A Forty-fied Woman

There was no fancy party. Nothing extravagant or out of this world themed celebration for my 40th year on this earth. It was like any other birthday. It was simple day of thanksgiving to God for capping the first 39 of my life with his love and mercy.  Family and best friends remembering my day is something to be thankful for.

Prior to celebrating D-Day,  I was sharing with my husband, Peewee, my thoughts about me turning 40. I was sharing with him some of 40th birthday questions: What will I do the rest of my life? Will I pursue the profession my parents want for me and the one I studied long and hard for? Will I take a different path and follow my passion and hopefully achieve the dream I wanted ever since the writing bug bit me. Or will I venture a different route with my husband and start a small family food business? Unfortunately, we were not able to continue our introspective discussion because we were just to sleepy and tired 🙂 Signs of old age haha

That weekend we had our regularly scheduled Discipleship group (D-group) in church. While doing our regular devotion, our leader asked us what our purpose in life was? Do we have life plan? I was fighting back the tears as he was asking away because I could sense God was impressing something in my heart that I really need to look at. He was using our D-group leaders to initiate a mini retreat for our group where our focus would be on planning our lives.

I never mentioned to our D-group leader nor his wife about my mid-life predicament. But hearing their planned retreat got me excited. I am praying that at the end of this sojourn I would be able to discern what direction the Lord wants me to take. Although, God will not be as specific as I want Him to be by telling me exactly, “You go back to being a dentist” or “Pursue a writing career.” What I know is that He has a wonderful plan for me and a purpose for my existence. I just need to be aware of his leading and follow the path He wants me to take.

I have blogged about my love for writing and sharing my thoughts on paper even at a young age. This is the path I wanted to take when I was younger but I did not get the necessary support I needed then. I was not also given sufficient advice from career counselors who could have suggested other alternatives for me and to top all that, I was only 16 deciding on my future.  And besides, I was too ashamed to show my writings to other people especially my mom, because I was afraid I would be scolded for creating teen love stories at the age of 11.  It was also during this age that my parents were having problems in their marriage, I didn’t want to add to their issues at that time.  So I shelved my writing pen and paper and pursued other things.

But then again, the Lord allowed me to shift to a different course and transfer to another school after a year in college. This time, I just obeyed my mother and followed the direction she wanted for me. I took the course, completed it, took the board exam, passed it and practiced my profession. Since 1998, I was doing the work assigned to me. I was treating patients at my clinic the best way I know how. Through the  years I have received positive feedback from patients but there were also occasions were I knew I was wearing the wrong hat. Overall, I continuously do it because I have to not because I love to do it. I wish I could have the same gusto and passion as my other colleagues have. Unfortunately, I can’t fake passion.

On the other hand, writing brings joy to my soul. Knowing that readers get to hear my story and be blessed by it is enough compensation for this wanna-be-writer-mom. Whether I’m blogging about homeschooling, my kitchen adventures or simply letting others see my life as a mom and a follower of Christ is already a blessing in itself because I know there is one soul that I get to encourage to be the best person they can be for themselves and for God. I am also hoping also that whatever they season in life they are going through, they can always find joy knowing that the God of heaven, the Creator of all things is willing to have an intimate relationship with them.  And that as a mom, a professional, a woman, we all need God. We all need a higher being who is wiser than us to guide us every day of our lives.

I am a fortified woman not because of what I did in my life but because of what the Lord has done in and through me. My mistakes made me wiser and more discerning while the hurts made me stronger and more forgiving. I am still imperfect, a sinner in this body but the love of Christ made me who I am today. I am forgiven and being transformed daily when I obey Him and His Word.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10-17

with Maida my college friend and her kids Bettina and Bea

with Maida my college friend and her kids Bettina and Bea

Our kids: Coby, Jianne, Bea and Bettina

Our kids: Coby, Jianne, Bea and Bettina

How do become a fortified woman? How does the Lord help you to become one? I’d love to hear from you 🙂

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Love for Vintage

I used to believe that I was an old soul because of my fondness for everything old, classical or vintage. As a teenager, I don’t mind listening to the tunes of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole and other Motown Artists. Somehow I was drawn to this soothing and nostalgic genre.

