• "Everything is a grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love—difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul's miseries, her burdens, her needs - everything, because through them, she learns humility, realizes her weakness - Everything is a grace because everything is God's gift. Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events—to the heart that loves, all is well."
  • - St. Therese of Lisieux

Friday, June 24, 2016

Our Adoption Story: All Part of God's Plan



Missed the first part of our adoption story? Read it here!




So we decided to go home 'for good' on February 2016. Just enough time to save up and prepare. But on the last week of April 2015, Noli received notice that he might be demobilized in June. Meaning his contract ends because the project ends. We were a little bit worried. We will not be able to save enough for our move back to the Philippines. There are adoption expenses as well. Aside from these worries, we just began the Couples for Christ (CFC) Christian Life Program. Because Noli was the Team Head, we asked ourselves; Why would God call us to serve in the CLP then? 



Because Noli would not be demobilized in June (whew!) but in September. And we were grateful to be able to finish the CLP. Serving the Lord through this CLP has brought us a lot of joy, and I must admit, allowed us to grow closer to each other as husband and wife but most especially, closer to God. 

Once, during my personal prayer time, while I was reflecting on the events that had happened since January and all the plans that have been 'planned' since then; I realized that it has always been the Lord who made all these things possible. I smiled when I heard him speak to me and say 'You're doing great!' Because if all these things happened say, two years ago, I know I would be freaking out. 

Right after the CLP we now focused on our 'big move'. With less than three months to go, I made a list of all the furniture that would be shipped to the Philippines. I could not let them go, most of them were from IKEA. Call us crazy but that was also the time when the Bureau of Customs in the Philippines was in question for allegedly opening 'balikbakyan' boxes. I prayed over 12 boxes and 11 knocked-down furniture in bubble wrap before they were picked up and put my trust in God. We sold what was left and gave away what was left of that.



While we transitioned and handed over our responsibilities, the entire CFC community were one with us in prayer. We prayed for the child the Lord will give us and all the people who will be (and are involved) in this adoption process as well. We asked God to protect and take care of this child, to keep him away from abuse and trauma, for all his caregivers and social workers to give him love and affection, and that he is well taken care of. In my heart I asked God to provide this child breast milk, a cozy crib, and lots of cuddles. I also asked for the grace to be able to love this child unconditionally.

During our last month in Doha, we had just a mattress, a folding dining table with two folding chairs, the washing machine and the refrigerator, all of which will be picked up the day I leave. We relied on the farewell dinners given to us by our brothers and sisters in the community. Some days we had take-out. With no more TV on our last week in the flat, Noli and I had long heart to heart talks. 

During one of our heart to heart talks (we call it one on one in CFC), we both agreed to name our sons after the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Matteo, Marco, Lucas and Juan. I've always wanted four boys, but we both agreed that four is too much. But who knows? maybe God thinks it isn't. So I wrote all four names each on a Post It to find a good match. We came up with MATTEO LUCAS. We prayed about it and decided. This is his name, which meant God's gift and light giving.

We believe that all that had happened until this point is all part of God's plan. We may not know for sure if our application for adoption would be accepted but we chose to go back home to the Philippines anyway believing with all our hearts that we are doing God's will.

Find out what happens when we finally apply for adoption at DSWD and all the little miracles that had happened after. Read more of our adoption story in my next post! Like us on Facebook or you can follow me by email or on Google+



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Our Adoption Story: How It All Began

"If you have a heart for adoption, don't let fear stand in the way." - Doug Chapman
Noli and I have been talking about adopting for so long that at some point I thought it was never going to happen. And although we both agreed to adopt even before we got married in 2007, we kept putting it off for later. Why? Because we had reservations. I feared that the child we would adopt would be sickly or would have been traumatized that we could not be capable of caring for him. Noli was worried of finances.

So we prayed harder. Yes, harder. Sometimes we ask for us to get pregnant, and sometimes we ask God to direct us if ever he wanted us to grow our family through adoption. I think we may have confused God at some point.

A few months before our annual vacation back to the Philippines, we agreed to go and inquire at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Now we only have one prayer, for God to guide us in this decision.

On January 5, 2015, we walked in the office of DSWD Region IV-A. We were greeted by a very friendly and accommodating young man and we were introduced to a social worker who handles adoptions. We were given a list of requirements while the social worker explained that one of the requirements was a Certificate of Attendance to pre-adoption. Our hearts sank when the social worker gave us the schedule. We would not be able to attend because Noli would be heading back to Doha in 4 days.

So.... she gave us the seminar, complete with a power point presentation right there. I kept saying to myself ‘Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord. This is really for us.’ So we went home with the Certificate of Attendance.
Local adoption requirements checklist. Download here.

