Coffee with God

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My husband went back to school last week after a two-month vacation. I must admit that during these months, my regular quiet time has been erratic. It’s because I don’t have to wake up very early, 4:30 AM, to prepare for his breakfast and his lunch pack. I get a chance to stay in bed a little late than my usual and start my day at around 6:30 AM. At times, I wake up late that I neglect to prioritize my quiet time.  As soon as I’m up, I’m already thinking of my to-do-list for the day. I’ll do the laundry and at the same time prepare breakfast. Soon, hubby and the kids wake up  and the usual craziness commences. Time spent with God would either be shortened or rushed.

Now that hubby is out of the house again (to work), I can have all the time I want for my quiet time. I got the room all to myself again. The kids are fast asleep. There’s that cool early morning breeze that perks me up.  I make my coffee and settle on my favorite desk. With that warm mug in hand I sit at the Master’s feet and listen to Him speaking to me through his Word.  Somehow the warmth of my morning drink calms my heart and soothes my soul as seek to know His message to me that day.

In the quietness of my heart, He reveals to me a sin I have intentionally or unintentionally committed the past days. After admitting the sin, I confess and He forgives, just like what he always says. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Whenever I’m going through a difficult time or a stressful week, I could hear him whispering in my soul beautiful promises…

Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

When I am in doubt or about to make very tough decision, I search for his Word to guide me always. I am always in need of wisdom from the loving Father and the book of James reminds me where to find it. “if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

In Jeremiah 6:16 this is what the Lord says, “Stand at the crossroads, and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” It’s a comfort to know that whatever it is I’m dealing with presently, there are other Christians who also stood at the same crossroad. In everything that they went through, seasons of triumph or defeat, God was present in their lives and led them to a victory. I could also look at the lives of ordinary people in the Bible and how God has impacted their lives tremendously.

Time alone with God is an opportunity to ask Him anything, anything I need or want. He will never abandon us in our need, even if at times we doubt his faithfulness.

He provides food for those who fear him;
   he remembers his covenant forever. Psalm 111:5

Most of the time, I ask him for this or that and he responds with a “No.” Why is that? Jesus tells us clearly in Matthew 7:9-11 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

His Word is true. I have proven them in my life and in the lives of my inner circle. How can we know and trust His promises if we do not make time for Him. Even if the CEO of the entire universe, He will always have time for you and me because He wants us to know how much He loves us and to show us great and mighty things!

How about you? How has God spoken to you in your quiet time? What bible verses are you holding on to as you continue to know Him more?

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Now What?

Ephesians 4:29 says, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Has anybody said anything hurtful to you? Are you a victim of people who are just irresponsible with their words that they have scarred you for life? How about receiving comments that made you doubt your worth, your abilities even your character?

My answer would be YES to all.  I was at the receiving end of nasty comments, criticisms and gossip in the past. Some comments affected me too much that a sense of insecurity enveloped my personality as a teenager. The comments made me believe I was not good enough, I was not pretty enough. Then, as an adult I experienced being accused for things I didn’t do. It hurts. It hurts really bad.

Recently, I received a comment which did not bother me at all. But after contemplating on that specific comment, it started to hit me.  The insecure part of me was all set to have a pity party. Unfortunately, the comment came at a time when I was seriously contemplating on what I want to do for the next 40 years of my life (if God permits me to live till 80). I’ll be turning 40 in a few days and I’m seriously planning the rest of my life 😉 Should I pursue my profession and really take it to the next level? Or chase after the dream I wanted for a very long time and at the same timed doing  what I really love doing?

The person’s comment made me doubt myself, my capabilities. It made want to turn the other way and just move on. Now, I am all the more confused! But then I thought that that’s her personal opinion, that’s how she sees things or how she sees me. I know who I am. I know what I can do. But what if what she said was true. What if I’m not really good enough? Am I living in mediocrity?

The way people see me is different from the way I see myself. More so does my Creator, my God. In times of doubt, I only see the ugly, rotten and wretched parts of my being but the Lord has a different view of me.  First of all, all  of God’s creation are beautiful. Everything he created has a purpose and a specific design. The Psalmist says this well in Psalm 139:14 I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful I know them full well.

