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Random Read Reviews

Since finding English reading materials with reasonable prices in Bangladesh has posed a challenge to me as a mom, I tried to find a way to get free copies of books for my daughter. Thank God for leading me to NetGalley.

If you are a blogger like me, please go ahead and soak yourself in searching for a wide variety of genre of books (during your free time, of course 🙂 ). Once a member, you’ll get free digital copies of the book you prefer. Make sure you appreciate authors by writing even a short review of their book. That way, you can help them sell their masterpieces. 😀

So here I am writing a quick review of the two new books I got for Joanna.

Click the image to learn more.

1. But I Wanted a Little Sister by Pauline Oud

Reasons I would recommend this book include its attractive cover, its story line (I’m not giving it away. Please buy a copy. 🙂 ) and the moral lesson this book offers. I am pretty sure that preschoolers like my daughter would ask their parents to read this to them more than once or twice. 😀

 

Please click the image to learn more.

2. I’m Just a Little Someone by  Sharen S. Peters

This isn’t a simple colorful book. This has a section that surprised me. The said part includes an enumeration of activities you can do with the book. I believe this copy is ideal for preschool teachers and homeschooling moms.

There you go–a quick review of two wonderful storybooks for your preschoolers.

Christmas Giveaway

Year 2016 is almost over. Looking back at how year 2016 went for me makes me stand in awe of God’s goodness. I saw His daily grace and provision for my family, His deliverance in times of our adversities and forgiveness in our failures to please Him at times. The thought of God’s undeniable myriads of boons upon my family is entirely humbling.

The question I have been asking myself is, “What can I do to thank God in return?” The answer is nothing. And yet, I believe that the least I can do is use whatever time and talent He entrusted me to bless others (I hope…).

So to celebrate God’s kindness upon my family and me, I would like to share a Christmas giveaway to you who are interested. I am sharing these free-printable-spiritual-journal-pages. My desire is that these journal pages would motivate you to journal your lessons from your walk with God and develop your “gratitude-attitude” further in year 2017.

SUGGESTIONS: 

  1. Buy a 5×7 three-ring binder.
  2. Print one page of the first five pages.
  3. Print the page that looks like this 365 times. 😉

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4. The “Random Thoughts” page is optional but it’s great for writers. 🙂
5. Another great idea would be to go to a printing shop and have them assemble your bound journal. 🙂

I wish I could do more but these will be all for now. Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

5 Reasons You Should Join RareJob

HOW I FOUND RAREJOB

Finding RareJob Company was a blessing in disguise.

I found RareJob’s advertisement when I was originally searching for a job for my sister online. It was just in time when I also started considering helping my husband in our financial needs in the ministry and helping my mother in the Philippines as well! That was in August 2013.

Reading through the qualifications on the advertisement, I thought to myself. “Maybe I should give it a try.” After much prayers, God helped me to pass the screening, demo lesson and the interview!

So I started working at home ever since then and I thought this job is, indeed, a rare find!

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So why should you consider joining <a href=”http://Earn up to P35,000 a month. Be an online English tutor.“>RareJob Philippines? Here you go! You will:

1. HAVE FULL CONTROL OF YOUR TIME.

You can teach anytime during the day from 5AM to 12MN. You can choose to teach for 19 hours or just 30 minutes each day. You can also decide to teach every single day of the month, once a week, once every two weeks, once a month or not at all. 🙂 The bottom line is you are your own boss. 🙂

Have a look on how flexible your schedule can be.

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Here, you can see that I decided to teach for four hours on one day, one hour on another day and I did not teach on the 13th of July. It’s extremely flexible, isn’t it?

2. BE ABLE TO HELP YOUR FAMILY FINANCIALLY WITHOUT WORKING LIKE A HORSE.

The company offers substantial incentives for:

  • perfect attendance in a month (i.e. having less than 2.5% class cancellation rate due to blackout, connection problem and so on.)
  • video lessons for at least 100 classes each month (i.e. 50 hours/month)
  • excellent teaching which is based on the students’ evaluation. The awardees receive incentives in the quarter they qualified as “Good Tutors”.
  • converting applicants like your friends and others to become tutors.
  • being a recommended TOEFL coach/tutor.
  • passing general tutoring skills evaluations.
  • being a Premium Lesson Tutor.
  • teaching on peak hours or holidays.

