psalm 91 NLT out loud and let faith arise!!!


1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

Wooohoooo!!! Amen!!! ❤️

Just My Thoughts

Public Speaking Workshop

Last month, our group of pastors wives had a basic public speaking workshop led by our church mate, Tisha Timbang, who is a member of the Toastmasters Club! To be perfectly honest, I am terrified of speaking in public. I get too nervous even when it’s just a classroom setting, and I’m the student and not the teacher! Maybe it brings me back to when I was a child and my teachers would choose me to represent my class in elocution contests. I don’t know why I ever agreed to any of them when I was never really good at it and I never placed, let alone won. Maybe I could speak English well, but that was it. Always awkward, always nervous in front of a crowd.

Dont get me wrong. Now I love teaching, especially alongside my husband (he makes me feel more at ease in front of other people), and I consider it a privilege to be able to do so. It truly is a testament of Gods grace, because even with my awkwardness and my anxiety, He uses me anyway.

There are two important things that I learned from our guest speaker, Neb Perez, on day 1. (Wasn’t able to attend day 2 because Gianna was sick that week.) The first one is pretty basic. At first it didnt make much of an impact on me, but the more I thought about it, the more I got it. He said public speaking is for the public. Pretty obvious. But what he was trying to teach us was that when we speak to an audience, it is for their benefit, not the speaker’s.

As speakers or teachers or victory group leaders or with whatever speaking/teaching opportunity you and I are given, our focus should be the people, not ourselves. What they need to hear, and not what we fear about how were going to appear. How they can understand the topic better, and not what would make us look smarter or more skilled. Knowing our audience is key. Of course Ned also said to stay true to who we are, to talk how we normally talk, which is liberating for me as I have zero acting skills. Our main goal is to make sure our audience understands what we are trying to say. Its not about showcasing our talent or our amazing life, or impressing them with how much we know or how fast we can talk or how eloquently we speak. It’s about informing them, sharing to them, teaching them, influencing them, inspiring them, imparting to them. We cant stay in our own heads either and just go on and on until we finish what we have prepared to say. We need to make eye contact, observe, connect with, and in our case minister to, the people listening to us.

I also realize that when we get feedback, we must still have the public in mind. To enable us to set aside our egos and focus on their needs. When the focus is off of ourselves, it enables us to receive critique, not reject it. We need feedback to continually improve in getting the message across to people, clearly and correctly, especially when the message we carry is Gods Word and the work He does in our lives.

Ned also gave us 4 questions to ask ourselves before speaking, to adjust our mindset. He said that the moment you think you don’t need to ask yourself those questions is the exact time you need to. For me though, it wasn’t so much the questions he gave, but the practice of checking oneself. In other words, heart-check. What a great reminder to realign ourselves with what God wants us to do right before we actually do it. Remind yourself why you’re speaking. Remind yourself who its for. Remind yourself who gave you the ability and the opportunity. Remind yourself to whom the glory belongs.

In one word, HUMILITY. Public speaking is a privilege and a big responsibility. It may be earned based on your skill or your story, but definitely it is still God who places you there. Definitely it is still God who gave you your abilities. Definitely it is still because of God that you have a story to tell. Let’s remember this well and remain humble. Public speaking is just another tool. Jesus is still the goal. Jesus in you. And Jesus through you.

 

10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11

 

 

 

FEATURED, Just My Thoughts

Lessons from Frozen

Lessons from Frozen 2? No, actually :D. Let′s start with the first one first. I′ve been watching it lately, and Gianna has been listening to its soundtrack all year, like practically each time she rides our car. I loved the story from the very first time I saw it because of true love between sisters. ❤ ❤ ❤

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Three things strike me most. One is how the Grand Pabbie (the troll) instilled fear in Elsa and her parents′ hearts. He could have been more G or PG (because even the parents were terrified) with the visual he gave them about the danger in Elsa′s powers. He could have started with the warning, and ended with the encouragement that there is beauty in her powers if she learns to control it. He could have acknowledged their fear and guided them to not only control her powers but to control the fear. He could have given them hope by telling them that her powers can be used for good.

Our words, and how we deliver them, have power.

Second is what the parents did in response to the troll′s words. They loved their children so much that it made them afraid for their safety. They agreed to hide Elsa′s powers, instead of hone it. They decided to isolate her even from her sister, to teach her ways to conceal, instead of helping her learn her powers and training her to use them. I know it must have been impossible since none of them had experience with such great power, but they could have at least tried, or sought help from others. I am sure they believed it was for the best, but the result was just incredibly sad. They raised two lonely daughters. One, try as she might, could not escape her fears, especially not in isolation. She grew up believing that she could inflict harm on her sister, which made her fear grow even more. And the other grew up confused and hurt, not understanding why she could not be with her sister whom she loved so much.

Love and fear. As a parent, I understand it. God knows how many times I′ve prayed because of the fear I felt in my heart for my children. I don’t think I could be that afraid for them if I did not love them so much.

But LOVE and FAITH. A possibility only because of Jesus. That there is One I can completely trust to love, protect and take care of my children better than I can. One who is Almighty, All-knowing, and Ever-present. One I can cast all my fears to because He cares for me and my family.

