Thursday, January 31, 2013

Light on a Lampstand

“Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?" Mark 4:21
 
I was struck with this verse this morning when I meditated on the readings for I felt God speak to me through it.  I could relate to the lamp being placed on a lampstand because of the current turn of events in my life.  I feel honored and privileged to carry the Light of Christ and be used by Him and be put on a lampstand by Him so that I could help point  the way to Him.

"Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy. We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works."  These verses from Hebrews 10:23-24 encourage me to hold fast to my faith and to the hope God has given.  Through these verses, God affirms me that He wants me to continue giving witness to Him in ways I know best to inspire others to have faith in Him as well.
 
The following lines from today's reflection in Didache assures me that as I listen to God's voice in my heart, I will find my way and He will bless my every step. 

It’s my position as His child to listen for His cues as His plan unfolds. How well my year will play out will depend on how I listen to His leading and voice each step of the way...
 
Hearing God’s voice means paying attention to circumstances, counsel, and that sense of peace that surpasses all understanding. When all of these mesh well, we can move forth to follow God’s command for us, with the assurance that we’ve heard Him right. - Martine de Luna
 
Lastly, I praise and thank God once more for speaking to me through the reflection for today at Loyola Press 3 Minute Retreat entitled The Gift of Faith

 
I felt God give me inspiration and direction on how I would begin my sharing/testimony on Sunday at The Feast in PICC.

 

Like Philip, I felt a strong prompting from the Lord to speak about Him and His works in my life countless times -- sometimes to people I know and at other times to people I hardly know.  My most recent experience of this was last Friday at Feast Sucat.  I am amazed at how God has used me to inspire others to have faith in Him so that they can be generous enough to give even from their need.  I was also blessed with greater faith that night and after. 




I thank God for helping me act on His prompting and the grace to seize the opportunities He has given me to speak about Him and His works in my life.  I thank Him for paving the way for me to be a light on His lampstand.
 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

On Being God's Witness

I wrote previously in one of my posts here that I volunteered to share in Feast Sucat because of a strong prompting from the Lord after I received blessing upon blessing from Him last week.  I shared about God's blessings and miracles for my family here in this previous post.  That's basically what my sharing in Feast Sucat was about last Friday night.
 
 
I was so happy already to be given the opportunity to witness for the Lord last Friday.  I was happy because I felt God's invitation to witness for Him and when I chose to be open to that invitation, He paved the way for it to happen.  I felt so blessed!  Obedience to God was for me already my reward.  The compliments and good feedback from some of the attendees and other Feast Sucat servants afterwards were bonuses.  I went home with my family happy and content that with our simple story that I shared, we have inspired and made many people happy.
 
 
Yesterday, I got a big surprise from God when Feast Sucat's Feast Builder, Brother Adrian Panganiban, called me and asked me if I'm willing to share the same testimony at The Feast in PICC.  He said that Feast Sucat was richly blessed in donations in the form of love offering from attendees after my sharing. He said that it was the highest ever since they started more than a year ago.  Amazing!  I almost could not believe what I heard from him.  I didn't imagine or expect that my simple story could be used by God mightily to yield very good results for His ministry.  All I wanted was to give back the glory to His name as my way of expressing my gratitude to Him.  I did not expect that He will also honor me in this way.
 
 
I said yes right away to Brother Adrian's invitation to share my testimony at The Feast in PICC for ALL the morning sessions this coming Sunday.  That means I will share in the 8 am to 10 am session, 9:30 am to 11:30 am session and 10:45 am to 12:45 pm session.  The assigned servants who coordinate the sharings at PICC Feast got in touch with me right away and gave me additional information.  So, my scheduled sharing was confirmed.
 
 
Later in the day, our maid shared an observation about The Feasts in PICC that I didn't consider when I said yes to Brother Adrian and Brother Audee who coordinated with me.  She said that I will be speaking in front of a lot of people because The Feasts at PICC are usually filled or overflowing with people.  Her remark made me pause for a while and made me a bit nervous.  That fact did not enter my mind when I chose to say yes to God's invitation to share again.  Then, I reminded myself that in the same way that God has empowered and guided me in my sharing last Friday night, God will do the same for me on Sunday morning.  I recognized that it was the Holy Spirit putting words into my mouth as I spoke last Friday night for if it was only me, the hearts of the attendees and the servants would not be moved to give generously to the work of the Lord.  I knew that it was God's Word that pierced their hearts and not my words.  I was simply His mouthpiece.  So, with those thoughts in my mind, God slowly dispelled my nervousness.
 