Therefore, you can imagine that you can earn EXTRA without sacrificing your time for your family and your other priorities.

So if you’re a mother like me, you’ll get a happier baby! 🙂

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Sweet, isn’t she?

3. LEARN FROM YOUR POLITE AND PROFESSIONAL STUDENTS.

Most of the students are Japanese. There are also instances when Brazilians, Russians, Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, and other nationalities residing in Japan, take online lessons from RareJob.

Needless to say, students are from different walks of life. I have experienced teaching children to read simple children’s stories in English, having free conversation with stay-at-home moms like me, teaching grammar to elementary and high school students, helping university students pass TOEFL/IELTS exams or job interviews, teaching Business English to career people in and out of Japan. It is noteworthy that 99.9% of the students are very polite and receptive during their booked lessons.

4. HAVE A CHANCE TO LEARN JAPANESE CULTURE AND HAVE VIRTUAL TOURS AT THE COMFORT OF YOUR HOME.

I have personally grown a lot in my knowledge of Japanese culture. Before teaching Japanese, I only knew very general information about Japan. Gradually, talking with my students helped me grow not only in my skills in teaching, but also in understanding festivals, food, and faith of Japanese people.

Some of my business students even take me to virtual tours to Japanese prefectures or cities abroad while taking online classes.

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Look forward to having a virtual tour if you join RareJob! 🙂

5. HAVE ANOTHER SOURCE OF INCOME, IN CASE YOU HAVE A FULL-TIME JOB.

I have heard that there are RareJob tutors who are lawyers, doctors, teachers, office staff, university students and so on. If you happen to be doing the ministry or pursuing another career, you can still consider joining. Use your free time to earn extra for your emergency needs! 🙂

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Why don’t you give it a try? 🙂

This is it! The job you have been waiting for–it’s up to you if you wanna do it full-time or part-time! 🙂
APPLICATION PROCESS

So….after sharing with you the five (5) reasons why you should join RareJob, I am hoping and praying that you have decided to be in at this point.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how you can get started:

What are you waiting for?

Please… Please… feel free to ask me anytime you need help during the application process.

Go ahead and use the contact form below to let me know of your concerns and I’ll keep in touch with you. 🙂

I know that you can do it! God bless you on this journey!!! 🙂

My First-Ever Mother’s Day Card

I am so enthralled today. It’s Sunday but students in Dhaka go to school on Sundays.

For this reason, Joanna, my daughter, went to her class.

What she brought home surprised me a lot.

I am not talking about all the perfect scores on her exams from last week. Although, I praise God for helping her pass her exams. 🙂

I am talking about something more special than that. It’s none other than her first-ever DIY mother’s day card for me. 

She said, “Mom, ami tumar jonno card ansi.” (i.e. Mom, I brought a card for you.)

She took out that special card from her bag and what I saw really touched my heart.

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“I love you, Mom.” she said sweetly.

I couldn’t but hug her tight!

I just realized that mothers around the world are more than blessed to have children who love them back unconditionally. I’m one of them so I praise the Lord for this gift of motherhood.

To all the mothers around the world, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!! 🙂 May you continue to enjoy this rewarding journey of being called a mother. You are a blessing to your family. Stay blessed. 🙂

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Leaning on Jesus,

 

A Bundle of Joy

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To some extent, I do agree.

Last week, I was browsing my Facebook account and saw a very touching video about parents’ sacrifices for their children.

After watching the said video, I wept discreetly.

I suddenly missed my mom. As you all know, I am here in Bangladesh to support my husband in doing what God has called him to do. It is inevitable that I get homesick at times and it hits me out of the blue.

My daughter came to the room where I was, minutes later. She noticed that my eyes were wet with tears.

Joanna (my daughter): “Why are you crying Mom?” 
Me: I just miss your Lola (grandma). She’s so far. 
Joanna: (hugged and kissed me).

My daughter ran to the open window and started shouting.

“Lola, Mom kande for you.” (i.e. Grandma, Mom is crying for you.) She thought that her grandma can hear her.

She came back to me and sat on my lap. She said with all her innocence and sincerity.

“Mom, don’t be sad. I’m here. Don’t be problem.* Don’t be silly.”

