Which Gifts Truly Matter?

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My 56th birthday on July 20th has long been over but I still have that birthday hangover..The excitement is still there thinking about the simple dinner with my parents and family  plus the hubby’s surprise gift to me earlier and you guessed …it excites me  to no end anwering the many birthday greetings and wishes from friends, family and relatives on fb.

As we know, birthday is one if not the most important event in everyone’s life. It’s  simply because it’s the day we came into life and therefore it is THE day of Thanksgiving to the Lord for our Gift of Life.

When I was a kid ‘though I never realized the REAL significance of celebrating birthdays. It just meant receiving gifts and so then, I’d also ask my Mom to buy a gift for someone  who would invite me on his or her birthday. As I got older ‘though, I had this in mind – our hearts and minds are filled with thoughts of loved ones. This thoughts become our inner light and through gifts we share this light…but are we really letting our inner light shine? Which gifts truly matter?

The SIMPLE GIFTS in LIFE are the MOST TREASURED. They don’t come in a box with exquisite paper and ribbon and they aren’t delivered by a postman or a courier or a local florist. The gifts I remember most are the unexpected movie dates and dinners with my hubby, the thoughtfulness of my Mom who would send us over some delicious food she herself cooked, the times I would go out with my sister without any plans, the long stories and laughters to no end with my siblings, the generosity and kindness of a son who would give even if we didn’t ask, the calls from our daughter just to check  if we’re ok, the thoughtfulness of my sisters/brothers-in law, the “mano po” and hugs and kisses of our grandkids, nieces and nephews,  the unexpected fun moments and shared laughs with my dearest bestfriends, the gentle hellos and smiles from strangers. These and many more are the magical moments I cherish.

Below are pics with some of the people closest to my heart…

With my best friends who stood the test of time with me. Friends who never left me and who believed in me at all times. Friends who defended me at all costs. Yes, these are my Best Friends Forever (BFF).

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With my best friends – separated by distance united by pic.. UPPER PIC: from L-R Zheny, me, Jenifer and Mel LOWER PIC: L-R Nora, Zheny and Maybelline

Taken some years ago with my loving and thoughtful Mom and my sweet sister …My Mom is the reason of my birthdays – my idol and my mentor. She’s the one who made me  the person I am today…

With my mom and sister

With my loving and thoughtful mom and sister

With my younger sis, Michelle whom I fondly call “wister” isn’t just my sis but my best friend since birth lol! We share many beautiful and happy memories together since childhood  and during my brief stay in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Taken in Christchurch, NZ with my sweet "wister", Michelle

Taken in Christchurch, NZ with my sweet “wister”, Michelle

With my hubby, Roy. Celebrating our 31 years together on July 28. Ours wasn’t an easy life. We had our share of ups and downs  but we kept our faith not just in each other but to God who is the center of our married life.

With hubby

With hubby ever so sweet and loving

This picture was taken during our Dad’s 86th birthday on March 8, 2016. With me are my two older brothers Jim and Dan and their respective kids and grandkids.

Big family

Family -4 generations (incomplete members)

And so then, not ONLY on birthdays and other occasions   but in all the days of our lives, that we let our light shine out in everyone we meet. Let us  CHERISH the simple gifts in life and let’s love our planet and everyone in it just as God loves us.

Each of us is like a light on the street, brightening the path for someone else. Let’s open the door to our  hearts, and spread the inner glow to lift others who need a BEACON to GUIDE them in the darkness…

Let us TAKE TIME TO SHINE…Let us treasure the simple gifts for they are life’s little miracles…They are… for all we know, the gifts that truly matters.

 

Because Change is Inevitable

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“Change Is Coming!!!” has been the popular slogan during the campaign season and THAT perhaps  won the hearts of the FILIPINO people. For when all we see on the news is criminality, corruption and vicious drug trade, what else do we wish for but CHANGE??? AND NOT just the change that past government officials promised but a radical change by and from a feisty leader.

We all know that if there’s one thing we cannot avoid whether related to our country, career or family …it is change. Change is inevitable and fortunately  for my fellow Filipinos,  the inevitable has BEGUN.

Sometimes though it is difficult to accept change like the proposed 3 kids per family or the alcohol ban after a certain time or the curfew hours for unaccompanied minors. Some sectors of our society cried “foul!”

Question: Why is it so difficult to accept change when it is certain that  we who object to change are continually changing??? Should we then object to the change coming in around us especially so if it is for the common good?

Yes, accepting change is never easy. For instance, consider the elderly gentleman whose eyesight has deteriorated to the point where he can no longer drive. Yet, he still holds on to his driver’s license and renews it every year, even though he knows if he drives he will be a danger to everyone including himself. Likewise, some sectors have “deteriorating eyesight” in the sense that they cannot see for instance how a large population can adversely impact the country’s economy. A smaller population would mean less poverty, less homeless people, more food supply, better education, better heath facilities and benefits, less congestion, less traffic, more jobs, less crimes, more local and foreign investors thus better economy. Should we then oppose to the proposed 3 kids per family policy?