 
And as I type this reflection now in my laptop, I realized why God allowed my husband and I's radio guesting with DZME which was scheduled originally this February 3 to be rescheduled.  (Note: I'm still waiting for advice on the new date of our radio guesting for February.)  It's because God wanted me to witness somewhere else.  He wanted me to give my testimony in PICC on February 3.  Amazing!  God's hand is really at work here in this unfolding of events!
 
 
Today, as I get ready to write my sharing anew to improve on it and add the sudden bursts of inspiration God gave me last Friday night, God affirmed and encouraged me once more through the same sites that inspired me last Friday.
 
 
Let me share the inspirations I got from Loyola Press 3 Minute Retreat today entitled Being a Witness.



The verse from 1 Peter 4:11 is simply perfect for with all my current concerns at home and in my projects, it would be difficult to focus on preparing for my sharing.  But this verse reminded me that God will supply the strength and wisdom that I need.  Around a week ago, God supplied me and my husband with the necessary spiritual gifts we needed so we can faithfully give from our need to the work of the Lord.  He supplied us eventually with more spiritual blessings and financial blessings.  This week, He promises to supply for my needs and that of my family's needs once more. 


The reflection in Didache and the readings today as published in the Kerygma Family site inspired and spoke God's Words of encouragement to me, too.

I was particularly struck with this line from Didache reflection: "I learned from this experience that the only way to live is to give everything to God -- to say a heartfelt yes to His divine will."

The question for reflection was also aligned with what I was thinking and feeling: "Do you want to be happy?  Say yes to the Lord always." 

The commentary on the First Reading from Companion also inspired me to always obey the Lord and be ready and willing to make sacrifices for the sake of obeying His holy will.

1ST READING






Obedience to the will of God is more important than abstract sacrifices. This does not mean that we do not have to make sacrifices but that they should be related to God’s will, rather than abstract sacrifices for the sake of sacrifices. The best sacrifice we can make is embracing God’s will for us, which often means denying our own desires, particularly those that are directed to our pleasure. 


The Psalm for today aptly expresses the song in my heart.

I was struck with verses 8-11 for that's what I spoke at last Friday's assembly at Feast Sucat! I quoted Hebrews 6:10 which says, "For God is not unjust..."  I told the Feast attendees that God will show His faithfulness to us as we choose to be faithful in supporting His Works or the ministries devoted to win more souls to the Kingdom.  I shared how He showed His faithfulness to my family and how He has blessed us with His mercy and kindness.

The reflection on the Gospel in Kerygma Family reminded and encouraged me as well.  It says, "It is obedience that is at the heart of the call of discipleship." I pray that God would grant me the grace to always obey Him and be one of His faithful disciples.

Let me end by sharing the story of the widow of Zarephath.  She was also invited by God to bless and help a prophet, someone who preaches about the Kingdom and strives to bring people to conversion.  Her challenge was that if she shares the very little food that she and her child has to the prophet, she might not have food in the coming days.  But the prophet assured her that the Lord will not let their food supply run out.  She chose to have faith and shared from her need.  And as promised through the prophet, the widow and her child did not go hungry because God did not let their food supply run out.  On top of that, they became instruments of God's provisions to God's servant, the prophet.


I could relate to this widow again for when God invited me to support Feast Sucat from our need, I chose to entrust my tomorrows and that of my two kids and husband to the Lord. Through that act of faith, God blessed not just my family with survival but abundance in the days and weeks that followed.  He even used our simple story to bless The Feast! Awesome!  God is so good! God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow!


Here's a poem I composed years ago which I hope would inspire you, dear reader, to also entrust all your tomorrows to God.  I wrote this poem on December 29, 2004 and was eventually published in my book When My Bridegroom Comes in 2005.  This was inspired by my meditations on Jeremiah 29:11-14 and Judith 9:5-6.



 
I woke up one morning
Not knowing where to run
Stumbling in the darkness
Groping for the sun
 
 
God, where is tomorrow?
I asked, "What lies ahead?"
My heart filled with sorrow
These questions in my head
 
 
Then you came with answers
I've waited for so long
You brought light and meaning
Now I can sing this song
 
 
Your hand guided all that happened
Everything was part of your plan
Past, present, what is yet to come...
Who am I to challenge your wisdom?
Who am I to question your plan?
Your Word, once spoken, is as good as done
 
 
Now all my tomorrows
Are in your mighty hands
You who hold the future
Now also hold my hand
 
 

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Perfect Time to Witness

I felt a strong urge last week to share about the good things that are happening in my life by the grace of God.  I told a sister in our community of my desire to share as well as the blessings God has been showering upon me and my family.  Shortly after I sent her my text message, she sent me back her reply that I will be scheduled to share my testimony the following Friday.  That's tonight!
 