I got so moved by my daughter’s effort to comfort me. I know that her grammar is not perfect since her first language is Bangla. What she said, though, made me realize is that she’s, indeed, a bundle of joy.

I guffawed at the end because it’s true that I shouldn’t “be silly” anyway. Someday, in God’s time, I will see my mother again. I just need to trust God as He shows my family the perfect timing to visit her again.

If you, like me, have a daughter who is there for you when you are despondent, rejoice! Remember that God has blessed you with a very loving child!

It’s undeniable that children are reminders of God’s love and comfort. They are indeed, a reward from God (Psalm 127:3).

What are the funny and yet moving conversations you had with your child? How many times has God comforted your soul through him or her?

I hope that you can appreciate God’s reward (i.e. your children) to you daily. You are blessed. 🙂

Leaning on Jesus,

P.S: I think she meant, “Don’t think about your problem.” (lol!) Isn’t my daughter funny? 🙂

 

 

Review: Bible Lands Exploration 2016

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This sounds like what one preacher said, “Any believer [of Jesus] is a spiritual Jew.” based on Romans 2:28-29. FYI: David Ben-Gurion was the very first prime minister of Israel.

It is all by God’s generous provision that I was able to join a group of believers from the USA, Singapore and the Philippines to explore the places mentioned in the Bible last February 29 to March 11, 2016.

I cannot but praise Him for this humbling experience to walk where Jesus walked, grew up, and had His ministry. Seeing the probable place where He was crucified, died and was buried reminded me of our Heavenly Father’s sacrificial love and mercy in order to give us our undeserved salvation.

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It’s a huge bonus to witness ruins of the many places mentioned in the Biblical narratives.

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Jerusalem at a glance

I have this ineffable joy to see places I only read about in God’s Holy Word.

Definitely, one of the questions I am often asked after my return from the trip is, “How was your trip?!?”

Let me break my answers down. 🙂

Airline: Any international tour is impossible without a plane or a ship cruise. I took Emirates from Bangladesh to Dubai and my flight was apparently on time and smooth. The flight attendants were very much approachable. The crew from the same airline for the next leg of our trip (Dubai to Jordan) was also warm-hearted.

Regarding the food I had from Bangladesh to Dubai, I have to say that it was enormous in amount but the taste of prawn biryani is not as good as the one served on Biman Bangladesh. I have to be bias because I live in Bangladesh and I’m proud of the tasty food they serve on their national aircraft. 🙂 Please forgive me for that.

I thank God for the safe flight He gave me back to Bangladesh, likewise.

I would like to recommend Emirates for their passenger-friendly facilities and staff on the plane.

Emirates

Agency: As far as I can understand, Highlight Tours organized all our itineraries in coordination with our team leader Dr. Berrey, one faithful couple from Gospel Light Baptist Church and another godly brother from Singapore. I would say that the agency is very responsive in dealing with the participants. They sent us necessary documents in time and they even gave us freebies (e.g. name tags, ribbons, a booklet of our itineraries, and a small pouch for our passports and VISAs.) That was totally unexpected!

The other two agencies we had were Vision Tours and Sar-El Tours. Vision Tours handed out some maps for us and provided our group with a very professional driver named Basam and a kind and graceful tour guide named Jihan.

Vision Tours

Shots of Ms. Jihan, our beautiful Jordanian tour guide and Mr. Basam, our driver during our tour in Jordan.

It made me so happy that Sar-El Tours gave us some freebies as well (e.g. a cap and a small backpack.) They also made sure that we had a very protective tour guide, Bro. Yoni, who sincerely took care of us as we traveled and he never felt tired to remind us with his resonant voice of how grateful he is that we visited Israel. The said agency also provided “Firaz, the best driver in the middle east.” according to Bro. Yoni. We, as a group, eventually agreed with him!

with Firaz and Yoni

Sar-El Tours representatives: Bro. Firaz, “the best driver in the middle east” and our ever-grateful and protective tour guide, Bro. Yoni. Photo Credit: Mrs. (Kam Moon) Tang

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Bro. Yoni, while giving some background about Caesarea Maritima

If you know any group who would like to go and see the terrains of Israel and Jordan, I highly recommend the quality service of the aforementioned tour agencies.