Second, He know who I really am because “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139:15 He loves me for who I am and He is in the business in changing me and molding me to the woman of purpose. The woman He wants to use for His glory alone.

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I am seriously in need of some soul-searching. I need to know where the Lord is taking me. What does he want me to do? What road does he want me to take? Regardless of how people see me or what people say about me, I should first and foremost focus on how God sees me. After all, whatever He wants me to do for the rest of my life, I am accountable to him. I am not answerable to my husband, my children, my parents, my mentor. Ultimately, I am answerable to my Creator.

I could never nor would I ever please everybody and that should not be my goal. Because no matter how hard I work, there will always be people who think I cannot measure up. I will fail them for sure and I would never achieve their expectations of me. All I need to do now  is to find what God really wants me to do. I need to focus on finding this path I have to take. I may be in the path already but have been distracted or delayed along the way. I pray that I be in that path He has set

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Pretty in Pink

I am excited to attend the www.Jesus event in church tomorrow. It has been quite a while since a women’s conference has been organized by our local church. The seminar will focus on 3W’s, Women, Wellness and Wholeness.

For events like these, we need volunteers and I was asked to assist in the distribution of meals to the participants. As a volunteer, we were required to wear something pink. I knew that I don’t have a decent pink shirt so I had to get one, nothing fancy, just something to wear on Saturday.

Jianne, my 6-year-old daughter, was so thrilled when I told her I needed to buy a pink outfit for the event. She asked if she could go with me to the mall so she could get a new pink shirt for her too. I raised my eyebrows at her request and told her she doesn’t need a new one. I reminded her that most of her clothes are pink and I’m the one who needed one. She insisted but I said no. Instead, she just asked if could get her a new headband and my reply was a quick yes.

So, we headed to the mall which is a stone’s throw away from our place. She quickly changed her house clothes to one of her pink star shirts. We looked at different shops because I don’t want to get one that’s too expensive neither do I want to get a plain shirt. Jianne was on the lookout for pink items on the shelves and racks. She would point out the ones she like but when I checked them out I looked like an old teenager haha.

We were busy talking about the style I want that we forgot that my husband was with us too. He accompanied us to the mall that afternoon. It’s funny how grown up Jianne was while we were talking about girl stuff. Poor hubby, he was like a bodyguard walking his two girls.

Every item I choose, I would ask Jianne if she thinks it’s cool or not. Then, she would motion me to ask her Papa whether he thinks it’s cool too. Shopping with Jianne was like shopping with my girl friends.  At 6, she has her own style and is very opinionated especially when it comes to fashion. She is so unlike me haha.

We went in another store, Shapes, and I found a pink and gray blouse. I asked her to go with me in the fitting room to try it out. She voted for the blouse and we were off the cashier. Not only was the blouse cheap but we got an additional 10 percent discount on it!

Soon,  we were headed to the kids’ accessories section to look for her headband. She knew what she wanted. She specifically told me that furry one with flowers, like the one she had before which Coby accidentally broke in two. As soon as she saw the color and style she wanted, nobody could change her mind. The sales clerk suggested other styles but she was fixed on that blue flower headband. She never took it off until it was time to sleep.

My daughter would be turning 7 in a few months and she is growing up to be a fine young lady. She has a mind of her own now and knows what she wants. She wants all pink things.  She wants all pretty things. I am praying that as she goes through the different stages in her life, she would learn to love the simple things. That she would learn to enhance not only her outer beauty but ultimately love God who is the source of inner beauty.

How do you teach your daughter about inner beauty?

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4

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Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Time for a Cool Change

“I used Grammarly (www.grammarly.com) to grammar check this post, because I know I don’t know everything.”

I’m so happy to know that the number of homeschooling families in the Philippines have increased significantly. I have talked to other young parents who are planning to homeschool their toddlers, even their babies too when the time comes. 

Our family has been enrolled in this homeschool provider, let’s call it provider A, for four years now. Their system is not perfect, like the other providers, but I believe they continue to do their best to improve and provide sufficient support for their enrolled families.

Recently, though I have met a couple of moms  who are enrolled in a different provider, let’s call it provider B. They have shared with me the advantages of being under that provider. And because of their enthusiasm in their homeschooling, I have become curious.