And guess what? I woke up today to very affirming messages from two of the sites I regularly visit as part of my morning prayer routine.
 
The first one is Loyola Press 3 Minute Retreat.  I was particularly struck with today's retreat title, Word Became Flesh.  It struck me because that was the heart of my sharing tonight!  God making His promises alive and fulfilling His Word.  Amazing!
 
Let me share some more lines that empowered and inspired me.
 
We are gifted with glimpses of God's glory and grace and truth.  In our experiences of love, we see the "Word become flesh" with our own eyes... Sharing our experiences keeps them alive and helps them act as witnesses to the glory of the Word made flesh.
 
Then, it goes on further to ask: What glimpses of God's glory and grace and truth have you seen recently?  How would you describe that experience to someone?
 
I was amazed even more and filled with much joy and excitement for the task given to me by God as I read and meditated on the readings for the day and the reflections at Kerygma Family's site.
 
The reflection today featured this verse: “For you will be his witness before all to what you have seen and heard.– Acts 22:15-16
 
The prayer at the end of the reflection inspired me  too for I know that through my simple sharing/story, I could lead people to God.  Here's the prayer:
 
Lord God, grant me the courage to lead others to You… now.
 
The Psalm for today echoes God's call to me:
 

Psalm 117:1, 2
R: Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
 
The Gospel Acclamation affirms God's call once more.
 
GOSPEL ACCLAMATION
I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last, says the Lord.
 
Last but not least, the Gospel story and the reflection in Sabbath about the Gospel which was about the conversion and life of St. Paul encourages me to continue living my life passionately seizing every opportunity (and sometimes creating opportunities) to spread the Good News or the Gospel of Christ.
 
I praise and thank God for another opportunity to witness for Him and His mighty deeds.  I pray that God would put the right words in my mouth tonight and His Holy Spirit would guide me so that as I share my experience of God's graciousness, mercy and love to me and my family, I would lead more people to Christ and inspire them to trust in Him more.
 
Glory to God!
 
P.S.
Find out what I plan to share tonight at Feast Sucat by clicking here. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

God Supplies

Our grocery supplies were running out.  It should not be a problem if the money in our bank account was not also running out.  There were things that we needed to pay the following week.  Can we delay payment for these?  I explored that option because if we choose to pay for all the things we needed to pay the following week, we might not have enough grocery money until my husband’s salary comes.  I had been thinking for hours how to further stretch our budget.  I felt worry and panic slowly creeping in.  I was surprised to find myself in that situation that day.  Then, I decided not to give in to worry or panic and told our maid to help me get the kids and our things ready because we’re attending The Feast in Sucat. 

 

Originally, it was our plan to attend Talk #1 of the new talk series in PICC.  But we missed it.  Good thing that there is already a Feast near our place in Sucat.  As I listened to Brother Adrian give Talk #1 of the Guaranteed Talk Series, which was about Supply, I realized why God allowed our family to miss the talk in PICC.  Hearing the powerful and encouraging message of Talk #1 of the series would have greater impact on me and my husband that day because that day we experienced a great need for God to supply for our needs.
 
Then, it was time to give our love offering.  My husband and I had been tithing since we were still single and we had been doing our best to be faithful in giving our tithes until now that we are married with two kids.  I was so inspired that night when we were reminded of the widow in the Bible who gave all that she had -- her two small coins.  I felt God remind me through the talk and especially through that passage that we should always give from our need and not our excess.  Part of me was tempted to entertain thoughts like “you already do not have enough grocery money for the coming weeks even if you don’t give tonight,” “you have already given 10% in tithes the last time you attended,” “how will you pay for the things that are due next week?”  Praise God for giving me and my husband the grace to still give that night out of faith that God will supply for our needs as we choose to support The Feast with whatever little that we have and trust in His love, mercy and provision.  What we gave that night was not big but we definitely gave from our need and not from our excess. 
 
And as we often say at our gatherings, God proved once more that He cannot be outdone in generosity.  We received a very pleasant surprise from God the following day!  We found a confirmed buyer for our car minutes after my husband and I agreed that we will tell (text) our friends and relatives that we are going to sell our car already so we can buy a bigger vehicle for our growing family.  Thus, the following day, God did not only give us what we need (grocery money) but also what we wanted and prayed for (additional money to pay for the bigger vehicle that we want)! 
 
God has the power to provide you with every gracious gift in abundance, so that always in every way you will have all you need yourselves and be able to provide abundantly for every good cause.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (CJB) This verse was made real once more in our family that weekend.
 
