It’s your choice

Choose to be happy, choose to be positive…

Something upsets me this morning and thank God for my husband who God uses continuously to remind me to keep calm.

And the Holy spirit has reminded me of God’s words in James 1:19-20.

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for a man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires”.

I am far from perfect but it is my desire to follow God and keep His commandments. Truly it’s our choice – whether to stay angry and ruin your day or choose to let go and be positive and thankful for all the goodness of God in your life which is far way more than that thing that is trying to steal your joy.

 

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Date nights are important

Fellow married couples – repeat after me… “Date nights are important”! Again – with feelings – “Date nights are important”.

This marriage advice is one of my favorites and I was so ecstatic to hear this again from an inspirational Christian couples in the Parenting Seminar that we attended last week.

We all knew this – us for one have heard about it couple of times in the past and at one point we said to ourselves we need to do that, but then – schedules got too cramped up, baby came, there were loads of other stuff to accomplish, getting busy in the ministry and before we knew it, we have unknowingly set this aside.

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But thank God for the reminder, now we decided to set our weekly exclusive date nights just for the two of us 🙂  Wohooo!!! I am sooo happy about this at the same time I realize there are loads of positive benefits to it and I would like to share it with my fellow married friends and perhaps the Lord will also speak to you just as how it ministered to us.

There are 4 points why I personally believe that it is good to have exclusive husband and wife date nights:

  1. For husbands – It is a way of constantly pursuing/courting your wife

Romance should not stop after you said I do. It is very important to constantly pursue your wife and one of the most effective way is to regularly take her out on a date.

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Proverbs 18:22 said – He who finds a wife, finds what is good and receives FAVOR from the Lord.  So let this be a reminder to husbands – you’ve got a FAVOR from God and that is your wife – and I think I need not to elaborate further on this but I guess you should know what to do next 🙂

On a lighter note, –  having regular date nights – will also give your wife a chance to doll up herself, put make up and dress up and will let her feel confident about herself all over again. Trust me – after kids, admit it or not, we wives had those thoughts of “parang losyang na ata ako”, “ni hindi man lang ako makapag-ayos”. Having a regular date nights with your wife will allow her to show off her kagandahan all over again 🙂

  1. For wives  – You make your spouse feel that they are important

This goes both ways – but let me reiterate on the part of the wives, more often than not – once you have kids, there is a huge tendency to put aside your husbands, it’s becoming all about the kids, what they need, what you can do for them and unknowingly we take our husbands for granted. Having date nights will make your spouse feel that they are important –Setting aside that special time is a huge leap (especially with those having young kids) he can have all your focus again even for just a couple of hours 🙂 No running after the kids, no chores to take up your time – it is just you and your husband. This will greatly contribute in filling each other’s love tank.

  1. It is healthy for the relationship –

Strengthening the bond/relationship between husband and wife should be a priority to maintain unity and security of the family. This is one of the reason why I believe spending quality time with each other is a must between husbands and wives and both parents with your kids. There is a saying that – you make time for things that matters, so if your spouse matters to you – you should make time for him/her.

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Spending quality time with your spouse can be considered as a maintenance 🙂 Even some of our material possessions requires maintenance, your car needs maintenance, your AC needs maintenance, what more your relationship as a couple – that too requires maintenance for it to last long and forever. A weekly or a monthly date will help to remind each other why you chose each other to be your partner in life in the first place. Be your spouse confidante – Having an open and honest relationship with your spouse is important to the health of your marriage.

  1. You can share thoughts on your family’s financial goals and plans

You can also take your date nights as an opportunity to lay down and discuss your financial goals and plans for the family. It is necessary that both husbands and wives are in the same phase with regards to the financial goals for the family – when do you plan to build a house, what prospective family business can you pursue, which areas can you cut down on expenses and even when do you need to replace a furniture or an appliance should be discussed together to avoid misunderstanding concerning finances. Having only the husband or only the wife to decide on these matters is not healthy because it would mean that you don’t trust each other’s points of view with regards to finances. There will be cases, the wife only spend spend  spend while the husband is struggling to save up for the next family project or even vice versa – that will be a pain. But if you are openly discussing your financial status and plans – together, hand in hand you can effectively achieve your goals.