I have been asking around for feedback from provider B and so far, I have heard just one negative feedback which didn’t bother me at all. I have shared my curiosity with my husband and my desire to transfer from provider A to provider B. Of course, my husband was hesitant at first and says he has not heard of such provider.

He was secured with our current provider that moving to a new one is not in the works not until we bumped into another homeschooling family last week at the mall. I know this family because we see each other in church often. I said hi to the mom and my supposedly 5-minute-question and answer conversation became an hour of sharing and encouragement. She and her husband were in agreement that they made the right decision by also shifting to provider B. By the way, they used to be enrolled under provider A too.

When my husband heard their insights, he was slightly convinced and told me on the way home that my prayer is already answered. Because he knows I have been praying if we should shift or not. That conversation made me want to set up a meeting with the principal of provider B the soonest time possible.

Just last Wednesday, a week after our conversation with this family, I got a text message from the mom asking me if I had already talked with the principal. I told her I have not. She asked me if I wanted to meet with the principal in an hour because she was in the area and would be meeting other parents as well. I was excited to meet with her of course! My husband was ecstatic because we didn’t have to travel far just to discuss our options with her. He said it was God’s appointment 🙂

Our meeting was very brief but my husband, who was a reluctant shifter, became a believer right away. I asked him what changed his mind, he said that the principal answered his questions and removed his doubts and was willing to give provider B a shot.

You think I’d be happy right? Nah! I don’t know what’s wrong with me…at first I was so ready to move but when my husband gives me the go-signal, I want to chicken out! Suddenly,my doubts began to run through my mind…what happens if…what would I do if… questions, questions and more questions…aaaahhhh!

Finally, I told my husband that I am apprehensive of the shift. I don’t know if it would really benefit us or if their system would only bring us down… but I wouldn’t  know if I give it a try. If I don’t, I would always be wondering, right? So, my husband and I decided to give it a year and get a feel of their system. If it does not go well with our family, then we can easily go back to our previous provider. No harm done.

Next week, we will be meeting with the principal of provider B to enroll our kids. I’m looking forward to the new set of curriculum and new system. I am praying that the shift would really be a cool change for our homeschooling family.

9 Wisdom has built her house; she has carved its seven columns.

She has prepared a great banquet, mixed the wines, and set the table.

She has sent her servants to invite everyone to come. She calls out from the heights overlooking the city.

“Come in with me,” she urges the simple. To those who lack good judgment, she says,

“Come, eat my food, and drink the wine I have mixed.

Leave your simple ways behind, and begin to live; learn to use good judgment.”

Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt.

So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you.

Instruct the wise, and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous, and they will learn even more.

10 Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.

11 Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life. 12 If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer. Proverbs 9:1-12

 

Where, O’ Where

Back in 2004 or 2005, my husband and I saw an amazing photograph of the New Zealand skyline. It was so magnificent and if remember it right, the caption describes the country as “heaven on earth.” It was also during this time that we decided to try apply as immigrants to that ‘heaven on earth’.

We saw another ad in the classifieds section about an agency who specializes in New Zealand migration. My husband didn’t like the idea of migrating to another country so I had to convince him several times to just attend the orientation with the said agency. Finally, we attended and of course, they tried to “sell” us their services. Blinded as we were then, we gave in to our desire of a better future for our family. Lured by the beauty of the place and the empty promises of the agency, we hired them as our consultants.

Both are families were supportive of our plan and provided financial aid to us. The processing of our papers took years. We were so sold that we will be starting a new life in New Zealand. But God had other plans for us. I will not go into the details as it still pains me to talk the most depressing chapter in our life as a family, specifically husband and wife.

To make the long story short, we didn’t go to NZ. During my husband’s online interview with the immigration officer, I knew that there was a problem. It’s so ironic because according to Chinese national who conducted the interview, my husband failed to impress her or communicate well with her. Failure in communication? My husband, though Filipino through and through, speaks English fluently because he was raised in an English-speaking family and he was a teacher! How could he fail to communicate?

During this time, we were still immature, baby Christians. We were still very dependent on ourselves and sought God only when there was a crisis. In hindgisht, my husband’s alleged failure to communicate with the consul is clearly God’s working. He allowed this to happen because he didn’t want us to leave the country. Up to now, I don’t know why he didn’t allow us to migrate but I believe it was for our protection. He has a wonderful plan for us and going to NZ was not in His list.