That fateful Friday, God blessed me and my husband with spiritual blessings such as faith, courage, peace and hope.  The next day, God gave us financial blessings!    We were able to buy a nebulizer for our baby aside from finding a confirmed buyer for our car.  But God’s blessings and favors did not stop that day!  On Sunday, I sold a copy of my book and got additional orders.  I received inquiries and requests for viewing of the condo unit we were selling.  On Monday, I got an email from one of my potential clients asking me to send a formal proposal for the change management workshop they want me to conduct for their executives. This one was a surprise because I thought that this potential client already got a different facilitator because he told me before Christmas that he wants the workshop done on the third week of January.  Apparently, the target date for the workshop was moved and he was still considering me.  I got to pay our bills that were due that week.  A number of friends and contacts helped us get discounts and freebies for the new vehicle we wanted to buy.  I had a very productive week as a writer.  I was able to finish the Filipino translations of my reflections for Gabay.  I finished the article that was due that week and submitted it to my editor earlier than the deadline.  On top of that, I was able to write several entries for my blog and I was inspired to write another book review for one of the online publications where I’m a contributing writer.  Moreover, the articles I recently submitted to my editors were published right away that week.  I even had new inspirations for one of the book projects I’m working on.  Plus, the international publisher of the prayer book I edited last year paid me the long overdue balance of my editing fee.  What’s more, my family received a lot of gifts (including cash gift) from my godmother/ninang who arrived from Europe last week.  These are just a sample of the abundant blessings we received from God that week after we chose to give from our need and trust in His divine providence, believing that as we seek His Kingdom and His righteousness first, everything else will follow.  This post would become too long if I choose to enumerate all the blessings God showered upon us that week and if I explain why they are each miracles from God and proofs of His timely and faithful provision.
 
For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.” Hebrews 6:10 (NLT)
 
I’m still very much amazed until now as I recall all that God has blessed us after that talk about God supplying all our needs according to His riches.  I praise and thank God for allowing me and my family to experience the truth behind the talks in our Guaranteed Talk Series.  Today, I have greater conviction that God will indeed always supply all our needs, including what we need to make our dreams come true!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tips on how to encourage young kids to write

Motivating my eldest son who is already four years old can be challenging on some days.  He doesn't like it as much as reading.  He's such a bookworm that he doesn't need prodding to read.  It's a totally different story when it comes to writing.  There are days when he's in the mood to practice his penmanship and write his full name and nickname.  But there are also days (and they are many) when I need to be extra creative and patient so that he'll be motivated to write and I would not be forcing him to finish his task.  The challenge is to keep writing practice fun and interesting to the child.


I thank God for the inspiration especially in the past weeks how I can encourage and motivate my eldest child to keep on practicing his writing skills.  This is one of our homeschool goals for the year for our eldest child.  You may read more about our homeschool goals this year here.  Let me share some ways so that parents out there who are in the same boat can also try these strategies.

  1. We were playing statue dance here
    and it was his turn to flash the stop and go sign.
    Incorporate writing in play.  One of our favorite activities and one of the daily activities in our homeschool is pretend play.  I try to incorporate writing into my kids' pretend plays.  For example, when my son liked playing doctor, I reminded him that doctors write the names of medicines on prescription pads.  So, he pretended to write prescriptions also.  he would copy the name of medicines or wrote something else.  I also told him that his prescription pad should have his name.  Thus, he excitedly wrote Doctor Gian Timothy Dumadag on his "prescription pads."  (You may read here the article I wrote about the benefits to kids of playing doctor.) When he liked playing store or when he was pretending to be a grocer, I encouraged him to make price tags and labels for his merchandise.  I asked him to make signages for his store as well as "close" and "open" signs.  (You may read here the article I write about lessons kids learn from playing store.) When they pretend to be running a restaurant, I encourage my son to write the orders of his customers on his pad paper and the price of the food and drinks ordered on the bill.  When they play basketball, I teach him to write the score by writing lines and by writing the equivalent number to total the points.

     
  2. Integrate writing in art activities.  We love making art works.  We love painting.  So, what I do is ask my eldest son to write his name on his art work and write a title to his art work or painting.  When he was younger and could not write on his own yet, I would assist him by holding his hand while he holds a pencil or crayon. 

    One of our art works last year.
     
  3. Encourage writing letters, notes and prayers.  Recently, we've been writing letters and he got to practice writing his name by signing his letters.  First, he wrote to Santa Claus.  Next, he wrote a letter to God.  Last Christmas, he wrote Christmas greetings on some leaflets.  Last week, he wrote part of his morning prayer.