After Noli left to go back to Doha, I worked on getting our authenticated birth and marriage certificates, and NBI clearances. The rest, we had to get while in Doha.

By March 2015, almost all of our documents were complete. So I made an overseas call to the social worker who gave us the pre-adoption seminar. She was so accommodating that she gave us her personal mobile number!

We learned that in order to file the application, we must first be both residing in the Philippines. And that would mean giving up our jobs. So we added another prayer; for discernment if we should pursue our plans to adopt and move back to the Philippines or not.

Read more of our adoption story in my next post! Like us on Facebook or you can follow me by email or on Google+

You can find more information about local adoption here and international adoption here.

I made a pretty checklist for myself so I can monitor the documents we still needed to get. You can download one for yourself here, for free!

I would love to hear your adoption story! So do leave a comment.

And if you have any questions about adopting, feel free to leave it in the comments. I will try to answer your questions to the best of my abilities.



Thursday, June 16, 2016

Easy Peasy Toddler Art for Father’s Day

Father’s day is coming up OMG! it's in 3 days! And I’ve been searching through Pinterest for an easy toddler craft. I want our gift for Tatay to be truly made by Teo. With a little help from me, of course.


I decided to do a resist painting with Teo. I made homemade finger paint. I got the recipe from one of my favorite blogs Tinkerlab. You may use tempera paint too.

I used masking tape to create our message. You may use the big alphabet stickers too. Then, I explained that the poster will be for Tatay because its Father's Day.





 We then made a smaller version for Tatay to take when he goes back to work abroad.


I used masking fluid on this one


And of course watercolors.

I had to immediately take away this one after he filled the entire paper because the watercolor paper would be soaked. I asked permission first of course, and he gladly obliged. 'T' enjoyed the finger paint more than the watercolor because the paper did not soak up the paint. He happily squished and splattered to his heart's content.

So here it is!

 

I know that 'T' would be proud to show it to Tatay because he made it himself.

Happy Father's Day Tatay and to all the fathers, dads, and papas out there!





Monday, June 13, 2016

Celebrating The Feast of St. Anthony of Padua, Patron Saint of Lost Items

St. Anthony is very special to our family. It was the surname given to our son 'T' after he was found in the church named after the saint where he was left by his alleged mother. I believe that God had orchestrated everything, from when and where he was to be left and found and eventually come into our lives.

St. Anthony is the patron of lost items. Whenever I lose or couldn’t find something I say a short prayer to him and eventually I would find what I am looking for. 

On the night we were to leave Doha for a one month vacation back in the Philippines, we searched for my husband’s work contract which he needed to get his OEC (Overseas Employment Certificate) in the Philippines. I thought I have kept it in the envelope for all our documents but it was not there. I prayed to St. Anthony to help me find it. And, 10 minutes before our taxi arrived, I remembered that I placed some documents in the pocket of my luggage when we transferred flats. So there I found it. Ha! it was already there!

St. Anthony became more endearing to us when 'T' came into our lives. Maybe in the process of discerning if we should adopt, I have said a prayer to him, to bring to us a child who is in need of a family.

So today, we celebrate the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua. We will be talking about him most of the day and will include a prayer to him in our nightly prayers.

I have also planned a simple activity to include in our daily Bible time. I hope you can do it with your little ones as well.


Feast of St. Anthony of Padua Activity


You can find prayers to St. Anthony here  and here

Here is a picture of St. Anthony which I painted. You can download for free and print to use when learning about St. Anthony of Padua.

Have you ever prayed to St. Anthony when you could not find something you were looking for? Were you able to find it?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

To The New Mom Who Is Overwhelmed

Dear New Mom,

I know you are overwhelmed. I felt the same way too when we brought our 20 month old home from the orphanage. I felt joy at the same time. I know how happy you must be also. I have never felt such mix of emotions until then, have you?

Sometimes when I feel like I could not do this mothering gig, I take comfort in God's word. 

When I feel inadequate to parent my son. (2 Cor. 12:9)



When I am envious of other moms. (Col 3:2)

When I feel tired of doing the chores (1 Cor. 16:14, Philippians 4:13)

When I feel all alone (Matthew 28:20)



These are some of my watercolor paintings and brush calligraphy practice. I also do art journaling and doing these help me remember that I am loved, I am chosen, the Lord is my strength, and He is always with me.

So smile sweet mama, God has given you the best mission there is in this world.


You can download and print these posters, for free. 

