Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Newest Fan


I had an amusing experience yesterday. It started in the morning when I played a cd of nursery rhymes for my son, Yanthy. As usual, I clapped, danced and did some hand gestures to act out the lyrics as I sang along in front of my baby who was strapped to his high chair. I was pleasantly surprised when Yanthy clapped after an action song. He seemed to like what he saw Mommy did. I continued to clap, sing and act/dance until we finished listening to the cd and it was time for Yanthy to take a nap. It was amusing and at the same time heartwarming to see Yanthy clap every now and then.

After turning off the stereo, we went inside our bedroom. I usually carry him with his head resting on my shoulder when I put him to sleep. I dance slowly then sing him a slow song until he falls asleep. Yesterday, Yanthy surprised me once more when as I lulled him to sleep, he looked up at me, watched me closely as I sang him a song (one of my compositions), and then smiled at me and clapped profusely. I couldn’t help but laugh and be amused at my discovery… My son, Yanthy, has become my newest fan!

I reminisced how fun it was to perform before both big and small audiences. Then, this insight came to me. The applause from my son brings me greater joy than the applause from other people. I hope and pray that as my son grows older and understands more about life, he would continue to be a fan of Mommy. I hope that his admiration for me would grow as he grows older. I hope that he grows to admire me not just for my talent in the arts; but more so, for the way that I live my life. I hope that when all my skin is wrinkled and my hair is gray, I would still hear my son applaud me and hear him say, “I’m so proud of you, Mommy!”


TG

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Family Mission Statement

One of my joys recently was being able to come up with a Family Mission Statement together with my husband. One of our action points after reading the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families is to write our very own Family Mission Statement. We call it the Gumap-as-Dumadag Family Code. Below are statements that define our family.

  1. We love God above all and with our all and we cultivate a deep relationship with Him.
  2. We love and honor each other and show our commitment in our words and actions.
  3. We practice the 8th Habit of having a wholistic approach in nurturing family members and helping them grow.
  4. We are free to be ourselves.
  5. Happiness, joy, laughter and fun fill our home.
  6. We serve through our talents, treasure and time.
  7. We carry on our rich Filipino heritage by living out our traditions and by practicing patriotism.
I have also come up with a Family Coat of Arms with 7 symbols to help us remember easily our Family Code by simply looking at these symbols.

Just like what Covey said, we are not always successfully living them out but having one helps us chart our journey as a family. It also serves as a reminder of what we want to strive to be. This is one legacy that we want to share with our son, Gian Timothy.

Maid Horror Stories

For almost a year now, my happy and peaceful home life has been challenged by problematic house helps every now and then. My husband and I had been searching and praying for a hardworking and good-natured maid since the last trimester of my pregnancy but we had not been lucky. We have already hired five (5) maids since then. Each one left for one reason or another. We’ve tried referrals. We’ve tried an agency. But until now, all of which I would consider as horror stories.

The first one wanted to leave after a week saying she misses her children. We asked her to wait until she has a replacement and that she pays us for the expenses we have incurred for getting her from the province with her service. I was seven (7) months pregnant then and bedridden. At first she agreed and told us that she understood my situation but the maid changed her mind after a few days and insisted to leave even without replacement. She said that she could no longer wait because she misses her children terribly who were left in the province. So we decided to let her go. We just hope and prayed that we’d find a new one soon. Then some time later (one to two months after she left us), a neighbor of ours told my mother that he saw our former maid in Marikina with her husband. We realized that she did not really go back to the province but used only her children as alibi. She also told my mother-in-law before we got her from the province that she is separated from her husband and that she has no plans of contacting him or reconciling with him. But less than a week since she arrived from the province, she already texted her husband using my mother’s cellphone. All the while my mother thought that she was texting her own mother who was taking care of her children for her. My mother discovered that she was not telling us the truth when she received and read a message from our former maid’s husband. I considered it a blessing in disguise that she already left because she was also a gossipmonger. She tells many negative stories about other people to us. We even see her going to the neighbor’s house to gossip. We told her stop doing that and not to go around the neighborhood talking about other people’s lives. Eventually, since my parents know the people in our neighborhood, they reported that she was also spreading negative things about us. Again, I was shocked and infuriated that someone who hasn’t honored her commitment and who lied to us about her background and real reason for leaving even had the guts to spread negative word about us.

God heard our prayer one week after I gave birth. We found our second maid. This one was younger. I patiently trained and taught her all that she needed to learn in keeping the house clean and in order. I taught her how to cook and how to care for the baby’s things. Not long after we got her, I noticed one by one that our glasses, cups and saucers were missing. I discovered that these had been broken. I observed her how she washes the dishes and found out that she’s not careful that’s why she breaks a lot of things. I could hear the sound of glasses and plates hitting each other as I listen from our living room. I corrected her and taught her how to properly put dishes and glassware in the sink and how to wash them to avoid breakage. Then I noticed that she turns on our tv, dvd player and stereo without asking for permission from us. I sometimes wake up in the morning hearing loud music from the living room. I would see her cleaning the house while playing loud sounds. I was shocked to discover that she even had the nerve to use my husband’s cds. She wasn’t even contented to turn on the radio. Sometimes, when using the radio, I notice her changing channels every so often. My husband and I talked to her about this but I guess she has gotten used to it that she just keeps on doing it every time she uses the radio. One day, my husband turned on our dvd to watch a movie but it wouldn’t work anymore. He was forced to buy a new one since watching movies at home is one of his favorite past times and form of relaxation. She also keeps using earphones while working and when in her room. Thus she could not hear me well when I’m instructing her and when I’m calling her from the master’s bedroom. One time, I went to the maid’s room to look for something in our utility drawers. I saw that her room was in disarray. Things were scattered on the floor. I saw candy wrappers and other trash lying around on the floor and under her bed. Then, what shocked me the most was when I saw my lip gloss and make up mixed with her scattered things and labeled with her name. I immediately checked my things and discovered that they were missing from where I kept them. I didn’t reprimand her about it but I thought that if this girl can get little things from us, then she cannot be trusted also with big things. I became more vigilant towards her. I was shocked with her ways. I was taught by my parents not to touch or get things that are not mine and that if I want to borrow or use something that belongs to another, I should ask for permission. We even practice this between family members. That’s why it surprised me that our maid simply took my things and used our appliances without seeking permission from us. My husband was hesitant to let her go though, because he knows it would be difficult to find a replacement. So again, we tried to exercise patience with her as she performs her duties. Eventually, we decided to send our laundry to the laundry shop because she doesn’t wash clothes well. She also doesn’t know how to iron clothes properly. My husband sometimes ends up ironing his polo shirts again because he’s not satisfied with what she has done. It was really a challenge to live with her seeing her work. My patience was tried day in and day out as I see her watch tv while washing the dishes. No wonder she breaks a lot of things. She also doesn’t clean the house well. The only good thing she does is when she holds the baby, she really very careful and caring. The thing I didn’t like though is that she kisses the baby and listens to radio stations wherein the DJs say words that are not meant to be heard by children. God must have heard my prayer to end my agony because she eventually decided to leave us and go back to the province when she learned that her father died. It’s just sad that the death of her loved one was the reason she left.