    Yanthy's prayer which he wrote.

    An excerpt from Yanthy's morning prayer.


    Yanthy's wish and letter to Santa Claus for next Christmas.
  4. Let your kid/s see how important writing is and where writing would be useful in daily life.  One practical use of writing that my eldest son see me do a lot at home is when I make lists.  He sees me or our maid doing this often.  We make a grocery list, market list and laundry list.  He sees me writing when I'm giving instructions to our maid.  He sees me writing notes in my notebook when I have ideas and I can't work on them right away.  He sometimes sees me writing on my blessings journal. Kids like to imitate.  When they see us writing, they also like to get hold of a pen and paper.  I see my youngest son do this now.  When he sees his older brother practicing his penmanship, he asks for paper and crayon or pencil, too.  He still needs to learn how to hold a crayon but he is starting to scribble already. 
     
  5. Identify activities that the child likes and find ways to marry writing into the activity.  My son loves to read and spell.  So, one time my husband asked him to write the titles of the books on our shelves that he liked to look at and read.  Last week, I allowed him to write the things that he liked to spell.


    Yanthy wrote this after reading his book.
      
  6. Integrate rewards into your writing practice.  One of the rewards I give my eldest son when he completes his task of writing his name is to draw color-coded stars on his notebook.  I draw a green star when he completes a portion of his name.  If he gets to write his full name (Gian Timothy Dumadag) and his nickname (Yanthy), he gets 4 green stars.  If his handwriting is good (more legible and lines are straighter), I draw a yellow star aside from the green stars.  These past days since we have plenty of chocolates (from my godmother who just arrived from Europe), I reward him with a chocolate for dessert after lunch if he gets to finish his seat work before lunch.  On other days, I use other rewards like going somewhere he likes or playing with a toy he requests to play with.  Take your cue from your child.  Reward him with something he likes that is also acceptable to you. 



  7. Make paper, pencils and crayons accessible to kids and let them scribble, doodle or draw. Just make sure that they are not left unsupervised while using pencils.  There was a time when my eldest son would write everywhere in our house even when we give him a big paper to write on.  then, his therapist told me that young kids really develop that way.  They start with big strokes so we really need to give them big papers.  It's just amusing that even when we give him really big paper like Manila paper to write on, he still ends up writing outside.  So I looked for washable crayons and eraser pads that can wash off or erase crayon marks.  Now, he is passed that stage and has learned to write and draw smaller letters, numbers and objects.  Now, our challenge is to write within the lines of the pad paper and write letters and numbers with more uniform sizes.  I know that it can take a while before he gets to write more legibly. My goal now is to just sustain his interest and to continuously motivate him to practice his writing skills so that he'll eventually master writing letters and numbers and he will have a nicer penmanship.
Yanthy drew a scateboard and scooter here
that he saw from a book he read.
He also traced his foot and colored it.

These are some of our strategies to get our sons to write.  Do you have other tips?  Feel free to share by leaving a comment so we can learn from your experience as well.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

5 Tips to Help Us Achieve Our Goals


Here's another article I wrote for POC last year (tweaked a sentence to fit the blog) that can help many who are currently setting goals for the New Year or are done with them and needs some help in ensuring that their goals are accomplished.  (The link to the published article is currently not working.)

************

How are you doing in meeting your goals?  Or should I ask you if you already set goals for the year?  If you haven’t started, you may find this previous blog post I wrote useful. 

Many people set goals at the start of the year; but not so many keep up their enthusiasm and commitment in pursuing these goals.  Thus, many end up not accomplishing what they said they will do or achieve come year end.  How can we ensure that we achieve the goals we have set this year?  Here are five tips.

1.  Write them down. It sounds simple but the positive effects are big.  Writing them down is the first big step to achieving your goal.  When you write down your goals, somehow you are expressing your commitment to make them happen because you do something to help you remember what you aim for.  Sometimes, we can get too busy that we forget that we actually set goals for the year.  Having a list to go back to for reference would be very helpful when we are in the thick of things and we want to make sure that we are heading in our desired destination.  And that is to reach or achieve our goals.