2 Cor. 12:9

Col 3:2

1 Cor. 16:14

Mat. 28:20

If you have a favorite Bible verse, please share it with me. I may be inspired to make more artwork.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

How to Pray With Your Toddler

If you have a toddler like us, you may have tried or started praying with him. While some children are already verbal when they turn two, some may have a limited expressive vocabulary and may still use single words to express needs and wants. Nonetheless, you can still start including prayer in your toddler’s daily routine. Here’s how my husband and I do it.

1. Make prayer a regular occurrence. Praying before meals is a good start. When we pray before mealtime, we keep the plate, cutlery and sippy cup away from our son so as not to distract him. We also pray in the car, as we leave; asking God to protect us in our journey, even if it’s just a short one, like a trip to the grocery.

2. Teach the Sign of The Cross. Why do Catholics make the sign of the cross? To remind us first, that there are three persons in one God.  Second, of our worth. That Jesus gave up his life for us. And third, the meaning and purpose of our life. Our children may be too young to fully understand this, but it is always good to teach them to do it the proper way. You may hold his hand and guide him, but allow him to do it on his own too. Toddlers love to copy, so show him how it’s done.

3.  Say nightly prayers regularly.  Our night prayer time is also cuddle time. It is part of our wind down routine after reading a few books. Ask your toddler to thank God for something. It can be anything. God gave us everything we have. Model it for him. You might say, “I’d like to thank God for the sunshine today. Thank you dear God for the warm sunshine today.” During our nightly prayers, we recall the events of the day and thank God for that. Then we go on by praying, “Please bless…” Then he mentions the names of the people he can say. Then I finish the prayer by saying “And please guard us while we sleep tonight. Amen.” Then we sing the Lord's Prayer. I don't think my son is ready to learn The Lord's prayer but if you have an older toddler and is highly verbal, you might want to include this prayer in his night prayers. In Lieu of Preschool has helpful tips on Teaching The Lord's Prayer to Littles

4. Say morning prayers too. Our son wakes up earlier than us but lays quietly until I take him from his bed. As soon as I take him to our bed, he folds his hands to pray. And I lead the prayer by saying “Good morning Jesus! Thank you for waking us up this morning and giving us a restful sleep. We offer this day to you and Mama Mary. May we do all things in love. Amen.” Then we all hop out of bed.

5. Say a short thank you prayer when a prayer petition has been answered. I let my son hear me say “Thank you, Jesus!” Like when we are searching for a parking space. We say a short prayer asking Jesus to first give us patience and then a parking slot. As soon as we find one, my husband and I both say “Thank you, Jesus for giving us this parking space.” We try our very best to model gratefulness and show our son that God answers prayers.

We pray the rosary too, in the car on long journeys. But our toddler’s participation is only at the beginning when we make the sign of the cross. But if your kids are a little older than ours, you might want to check out Diana's Blog, Easy Tips for Praying The Rosary With Children We constantly struggle to pray as a family but my husband and I do our very best to protect these prayer times.


How do you pray with your toddler?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Everything Is Grace

Everything is a grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love—difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul's miseries, her burdens, her needs - everything, because through them, she learns humility, realizes her weakness - Everything is a grace because everything is God's gift. Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events—to the heart that loves, all is well. - St. Therese of Lisieux

As a young girl, I have prayed to St. Therese for all kinds of requests. I was given a prayer card by my grandmother (I think) and diligently said the novena until my request was granted. 

"St. Therese, the Little Flower, please pick me a rose from the heavenly garden and send it to me with a message of love. Ask God to grant me the favor I thee implore and tell him I will love him each day more and more."

After the short prayer I would say 5 Our Father’s, 5 Hail Mary’s, and 5 Glory Be’s. They must be said on 5 successive days before 11:00 am. If I missed a day, I would start over. And on the 5th day the 5th set of prayers having been completed, the prayer card instructed to offer one more set of 5 Our Father’s, 5 Hail Mary’s and 5 Glory Be’s.


Sometimes, even before the five days were over, my small requests were granted. I have forgotten what those requests were but they must have something to do with school.

Then I entered college, lost my prayer card and completely forgotten about the Little Flower prayer.

But a few years ago, a friend quoted St. Therese "Everything is grace..." and advised me to see the good in every situation - no matter how difficult or painful it was. And I tried, and I searched for grace. And I discovered that everything indeed was grace. 


I began to read about St. Therese and was inspired by her words! I have yet to get myself a copy of her Autobiography The Story of A Soul and Everything is Grace: The Life and Way of St. Therese Lisieux.

I hope to share more about her in my next posts.

Meanwhile, be also inspired by some of her quotes.

How has St. Therese inspired you?




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