This blog post doesn’t intend to offend anyone or compare this couple to another couple. I just feel the need to share this to inspire and encourage fellow married couples to do something good amongst your own spouses and set a special time with each other that will help nurture your relationship as husband and wife. And another point, the connotation of the word “date” often links it to extravagant dinners, candlelight settings, fine dining and the list goes on… BUT BIG NO – Date with your spouse doesn’t have to be expensive – it may not even require you to spend a dime – a walk in the park, strolling in malls, biking, star gazing at the corniche – it is also your chance to  let out the creative side of you and think of something extraordinary and yet special for your spouse.

Where you go or what you eat is not important – it is who you are with and why are you doing it – is what matters most. And a reminder from my previous post – “If you want to become a good parent to your kids, you should strive first to be a good husband or a good wife first”. And this, is one of the step we wish to undertake to be able to perform our roles better as husband and wife.

 

Parenting Seminar – Train Up Your Child

We had a great time last night attending the Parenting Seminar conducted by Christian couple Edric Mendoza and Joy Tan-Chi Mendoza. I can say it was indeed a blessing to listen to them and we were very encouraged to do our roles better as parents to Sophie and also we were reminded of God’s design for us as a Christian couple to reflect the Lord’s goodness thru our life and to be able to achieve that end-goal which is in everything we do it will give glory to God alone. Listening to them was like sitting before God and listening to all His wisdom being unveiled before us –especially for young parents like us.

We are so amazed to God – this event came at the right time – just when we needed it most. Although some of the things discussed were not new to us –we’ve heard about them especially those related to Marriage principles, but it is always good to be reminded again of those things because to be honest, most of the time – we mess up and oftentimes we forget those. Before going to bed last night after the seminar, Jeck and I talked and prayed about what we can do – to do our roles better as husband and wife and as Dad and Mom – and we decided, by the grace of God to really commit to it and surrender it to the Lord. On our own – no matter how hard we try – we will achieve nothing, but with God, we believe everything is possible. #ChangeIsComing – and it should start inside our home… in our family.

With regards to raising our daughter, lately we’ve been noticing a lot of developments in Sophie’s behavior, character, things she likes and does not like and a whole lot more and as a parent I am afraid that we are not doing a good job in molding her character and it has been a challenge how to instill discipline in her in such a way that she will understand and in a way that will not require us to hurt her feelings.  “Oh she’s too young pa –she’s just 2 ½ years old – just let her be”, “Should we spank her?” – These are just few of the thoughts we’ve been having and to be honest, I believe it is one of the toughest challenge as a parent on how to utilize corrective discipline to our kids. And praise be to God alone, thru this seminar – we’ve heard God’s answers to all of our questions.

Proverbs 22:6

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“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Bro Edric and Sis Joy Mendoza creatively used the acronym TRAIN UP to discuss the 7 Key Principles for (young parents) to deliver a concise yet powerful message that is very much needed in this modern day and age where We- as a Christian family can reflect God’s goodness thru our lives by being a good model for our kids by shaping and molding their character and values the way the Lord wants it to be.

T-hink of a plan

R-emember your roles

A-nchor your children with truth  

I – mpart values through Modeling

N- urture Relationship

U-tilize corrective discipline

P-ass on a vision and pray

Think of a plan –  Parents should think of a plan how they want their kids to grow –know what your end goal is and look on ways how to achieve that goal.

For us – our desire is for Sophie and our future kids to grow up to be God-fearing, loving and compassionate, full of wisdom and a responsible adult – that in whatever things she wants to do and pursue it will give glory to God.

Becoming an achiever academically may be a plus but it is not our main goal – more than medals and trophies – we want her/their character to be more like Jesus (Luke 2:40; Luke 2:52).How to achieve it – will be thru applying the next points

Remembering our roles – this one hits the bulls’ eye! True enough – to be able to be a good parent – we as Husband and wife should first do well on our roles. The bible has made a clear instruction on this in Ephesians 5:21-23. I like how they stress on “one another” – this means its  vice versa it’s not just only the husband or only the wife – both should submit to one another in reverence for Christ.