2.  Have a visual reminder of your goals.  So you’ve listed your goals.  But where did you put your list?  We need to remind ourselves of what we have listed and committed to achieve this year. Thus, we need to have visual reminders.  One way is to put your list of goals in a place where you will always see it like in your wallet, in one of the walls of your bedroom, in your refrigerator, message board or bathroom mirror.  Ask yourself: “Where do I usually go or look that if I put my list there, I will surely read it?”  You can also make a collage of pictures that represent or remind you of your goals.  For example, your goal is to save money so you can buy a new computer.  You can remind and motivate yourself to save by looking at that item that you want to purchase with your savings.  Or if your goal is to lose weight so you can wear your pre-pregnancy clothes again, you can include in your collage a picture of you wearing one of the clothes you want to wear again.  Another way to remind yourself of your goal to fit into your old clothes is to bring out of your closet one of those clothes and hang it in your closet door.  That way, you will be reminded of your goal every morning or every time you get something from your closet.

3.  Set up systems.  Study your goals and think of ways by which you can set up systems to make it easier for you to achieve your goals.  For example, if your goal is to slowly set up an emergency fund and you want to do this by saving P500 or P1,000 every pay day, then check if you can create a system such that you can deposit money automatically in another account.  My husband and I chose to do this through BPI’s autosave program called BPI Direct Save Up when we decided to start building our emergency fund.  Part of his salary goes straight to his other BPI savings account every pay day so that we are able to save automatically. You can also do the same in paying your bills.  Many banks and utility companies now provide that service if you want your bills to be paid automatically.  That is, if your goal is to pay your bills on time, especially your credit card to avoid late charges or finance charges.  This strategy of setting up a system can help us not only in saving money, investing or paying bills.  You can apply this principle, too, in tithing.  When I was still single, I decided to issue post-dated checks for my tithes at the beginning of every year.  That way, I ensure that I don’t forget to give back to God a portion of my income.  It also helps me stick to my commitment to give a specific amount all year round because I have made the decision to offer that amount at the start of the year.  It saves me from the temptation of lessening my tithe or being unfaithful in giving my tithe during times of financial difficulty.

4.  Schedule progress reviews.  We need to pause regularly to see if we are heading where we want to go.  If we don’t take time to evaluate our past actions, we wouldn’t know how much progress we have made or if we made progress at all.  That is why it is helpful to break down and translate our big goals like our goals for the year into quarterly or weekly goals.  Our successes in achieving our weekly and quarterly goals are indicators if we will be successful in achieving our annual goals.  Likewise, our failure in accomplishing our weekly and quarterly goals tells us that if we don’t do what we committed to do at the start of the year weekly or quarterly, we will fail to accomplish our goals for the year.  For example, your goal for the year is to invest at least P20,000 in stocks.  Then, you can check every quarter if you were able to invest at least P5,000 in stocks.  The same principle applies when for example you want to earn an extra income of P2,500 per month.  You need to check on the indicators.  Like did you earn extra in the past weeks? What do you need to do so you can achieve your weekly goal that will bring you closer to achieving your monthly goal and your yearly goal eventually?

5.  Make yourself accountable to someone.  When you make yourself accountable to someone, you get someone as witness in your adventure.  That’s why sharing your goals with someone or a group of people can increase your commitment in accomplishing your goal.  They can help remind you of what you have set at the beginning of the year.  Moreover, you become conscious that there are people watching you whether you can reach our goal or not.  Because a lot of times, when no one is watching or no one knows of a specific goal you have set, you can be easily tempted to give up when working hard to achieve it becomes difficult.  For example, your goal is to drink at least eight glasses of water each day.  It would be a big help to you if you’ll share it with your spouse so he can remind you or check on you every now and then if you’ve been hitting your goal.  Or if you want to save on your electricity bill by watching less tv.  Share it with the other members of your household.  Help them help you stick to your commitment and achieve your goal.


Choose one or choose all of these tips so you can step closer and closer to your desired destination.  Keep on keeping on!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Time to Bloom

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven

New International Version (©1984)
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

New Living Translation (©2007)
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.


These are different versions of one of my favorite Bible verses, Ecclesiastes 3:1.  I was reminded of this verse last Sunday at The Feast as I listened to Bo Sanchez's talk in PICC.  It was talk number 2 in the Guaranteed talk series and he was talking about finding solutions to our problems.  He said that we need to be patient and not take matters into our own hands when we should be seeking long-term and God-solutions to our problems.  He said that sometimes in our desire to solve our problems right away, we create bigger problems.  But when we choose to trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding, we eventually find God-solutions to our problems.


This teaching and reminder at The Feast last Sunday was further reinforced by God to me through my orchid, which I named Pinky.  If you have been following my blog, you would know by now that our orchid unexpectedly bore flowers again.  It's the second time that it did in a span of one year.  (Click here and here to read more about how God has spoken to me in the past through my wonderful orchid, Pinky.)  Pinky had six buds.  Each bud bloomed beautifully one or two at a time.  This week, the last two buds bloomed.  Pinky took my breathe away one morning as I looked outside my bedroom window and saw that all her flowers are finally in full bloom.