Our third maid left after two days. Eventually, I found out that she didn’t like that I ask her to constantly wash her hands after touching raw food and after using the CR. She also thinks that using alcohol before holding the baby was OA. The fourth maid, who now came from the agency, said that she didn’t like the set up in our condo wherein the drying cages are upstairs. She also didn’t like to be asked to go out of the house to do errands. She asked permission to leave and not finish her contract after I sent her to buy Cerelac from a nearby Mercury Drugstore for the first time. I told her that we do our grocery weekly and that she’s only asked to do errands in cases of emergency or if something important from our pantry runs out. Well, she said she has made up her mind and she wants to leave even though she knows that it’s stated in her contract with the agency that she needs to wait for her replacement. I called the agency and reported about the issue. She eventually listened to the agency representative and continued to work with us. But I noticed that she’s usually wearing a scowl on her face while performing her duties and would not even go out of her room unless we call her. Moreover, she goes out of the house without asking for permission or advising me that she’s going out. I just discovered a number of times that she was out and that the main door was unlocked. So, we decided to simply let her go because my husband and I do not like having someone in our house with that kind of attitude. Moreover, we want to ensure our safety.

Then, the agency gave us our current maid. At first, I thought that she’s ok. She knows how to clean the house and she’s doing a better job ironing our clothes. She doesn’t use our appliances without permission. She has broken only one mug so far in the past 3 months. But there are more serious concerns that I noticed in her that I didn’t like. First, she is very rough in handling my baby whenever I pass the baby to her like when I’m going to eat or take a bath or go to the CR. She’s not gentle when holding the baby or when she’s helping me change his diapers. She also talks to the baby in an irritated manner with a raised voice (“pasigaw o pasinghal at pagalit”). I hear her say “O, ano? Pinatak mo na naman laruan mo?” or “Hmmmp! Talon talon ka na naman!” I already called her attention regarding this but she still keeps on doing it that it came to a point that I really got irritated with her. The second thing I didn’t like in her attitude is that sometimes she doesn’t obey my orders and chooses to do things her way. The first incident was when we were at a spa in Gateway. I asked her to hold the baby beside me while I’m having a foot spa. A few minutes later, I was surprised to see her go out of the spa carrying my baby. I got scared! I thought she would kidnap my baby. She was even teaching my baby to wave at me as if saying “bye-bye”. I was so angry that she took my baby away from my sight. I was relieved when after a few minutes I saw them again and I motioned her to come in. Then, I told her not to go out of the spa and to stay close to me.

The next incident happened last weekend at my brother-in-law’s house. We were having dinner so my mother-in-law asked her to hold the baby while I eat. I actually do not mind holding the baby while eating because my husband and I have gotten used to it. One of us usually feeds the other while the other one holds the baby. Especially now that I have noticed how she holds and treats the baby, I have become wary of passing the baby to her. But out of respect for my mother-in-law, I consented. Before I gave the baby to her, I told her to watch her voice because she might already damage the baby’s eardrum by speaking in a loud and brash manner. Then while we were eating she went out of the dining area to the garage area. I told her to stay near the fan because the baby perspires a lot and it’s dark outside. Mosquitos might bite the baby. My mother-in-law spoke to her in their dialect (bisaya) to bring the baby in because she might slip in the tiles outside. My father-in-law did the same, spoke to her in their dialect and asked her to come in. She still didn’t bulge. In my anger, I hurriedly gulped my food down and shouted at her to come in and bring my baby near the electric fan. I was fuming mad. For the second time, she has imposed her will and took my baby out of my sight. She has also shown disrespect to all of us especially to the elders who even spoke to her in their dialect. She was spoken to in a diplomatic voice three times at least but she would not listen. I had to resort to shouting just so she would obey. Good thing she went back in after I shouted at her. Otherwise, I would have stood up, went outside, took the baby from her and reprimanded her on the spot. It was very clear that she was defying our orders and authority over her.

The next incident that she insisted on her will was last night when she insisted that she fetch her niece (also a maid) today who has just arrived from the province and bring her to her employer in QC. I asked her when she has made that plan and decision and why she has not informed me in advance or sought my permission first. I told her that it’s not right that she’s the one committing to meetings or appointments like that without seeking her employer’s permission first. I asked her if someone else can fetch her niece since she didn’t tell me ahead of time that she’s going out today. Then, what she did surprised me again. She said in a raised voice and angry tone, “E sinong pang magsundo dyan e ako ang tiya?! Ako nakipag-usap sa magiging amo nya kaya ako dapat maghatid!” She said this with a scowl again on her face and with matching stamping of feet and shaking of body. I simply chose to keep my mouth shut because deep inside I knew I was already angry too. I didn’t want to have another confrontation with her. So I called her agency and the head of security of our condo and informed them of my maid’s insistence and demeanor. Actually, this wasn’t the first time she answered back after I have corrected her and pointed out her mistake. There was even a time in the past when she pointed a finger at me (“dinuroduro ako”) while explaining herself. Again, angrily. The other time she talked to me that way was when I called her attention after I saw her ironing clothes and using a cellphone at the same time. I told her in a diplomatic way to turn off the hot iron if she’s going to use the phone or talk on the phone later after her work to avoid fire. I was about to go out of her room when she ended her phone conversation and shouted at me saying, “Sobra ka naman! Ngayon ko lang ginawa ito sinisita mo na ako! Kaya ka pala nilalayasan ng mga maid mo! Masyado ka mapanita!” When I heard her say these words and saw her talk to me again in that way, I lost my temper. I shouted back at her reminding her that she is talking to her employer and that she is at fault and that I have all the right to set the house rules and correct her when she’s violating them. We ended our confrontation the other night when she said that she will only work until the end of the month. I immediately informed her agency of what happened.