Hotels: There were a total of seven hotels we stayed in: Dead Sea Spa Hotel, Leonardo Hotel in Haifa, Leonardo Club Hotel in Tiberias, David Hotel (Kibbutz Ein Gedi) beside the Dead Sea in Israel side, Leonardo Hotel in Jerusalem, Radisson Blu in Aqaba and Olive Tree Hotel (Geneva) in Amman.

Leonardo Hotel

This is the most memorable among all the hotels we stayed in because this is where I left my charger. (lol!)

All the hotels provided wonderful service, served good food and had helpful crews. I noticed that all these hotels welcomed us with drinks and cookies or dried fruits.

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just a sample of the food you can get from the hotel’s buffet

Regarding rooms, I would say that my favorite was that of Olive Tree Hotel since they provided a spacious room.

Olive Tree Hotel

Here’s a sneak peek of a standard room with twin beds. (Photo Credit: http://www.yamsafer.com

 

Team Leader: Our main team leader is Dr. Timothy Berrey. His wife, a wonderful example of godly womanhood, was the one who announced the coming trip to Israel and Jordan on her blog. I thank both of them for sharing with me a special way to join the tour.

Everyone in the group respects Dr. Berrey for his discipline and timeliness all throughout our journey. He also displayed a generous example of servant-leadership.

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A humble servant-leader worth-following. Photo Credit: Bro. Jerry Teng

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The trip made me realize personally that our leader’s stupendous skill in time management made us get to the places we planned to visit and eventually, have some time to visit extra ones.

Needless to say, it is remarkable that Dr. Timothy always tried to point us to Scripture references associated with the places we visited.

Places: I will try to publish a separate post on the places we have seen as time permits. Please hang in there. 🙂 If you are interested to know our specific whereabouts, you may check this out. This update was diligently and thoroughly recorded by one brother who is currently studying theology in preparation for the ministry God is calling him to do.

Impression: This review will not be complete without letting my family and friends know the five significant lessons I learned from this trip. I cannot stand without sharing with you what musings I had from this memorable tour.

1. I have to be intentional whenever and wherever I visit. Before this trip, my prayer was that God would reveal His purpose for allowing me to join this indelible journey. Sure enough, God answered my prayers. It was in God’s plan that He allowed me to read a few books of the major and minor prophets before and during the trip.

Contemplating upon my reading and the trip, He revealed to me how much I need to sincerely pray for the people of Israel–to pray for the Messianic Jews to be bold as they continue to preach the gospel to those who have rejected Jesus to be the Messiah.

May God remind me of this precious lesson (i.e. to be intentional in traveling) the next time I visit any place.

2. My ability to travel is a mere testimony of God’s gracious provision. As I mentioned to the members of the this tour group on our last meeting in Jordan, I praise the Lord for giving me a gracious husband who did not withhold this rare opportunity for me to explore Bible Lands. My in-laws, together with him, encouraged me to grab this chance. Since they cannot obtain a VISA to Israel, I brought home a bunch of photos from this tour. I have to give God the glory for this blessing!

3.  Traveling is an opportunity to serve and love others. I am very much delighted to have traveled with a group that loves Him and His word. I appreciate each of the group members who sought opportunities to extend help to all other members of the group in cash or in kind. We will treasure the lesson our tour leaders taught us that we should be responsible one for another.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy Fellow Bible Land Explorers (posing on Mt. Nebo, the mountain from which Moses viewed the promised land.)

4. God is the Sole source of our protection. No matter how careful we are, our safety all depends on God’s protection. As His child, I witnessed how He answered our prayers for His divine protection. Praise His name because no one from our group got into any serious accident despite the rumor that other groups lose about 10% of their members! 🙂

5. Traveling is an opportunity to praise and adore Him for His creation. It was in the High Place of Sacrifice in Petra where the Holy Spirit convicted me of how small my faith is.

There have been things in my life which I fear to entrust to God but after seeing all the humongous rocks in Petra which are dependent on our Omnipotent God, I am challenged to put my trust in Him continuously wherever life may take me.

It is noteworthy that a few from the group who reached the peak of the High Place of Sacrifice with me took the time to read from Psalm 19 and sang a few hymns about God’s greatness. It was a divine fellowship–a memorable one!