Wives, I know it is a struggle sometimes to do full submission of yourselves to your own husband – sometimes you think you are more right – your ideas are more perfect, it is better than the husband so it should be the one to be implemented in the household – but NO! God clearly intends us wives to submit to our husband as you do to the Lord.  We should be an encourager, no.1 supporter and cheerleader for our husband – this will help them also to become the best leader of our household as v23 said that the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body of which he is the Savior.  Bro Edric – mentioned a phrase that the former US President Harry Truman popularized which is “the bucks stops here” – in application, the Husbands being the head would stand on the context of this phrase which means by being the Head, they are ultimately the one responsible for this family – there should be no passing the buck or no pointing fingers or no passing of responsibility. It is important also that there should always be trust and respect and we should always pray for our spouse.

A-nchor your children with truth – I love this phrase that was on repeat last night which is “Obedience brings Blessings” (Ephesians 6:1-3)and we are going to apply this in our family as well.  When I was growing up as a child and while attending Sunday school at church – I was once taught about this scripture and this has been my guiding principle in life and I will pass this on with Sophie and my future kids as well. The study of God’s word should be prioritized in order for our kids to develop convictions that are anchored on truth. Let them know that God has a plan for them, to prosper them and not to harm them (Jeremiah 29:11);  that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28); That blessed are those who does not walk in the step of the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take (Psalm 1:1); that in whatever they do – do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) and a whole lot more. We as parents should instill in our children God’s words so that as they grow they will have it implanted in their hearts and live by it.

 I – mpart values through Modeling – Here we’ve got to really do well with our behaviors as an adult because believe it or not – our kids observe us a lot and they are good at imitating us –so if we are showing rude behavior, disrespect, easily angered – don’t be surprised that one day they will be doing the same. It is a parents’ responsibility to be good role models for our kids and by that we are imparting good moral values in them. Bet it is not a walk in the park – it was never easy and to be honest, I mess big time on this one. I failed in controlling my temper at times and being impatient is also a major hole that I need to surrender to the Lord. But by God’s grace, I/We commit to do well in this – to strive to be more spirit filled so we will be guided by Holy Spirit how to react on situations and what actions to be taken. We will be exhibiting our passionate love for God so that Sophie and our future kids would also do the same and last but not the least – we will show humility and authenticity in our interaction with other people, amongst ourselves and our kids.

N- urture Relationship – “Date nights are important” – Oh yes!!! Sometimes we tend to neglect our spouse because of so much busyness in a lot of things (careers, hobbies, and even our kids). It is healthy for husband and wife to always set aside a time for exclusive date nights to be able to nurture the relationship and spend quality time with each other. On the same point – parents should always spend quality time with our kids because even for small gesture of paying attention to their needs or affirmations whenever they did something good – means a lot to them. Don’t miss out on those magic moments and continue to nourish your relationship. “Ektrepho” which is the greek of “to nourish” was also a quotable word last night J

U-tilize corrective discipline – this is a tough one – because as a mom I hate it when I see my child cries and ergo the thought of spanking her really scares me. But it has been a burden in my heart on how will I teach Sophie to obey and I know the bible allows spanking but at the back of my mind perhaps there is still another way. But praise God because last night the Lord clears my mind and my heart on this matter.

Proverbs 13:24 says “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” I like how Bro Edric explained this passage and even gave some pointers on how to execute it.

First – let the child learn and understand what it is to obey – once they know and understand it when do you start spanking?

(1) Start when you see defiance (you should distinguish and discern what you call mistake of the mind and mistake of the heart)

 (2) Never spank out of anger – if you are angry or irritated you have to back off and cool down first before you do the spanking

 (3) Use a distinct rod – don’t use just anything you can grab next to you – you should have a distinct spanking rod (there is even 1 with Proverb 13:24 in it)

 (4) Use one command – this means don’t do counting… say “okay 1, that’s a warning, 2, 3,4 you will get hit by 5” – this will make your child think that oh I can still defy till 4 and will only get punished when it reach 5.

 (5) Explain first – you have to let the child know why you have to do this – ask the child what is the disobedience he/she committed

 (6) Spank (and make sure it hurts)

(7) Embrace after

(8) Make restitution

Bro Edric also mentioned that spanking would only be applicable for certain age – in his experience, it was stretched till their child reached 5 years old. After that they are doing other punishments like withdrawal of privileges and natural logical consequences.