The head of security came to our unit and talked to both of us about our disagreement. I was surprised that she spoke so politely to him and in a very low voice. She spoke in a gentle manner to me in front of the head of security. Only a few minutes have passed since she lashed at me. That means that she is capable of showing respect and that she intentionally disrespected me and defied me.

Of all the maids I had, this one was the worst. All my previous maids do not answer back when their mistakes are being pointed out or when they are corrected. They admit that they are at fault and say that they’ll do better next time or will simply say they will leave. My current maid is the only one who behaves brashly and acts as if she’s the employer. I have worked with janitors and drivers before and all these people have become my friends. They were so courteous and are even very eager to serve me. This maid is very different. She has violent tendencies. Imagine, she had the nerve to shout at me, talk to me in that way and point a finger at me in my own home!

Last night, my husband and I talked to her and discussed our issues. I was very disappointed because she denies all that she has done and said to me and that she talks to the baby in that manner. She said she could not remember any of those times. Then, I asked her to watch me while I help her remember all those incidents by re-enacting them in front of her and my husband. You see, I have photographic memory. When an event or incident has made an impact on me, I can remember exactly what happened from the facial expressions, body movements, position of the person, exact location of the conversation or event, the actual words used and sometimes even the clothes that the person was wearing. I have an eye for details. Many times I can recall and recite in verbatim what has been said. So, I felt frustrated when she started denying the incidents I’ve recounted. Then, I asked her, “How would you feel if I record and videotape all our conversations?” She said, “Bakit naman kailangan pa umabot sa ganon?” I answered, “Dahil ‘di mo maalala ang mga ginagawa at sinasabi mo.” (Because you can’t remember what you say or do.) Then, my husband told her that maybe she’s not aware of her words and her ways and that she’s already offending another but she did not notice. She kept insisting that she can’t remember anything like what I have recounted. Then, my husband asked her if it’s possible that she was able to do and say those things in the heat of the moment. It was only then that she hesitatingly admitted that maybe she was able to do or say those words.

This is really a horrifying experience for me considering that I even got her from an agency. My husband and I thought that maids from agencies are better. But we were wrong. My consolation is that I learned some lessons and that this experience has strengthened my resolve to stay home and personally take care of my son. If she could do those things to my son in my presence, what more could she do in my absence? It’s a good thing I noticed her ways right away. I was reminded once more that even when you treat other people in a very nice way, there’s no guarantee that they will treat you the same way. Sometimes, they even do bad and mean things to you. I learned that basic etiquette is not practiced by many people these days. That some people do not acknowledge their mistakes even when it’s already obvious. That sometimes they even have the nerve to get angry at those they have offended. That some people do not know or simply choose to show respect to their neighbors even when they deserve their respect. That it’s really different when family members especially mothers care for their little ones. There is love in every touch and in every word spoken. Even when you get tired or irritated at times, you still hesitate to react or respond negatively to the child. And when you make the mistake of giving in to your emotions or tiredness, you feel remorse that you have done something wrong. I still thank God that He has allowed this to happen. At least now I know better how to handle maids and how to be extra careful and vigilant to ensure my family’s safety especially that of my child. I still hope and pray that one day we would be able to find a good house helper. Nothing is impossible with God anyway.


TG
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UPDATE:
These maid horror stories over the years taught me many lessons in handling/dealing with maids. These experiences also moved me to come up with house rules and to develop a maid manual that I can use to orient newly-hired maids and to supervise them. I'm sharing this manual for free here in my blog to help other homemakers like me in managing their maids.

Download Mommy TG's Maid Manual for FREE! 



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My Rewards as a Fulltime Stay-at-Home Mom

My husband and I brought our baby to his pediatrician last Saturday morning and we were delighted to find out that he is gaining weight very well. In fact, he has already more than tripled his birth weight which is expected to happen around one year old. He just turned 9 months last July 15. We were also very happy to find out that he is growing very fast in physical and motor development as well as in cognitive development. His doctor says he’s quite advance for his age. The baby books I read also confirm this. Yanthy is already doing a lot of things that baby’s older than him are doing. There are a lot of milestones for one year olds that he is already able to do. He continues to amaze me! I can’t help but be amazed with God also who knit him together in my womb. It’s truly amazing how wonderfully made we all are!

I remember how strong Yanthy’s neck was as a baby. He could already hold his head up at 2 months old. And the first time Yanthy crawled. I was about to change his wet diaper when he suddenly turned to his tummy and crawled fast. He was only 3 months old then. He started to drink from his sipping cup on his own at 5 months old. And while I fed him his first solid food, he tried to grab his spoon from me and tried to feed himself. He has very good hand and eye coordination. He first sat up and tried his first steps at 6 months old. He learned to support himself by holding on to the railings of his crib. As soon as he learned that his crib or Mommy and Daddy’s hands can help him hold himself up, he started exploring his crib and our house. Soon, he was cruising along his crib and our furniture. He keeps on jumping for the most part of the day showing his excitement for all the things he’s beginning to learn and master. At 7 months old, he surprised me by saying “momma”. After a while, he learned how to say “daddy”. At 8 months, he busies himself dropping his toys from his crib or high chair while waiting for Mommy or someone else to pick it up for him, playing peek-a-boo, waving bye-bye, clapping his hands, banging objects as he listens to the sounds that they make, standing and sitting down, kneeling, wrestling his bolster pillows and throwing them outside his crib, walking in his crib, in our bed and around the house and the neighborhood, climbing his crib, biting and chewing almost anything, reading books (turning pages and literally devouring them) and “conversing” with Mommy. He sometimes grabs the handles of our closets and opens them, removes his shoes and socks and makes sounds as if singing with the songs being played. It’s a joy listening to him as he babbles and attempts to communicate with us. I started teaching him the alphabet at 8 months old. I bought him a Little Genius alphabet book and flash cards as my 8th month birthday gift to him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he would learn it soon. He knows how to pay attention when I read to him and teach him. He sometimes reads with me the readings for the day and the daily reflections from my devotionals when I have my prayer time in the morning. I’m happy to familiarize him and get him into the habit of praying daily even as a child. I want him to live up to his name – Timothy – which means to honor God.