Our orchid, Pinky, in full bloom, set against the early evening sky.

That same day, two sisters who are potential buyers for the condominium unit we are selling viewed our unit.  I wished deep in my heart that they would be the buyers we had been waiting and praying for.  It has been a while, years in fact, that we had been trying to sell our condominium unit.  There are days when I feel impatient as well because I wanted to move to our new house as soon as possible.  That day, God reminded me to be still and remember that there is a time for everything and that He has appointed when all things will happen.  He reminded me that as I do my best to find a buyer for our remaining condominium unit, He will do the rest.  He will provide a God-solution, a long-term solution to my family's problem.


I still do not know who among the potential buyers who inquired about our condominium and viewed our unit these past days will be our final buyer.  But I choose to be patient and wait patiently for God's perfect plans to unfold before my eyes.  In the same way that it takes time for a plant to flower and for the buds of a flower to bloom, I recognize that sometimes it takes some time before our dreams and goals are fulfilled.  I will not take matters into my own hands.  I will wait on the Lord.  Thank God, He reminded me through Brother Bo's talk and through our orchid.  If I forced Pinky's buds to open because I can't wait for them to bloom in their own time, I would have destroyed it's flowers and maybe even the plant.  I don't want that to happen to our dream house.  Thus, I choose to be still while doing my best according to the abilities and gifts that God has given me to do my share to make my dreams come true and reach my goals.  I trust that in God's time, we will find the best buyer for our condominium and we would be able to move to our new house.


In the meantime, I gaze at Pinky's beautiful flowers in full bloom every day to remind myself of these lessons God taught/reminded me recently.  There is a time for everything... a time to bloom... a time to move... a time for our dreams to come true... a time for our prayers to be granted.  May God's promises to me unfold at the most perfect time.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Declutter and organize your kids' room

Here's one of my latest articles in POC's MOm's corner. Another timely article at the start of the year.  Good luck to us, moms!
 
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Kids easily accumulate a lot of things and before you know it, their rooms are already cluttered and disorganized. Let me share with you some reasons why it’s worth your time to declutter and organize your kids’ rooms.
 
  • It’s easier to clean and maintain rooms that are free from clutter and are organized simply because there are lesser things to clean and put in order.
  • It’s easier to locate things in the room.
  • You prolong the life of your kids’ things when they are organized and stored properly.
  • Keeping your kids’ room and things organized sends the message to your kids that you want them to take care of their things and teaches them to appreciate their things more.
  • You provide your kids a calming and restful environment that helps and encourages them to be calmer, disciplined and responsible.
 
Now, that you’re convinced that this is something good for you and your kids, let me share some simple steps and tips.  
 
 
  1. Survey the room and identify areas that need to be decluttered and organized. Resolve to tackle one problem area at a time so as not to be overwhelmed and not to tire yourself too much.
  2. List down the problem areas, rank them according to priority/urgency and set a date when you’d deal with them one by one.Once you have identified a problem area and set a date to deal with it, prepare to sort and purge by bringing out storage boxes or bins, baskets and a trash bag.
  3. Start to declutter by sorting items into these categories: frequently used, not used often, to be donated and to be thrown. Purge as much as you can. Limit what you want as keepsakes by separating those you’d like to put in time capsules and scrapbooks. The rest that you haven’t used in six months or more (unless seasonal clothing), you get rid by donating or throwing.
  4. Those that you’ve chosen to throw should be junked right away before you or your kids change your mind about them. Examples of things you can throw are toys that are already broken or with missing parts and beyond repair or you don’t have time to repair.
  5. For those items that you put in the donate category, identify a person, family or organization where you will donate the items and set a date or mark your calendar when you’d actually bring the items for donation. This helps you make sure that you dispose of the items right away before you forget about them (and become part of the clutter again) or become sentimental.
  6. After disposing of all that you no longer use, it’s time to organize!
Tip #1: Seasonal toys and books can be stored away in cardboard or plastic boxes. You can do the same with seasonal clothes or you can use your luggage to store them. These boxes can be stored at the back of your closets, cabinets or store rooms. I recently stored away my sons’ Christmas books which we used for our Christmas countdown last year. I’d be bringing them out again this year just before the start of the Advent Season. (You may click here to find out more about our Christmas books and countdown.)
Tip #2: Make sure you put labels on them (even when you use see through plastic boxes) so you would not have a hard time locating them when you need them.
 