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All praise to Him who reigns above in majesty supreme! Photo Credit: Bro. Jerry Teng

Indeed, seeing the beauty of Israel and Jordan is something I will cherish in my heart and mind.

Reading God’s Word will never be the same since I now have a mental picture of the places mentioned in the book I dearly love.

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on top of the High Place of Sacrifice (Petra, Amman, Jordan)

My dear friend, if you will be offered to go and visit Israel and Jordan, please do so! I assure you that you will feel more connected to God and His Holy Word.

What are the lessons you have learned from your recent travel? Please feel free to share them with me and other visitors of this blog. I am sure that your travel experience was likewise spiritually, mentally and physically refreshing as ours. To God be all the glory!

Leaning on Jesus,

 

 

Bangladesh National Zoo (Photos)

I’m enthralled. Joanna, my daughter, just started going to school. Just imagine how teary-eyed I was when I first dropped her off at school. Can anyone relate to this?

Recently, she experienced her first-ever visit to the zoo with her teachers and class friends. This is her fourth time to visit a zoo but this one is special because she went with her new friends.

I’m sharing some snap shots of her memorable event. Please enjoy. 🙂

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Smile! 🙂

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The Zoo’s Map

 

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Everyone started walking to the animal’s cages.

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Monkeys everywhere!

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People enjoy watching the monkeys play inside their cage.

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Can you find some more monkeys?

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There were a few flower gardens!

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Crocodiles are called “Kumir” in Bengali.

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Take a look at them!

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Peafowls. I’m very sorry to have missed seeing these peacocks opening their feathers. Our camera’s battery died even before Joanna’s excursion finished. I should have brought a charger but I would not have found any place to charge our camera.

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Joanna enjoyed running around the zoo with her school friends. She was also happy to see this colorful bevy (i.e. a family of peafowls).

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My first time to see a rhino and a sheep. 🙂

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This one is chained and amazingly, elephants in this zoo don’t smell since they are given a bath from time to time in a day.

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Oryx–one type of a deer. I haven’t seen this in the Philippines before. Thank God for this privilege!

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Another type of deer. Can you realize how creative our Creator is. He makes every animal unique!

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Signboards are all around. Go figure. 🙂

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These donkeys reminded me of Jesus’ triumphal entry.

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Giraffes. Trivia: Giraffes spend their life standing up. In fact, they doze and give birth standing up.

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Peafowl.

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I am just amazed at how clean Bangladeshi zoo is! The animals we saw were well-fed.

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Joanna is concentrating on how hippos eat and is carefully listening to what one of her teachers is telling her. 🙂

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More hippos at a different angle.

I’m grateful to God for giving my daughter this privilege to see His wonderful creation. As I have mentioned, my camera ran out out of battery so I missed taking photos of other animals such as lions, tigers, different types of birds and so on.

I’m also glad that God enabled me to meet other mothers from Joanna’s school too! It is my prayer that God will use me to share with them the gospel in God’s time. For now, I can only pray for their salvation.

Anyway, just a few comments about Bangladesh National Zoo.

Pros: 

  • The entrance fee is very cheap. It’s only 30 taka or about $0.375
  • There’s a variety of animals available for viewing.
  • The place is very clean.
  • Signboards are quite informative.
  • If you are going to have a picnic there, there are water tanks available for washing your hands, plates and glasses.
  • There are wide and breezy spaces where you can lay your picnic mats down.
  • Food is available for purchase inside the zoo.
  • Visitors are allowed to bring their own food.

Cons: 

  • Vendors keep handing balloons and other toys for sale to the kids. Kids end up persuading their parents to buy what are not so necessary.
  • Foreigners might find it hard to understand what are written on the name boards of animals if they are not familiar with Bangla.

OVERALL: The place is a wonderful place for picnic and enjoyment. It’s also an excellent place to see God’s handwork. Isn’t it amazing how animals declare the glory of God?

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!Praise the Lord!

 

 

 

 

 

4 Easy Steps: Banana Muffins Even Toddlers Can Bake

Banana Muffins Even Toddlers Can Bake

“Baking is how you start kids at cooking in the kitchen. It’s fun whether it’s baking bread or cookies. With baking, you have to be exact when it comes to ingredients.” ~Sandra Lee

My daughter is now three years old and she loves spending time with me. One of the activities she enjoys doing with me, of course, aside from playing, is baking. I would like to share with you a photo of my little moppet and I while baking.