These are my simple joys and great rewards as a fulltime stay-at-home mom. It’s tiring and challenging a lot of times. It can be routinary and exciting at the same time. But as I look at my baby and see how strong, healthy, happy and intelligent he is, I can’t help but praise God for the precious opportunity He has given me to witness Yanthy’s milestones firsthand and to focus on motherhood at this time of my life. Last July 8, I read a wonderful and encouraging message from our Christian desk calendar. It said, “If you are a mother, you don’t need to worry about looking elsewhere for service for God. Motherhood is your service.” I completely agree! Especially now that my child is still a baby, I’m certain that I am in my rightful place. I have made it my goal to raise not only a well-rounded, healthy and intelligent child; but also, a saint in his own right. I pray that I would be a godly mother so as to help God shape him into the person that God wants Him to be. To God be the glory!

TG
072009

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Giving Birth to My Baby, Giving Birth to a New Me

On October 15, 2008, around 7 months ago, I gave birth to my son, Gian Timothy. I consider it the biggest day of my life so far. The excitement and the fear of giving birth for the first time far outweighed the excitement and mixed emotions I felt when I got married.

I have always been afraid of giving birth ever since I learned in school how it happens. I really dreaded that day. But giving birth is a necessary passage to motherhood and deep in my heart I knew I must learn to face it with courage. So when I learned that I was already pregnant, I convinced my husband that we enroll in a birthing class. I believe that this was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. The lessons and skills I learned from attending Chiqui Brosas-Hahn's classes not only equipped me for labor, childbirth and motherhood but most importantly, it transformed me into a new person.

On the day that the mucous plug in my uterus got detached, I was calm and very much prepared -- from the things and documents I needed to bring to the much needed strength, courage, knowledge and faith in enduring labor and natural childbirth. Chiqui was right that being well-informed and educated helps a pregnant woman to be confident and calm during labor and childbirth. I have grown to better appreciate God's design of a woman's body and the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth in her classes. And never in my wildest fantasy did I imagine that giving birth to my firstborn would be as easy as I experienced it to be. Many thanks to the breathing techniques and phase by phase description of labor that we learned in our classes. And of course to God's grace which continues to sustain me to this day.

I'm also very grateful for the encouragement I received during our classes to breastfeed my baby. I wasn't breastfed by my mom because she said that she didn't produce milk. I was afraid that it would also happen to me. But hearing the stories that Chiqui shared, I was inspired and determined to also give the best milk for my child. I am happy to share that I continue to breastfeed my son until now. The inspiration and support I got from Chiqui and the lactation consultant she recommended to me (Zeny) has gone a long way. God answered my fervent prayers by sending them to me at the most perfect time.

Thanks again, Chiqui for helping me give birth easily to my son and to a new me. May God continue to use you to bless more moms!

God-shaped (A Mother’s Day reflection)


I woke up to a beautiful morning with a beautiful and touching Mother’s Day card from my husband and a toothless big grin from my son. After savoring the moment, I got up and read our desk calendar that contains daily messages of inspiration and Bible verses. The first line that I read from it today struck me. It said, “The process of shaping a child shapes also the mother herself.”

Motherhood has truly changed me and shaped me into the woman that I am today. I could not think of a better description but being “God-shaped.” God has patiently shaped and molded me into the mother that I am now. He has blessed me with wisdom and His instructions never left my side. He has been my guide these past months. He enables me to skillfully watch over our household and He provides me with inspiration unceasingly so I could make our home beautiful both figuratively and literally.

As I fully grasp the reality and responsibility of raising a child, I rely more on God’s abounding mercy and love. I know that there is much to learn, do and sacrifice to achieve my goal of raising a godly and God-loving child. But with God as my teacher and role model, I’m confident that I would be able to do what He has called me to do. I pray for God’s grace to constantly yield to Him so He could continuously mold and fashion me into the woman He has envisioned me to be – God-shaped.

“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” (Proverbs 31:26-27)


TG
051009

Keep Going

Have you been following Jesus for quite some time now? Keep going. Have you been doing God’s will for a number of years already? Keep going. It can be very tempting at times to ask God for a time out or a break. Sometimes, you just want to do things your way… for a change.

But before you dwell too much on those thoughts, here’s God’s Word for us who sometimes think this way. “Keep going! Keep going until you get your second wind and regain your strength. Be vigilant and keep going lest you get distracted and lose your way.”

Before I could seriously consider those negative thoughts, God nipped them in the bud for me by leading me to a reflection that spoke powerfully into my soul. It’s entitled Get Over Yourself.

The good things you’ve done in the past can keep you from looking and moving forward. So forget who you were. What’s much more important is asking, “What am I doing now?” God wants you to forget your accomplishments so you’ll keep achieving for Him – right now. Present tense. Whether 20 years ago or yesterday, the Bible says the wonderful things you’ve accomplished or experienced are to be forgotten. Philippians 3:13-14 tells you to forget what’s behind and continue on the path of doing what God calls you to do. Your past accomplishments mean nothing next to what you’re doing for God today.

What is God calling me to do today? How can I continue to follow in Jesus’ footsteps in my current circumstances? Deep in my heart I know that God wants me to submit to my husband and love him and our son in the same way that Christ has loved me. It seems very manageable when you state it that way. But translated into the details of married life or family life, these words seem to put a mountain before me.