In the recent years, my love for the old intensified with the advent of vintage photography. I particularly like themes that include nature, women, dresses, writing and food. Staring at these photos literally take me back in time, the simplicity of life then. The faint colors really appeal to my eyes as dainty and delicate.

I’d like to share some of my favorite vintage photos to include typewriters which I found on the net.

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But one of my favorite vintage things are typewriters. We had an old typewriter when I was in high school and that was my favorite “gadget” back in the 80’s.  I love hearing the sound of the keys being tapped and that familiar *ting* when you’ve reached the end of the page.  If I could only see, touch and use one now, that would totally take me back to when I first began writing 🙂

Are there any obsolete tool or old gadget you would like to use again today?

 

Homeschooling with the APO Hiking Society

In the Philippines, we celebrate Buwan ng Wika  (Month of Language) every August. During this month, students all over the country celebrate the beauty of our national language. We, as Filipinos, are also reminded to be proud to speak in our native tongue. Our language tells us who we are as a nation, as a country. Just like our flag which represents our country among the nations,  so does our language. We should be proud to use in our everyday conversations, in our writings and even in our songs.

Instead of calling off school today because of a typhoon, I decided to introduce Coby and Jianne to OPM, Original Pilipino Music or Original Pinoy Music. Filipino artists including songwriters, musicians, singers collaborated and created a new genre in music which we now call OPM. These songs were originally written by Filipinos and performed by Filipino singers and bands as well. As far as I can remember, artists like Mitch Valdez, Rico Puno, Celeste Legaspi, Basil Valdez, Ryan Cayabyab and the APO Hiking Society were the pioneers in promoting Original Pinoy Music.

My personal favorite among all the OPM artists are Buboy, Jim and Danny, the trio who make The APO Hiking Society. My parents had a stockpile of APO vinyl albums when I was growing up. I would hear them regularly  being played at home and through constant listening I became familiar with most of their songs. I even know what some of their album covers looked like 🙂

Unfortunately, the APO have retired from the music industry a few years ago but their music is still very alive in my heart. I wanted my kids to hear their kind of music too. I want to influence them In having an appreciation of Filipino sound and not just listen to Taylor Swift, One Direction, Bruno Mars and other international pop artists.

The APO music is mostly written in Filipino that’s why I love listening to them.  I picked two song “Pumapatak na naman ang Ulan” (since it’s raining) and “Lumang Tugtugin” for the kids to listen to and study. Good thing that the CD has a lyric sheet so we could all sing along and understand the message of the music. Reading the lyrics in Filipino was not much of a challenge but understanding the meaning of each word was. But in the end, we had fun interpreting the song.

first look at the APO

first look at the APO

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singing with her stuffed toys

singing with her stuffed toys

We also listened to two other Filipino children’s song, Bahay Kubo and Magtanim ay Di Biro 🙂 The first song enumerates the different veggies found in a home. This time I told the kids to write down all the vegetables they hear being sang. I had to pause the CD every so often for them to catch the words. This was a good practice in Filipino language and handwriting especially for Jianne who is in first grade. After enumerating the veggies, I asked them what they eat. Jianne shouted “okra” her favorite but it was not included in the song 😦 I played the song three more times and they were singing along while reading their veggie list.

“Magtanim ay Di Biro” is famer’s song. It tells about how hard it is work in the field and describes how the body feels after a hard day’s work. After listening to the song, the kids and I talked about how important farmers are and the work that they do. They realized that if the farmer does not plant, we won’t have anything to eat. We won’t have rice, corn and other stuff. They did not only value the importance of hard work but they also had fun learning all of it in Filipino.

What a fun day that was! How about you, how do you encourage your kids to love their own language?

Coffee with God

coffeebible

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?

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.

Mom, My Tooth is Loose!

This is my first post where I would talk about what I have studied long and hard in college… TEETH! Yes, I am dentist by “profession” and have not been very active in the past years because I was busy raising a family.  I have put my private practice on the sidelines and kept it on appointment basis only.