Should we allow ourselves to be slaves to the sins of society that has engulfed our country for many years? Have we not gotten tired of the same issues facing our society?

Accepting what we really are  and what we become over time is part of maturity. The inevitability of change can be accepted as gracefully as the coming of the sunshine after the rain, or it can be as difficult as an earthquake or a typhoon that sweeps the South China sea.

Whether you fight change or accept it gracefully depends largely on your perception of WHAT LIES AHEAD…Think about the consequences… Will  the CHANGE do us good or bad??? Will it benefit future generations?

On a spiritual note, for the child of God, a change in society does not happen if we do not start with ourselves. Let us help our country move forward by becoming  responsible citizens.  Make the change starting with yourself and  your family.

In fact, on this site I have mentioned about what I  called as the “Chain of Change.” Change is something I envisioned as “contagious” like when you start doing what is right, then people around you (starting with your family) will see the “benefits” of your transformation and likewise, they too start to transform themselves. And this is passed on to another then another…which could little by little make this world a better place to live in.

But then again, many people assume they’re  stuck with the dyed-in-the-wool bad traits like dishonesty, materialism, sloth and greed to name a few.. The good news is that change is possible and it is never too late for anybody to change. How? First and foremost, you have to get connected with God. The scriptures say, “Live in me and I will live in you. A branch cannot produce any fruit by itself. It has to stay attached to the vine. In the same way, you cannot produce any fruit unless you live in me (John 15:4). Therefore, this is the first requirement in order that you could produce “good fruits” – desirable habits that would transform your life.

Why?  Because “The fruits of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance,  kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” (Galatians 5:22-23a)

What kind of fruits then should you produce when you are not connected with Christ? The opposite of course – all of the sins of society that you can imagine – dishonesty, illegal drugs, materialism, corruption and greed among others.

But ‘though change is inevitable, change is NOT always towards the good but can also be the other way around. My friend, why backslide when to change for the better is moving towards heaven that will ultimately sharpen your focus on eternity?

As, I have said, the first requirement is staying connected with God. Change is NOT easy as I have mentioned for it entails sacrifices. It may mean GIVING UP on someone dear as in the case of a married woman who is having an illicit affair with another man for many years or it may mean giving up on vices that you enjoy like smoking or gambling or it could mean giving up on illegal business or stealing from funds you do not own but have access to. It may also mean giving up on your prized possession – your pride.

Giving up on people, money or material things that played a major part in your life is NOT easy. And since it is NOT EASY, it is impossible for you to change overnight. Change IS A process that needs time and effort. But here’s another good news: God is forever merciful and kind and He loves us unconditionally. He understand that humans including you and me are weak. And so, He is giving us chances  and ample time to change.

For the optimist however,“it is a matter of shifting your beliefs and thinking”...This may sound difficult at first but which…you will find out, only takes strong determination and will-power. It is like deciding suddenly  to do exercises when all throughout your life you maintained a sedentary lifestyle. The hardest part would be to begin the regimen but once you have started, it will be a good habit that comes out naturally. It is also a matter of repetition. If you think about staying connected with God again and again like your first priority – and shift your actions and behavior to reinforce your thought, it becomes ingrained in your heart and mind replacing undesirable habits to good ones in the process.

On a personal note, I have long decided to “transform” myself and thankfully have since then stayed connected with God. My greatest lesson is that the more I am connected with Him, the more tests and trials I encounter and the more  my character is being tested.

But I hang on to the Lord’s promise, “that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

From the day I decided to follow and serve Jesus in my own little way,  I’ve chosen  to continue living a decent and honest life. I thought  I’d like to be a good person and so I choose to be more loving and compassionate.  I’d like to have more self-control and so I think and discern many times before I say or do something. I speak the truth and try to inspire and encourage others to do the same. I believe in humility as a show of strength not weakness and so I choose to be humble even when ridiculed. In short,  I choose to be a child of God and so I choose to live by God’s teachings and principles.

But then again, being a child of God is likewise NOT easy. Many times in the past, I got careless and I falter in my steps. I still get weak…I lose my temper, I speak bluntly, I break into tears for even with the purest of intentions, still  some people  misunderstand me but I have kept my faith and lived by it and regardless of what others think of me, I do believe I am following what God wants me to do. After all,  at the end of my life’s journey,  there is nobody BUT Him who will judge me.

CHANGE is inevitable and yes.. I have not totally changed because I am not perfect and nobody is but I have started changing my ways… and when at times I fall… I PRAY for guidance and strength… AND get up once again and start anew for I believe it’s NOT how many times I fall  but it’s how many times I get up each time I fall….

And because change is inevitable, I accept it wholeheartedly and  I’m CONSTANTLY and patiently trying to do the best that I can…My friend, I’ve made it this far and so can you….