I had a long discourse with God yesterday. You see, my husband and I have been investigation homeschooling as early as now. It has great benefits and rewards. But a part of me can’t simply say yes to it. Just the thought of being a stay-at-home mom for a few more years makes me sad. How much more if we’re going to homeschool our son during his elementary years? What about the things I love to do? What will happen to my other dreams that I still want to pursue? There’s still a lot on my list that are left undone.

And then God talks to me about surrender through the Purpose Driven Life book. He also led me to read Jeremiah 29:11 again. Today, He reminds me to take up my cross daily and follow Him. He calls me to continuously lose my self and life in Him. It’s not easy to surrender those dreams and ambitions to God knowing that they are my passion. But God tells me that He knows what’s best for me now and in the future. He doesn’t tell me exactly how things will be tomorrow or in the years to come. He simply assures me that He will prosper me and that He has ordained a future full of hope for me. In the meantime, He wants me to keep going.

I feel like I’m the rich young man Jesus spoke with before. My hands are full of many treasures that I find it difficult to follow Him. But unlike the rich young man, I choose to let go of all my treasures so I can follow my Master. I will keep going even if it means being stripped naked of all my possessions. I will keep going because I believe in His Words and trust in His love.


TG
042809

God’s Glory in the Ordinary

“The thing I seek most of all is the privilege of meditating in his Temple, living in his presence every day of my life, delighting in his incomparable perfections and glory.” Psalm 27:4 (LB).

Participating in daily masses and receiving Holy Communion everyday, having Holy Hour at the Blessed Sacrament adoration chapel, attending weekly prayer meetings and Bible studies… oh, those days were glorious! Today, I don’t get to do all those things anymore even if I wanted to. My current circumstances prevent me from the luxury of time to participate in all of them. And yet I do not feel guilty at all; for God has taught me a very valuable lesson: God is as glorious in church as He is in my home.

I was blessed to have experienced God’s loving and powerful presence as I participated in all those activities for many years in the past. But now that I’m a young mother with the responsibility of caring for a newborn child, I’ve recognized that God calls me to a different kind of worship. My daily acts of worship no longer include most of the traditional ways or ways of worship I got used to. But they are acts of worship still. I don’t get to have long prayer times as I used to have when I was still single; but, I do not feel that my friendship with God has become less intense.

What God has taught me in the past months and year is this: every moment of my life can be an act of worship when I offer every moment of it to Him; and, God is as everpresent to me in church, as in my very own home. Having recognized these truths, I find peace and joy loving and worshiping God in a different way now. I still find myself marveling at God’s greatness and glory in the ordinary events of my everyday life. I still find myself in awe of God many times during the day as He manifests His loving and powerful presence in my daily routine as a wife and mother. I may not have pushed through with becoming a Carmelite missionary sister or nun but I’m still living out the Carmelite goal of being a contemplative even in my busy world.


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042809

Because of Love, Because of God

I read a reflection entitled “Proof of Love” from A Woman After God’s Own Heart devotional during the Holy Week that reminded me of my life purpose.

Love means that although you’re exhausted, you still serve. When you want to sit down and rest, you continue on. Love takes action even when it requires strenuous effort. These actions are proof of love. Jesus said, “This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you… You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain.” (John 15:12,16) Where has God placed you to show love by your actions? One woman responded, “In the day-to-day, mundane circumstances of life.” God’s Spirit at work in you will cause the fruit of love to blossom as you do His work.

I was struck with this reflection because I could very much relate to it. There are many times when I feel exhausted taking care of the baby and managing the household. Although we have a helper, I still need to supervise her closely to make sure that food is properly prepared and cooked, the house and the baby’s things are thoroughly cleaned and the clothes and supplies are well organized in the closets and cabinets. There are also times when keeping the house clean and orderly is extra challenging. These are the times when we do not have a helper temporarily like when a helper leaves and we’re still looking for a replacement. During these times, I do most of the household chores on top of caring for the baby. Good thing there is a laundry shop near our place that picks up and delivers our laundry to us. It’s during these backbreaking days that I feel God’s grace the most. His Holy Spirit enables me to tap into reservoirs of strength that move me to do what I need to do even when sometimes I no longer feel like doing it.

I also remember days when I thought and felt that my baby or my husband was difficult to love. God’s grace alone enabled me to continuously serve them during those times.

But that’s what real love is – committed, steadfast, sacrificing, enduring, patient, forgiving. Real love is based not on feelings alone but more importantly on a decision. It’s a decision I have made when I agreed to be George’s girlfriend, fiancĂ© and wife. It’s a decision that I make each day of our married life. It’s a decision I continuously make even when Yanthy or George is not as lovable as I want them to be in my eyes. It’s a decision I commit to make – in spite of all the challenges and difficulties – ultimately for Jesus Christ. For it’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

“To know God and to know His love. To love God and to make Him loved.” I have adapted this as my personal mission statement since I was in college. I got the inspiration from a Christian song I learned back then. The other night, God reminded me that whenever I choose to love my family in good times and in bad, I prove my love not only for them but most especially for Him. And every time I do that, I also bring them closer to Him and teach them through my actions to love Him.

I felt so much joy after having those insights. I fell asleep very much at peace knowing that I continue to live out my life purpose in my new state of life. Truly, God puts so much meaning into our lives no matter how ordinary they seem to be. I can’t help but be grateful for the joy that He brings. His presence and involvement in my family life makes a big difference.


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041309

Finding a New Purpose

I was reading my husband’s Purpose Driven Life Journal when I came across this Bible verse: “Write down for the coming generation what the Lord has done, so that people not yet born will praise him.” (Psalm 102:18 GNT) I felt my heart leap as I read the verse. I felt that God has stirred my soul to discover a new purpose for writing.

I have always loved to write about my experiences especially about the many wonderful things the Lord has done in my life. Writing is one of the ways by which I express my love for God. It gives me great joy to write down my reflections and to share them with the people I love. Eventually, I have learned to share them even with strangers after I have discovered that somehow my reflections bring others closer to God.

Last night, God gave me an additional reason to write through the verse I encountered. This time, one of my motivations to write is to leave something behind for my son (or future children and grandchildren) to read, something that would recount to him how blessed our family had been to have God as our loving Father and Friend.