But LOVE, FAITH, and COMMUNITY. Friends, family and spiritual family. We don’t have to do things, carry the burden on our own. How grateful are we to have people around us to help us deal with impossible situations, to whom we can be vulnerable and from whom we need not hide. People who give us godly counsel, who pray for and with us, and are present in our lives.

Third is Anna. Despite years of pain and confusion, the moment she learned why Elsa had distanced herself, she chose to understand. She did not run away. In fact, it was still Elsa who ran away because of her fear. And Anna chased after her because of her love for her. Despite the greatness of Elsa′s powers, Anna was not afraid. She trusted in their sisterhood, that Elsa would never deliberately hurt her. And even when she did get hurt, when the time came, she still chose to try to save her sister.

That kind of love blows me away. And that′s the kind of love that changes people′s hearts. Sacrificial. Selfless. True. ❤

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

Just My Thoughts

Tidying Up

I’ve heard of the Konmari method and since Marie Kondo’s show came out on Netflix recently, I’ve been reading posts about how people have been sorting their stuff and keeping only those that spark joy in them. And since I’ve finished binge watching Grey’s, I decided to watch Tidying Up while organizing the girls’ homeschooling materials.

First off, Marie Kondo is so cute! She’s gentle and meek, and so put-together. Calm and joyful too. I feel like if she came to my house, she’d influence us all to be chill and unhurried. That would be awesome. 😁

I love her way of folding. I am definitely teaching the kids and our manang to do it for our clothes. I actually sorted through our kitchen towels, kept only those that spark joy (out with the old 😂), and folded them and placed them in a plastic basket inside a drawer closer to the kitchen sink. I didn’t follow her steps though. I went straight to the kitchen. Clothing should always be first. Sorry Marie!

I also like her idea of putting things in boxes and drawers to keep them tidy. The girls’ cabinets are open because I thought open shelving would have a nice effect but Danae has been complaining about how her room always looks messy. I am excited to buy boxes that they can pull from their shelves. I know there are some in MiniSo and Daiso. Excited to see clothes neatly folded as well.

My favorite thing that Marie said, from the very first episode, was something about a person’s sensitivity to joy. That really struck me, not about tidying up, but about life. Life gets difficult at times. Our situations can change abruptly. Our disposition is almost always affected by change. But JOY IS POSSIBLE in the midst of it all. BY THE GRACE OF GOD, JOY IS POSSIBLE. And it can start small, but our sensitivity to joy can grow.

Tidying up is a daunting task, but one’s sensitivity to joy grows through the process, most especially when clutter slowly disappears, things get clearer and cleaner, and when the task is finally done. Though I don’t really care for talking to my clothes and thanking them (although I do tell my kids to say goodbye to their things that they agree to give away), but having a sense of gratitude for having used them is a good thing. It reminds us of how blessed we are, how God has been faithful in providing for our needs. I believe counting our blessings, finding something to be grateful for (like indoor plumbing, yes) makes our sensitivity to joy grow. Seeing progress and change in the seemingly impossible — hope increases joy! Knowing that you are not alone, you are part of a team, a family; that there are people who love and support you — security increases joy! Accomplishing something — fulfillment increases joy too!

May the Lord increase our sensitivity to joy. May our eyes be opened to see, and our hearts be inclined to appreciate, His goodness, in the big and the little things in our lives. ❤️

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Just My Thoughts, Parenting

What did you learn from the movie?

Every time we watch a movie, we ask the girls what they learn. We did the same after watching The Greatest Showman. One of them said that we shouldn’t care about what other people think about us, only what we think about ourselves. My immediate response was, “What if you think you’re ugly?”

I think this is a common mistake that we make. We may not allow other people to define us, which is good, but we choose to define ourselves. What’s wrong with that? Well, in the movie, the oddities believed that they were ugly and worthless all their lives, and they operated according to those beliefs. They hid. They were ashamed. They kept to themselves. It took a PT Barnum to awaken them. It was like Barnum gave them their worth and their identity, when he called them out to be part of one great show. He was the only one who saw them for more than just “freaks,” more than the labels people put on them. They started believing and living according to what Barnum believed about them — that they are useful, talented, that they have a purpose in life and they can bring joy to people.

We too need to anchor our identity onto Someone. But not just anyone. Not even ourselves, for we are flawed. Our views of ourselves vary and fluctuate, depending on mood or circumstance. We need to anchor our identity to One who is constant. Perfect. All-powerful and all-knowing. The One who created us, the One who created us for a purpose. The One who knows all, who knows every minute detail about us and cares for us. Infinitely good, infinitely wise. Limitless. Trustworthy. The One whose ways are higher than ours. The One whose love for us isn’t and cannot be changed. We believe what and who He says we are, and live accordingly — His child — valued, loved, accepted, blessed, forgiven, safe, secure, significant, useful for all kinds of good work. FREE.

Anchor yourself to Jesus. Build a relationship with Him. He will set you free from the shame and the fear. He will teach you and mold you into the best you can possibly be. ❤

 

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3

 

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8 

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Cor 5:17