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The Anchor Of Faith

imageDo you know that a ship has all the controls and automation but it is quite helpless when it comes to the simple concept of braking?  As you know, when you park a car at night or  a hilly region, you simply apply the hand brakes so that the car doesn’t move on its own. Unfortunately, there are no brakes on the ship for the simple reason that the ship is floating on water. So, when the ship is stopped and its engines are not running, there needs to be an anchor to ensure that the ship does not drift freely in the sea. If the anchor is placed properly on the bottom of the sea, it can hold a giant ship fast, even in rough seas.

Just as ships need anchors to keep them from drifting away on the open seas, people need anchors when the wind of life blows. Unless we have anchors that hold us, the fragile ship of our lives may crash against the rocks.

Anchors are what we need when we encounter storms in our lives, literally and figuratively. And speaking of storms, it’s been a year since  Supertyphoon Haiyan, the strongest storm ever put on record, hit our country where many perished when the City of Tacloban and Eastern Visayas in the Philippines bore the brunt of its devastating power and was practically destroyed and flattened. Many survivors are still suffering to this day and perhaps it will take a long period of time before they could finally recover.

Nov. 8 marks one year since the killer typhoon devastated Central Philippines and condemned millions to deeper poverty. My heart bleeds everytime I see on TV the outpouring of grief of tens of thousands as they  marched to the (mass) grave sites under the hot sun to offer flowers, light candles and say prayers. My heart bleeds even more when I hear  stories of the survivors, how they terribly miss their loved ones who perished that fateful day when the storm struck.

A mother said she lost her 3 children during the storm including her youngest who would have celebrated his 2nd birthday on Nov. 9. While another says she is now hopeless that the remains of his missing brother could still be found. She said his name was not on the list of those buried in the mass grave, so she just wrote his name. Today, and perhaps in the many more days to come  most of the survivors would still be in pain physically, emotionally and maybe even spiritually  and many would still be suffering as they continue their fight to survive and stand up once again after a hard blow.

“Many survivors have succumbed to depression,” the news reported. Their feelings of hopelessness and helplessness may have been aggravated by the “painful slow rebuilding effort” as most survivors complain. With millions poorer and many dangerously exposed to the next big storm as they still live in shanty homes along coastal areas, one may be tempted to  ask,  “Lord, will they ever recover? If so, when???”  If  the minds of some people (just watching their poor situation on TV)   have now been tainted by pessimism and doubt  asking God if there is an end to the survivors’ sufferings, how much more unanswered questions linger in the minds of the poor victims themselves?

With sincere empathy and compassion I say, “situations change, and the sands of time shift” but the Bible says, “those who put their trust in God are immovable like Mount Zion.” – Psalm 125:1

All of us…and I mean all of us, experience  life’s storms from time to time. No one is excused from pains and sufferings for they are integral part of human existence. We can only differ in the intensity and the gravity of the crisis that each of us encounter.

When the storms of life rage, we need four anchors: faith in God, faith in yourself, faith in your family, and faith in your friends. But there are times when your friends fail you, when your family lets you down, when you can hardly believe in yourself. Only the anchor of faith in God endures when everything else fail.

Just as  the ship’s anchor  needs strong chains or ropes for link and support, our Anchor of Faith also needs reinforcement to hold our life’s ship during  turbulent journey.

Our faith therefore, must be more than the faith in generic dictionary variety. Our faith to be meaningful and to be effective to hold us fast must be centered in Jesus Christ, His life and His teachings. In addition, faith to be real must be coupled with belief and trust.

BELIEF + TRUST = REAL FAITH

Real faith consists of two elements: belief which appeals to the mind, and trust which is experiential and demands a response to what you believe. We believe  God can do the things we are hoping for, but we don’t think He will. Belief, we have; but we’re short on trust, and without trust our faith is shallow and incomplete.

In addition to the two elements, our Anchor of Faith to be complete should be firmly grounded on the following:

  • Faith in God’s presence:

Storms can never hide us from God. We may not see Him, but He sees us. We may think God is a million miles away, but HAVE FAITH, He is with us and watching us.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

God is right there with us. We never go through anything by ourselves. No matter what situation you are going through right now, God is with you. He is the ONLY anchor that you can fully trust.

In Acts 27:24, Paul quotes God’s Angel (who visited him in the night): “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” God told Paul, “I have a plan for your life.

  • Faith in God’s purpose:

Realize that God has a specific purpose for your life. Storms are just temporary setbacks toward fulfilling that purpose. Absolutely, nothing can change God’s ultimate purpose for your life unless you choose to disobey Him.

If you choose to reject His plan. He will allow you to do that, but the Scriptures teach that no outside person can change God’s plan for your life. God leaves that up to you. No matter what happens on the outside, external forces cannot alter God’s purpose for your life as long as you say, “God, I want to do your will.”

God’s purpose is greater than any situation you will ever experience. God has a plan beyond the problems you are facing right now.