My husband and I have actually started writing down our blessings and answered prayers last year as we celebrated the New Year. But since we came up with quite a long list and we found it challenging to remember all our blessings in the past year, we decided to do it monthly instead of yearly. We have faithfully done so in the past three months and coming across this verse was very encouraging for us. We felt God’s affirmation that what we are doing is something that would benefit not only us as a couple but it would eventually benefit our son (or future children). With this new realization, I felt greater excitement to list our blessings at the end of each month. I also gained renewed determination and zeal to write about my experiences of God’s goodness in my life. I’ve always been grateful for my journals because they help me remember how much I’ve struggled and grown in the past years and how faithful God has always been. Reading them fills my heart with joy, praise and thanksgiving for God. Now, as I write another journal entry, I can almost see and feel how it would benefit the next generations in our family. I have dreamed and longed for a family that would be one household in serving and glorifying God. He has already laid the foundations for it. I’m excited to work hand in hand with God to fulfill it.


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041009

Watching Yanthy Upclose

My son, Yanthy, likes to stand up now even though his legs still wobble. He enjoys bouncing up and down when we hold him up. Sometimes he tries to walk while we support him by holding him around his chest. I can see his excitement to do new things. He also loves to roll in our bed and in his crib -- from his back to his tummy and vice versa. When he’s awake, he seems to find so much fun rolling and turning over and making lots of sounds as if telling stories. My husband and I sometimes cannot keep up with him. He’s like an energizer bunny. He’s full of energy. He also giggles and laughs a lot now especially when we play with him. He likes to listen. He really pays attention when someone is talking, even when not to him. When he hears a sound, he stops whatever he is doing and traces where the sound is coming from. It's a delight to watch him grow. Since he was born, I have been busy taking pictures and videos of him to document his growth and development. I post them in his website and in the inner chambers of my heart.

I won’t be able to take care of him personally, watch him closely, witness his milestones and document them if I’m currently working. I’m very grateful to God that He has given me this opportunity and He has enabled me to experience all these. Children really grow fast. It seems like Yanthy was just born yesterday. I hardly noticed that five months have already passed.

I surely miss being able to go around and travel, going to the spa and parlor, conducting trainings, meeting a lot of people at work, going out with friends, earning money through a job, having extra money to splurge on shopping or whatever would catch my fancy, having plenty of sleep and rest. But looking at my baby now, seeing how cute and lovable he is, is enough for me to maybe temporarily turn my back on all those things that I miss. Ecclesiastes 3 says, “There’s a time for everything.” Well, I choose this time to be a time to focus on caring for my baby and watching him grow. It may be a time to miss a lot of the fun stuff I used to do or enjoy but they’re nothing compared to missing my little one’s adorable smile.

I have been tempted a lot of times to work again and just get a yaya for Yanthy. These thoughts usually enter my mind when I’m tired taking care of the baby or stressed and pressured because the household budget is becoming tight. Thankfully, God is always there to remind me that the best use of my time now is to take care of Yanthy and to invest in my marriage. Many times, God would surprise us with provision and financial blessings to assure us that my decision to stop working and stay home is right.

Today is one of those times. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the balance in our checking account is more than what I expected. Deep inside I know it is the Lord who works these wonders. He’s the One who multiplies our resources so that there is nothing that we need that is not supplied. So today as I watch our baby sleep, I took time the to write down my thoughts and reflections. This would surely be very helpful the next time I’m challenged with household concerns or I’m tempted to give up being a hands-on mom.


TG :)
March 20, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Being a Prophet

"How can we fulfill our Christian duty to be a prophet?,” asked the catechist leading the baptism seminar for parents and godparents of children who would be baptized that day. My first thought was to spread the Word of God by words. It thus struck me to be reminded by the catechist that to fulfill our duty of being a prophet, we need to be good examples through the lives that we live. Just like what St. Francis of Assisi said to his disciples, “Preach the Good News… use words when necessary.” The seminar at my son’s baptism last December 7 gave me a timely reminder. I surely miss giving sharings and talks to Christian groups since I got pregnant and was on bed rest until now that I need to stay home to take care and breastfeed our newborn child. Lately, I’ve been asking God how I could continue fulfilling this call to be His prophet in my current state of life. I’m glad that God answered me through that seminar.

Actually, I think it’s easier to be a prophet through our words; but, it’s much more difficult to do so by living our lives according to God’s will for us. I have been trying to do this for many years now but I still continue to struggle every now and then. Living holy lives and being good examples for others to follow is indeed a tall order or difficult call from the Lord; but, it’s not impossible to do because of the graces that He makes available for us. I’m really glad to be reminded of this now that my primary responsibility and call is to be a good wife and mother. I’m also happy to read a confirmation of this message in one of the devotionals that I use: “There’s no greater ministry than that of being a mother.” I may not be busy now serving in different ministries in the community or in the parish but I’m happy to realize that I’m still busy serving the Lord and fulfilling my Christian duties in different ways. I don’t know when I’d be able to do the things I used to do to serve God again. But, I certainly pray that I would do well in this new ministry that He has given me and follow the example of Mary.


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122008

A String of Blessings and Answered Prayers


I have just given birth and along with it is a string of blessings and answered prayers. Long before I gave birth, I already had a long list of petitions or requests to the Father. I prayed them almost every night and as often as I can remember. I believed in my heart that though I had a lot of “demands,” God could make a way for me to have them. True enough, I got what I prayed for and even more.

Let me share with you my list of petitions. First and foremost in my list is to have a safe and normal delivery. I’ve always been afraid of giving birth because of the stories I’ve heard from many women who’ve shared their birth stories to me. So the moment I accepted that I was pregnant, I prayed fervently that I’d be able to give birth with the least possible pain and that it would be normal. I also prayed that my husband would be home when I start to have labor pains, that he’d be the one to bring me to the hospital and that he’d be beside me when I give birth. I prayed that the medical staff who would assist me would be an all female team and that my ob would be a friend of mine with whom I am comfortable with. I prayed that the cost of my delivery would be within the budget we have set aside. I prayed that my labor would be fast and that I’d give birth easily. I prayed that I would not bleed and would not need to have a blood transfusion. I prayed that the car we recently ordered would be released before I give birth so we can use it to bring me to the hospital. I prayed that my husband’s 13th month pay would be released before I give birth so we have a buffer just in case I need to give birth through CS. I prayed that we’d be able to document the baby’s birth and that I would have enough milk to breastfeed our baby. I also prayed that we’d be able to find an affordable and good contractor for paint services so we can have the interiors of the condo painted in time for the baby’s birth. I think by now you would agree that I have indeed made quite a long list of petitions. Well, I’ve always been very open to God about my needs and desires and I’m not ashamed to ask. And based on my previous experiences, He usually gives in to my requests no matter how big or trivial they may be.