My husband and I were so disappointed that I cried for days. People and friends kept asking us when are we leaving and I would just reply in tears.

Eight years had gone and we are still here in our native land, the Philippines. The country has been through a lot of tough times but we see a glimpse of hope somehow as Asia’s economy is booming according to economists. But thoughts of living in another country still occupies a small space in my mind. I still want to move. I want to experience a different life aside from what I have  known all my life. I want our children to have other opportunities too.

I don’t know if a spirit of discontentment in me, but I want to live in Canada or Australia, Switzerland or maybe New Zealand again. But my husband is not even thinking about it. He said he was traumatized by our NZ thingy that he doesn’t want to talk about migration yet.

I remember the story of Isaac in the book of Genesis. There was famine in the land and he wanted to move to Egypt but God stopped him and told him to stay in the land as God will provide for him. Many years later, Isaac’s son, 130-year-old Jacob was asking God if it was his plan to move to Egypt because of the famine and also to be reunited with his long lost son, Joseph. And God in his perfect timing, told Jacob to move to Egypt (Goshen)  with his family but He promised He will bring him back to their own land.

Genesis 46:3-4

3 He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. 4 I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will [a]close your eyes.”

I don’t know where God desires me or my family to be. It may even be right here where I’m sitting and writing this blog. Or it may be somewhere else. I’m secrerly hopeing it’s somewhere else but who am I to defy God again? In case God tells us to move, I know He will be speaking to both my husband and I. If He tells us to go, we will go. But if it is to stay, then, as much as I don’t want to, we will stay.  His plan and timing is always perfect. Allow me to share my favorite verse :

Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

New Zealand

Canada

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Quitting Homeschool—Not!

In my four years of homeschooling Coby, I could no longer count the times I said, “I’m done!” “This is over!” or “It’s just too hard, I can’t do it anymore!” I guess I’m not the only homeschooling mom who felt this way at least once in their entire homeschooling life. Until one day, I really, really considered throwing in the towel.

I think it was in the middle of this school year when I really felt tired of doing it again and again. I was getting bored actually. I felt I want to do something else. I don’t know what it was but I felt a pull somewhere and it’s calling me to send my kids to conventional school so I could have more time to do the things that I love. Hmm, it was a sensible thought. I brought up the idea to my husband who was reluctant but supported me still and it kept bothering me for weeks.

Then in one of my BSF classes, our teaching leader was talking about how Abraham was commanded by God to surrender Isaac, his one and only son. Abraham didn’t question God nor his promise of making him the father of all nations. He knew that God was in control of everything. So all was set. Isaac was laid on the altar to be sacrificed by Abraham until God stopped him. Then God provided a sacrifice, a ram trapped in the bushes.

The teaching leader asked us if we have an “Isaac” that God wanted us to give up and we should not hold on to it because if we choose to obey God He will provide a “ram” for us. As I was contemplating on the words of our TL , I turned to my right and saw this person. She was the principal of the Christian school near our home. I remember talking to her before because I wanted to know more about her school, just in case… My heart started pounding so hard then I felt tears rolling down my cheeks. I felt it was God’s message to me.

The “Isaac” I was to give up was homeschooling Coby. God already provided a “ram” which was represented by the principal, which means I should enroll Coby in a conventional school. I was happy and sad at the same time. I was so sure that it was really God speaking to me through that lesson. But then, I was wrong…

A few days after that emotional “confirmation”, I had my usual quiet time. I asked God again if I really heard Him right. Deep inside, I was having doubts about it. I was secretly (as if God doesn’t know it) asking Him, “Are you sure you want me to quit homeschooling?” “Really, really?”

Then,in the quietness of my heart, I finally got it. What the Lord wanted me to give up was my complacency, my sometimes laziness in planning out the lessons. When I saw the principal, it was God telling me to put structure in our homeschooling. Coby needs structure, in fact, he screams for structure, scheduling and planning. Organizing would give Coby the drive to work. Coby is a planner. He wants to know what our food would be tomorrow or if we’re going somewhere over the weekend. Or what subjects he would be doing the next day and the next. Having no plan makes him scramble Because he sees the plan and how it’s organized, he knows what is expected of him which would lessen my coming in to the picture all the time. It encourages him to do independent learning.