The point is this: It is dangerous to focus on your problems more than your purpose for living.

 

  • Faith in God’s promise:

Once you lose your goal, you will lose sight of the very meaning for which you exist; and you will become purposeless.

In Acts 27:25, Paul says, “Keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.”

God keeps His promises without fail.  Storms cannot hide our faces from God, because God is always with us. Storms cannot change the purpose of God, because it is ultimate. Storms cannot not destroy the child of God, because God’s promise is certain. So, HAVE FAITH!

Some of us are going through devastating crises right now. Our problems are overwhelming.

God says this to you: “You may lose cargo; you may lose the tackle of the ship; you may lose the ship; you may even get into deep waters and drown- but you are going to make it” because of the promise of God.

What we should do while waiting for the crisis to end? Anchor yourself of the truths of God and pray. Let His truth stabilize your life and give you the confidence you need in every life’s turbulence you face. Storms cannot hide God from you or you from God. God has a purpose for your life. There is a reason for it and you are going to make it safely to land.

Raging storms are one thing; subtle currents that catch you unaware are another. With the storm you’ve got to fight to stay alive. But with subtle currents, you don’t know what’s happening. Subtle currents can pull your boat without you knowing it until you realize you are already a long way from where you are supposed to be.

Life’s like that, every now and then we encounter life’s storms and real monster storms like Haiyan  and subtle currents too when we are uncertain of what’s going to happen to us today, the next day or in days to come. In either case, let us make sure that we are firmly anchored to our faith in God for it is the ultimate anchor that we need and the only anchor that could save us from the strongest storms and the roughest seas.

As Charles Spurgeon puts it, “If your faith is fixed on Christ, though it seems to be in itself, a line no thicker than a spider’s web, it will hold your soul throughout time and eternity… For remember, it is not the thickness of this cable of faith, it is the strength of the anchor which imparts strength to the cable and so shall hold your ship in the midst of the most fearful storm.”

 

My Newfound Simple Joy – A Hobby That Rocks!

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All my life, I had been fascinated with works of art. It’s an irony that I struggled with art subjects during my schooldays for I could not even draw a simple bamboo. That’s right, just a simple bamboo! My younger sister Michelle could attest to that. I  remember when she was in grade school and I was already in highschool she asked me to draw a bamboo but we  ended up laughing when my drawing looked more like a log than a bamboo. And nope, that’s not exaggerating. That was really me. No talent in  drawing whatsoever.

With the popularity of adult coloring books however, my fascination with art works was rekindled. I bought a coloring book and some colored pencils but alas, that was just it. It kinda bored me after doing just a few pages. Then I said to myself,  “I wanted something more challenging” haha! But let me tell you this…coloring books indeed give a real calming effect not only in the mind but also in the body.  The saying, “Where the mind goes, the body follows” is true. A relaxed mind, calms the body and uplifts the spirit. Don’t laugh now but I tell you, my endorphins must have done their job so well that it  relaxes me tremendously. You see, after coloring some mandala flowers, I would  get soooo drowsy hooohum!

I’ve gotta secret…shhhh… I’ve never finished a single page in one sitting..You guessed it right.i It’s because I just got soooo sleepy. The culprit must have been the warm colors that I chose. Yup yup! Really calming huh!?! Then I googled “simple art – paintings for beginners”  take note of the words “simple and beginners.” Then  oil pastels popped up. I got quite interested and so this time I bought a set of oil pastels and painted simple designs on cardboards. Yes, just cardboards and not on canvas. I wouldn’t dare do my first try on canvas. I was surprised though that my drawings had quite improved. I mean, had greatly improved Ehem!!!😀😀😀

Here is my first try in oil pastels – “The Night Winterscape.” Would you believe I did this while watching its You Tube tutorial? As you might have guessed, I stopped the video intermittently to follow the steps and replayed it several times when I missed something lol!

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See that?  I guess that is not bad for a first timer, don’t you think so? That, I am very sure…The Night Winterscape is way more difficult than drawing a bamboo, don’t you agree? Okay, okay…you may ask my number one critic – my hubby and he would answer with a loud YEEES and without batting an eyelash.😉😉😉

And oh! Here’s another oil pastel painting that I made – a peacock. This is also copied but I made some variations ‘though. So, this is semi-original if I may call it.image

Do not laugh now…but those two were the ONLY pieces of oil pastels that I was able to paint (sigh).  It’s funny but I still have an unopened oil pastel set. Know why? Because when I made another research, I found stone painting, the one that really excites me. And besides, I do not need to be extraordinarily good in drawing or sketching. So, I said goodbye to my oil pastels and said hello to acrylic paints and brushes. And believe me…I had since then been hooked to stone painting. I am now so addicted that when I am at home and in the yard, you would suspect I lost something as you would see me roaming around with my eyes glued to the ground… Shhhh… I’m just scrutinizing whatever stone that catches my attention hahaha! This sounds funny but I always catch my front neighbor staring at me when I am doing my “stone hunt.” He must be wondering what I am doing with all the stones I pick up almost everyday.  I’d  tell my hubby, “so little time, so many stones to paint.” Funny thing is, most of the time, I bring my stones to bed and do my painting before bedtime. So, my hubby would tell me like what we always remind our grandson to “tidy up your toys” before bedtime lol!