One by one my prayers were answered. God gave us timely provisions and made a way for us to save up for the cost of my delivery. My ob is a friend of mine and a sister in the faith. She made arrangements with the hospital that I would be assisted by an all female hospital staff during my delivery. The car that we ordered was released five days before I gave birth and my husband’s 13th month pay was released the day before. And when the big day came, George was home. We believe that God paved the way for it. He was having a headache that morning and he decided to be on sick leave. At first he was thinking of going to work after lunch but he eventually decided to rest the whole day. That same afternoon at around 4:30 pm, the mucous plug in my cervix was detached and at around 11 pm my water bag broke. Thank God we have a car that we were able to use to bring me to the hospital fast. I thought that George would not be allowed to enter the labor room because we still have one session to attend in our Lamaze class and we do not have a certificate yet. But again, when God is your ally, He can part seas for you. So with the help of my ob friend, George was by my side all throughout the time that I was in labor. I also had a relatively fast labor and was able to give birth in five hours. They say this is quite fast for a first time mom. It can take 12 hours or longer for some women. Thank God He spared me from prolonged suffering and pain. I gave birth though normal delivery and our baby was normal and healthy. He even scored 9.9 in the Apgar test which the doctors use to assess newborns. And because my delivery was normal, our baby and I didn’t have any complications, and my ob is a friend, we were able to save some money and we used this to buy some more things for our baby. We were also able to document our baby’s birth with the help of my ob. I was able to breastfeed our baby as early as a few hours after birth and until now, God sustains me so I have enough milk for him and I’m able to continue breastfeeding. And as a bonus, when George’s uncle found out that I already gave birth and that we’re planning to have the interiors of our condo painted, he volunteered his workers to do the job for us. He also offered to shoulder the cost of the materials. We were only praying for an affordable contractor for the paint job but God gave it to us for free – labor and materials. This also saved us a lot of money, enough for us to confidently plan for our son’s baptism as early as now.


Isn’t God great? Isn’t He amazingly generous and gracious? It’s just right that we named our son Gian, meaning God is gracious, for we continue to benefit from His graciousness. I can’t be silent. He deserves to be honored and praised!


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103008

“His name is John.”

It’s been months already since we first found out about my pregnancy but we have not yet decided on the name of our baby. We’ve listed names starting with the letters “G,” “T,” and “H” but we could not yet agree.

One night, my husband and I were discussing again how we would name our son. “Let’s ask the Lord,” he said. We had our common prayer time and after that he said, “His name is John.” “But our names do not start with the letter ‘J’,” I said. “Why don’t we search for more names of Saints which start with the letters ‘G’ and ‘T’?” I suggested.

In the next weeks and months that followed, my husband searched the internet for potential baby names – looking for names of Saints beginning with the letters “G” and “T” and the meanings of the names we’ve listed earlier.

One Sunday morning after hearing Holy Mass, we reviewed our list and finally decided that we will name our son, Gian Timothy. We chose these names because of their meanings. Gian means “God is gracious”; while Timothy means “to honor God.” Among the names starting with the letter “G,” we liked the name Gian the most because of its meaning. We have experienced God’s graciousness tremendously as individuals and as a couple and becoming pregnant at this time is also a favor, a miracle from God. It’s just fitting that we name our son Gian to remind us and our son of God’s graciousness. I was already biased towards naming our son Timothy because it’s the name of one of the Lord’s faithful disciples. That’s why when I learned what this name’s meaning is, I was very glad and I felt God’s approval. We found it perfect for our son’s second name. We surely want to honor God because of His graciousness to us and that it also our hope as parents that our son would grow up to be holy and would honor God with his life. We were very happy with our choice. Finally, we have a name for our baby.

Around a couple of weeks later, George was inspired to look up the name of our son again in the internet. He found out that Gian is Italian for the name “John.” He was so amazed. He eagerly shared what he discovered with me when he got home from work one evening. He said, “It was really God’s will that our son be named John. It may not be spelled with the letter ‘J’ but we still ended naming our son ‘John’ just as God initially told us when we first prayed about it.” Our hearts were filled with praise and wonder once more.

As the day for my delivery draws near, we excitedly checked which Saints would be celebrating their feast days on the week that I’m due to give birth. We found out that St. John’s feast day is on October 23, which is one of the expected due dates based on the ultrasound results. Well, whether I give birth exactly on that date or not, we’re happy and confident that God is pleased with the name we’ve chosen for our baby. But we would not be surprised also if He chooses that our baby be born on St. John’s feast day. We believe that God always makes a way for His perfect will to be realized.


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100308

From One Miracle to the Next

My husband and I were at the Philippine Heart Center for my 2D echo to find out if my heart is healthy enough to withstand the pains of childbirth. I sent a text message to a friend and brother in the faith who works in the hospital and asked if he was on duty then. He said that he’s out with his wife and on their way to an ob-gyne. I asked if his wife is also pregnant like me. He said no and that their reason for the monthly visits to the ob-gyne was because they were seeking medical help for his wife to conceive. He added that his wife has polycystic ovaries and asked for my prayers.

When I read his last text message, I realized how truly blessed my husband and I are and what a miracle our son is. I also realized that God wanted me to seize the opportunity to witness for Him again by sharing my experience.

I also had polycystic ovaries. I discovered this when I was still single, unattached, never been kissed, never been touched. Actually, the symptoms were manifested as early as when I was still in High School. Instead of having monthly periods, I had mine twice a month. This caused me to be weak and anemic. I was brought by my mom to an ob-gyne and was given medicine to help regulate my period. I took the medication for a number of months and then my period became regular and normal. I thought I was already cured.