P-ass on a vision and pray – This one is reflected in Psalm 78: 5-7 (He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

These are the gems that we’ve learned in last night’s Parenting Seminar – I thank God for the lives of Bro Edric and Sis Joy for allowing themselves to be an instrument of God to share this words to us. Indeed, becoming a parent is difficult but it is rewarding and all the hardships are worth it. Remember that we are not raising children but raising adults who are men and women of God and to see them grow up to become one is an achievement of God’s command to us being entrusted with these precious gifts called CHILDREN.

Money Tips – I Wish I heard when I was 22

After passing the board exams in May 2005, I immediately started working in June in one of the leading Telcos in the Philippines – I was just 22 back then and after 2 years I started working overseas and landed a pretty much decent job in Abu Dhabi. Even though I am an accountant by profession – it did not guarantee wise money decisions in my young professional life and this makes me wish to go back in time and give myself some piece of advise.

Honestly – I do have loads of regrets when it comes to my financial habits and decisions in the past and up to this day I am facing consequences of my poor judgment. But that doesn’t stop me to continue to aspire and strive even more to pursue my way into financial freedom. I have decided to consider those failures as meaningful experiences and turned them into learning that I can use as a reference going forward. In view of same – all the more that I desire to somehow help people to not commit the same mistakes I made by trying to spread awareness on matters like this. On that note let me share to you few of the financial advises I wish I had been given (especially when I was younger and single) that “could have” spared me from all those gaffes.

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  1. Live cheaply, if you can (within or below your means) – when you are young and just started earning – it is so tempting to show off and buy stuff that you will regret buying afterwards. Latest craze, must-have items, fashionable stuffs, up-to-date gadgets, travelling, shopping and many more. I am not saying it is bad – what I’m trying to point here is do not splurge on these things –do not blow your paychecks and credit cards just to live a lifestyle you can’t afford. And if you are lucky enough to afford it – learn to set limits and develop self control, know when to slow down and when to stop. It took me a while before I became matured enough to stop and I was punished for it for a long time before I was able to got out of credit card debts.

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  1. Start saving for your retirement as early as possible – start small but SAVE regularly – If there is a time space warp – I would definitely tell my 20-something self to allot and set a specific saving goals each month and make sure I actually meet them. I’ve been in the workforce for more than 10 years now and it pains my heart to look back at what I could have saved from that time till now if I have started early. When you are young and earning – more often than not, you are just looking at present situation – retirement never or rarely comes to mind and we tend to set that aside for later. Now that I am a wife and a mother, how nice it would have been if I have created a safety net early and have financial stability and would not need to work 40+ hours per week to catch up. So to the young ones, Push! Push! Push (yes I said it thrice for emphasis) yourself to start saving a portion of your earnings on a regular basis and if you do – don’t tap it every time there is a SALE!

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  1. You have savings? Well good! – but don’t stop there, learn to invest wisely – I should have educated myself more on the different investments I can do with my savings – though I do have some investments now, it would have been even better if I started way back –  so that I have maximized the full potential of the power of compounding as much as possible. Invest, but do it smartly – if it is too good to be true ,chances are it is. Stay away from quick rich schemes and practice due diligence before investing your hard earned money.

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  1. Insurance is not a scary thing- I think a huge number of people share the same misconception about insurances – I for one, have always thought it is not necessary, it is an expense and just a piece of paper and I don’t even want to talk about it because its all about morbidity and death. People, especially Filipinos are pretty much unaware or sometimes misinformed about what insurances are and how important it is to have one.  Personally, I never considered having an insurance until I was pregnant and even at that time all I was thinking was possible death (yeah how morbid of me). Good thing, its not too late for my case, after getting my first insurance plan – I have started reading about it and educating myself and also with the help of some friends in the Insurance industry, I was able to grasp it fully. More than the fact that yes, Insurance is a means of protection from financial loss – there are different insurance products that comes with different riders and also provides savings and investment options that could serve as life benefit for the insured person as well. It is wise to learn about this from an expert and even better if you know the agent personally so he/she can explain in full detail all the costs and benefits of acquiring one.