To echo the words of a fellow stone-painter, aaah stone-painter – a new word. Hmmm well anyway, he said, “stone painting is the art that rocks.” So, what makes my new hobby really rock? NO, that’s not a silly question. And the answer is NOT because they are ROCKS that make them ROCK! Pardon my lousy joke haha! Here’s what I thought – it’s the simplicity of the stone, that when painted, can be transformed into a magnificent work of art. That what makes stone painting really…really rock. I believe it’s a modern-day art where anyone at any age can do. What’s unique about stones is they don’t lose their simplicity even when they’re painted. Leonardo da Vinci himself wrote, “Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.”

Now, look at my indoor cacti stone garden. Aren’t they adorable? Inspired by my pins at Pinterest, I did my own stone cacti collection. They brighten up my mornings. I’m a lover of this succulent plant sans the green thumb. What is more satisfying than having this beautiful sight in the morning without having to worry about its maintenance and painful thorn pricks? I could also play with different pots, cups or vases and arrange them differently from time to time or make them from an indoor garden to table centerpiece or side table accent or I can place them outdoors and watch my neighbors wonder like crazy if they are real. The possibilities of my stone cacti are just so endless.

My indoor cacti collection

My indoor cacti collection

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My stone cacti in my outdoor garden

Here are some of my other playful stone paintings. I guess it’s fun to bring out the child in us even as we advance in age. After all, life is too short not to enjoy every minute of it. And besides joy and happiness cannot be found only in big and expensive things but also in humble and small things.

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I swear my new hobby gives me so much joy,  It has brought me closer to nature that all the more I am in awe of how beautifully God created the world. All the more that I appreciate God’s wonderful works. This hobby taught me to appreciate what I have and to value small things and to look at my life’s little troubles in a different way. I’ve found joy in this simple pleasure and learned that simple joys of life could pave the way for a peaceful, contented and an easy happy life.


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God is the ultimate Artist and the Master designer of all. He designed a purpose for all of His creations -‘big or small. Now there is no space for dark and gloomy thoughts in my life. I am looking at everything from the bright side. Indeed, what a beautiful world we live in. All glory and honor be to God, our Almighty Father.

My simple stone paintings remind of Mahatma Ghandi’s famous quote to “Live simply so that others may simply live.” What a beautiful day it is when you start your morning with a wonderful sight of my stone cacti and be reminded to live simply…

Want to try and start your own stone painting? Post in your comments and questions and I’d be very willing to share some knowledge  and some tips that I have learned through my stone painting journey.

I am just so excited to share with you my other stone paintings in my next post. So, WATCH OUT!!! Hey, wanna join me now??? C’mon… LET’s ROCK IT BABY!!!

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It’s Mother Mary’s 87th Birthday – So, Let It Be!

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Mommy, today is so special for all of us. For 87 years ago on this day, God brought an amazing woman into this world – that was you, our beloved Mommy…This song is for you…

“When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom
Let it be”

Of course everybody is familiar with that song, “Let It Be” popularized by the legendary band in the 60s – The Beatles. To many, it may only be a song, but it’s no ordinary song to me. It may just be a coincidence but the lyrics strike me in the heart whenever I hear that song. Why? Because it speaks well of my Mom, Maria “Mary” Lagasca Cid –  our own Mother Mary. She was born on December 8 – The Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion. Thus, she was named Maria in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mother.

If I were to describe my Mom in just one word…it would be AMAZING! I am a proud daughter who says my mom is no ordinary woman. She’s truly amazing! She exudes glamour and sophistication…those…..I obviously took from her Ehem!

Her outstanding devotion to God and the Blessed Mother and her love to others make her even more beautiful each day. As Louisa May Alcott once said, “Love is a great beautifier.” For if love resides within, it naturally radiates that you become even more beautiful on the outside.

My Mother is very kind and compassionate, very loving and caring and can never be outdone in generosity and thoughtfulness..Growing up, not a single moment did I see her raise her voice…Yes, NOT… a single moment. She was and is always soft-spoken and gentle. She is responsive and open. Always glad to help you in anyway she can. There’s just one thing that I almost hate about her – she’s the first person who gets worried and affected with the slightest problem that concerns us – her children and grandchildren. But then, deep inside I know  that’s how she demonstrates how  dearly she loves us and I am just so grateful…

Her close friends would tell you that my mom is  radiant – she always attracts people because she’s jolly and happy to be with. It’s not a surprise that she has made a lot of friends. Some of whom are much younger than she is. Everyone just loves my Mom’s company because she is full of wit and humor. Her sharp mind is manifested by how quickly she can cleverly inject humor into a unique situation that would make everyone one of us laugh to no end. In short, her jokes aren’t boring and corny. Ask her apokos, they all love lola Mommy’s jokes. Yes,  there’s never a dull moment with my Mom.