Then, I graduated from school and started working. I started to have irregular menstruation again. I went to see an ob-gyne once more. I underwent an ultrasound and I was diagnosed to have polycystic ovaries. I took medication again to help regulate my period. I was also advised by the doctor to get married soon and have a child.

I was amused. Her last prescription sounded as if getting married and having a child is as easy as deciding to eat ice cream and actually savoring it. I wished it was that easy because at that time, I didn’t even have a boyfriend. In fact, I’ve never had one; so, to hear the doctor tell me that, I felt really bad.

Anyway, I took my medications and visited the doctor regularly. But visiting her eventually became an ordeal; for she would ask me every time if I already have a boyfriend and if I’m getting married soon so I can get pregnant. I didn’t like the feeling of being pressured to rush into a relationship, much more get married and have a child. I strongly believed then that I wanted to marry for the right reasons, to the right person at the right time. I have received more than enough pressure on this concern from my mother, relatives, family friends, neighbors, officemates, etc. Actually, I felt that I was surrounded by people pressuring me to jump into a relationship right away. Some were simply concerned for me; while, others thought that I was being too choosy. Thus, to be pressured by my doctor on this same issue was simply too much for me.

So, I started to miss my check ups. But I continued my medication. Unfortunately, I noticed that I was growing bigger. After a number of months, I’ve gained a lot of weight. I felt bloated. I was forced to go back to my doctor only to be told that gaining weight is really part of the deal. It was one of the side effects. I felt really bad. I became depressed as I shifted from size small to large. My depression worsened each day as I ran out of clothes to wear. Then, I asked myself: “Do I want to continue growing bigger?” or “Do I want my period regularized?” I studied my options.

Option 1: continue taking my medication. Pros: regular menstrual period, no more weakness and anemia, better skin with less or no more acne. Cons: increase in weight and size, will need to update wardrobe, will be dependent on medicines to be normal and healthy.

Option 2: stop taking medicines. Pros: will go back to old size, will not be dependent on medicines to be normal and healthy, will save money since I don’t need to but new clothes, and will grow in trust and dependence in God. Cons: will have irregular menstruation again leading to anemia and weakness, will get my acne back.

I chose option 2. Partly because I was vain and partly because I didn’t want to spend my hard-earned money buying clothes that are two sizes bigger than what I used to have. I loved shopping for new clothes but I would love to do that with my old figure, not the bloated one. But most importantly, I chose option 2 because I wanted to experience freedom from fear, anxiety, peer/social pressure, sickness and dependence on medicines. I chose to believe that in His great power, God can heal me and that in God’s perfect time, I would be able to enter into the right relationship, get married and become a mother.

It wasn’t an easy choice to make. I felt really scared countless times especially when I began to have irregular menstruation again. I had morbid thoughts that I might die of losing too much blood because of my vanity and stubborn belief that God can and will heal me. All throughout those times, I held on to God’s mercy, power and love.

My battle with this sickness was long but my wait for God’s anointed bridegroom for me was much longer. My menstruation, by God’s mercy, eventually became normal, regular and once a month. Slowly, I lost the excess pounds. But there were two problems left. I’m still waiting for God’s best and since I’m not yet married, I could not get pregnant. People kept telling me that my biological clock is ticking and that I should get married soon. I can only sigh. Of course I wanted to get married soon but do I let depression get me down again simply because I didn’t have someone to marry yet? I know that I can get pregnant if I want to but I also believed in purity and chastity and that sex should be in the context of marriage. So, the pressure continued.

By God’s grace I was able to handle the pressure quite well. Instead of focusing on what I didn’t have yet and what I couldn’t do yet, I focused on what God has given me at that time of my life. I chose to develop and use the talents God has given me. I seized the opportunities God has opened up for me to grow in character and in my career. Then, while I was busy serving the Lord through my talents, God led me and my future bridegroom to each other. How God made that miracle happen is another story or another book to be published.

So, after much prayer and discernment, we decided to get married. But our plan was to postpone having a child until we were adjusted to married life. We wanted to be prepared emotionally, financially, and psychologically before taking on the role of parents. We agreed to wait for at least six months or a year. We practiced the natural birth control or rhythm method since we believed that I have been healed from having polycystic ovaries.

To our surprise, I became pregnant two months after our wedding. We got married last December 2007. By February 2008, my period was already delayed. At first, I thought it was due to the stress at work but after taking a pregnancy test, visiting my ob again, and having an ultrasound, it was confirmed that I was indeed pregnant.

My ob-gyne was surprised. Well, for one, because she has not seen me in years. But more so because I didn’t undergo medical work ups or intervention to prepare my womb to conceive, considering that I had polycystic ovaries. I recalled her explanation before during one of my visits when I was still single. She said that I had polyps which are like small bubbles lining my uterus. These should be removed or cleared so that the fertilized ovum could attach itself to the lining of the uterus. Only then can I become pregnant.

My husband was amazed. He didn’t know that until recently when I was already pregnant and I shared it with him. We realized that our son is one miracle from God, a great and wonderful unexpected gift. So though we didn’t plan for this to happen this soon, we are very grateful to God for His surprise. He knows best anyway. To us, this may not be the best time. But God says it’s the perfect time to be parents; thus, we believe.

I shared my story to my friend and he was very grateful. He said that I have given him and his wife hope by doing so. I chose to write this sharing now because I want to give hope not only to childless couples out there; but also, to single women who are already advance in age, unattached, not yet married or have polycystic ovaries, too. I chose to draw hope and inspiration when I was still single from the lives of Elizabeth (Mary’s cousin) and Sarah (Abraham’s wife) who both conceived a child in their old age. Now, I‘m grateful I chose to believe that nothing is impossible with God. I claimed in faith as early as more than ten years ago that no matter how long I wait, I would be healed, I would get married to the one who’s best for me, and I would be able to bear a child. I hoped in God and did not hope in vain. I pray that God would bless you with this same hope; and that in God’s perfect time, you would receive the miracle that you hope for.


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