So there you have it – these are some of the financial advises I wish I knew, for the young ones reading this – it is up to you if you will heed to it or ignore it. You can be writing your own version of this article after 10 years and will realize later in your life how it could have impacted your life if you did or did not listen to this. For the not so young ones like me – it is not too late, today is the day to take that decision to start doing better when it comes to your finances. If you did some financial mistakes like I did – don’t punish yourself too long and dwell on it for the rest of your life, at the same time do not repeat the same mistakes – take it to heart – learn from it and move on. Take it as a challenge, to make better choices and start discovering your way to the path of financial freedom. As the old saying goes – IT IS BETTER LATE THAN NEVER –  you can still do something to make your financial life in order.

 

Credit Cards : Keep it or Cut it?

I have been an OFW in Abu Dhabi, UAE for 9 years now and I have heard a lot of horror stories about our kabayans or even other expats who are sent to jail because of inability to pay their enormous credit card debts.

Back in the day – credit cards are being offered like pancakes and people are having 5 or more credit cards coming from different banks. Even in this time and age – there are still a few who owns more than 1 credit card (that includes me) and this brings the question – should I keep it or cut it?

Below are some guidelines/checklist to help you decide whether to keep it or cut it.  After reading this – sit back, contemplate about it and later decide what to do next with your cards.

CUT IT NOW!

  1. An sms came saying there is a 50% sale on your favorite brand – you were so ecstatic and you head fast to the nearest shop and swipe your cards like there’s no tomorrow.
  2. Your phone is just less than a year old – and suddenly new releases just came out and you cant wait but to upgrade your phone soon as possible.
  3. You’ve got more than 10 pair of shoes and loads of new dresses still with price tags on it and you tell your parents/friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife  that you have nothing to wear and you need to pay a visit to your fave mall within the week.
  4. You feel remorse after your purchases and double that when you receive your bill.
  5. Your credit limit is maxed out every month.
  6. You are only paying the interest or the minimum amount to pay in your cards.
  7. Your credit card bill is more than half of your entire salary.

KEEP IT!

  1. You are not affected by the flashing red signs in each and every store in the mall screaming that they are on SALE!
  2. You have no issues wearing the same old OOTD.
  3. You know all the freebies and privileges of your cards (0% Interest, Cash Back Rewards, Points systems)
  4. You rarely have to pay credit card interest – rather you are always claiming cash back rewards or gift certificates thru you credit cards.
  5. You keep track of your credit card expenses.
  6. You know how to take advantage of the Easy installment plans of the credit card company.
  7. You pay 100% of your dues on time.

Personally, I have decided to keep it – you ask why? Because I have mastered how to manage it. I have realized that owning a credit card could be an advantage once you learn how to control it and not the other way around.

I am treating it as cash – all our expenses may it be as low as AED 20 or as high as AED 10,000 or more – I am using my credit card to pay all our purchases so that:

  1. I can later track our expenses and update my personal cash flow sheet
  2. For my huge expenses especially flight tickets/ visa expenses etc – I can convert it to easy installment plans so that I can pay it gradually and will not wreck our budget for the month.
  3. The more I accumulate in the card – the more points and rewards I earn.

But when I say cash – that means soon as I swipe that card – that is considered real time expense, it’s gone, it’s already spent. You should not pile up the bills and let the bank charge you with interest. These should be paid in full on the same month it was spent to save you from paying unwanted interest. I always say to my husband that I’ve been tricking the banks for a long time – because I use their money – I don’t pay interest – and it is the bank that always pays me whenever I claim the cashback rewards and certificates. Especially in the UAE, the bank offers good reward programs for your credit card usage which is why,there are a lot of people that are lured by it and tempted to spend more thinking the more they spend the more rewards they could grab. Yes that’s true – but if used without thinking of your dues then that’s another story.

If you are shopaholic and an impulsive buyer – I would advise that you grab your scissors now – and do the drill right at this moment because this could save you years of paying the interest that will soon pile up because of your bad spending habits. At the end of the day – I believe a person should first start working on disciplining oneself first before thinking of having or owning a credit card. 

A Time for Everything – Ecclesiastes 3:1

Whoa!!! Can’t believe I am writing this now. I have never thought of becoming a blogger – it was way out of my league as far as I remember.

But I know everything happens for a reason and I trust that God lead me onto this path for a greater purpose – this must be a higher calling – an avenue to share my thoughts to people and somehow inspire a few to achieve the place where God wants them to be. So excuse me for having limited vocabulary and not so fluent expression of thoughts – but I pray I will eventually develop as I go along this journey.

That’s it for now! Until next time. Ciao