I thank God that at 87, she’s continually  blessed with good health. It must have been the many decades  she spent as an English school teacher  that kept her mind as sharp as ever. Then and now, she refers to her friends as “my barkada” and speaks about fb and selfies, how cool is that? Yes, that’s my Mom, our very own Mother Mary.

And so, I just wanted to take the time today to thank God for giving us the Best Mom in the World and to wish my Mommy, a HAPPY 87Th BIRTHDAY!  And Mother, you look much younger than your age, didn’t you always tell me about hearing such compliments often? And oh! Don’t bother about the lines and wrinkles – they demonstrate how long you have been loving us all.  Mommy,  just like the Mother Mary in the Beatles song, your wisdom and unceasing patience have made me the person I am today…

THANK YOU MOMMY for everything...Thank you for “coming to me and speaking words of wisdom when I find myself in times of trouble and for standing right infront of me in my hours of darkness,”

Mommy, then and now..you  ALWAYS speak words of wisdom…you never run short of good things to say…

Proudly, I say, the root of everything she has taught me over the years epitomizes two simple things: love and fear of God. Someone wrote, “To help the young soul, to add energy, inspire hope, to blow the coals into a useful flame, to redeem defeat by new thought and firm action, this, ‘though not easy, is the work of a divine man.” Mommy, those words define you.  You did well in raising us…You are truly divine my Mother. Your name – Maria speaks well of you, our very own Mother Mary…May God bless you with more, more birthdays to celebrate with us..HAPPY BIRTHDAY our dearest MOMMY! WE LOVE YOU!

So, Who’s Afraid of Retirement?

imageHaving attended several retirement parties this past month made me ponder on what many of us look forward to after retirement. Based upon the speeches of the honorees and well-wishers, I’ve found that many of us look forward  to spending retirement years by enjoying quality time with our families, friends and relatives and giving  ourselves the much needed rest and relaxation. However, I’ve also discovered that some have that common  fear of  retirement.

Apparently, money isn’t the only reason why people are afraid of retirement. Even if they’ve saved diligently and amassed a comfortable egg nest, some people think their retirement years will be boring without the mental stimulation of work. I’ve heard many stories of depressed retirees and of course that’s not something to look forward to. On the other hand, the wise retiree prepare for the inevitable transition from the busy life to the well anticipated idle moments. Oh well, plans for life after retirement in the workforce can be endless but here’s the big question – “Have we ever considered preparing for  retirement from this Earth as well? How many of us have?”

I remember vividly what the  Manager of the bank where I worked before told me. On one Christmas party, he gave me the Holy Bible as a present  and said, “Here’s my humble gift to you. It’s the “B-est I-nsurance B-efore L-eaving E-arth.” Yes indeed, the Holy Bible  is the best preparation one can ever have for his retirement from this earthly life.

I glanced at my watch, it’s exactly 8:55 PM,  July 5, 2015. As I was writing this article, I had to stop right at this paragraph as a strong earthquake and several strong aftershocks shook the house and for awhile I got nervous and I prayed. I thought all the more that we should prepare for our “retirement” for we know not when we are called by our Creator to “retire.”

Then I thought, “how can anyone have lots of  time to watch movies and TV, read magazines and books, spend hours and hours in the computer and so little time or no time at all to read the Bible and more so to communicate with God?”

Have we realized we are running out of time? The signs of the times are revealing. The strong earthquake just a few minutes ago is just one of them. Killer floods and heatwaves  have become  common news. Add to that unusual diseases like AIDS, MERS-CoV, SARS etc. So, why then  can’t we stop for awhile and make the necessary preparations to get ourselves ready?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the world should stop spinning  and everyone should stop working for the end is near. I’m not saying that retirees cannot have lazy moments either. For I too, a self-proclaimed retiree at age 44 believe that retirement is payback time – the perfect time to enjoy the fruits of our labor. After retirement, with a sigh of relief we can finally say, “it’s time to relax and enjoy after the many years of dedicated service, sacrifices and hard work.” But hey! Let us also remember that retirement is not  the end of everything. Retirement does not at all equate with lazy, unproductive years. We stiill have so much to contribute to the world and to our neighbors especially to those in need.

So, how do we prepare for our retirement from this earth we live on?  It is not enough that we know the Bible by heart but we should live it as well.

Someone said and I quote, “Retiring is replacing old tires with new tires.” And when you have new tires,  you are ready to  start a new journey.  This time however, you can drive slow and at your own speed and you can have as many stop-overs as you want.

STOP-OVERS

STOP-OVER may mean, visiting or meeting up with family,  old friends, aging relative or a sick neighbor you haven’t had the time to when you were working.