7. Now, for those things that are favorites and are used often, here are some tips.
 
 
Click here to read the article in full.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The 6 Stages of Reading Development and Why you should Read to your Baby

Sharing my latest article published today at Smart Parenting Online.  This is something I'm very happy to share because I'm sure many parents need these information.  I learned a lot from what I have read about early literacy that's why I was inspired to write this article.  I also found out through my research that my eldest son is now in levels 2 and 3.  He is gaining fluency in some words while learning to decode words that are not very familiar to him.  My youngest is also a growing bookworm. :) He now pretends to read on his own and he has learned to turn book pages.  But he needs to stick to board books still because he still rips the pages of our other books that he gets his hands on.  But I'm one happy mom because I see that my kids love books, reading and learning!  And reading is one of our favorite bonding moments.


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Did you know that ninety percent of a child’s brain is already developed by the time he turns three years old? Did you also know that the brain’s greatest growth spurt draws to a close around the age of ten, according to neuroscientists?

Experts say that fifty percent of our ability to learn is developed in our first four years of life, another thirty percent by the age of eight, and the remaining twenty percent by the age of 18. Everything we learn later grows from the patterns established during these years. They also say that the first three years in a child’s life is the period where the brain grows most rapidly, during which there are specific sensitive periods for optimal learning in particular areas. Moreover, studies confirm that the first five years in a child’s life creates a lasting impression on the child, thus the learning environment and early experiences of babies and toddlers are extremely important.




How the brain works


Our brain’s development is experience-dependent. This means that our brain develops when we use it and when it gets stimulated by our experiences. Most of our neurons are already developed at birth, but these are not yet connected in networks. Brain development happens when connections are formed and reinforced.

Neuroscientists discovered that repetitive observation of actions (either passive or active, with the intention of reproducing the action) increases brain activity and can result in experience-dependent changes. A child therefore develops the ability to understand the actions of others and imitate them through this process called mirror neuron system. Connections that are used repeatedly and often become permanent, while those that have little stimulation do not develop, thus, learning does not occur. Experience that is repetitive, patterned and consistent will be represented by strong neural connections.

Studies have shown that children who were not touched or held often, spoken to, and given ample opportunities to explore had brains 20-30 percent smaller than most children their age. Thus, it is important that parents provide both a nurturing and stimulating environment to their children starting from birth. This, together with good nutrition (pre- and post-natal) and experiences that provide opportunities for learning, is essential for optimal brain development and function, according to experts. Moreover, studies show that the impact of early childhood experiences is greater than the influence of heredity.


In line with these findings is the recommendation to read aloud regularly to young children. D. Reid Lyon, Ph. D. of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development says, “The most important thing that parents can do is talk and read to their children.” This practice can help children develop positive associations and feelings towards books, reading and learning. It also exposes the child to more words which are not usually part of daily conversations. Through regular book reading, young children hear new words regularly, thus expanding their vocabulary. Children who are read to regularly learn to talk at an earlier age and learn to say, read, and use new words faster.

More benefits of reading to young children:
• Helps form strong bonds between parents and children.
• Teaches kids to read, one of the most important skills they need to learn in life.
• Teaches them the correct pronunciation of words, especially those which they are not familiar with.
• Helps develop their listening skills and increases their attention span.
• Prepares them for school.
• They grow up having a love for reading and learning.
• Stimulates their imagination and natural curiosity and expands their world.
• Significantly increases their chances of experiencing academic success.

A child learns to speak by listening to the people around him talk to him and to each other. A child learns by imitating the sounds and words used by the people in his environment. Talking/conversing with children and reading regularly to them in the context of nurturing relationships increases the words they recognize and learn. This is fundamental in language development and literacy, as well as for cognitive and emotional development. A child’s early experiences shape his language and literacy capability. There is strong evidence that talking and reading in early childhood has a significant effect on language skills at later stages of development.

Jeanne Chall, an expert on reading development, identified these six stages in reading development:


1. Prereading: Birth to kindergarten
Parents "read" to infants and toddlers by pointing to and naming objects and colors in books and reading simple stories. Kids pretend to read by turning the pages of the book, reciting memorized stories or creating their own by looking at the pictures.

2. Reading/Decoding: Grades 1 to 2
At this stage, children learn to associate letters with their corresponding sounds. Using phonics, children sound out letters, decoding the word that is formed when they run the sounds together. With the whole word method, children recognize words based on context, pictures, and the shape of the word.


3. Fluency: Grades 2 to 3 Children become more fluent in recognizing or decoding words at this stage. Rereading familiar books and reading stories with familiar or stereotyped structures help children gain speed, fluency, and confidence in their reading ability.

You may click here to continue reading.