Whew! It’s really important to connect with God 24/7. Have that intimacy with Him because like me, I could have done something which was not what He really wanted me to do. It was foolish of me to just jump to conclusions right away and relying on my emotions or my circumstances instead of seeking God first. But God was so good because He made sure I got the message right this time!

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. 

Don’t get me wrong, eventually, I have to send them to conventional school. But for now, at this stage in their life, homeschooling is still on!

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

What is God’s Will for Me?

Aside from being a homeschooling mother of two, I am a dentist by profession.

No, I was not fascinated with the oral cavity when I was still in pigtails. At 17, I was still unsure if the current course I was enrolled in at that time was the one for me. Nobody gave me sound advice then so I gave in to the “suggestion” of my mother who really wanted me to become a dentist.

I would say I was a diligent student. I had no problems studying, reviewing and complying with the academic requirements. I had trouble though with the clinical requirements because I would rather hang out with my friends than fix the patients’ teeth. So I succesfully completed dental school in 7 years instead of six years 😛 I took the board exams, passed it. Worked as an apprentice for almost a year then I started my own practice at home.

Years passed and my status in life changed. Got married and gave birth the following year. The baby became my priority until I lost the desire to see patients again. I was making a career out of being a mother and like probably most first-time mothers, I had a challenging time. Though my mother was there to help me out, I still had my own way of bringing up the baby.

After 3 years, I was pregnant again with my second child. I needed to go back to work to help augment the family income. But in my heart, I just wanted to close shop and focus on the kids. When our second child was born, I didn’t practice my profession anymore. I was hired as a homebased medical transcriptionist. I enjoyed that job and was so dedicated to it that there were times I was on the computer typing away while I breastfed my baby! After 3 years in that job, the Lord impressed upon me to quit. Though I was well-paid, I had to give it up because it was taking too much of my time already. Homebased work is not easy as it sounds. I was stuck on the computer chair for hours. The only time I stood up was when I had to go to bathroom or take a 10-minute lunch break. I took the job because I wanted to work and still have time for the kids but it was not as I expected. I needed to complete the job the soonest because we have to comply with the TAT (Turn around time).

As the Lord led me to resign, I obeyed. A week after, I called in the office to follow up on my pay check. My boss told me that after I quit, most of their clients stopped sending them work. It was a confirmation from the Lord. He saved me from the embarrasment of being let go because there was no longer any work for me.

I relucatantly opened my practice again. Old patients were happy to know that I’m back but my heart was not. It was always a struggle for me. I was asking God why He put me in the profession. My heart is not in it, I’m not passionate about. For me, it’s just a job I have to do because I have to do it. But if given a choice, I would rather do something else. I would rather start my own food business or pursue what I am really passionate about and that is writing.

I was blessed to read a book by John Macarthur, “Found: God’s Will”, which was lent to us by our discipler in church. I believe being a dentist allows me to homeschool my kids, attend bible studies faithfully, start my own discipleship group and pursue other passions because I have to the time. I manage my own time. I have no boss to report to. I am my own boss. I can accept patients depending on my schedule. I can always adjust my time. And the Lord has been working ever since. He has allowed me to work a few hours in a week and receive income from that. He knows when there is a need and he uses my “job” to provide for those needs.

I believe ultimately, God appointed the fathers to be the main provider in the family. While my main job is to support my husband by managing our household, teaching our kids and doing whatever needs to be done. I believe this is what the Lord wanted for our family. He wanted us to have a vision for our family. The vision is to have a father who leads his family spiritually, physically, mentally and financially. A mother who supports the father in bringing up the children and teaching them to love God and His Word and to manage the household while the father is working.

We don’t have a perfect family, nor is it ideal. But the Lord has just been so gracious to us that despite our shortcomings, our sinful nature, He is still abouding in love and mercy to us. If not for God’s love, where would our family be?

So whether it’s extracting a tooth, teaching fractions or cooking spaghetti, God sees my heart. I may not have the passion to serve as a health professional but I will do it because this is where God put me at this time. It’s not a change of career for me, but a change of heart.

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And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2