Way back into your working days,  with career and family to look after and  the hectic pace of modern life, it was difficult to find time for socializing. During those busy times, seeing friends and relatives were not one of your priorities but after retirement, making an effort to stay in touch can be important not just for them but also for your own wellbeing.

How could it be beneficial to your health? The reason is that catching up  with family and old friends is the perfect way to ease the stresses and strains of the retiree’s everyday “boring” routine. In fact, that’s one way of relaxation which is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. So, make sure you do it regularly or as per your planned schedule.

So, get to spend more time visiting with friends and family members, near and far. Explore your roots and find relatives you never knew you had. This is quite an adventure that may bring you lots of fun and surprises.

Moreover, as you catch up on life, you will discover a lot of things about them. You can also be a mentor. Find a young person to mentor. Many young people would love the chance to learn from the experienced and successful. Take time out of your week to change the life of someone else.

During these times. you can also do your apostolate by listening to others and bringing them to Christ. Sometimes, even the people who think they are the happiest may have never realized what GENUINE happiness really is. And sometimes, these are the people who tend to forget God because they think they already have everything.

Help them find Christ and help them realize that no one is happier than a person who has Christ in his heart. Just a mere show of love and concern is bringing Jesus to them. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your apostolate everyday. Be an instrument of God’s love not only to people close to you but to everyone you meet.

STOP-OVER may mean visiting orphanages, homeless people and anyone who   may need help and sharing what you have with them. Have you experienced receiving many returns after sharing? My husband and I have experienced that so many times. God never fails to return what we share. I’m not exaggerating. Believe me, they almost always come back not only a hundredfold but a thousandfold! Remember, God promises that if we will concentrate on blessing others, HE will take care of our needs. There’s almost nothing that God won’t do for the person who really wants to help other people. And think about this, even the most humble things you share can go a long, long way to the needy.

STOP-OVER may also mean being a volunteer or being a part of an organization that aims to promote the welfare of the people and the environment.

Volunteer. Use your time in retirement to give back. Contact your local church or other charitable organization to find volunteer opportunities that suit your skills. Don’t forget to consider overseas opportunities as well.

If your career was in line with  the medical field, volunteer for a medical mission to far flung areas  or it can be as simple as being a part of the planting tree program in your community. There’s one and a zillion ways to serve God, community and others. Most of the time, volunteer jobs require no educational qualifications only a sincere and compassionate heart and soul.

In other words, STOP-OVER is a time-out from your usual activities to find different ways and means to reach out to people – “people who need people”, as the song goes…In short, it means serving the Lord in your own little way.

Finally, one thing we can say for certain is that it is wrong to retire from serving the Lord because serving the Lord is a lifelong commitment. Even more, retirement is not the end of our dreams and goals. We still have a lot to dream about and goals to attain. Even as we age, it’s still important to hold on to dreams and stir the creative imagination to expand our horizons in order for us to be able to serve the Lord and reach out to others. Sometimes though, we will be faced with unanticipated challenges, those peaks and valleys that mark the road map of our lives will still be there and they still come in all shapes and sizes and at all times and places.

At the end of the day however, feel happy that you have treasured your Gift of life as a precious rare jewel. Feel happy that you have found genuine happiness not in material things but in Christ’s deep and unconditional love for you. Feel happy that you have served the Lord and continue to serve Him the best way you can for the rest of your life. Lastly, feel happy that you have the B-est I-nsurance B-efore L-eaving E-arth. So now, who’s afraid of retirement?

Broken Jars

Inspirational Christian Blogs

I never cease to stand amazed at Mary Magdalene’s faith – Here a prostitute – a reviled person according to the Pharisaical law – the lowest person – luckily not stoned to death for her sins, changed by the Son of God, and she was never the same again.

This same Mary of whom seven demons had been cast morphed into one of Christ’s staunchest allies, showing courage and bravery far exceeding most of the disciples. She was there at the beginning of Jesus ministry, stood with Him at the cross and was the first one there on that Sunday morning of His awesome Resurrection.

It was my privilege to host a study on Twitter just recently on the subject of Mary’s visit to the empty tomb and it was brought home to me once again the deep faith of this amazing young woman who loved her Lord with everything…

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Kidney Cleanse

Reblogged this on nurturingbodymindandspirit.wordpress.com

ByzantineFlowers

Got lower back pain and suspect it might be a kidney stone? Try this cleanse before an expensive hospital visit. Small kidney stones can be dissolved a few weeks with a few changes in your diet and large amounts of water to wash out any toxins that have built up over time.

This cleanse is not just to remove kidney stones though. The kidney filters out all kinds of toxic substances from your blood and is particularly sensitive to infections – keeping this organ clean and functioning properly is highly important for your health.

What are Kidney Stones?

A kidney cleanse is a great way to avoid kidney stones, but how do they form? If you are dehydrated or have consumed lots of toxic substances, the urine that passes through the kidney can crystallize, forming mineral deposits or kidney stones.