Most of the patients I see are kids, majority are kids’ friends and they often go to me to have their kids’ “baby tooth” pulled. The reason for taking out the tooth is because it has a cavity, infected or loose.  But taking out the tooth would not always be the best option.

As a mom, we get excited when we see a glimpse of our babies’ first tooth which is about at 6 months of age.  Our toddler’s teeth would have completed eruption at age 2 to 3.

Some parents neglect the importance of these first set of teeth or “milk teeth”, “baby teeth”, “temporary teeth” or in dental terms, primary or deciduous teeth.  One of the most common notion they have is that these teeth are temporary, will shed off and it’s okay to pull it out. This is partly true. Yes, these milk teeth will shed and the permanent teeth would erupt soon. But we don’t just take them out at will.

The primary teeth are there for a very important reason and that is to serve as guide for the erupting permanent tooth. Since the permanent tooth  will be taking the space occupied by the temporary teeth, the new tooth coming needs to be guided by the temporary tooth. For example, when the primary incisor starts to wiggle, it means that the permanent tooth, which is hidden under the gums and bones are already forming. As soon as they are ready to come out, they (permanent tooth) will push the primary tooth out of its place and would occupy the same space. If we pull out the primary teeth carelessly without considering the time the age of eruption,, the new tooth coming out will have no guide at all. That tooth would be lost, it doesn’t know where to go which could lead to crowding of permanent teeth.

Another importance of the preserving the milk teeth and keeping it healthy is because the succeeding permanent may have discolorations or dark spots on it when it erupts because it’s predecessor was unhealthy or decayed.

Even though these primary teeth will not last long, it’s still necessary to practice good oral hygiene at an early age to prevent cavities or tooth infection and this practice would be carried on by the child hopefully when he or she grows up.

I have included charts of age of tooth eruption to serve as guide for you and your kids. Don’t worry if your child is already 7 years old and there are no permanent molars yet. Again, this varies from child to child. When Coby was born, he had his first tooth at 4/12 months and his permanent tooth at 5 1/2. While Jianne, had her first molars much later.

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primary tooth eruption, photos from children.webmd.com

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Sowing the Seeds

I have longed to have my own veggie garden at home. Ever since the all-natural/organic bug bit me, I wanted to grow my own herbs and vegetables.  Living in an apartment prevented me from developing my green thumb. But when my family moved to our temporary home two weeks ago, which has a big green area, I was all set to do the dirty work, literally!

I got seeds from the supermarket and asked the kids to help me plant them. I didn’t get the regular pots yet because I wanted to check if the  herbs would thrive.  So my husband suggested to use paper cups first then eventually transfer to a bigger pot when they start to germinate.

the garden soil

the garden soil

our seed pack basil, dill, parsley, lavender and chives with a free arugula seed pack too :-0

our seed pack
basil, dill, parsley, lavender and chives with a free arugula seed pack too :-0

Coby putting labels on the cups

Coby putting labels on the cups

teeny tiny lavender seeds

teeny tiny lavender seeds

praying they would all thrive :-P

praying they would all thrive 😛

I’m keeping my fingers crossed here! If my initial step to growing my own herbs and veggies would be successful, who knows what else this garden would grow! When we moved in, I saw a papaya plant and cantaloupe plant in the backyard! We can’t wait.

After all these sowing, I am reminded of Jesus’ parable about the 4 kinds of soil in Matthew 13.  Each soil represents the person’s heart while the seed represents the word of God or the gospel. God’s truth may or may not impact a person’s life depending on the condition of the heart. As the soil was described in the parable being dry, rocky, thorny or fertile, so is the condition of our hearts. The good seed will only grow and thrive if it’s planted on good soil. My heart was once dry, rocky and full of thorns but as I grew to know my God, I believe that it is now fertile and bearing much fruit. But then again, whatever fruit or growth I may be having, it’s all because of the unmerited favor of God in my life…only by his grace alone!

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” Matthew 13:18-23