If the stones become too big they can block urine…

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The Must Read Interview With God: What Is The Gospel?

Just sharing Greg Holt’s article originally posted at Inspirational Chrisitians for Today. May it inspire us to deepen our FAITH in our Lord Jesus Christ and to live by His Word.

As we enter the HOLY WEEK, let our sinfulness die with Him and may we all resurrect with Him as transformed Chrisitans. A BLESSED LENT TO EVERYONE…GOD BLESS US ALL!!!

Inspirational Christian Blogs

Atheism-agnosticism-following God

Man: Lord what is the Gospel?

God:I love you

Man: Could You be a little more specific Lord?

God:I love man; despite man’s sin against Me. Despite the heinous acts committed, crimes committed, man’s defiance and outright disobedience – I love man. Taking My name in vain, disbelief in Me, doubts even among My own children, not believing My Son is God, misinterpreting My Word – yet do I love man.

Man: But what about the Gospel Lord?

God:My love for you IS the Gospel; don’t you see?

Man: We see in part Lord; some saved some not, all understanding some, and none understanding all.

God:I AM who I AM. I have always been, and I will always be. I am the Lord; I am righteous and just, merciful and loving, slow to anger and full of grace.

As I am perfect, so must all of…

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EPITAPH

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imageIt was one of those late noon walk-run exercises I had with my husband. “The trek on the hill  always gives me a feeling of peace and serenity and some kind of euphoria that I couldn’t explain”, I said to my husband. Believe me, it’s a totally different kind of   experience that I don’t usually feel when I’m on the treadmill and so, I’d say . . .  what I often hear is true: “You become closer to God when you are connected with nature.” I just love our “green exercises”, as others call it, because not only am I doing something good for my body but it is also my time to meditate and reflect on how  great the Lord is. They are my moments to appreciate the wonders of nature and to give thanks to God of this beautiful world. I’d always find myself in awe with the beauty of the surroundings – the trees, the birds and all of God’s wonderful creations. My thoughts  wandered from time to time though, as I noticed the other joggers and runners who came in different shapes and sizes and I was just wondering how long  they have been exercising when suddenly,  this thought popped into my mind, “Everyone tries to get fit and healthy to live long, but death could come in an instant even to the healthiest and fittest person on earth. And if that happens to me, how will I  be remembered?  Have you ever thought about this too?

In the Old Testament, book of Chronicles are fascinating stories of famous and powerful people. Some went to their death in disgrace and some in fame and glory. Their life stories finish with a one-line summary. For example, King Jehoram was arrogant and ill-liked. He died at age 32 of an incurable disease. The chapter of his life closes with these words: “He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings” (2 Chronicles 21:20).

What a contrast to another king, Josiah, who lived a few generations later. Of him, it was written, “He was buried in the tombs of his fathers, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him (2 Chronicles 35:24).

LEGACY! Like the two kings mentioned, many of us want to leave a legacy. When we leave this life, we want to be remembered for the good things we have done but does it really matter? Is legacy really that significant? My personal belief is that  what is more important is not how people will remember us  when we are gone but how prepared we are to meet our Creator when our time comes. In life, we do  lots of preparations. We prepare  to go to work, to school, to church, to meet somebody and even before going to bed. Let us not forget though, that the  MOST important preparation of all is to prepare for our souls to meet our Creator as death could come anytime and anywhere. This is a lifelong preparation. However, if you think you haven’t prepared  as of this time, it is not too late, you can start TODAY!

So today, tell yourself, “This isn’t just another day. This is today, the most important day of my life. It’s the only day that I can do something about.”

JUST FOR TODAY, strive to do God’s will, remembering the failures of yesterday are behind you. When you wake up in the morning, learn to say, “God, please walk with me today as though it were the last day of my life.”

Live today as though you would meet your Maker at the end of the day. Paul wrote, “Today is the day of salvation.” (1 Corinthians 6:2). If you have no peace in your heart, reach out to the loving Savior, and invite Him to come into your life and give you the assurance that if you met God at the end of the day, you would not be ashamed to call Him Father.

It has been said that life is a series of todays, that so quickly turn into yesterdays to which some of us spend our time regretfully looking backward. Still others, through worry or procrastination, are always waiting for tomorrow. Focus on today!

How my heart grieves for others who have not yet accepted the Lord in their lives. Especially for those entangled in the web of deception. They would rather seek the pleasures of the world than seek the Lord, “Tomorrow,” they always say. Tomorrow, I hope it’s not too late for us to answer God’s invitation.

If for some reasons, God draws a line at the end of your life tonight, how would you be remembered? No one knows when we should prepare the epitaph for our final resting place. Yet we are remembered both for what we are and what we do. To me, my legacy doesn’t matter. In fact, it isn’t important that I’d be remembered. All I want is that my epitaph will read like this: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”