Joanna & I baking

Joanna is in charge of mixing up the dry ingredients and I mix up the wet ones. She’s one little happy baker.

Writing out this first-ever recipe that she has tried is worth-doing. Maybe some moms would agree with me so here is the recipe that we have customized.

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
3/4 sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp custard powder (optional)
1/2 tbsp cinnamon powder
1/3 cup of oil
1 large egg
3 big bananas or 6 small ones

Instructions:
1. Mix up all the dry ingredients.
2. Mix up all wet ingredients (whisked egg, mashed bananas and oil).
3. Scoop them up into the muffin tray.
4. Pre-heat the oven and set  it up to 190°C (375 °F).  Bake for 12 minutes.

Now, you can either print this recipe out or get a pen and recipe card and jot down this simple recipe. Please try it with your toddler. 🙂 I promise that this will be such a fulfilling experience not only for you, but most especially for your toddler who enjoys adventure at this stage.

What activities do you enjoy with your toddler? Please share it with me so my daughter and I can try it as well. Thanks in advance! 🙂

Banana Muffins

Precious Jewels from the Book of Joshua

Do you love jewels, my friends? Here is another confession of mine–I do love jewels!

Just the sight of them makes me so high-spirited. I don’t normally care if they are genuine or just imitations. I just know that I am fascinated with the simple beauty of crystals and stones.

Today, I brought a box of jewels but I want to tell you that they are far better than the most expensive jewels in the world.

I hope you’ll open your jewellery box (your heart) and feel free to take whichever you want to keep for good from this box of precious jewels from the book of Joshua.

Precious Jewels from the Book of Joshua

These are practical lessons that the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart when I studied this book of Joshua, a book which I would personally describe as the book of battles’ stories.

I’ll try to keep my list short and simple. I hope that you can check these truths for yourselves by highlighting the verses I will mention here especially if you are a new Bible explorer.

Here you go:

1. God is sure to go with us as long as we follow and do His will (Joshua 1:6-9).

The key to any spiritual success is meditation upon His word. The Bible will surely keep us sane as we face our daily battles.

2. God is more than willing to save anyone, who has the darkest past, as long as he or she professes faith in His deity. 

You can guess who I am talking about here from the second chapter of the book of Joshua. It’s Rahab the harlot. She, upon hearing God’s deliverance of Israel, allowed the soldiers of Israel to hide in her house (Joshua 2:1-14). These soldiers spied the land of Jericho since they would have to conquer this land at the command of God. Rahab’s assistance to these soldier is the proof her faith in the God of Israel. She said,

“For the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” Joshua 2:11 (NASB)

Our unsaved loved ones with a seemingly dark past has the hope to be saved through the blood of Jesus. Needless to say, our personal spiritual victories can lead to his or her salvation so let’s keep on sharing the gospel with them through our lips and our lives. We cannot do that on our own so we have to prayerfully depend on the grace of God.

3. Our personal spiritual victories over struggles are for the sole purpose of making His name known to the pagans (i.e. unbelievers). 

“On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life….For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” Joshua 4:14;23-24 [emphasis mine]

4. God warns us of covetousness since it can lead to our failure to follow His will (Joshua 6:18).

God’s warning is for our protection from misery and all forms of defeat.

5. God cannot give us His full blessing if we conceal any sin in our hearts.

Who is our example in Joshua 7? Yes, it’s Achan. He exhibited covetousness which prompted him to lie. Sadly, that seemingly simple disobedience led to a fatal punishment from God–his personal and family’s death.

In light of his experience, we can see that our personal sin today can inflict trouble to our descendants tomorrow. That’s why we need to ask God to continue giving us His special grace so we can make righteous decisions for the better welfare of our future generation and most of all, for His glory.

What did you learn from your recent meditation upon God’s Word? Kindly share them with me on the comment box and let’s continue encouraging one another to dig God’s Word daily. Consequently, we can find more precious jewels like the ones we discovered today from the book of Joshua.
Leaning on Jesus, (2)

The Gift of Life

It’s my birthday today!

So my wonderful husband wanted to pretend that he forgot about my birthday until this sassy moppet of ours excitedly told me, while I was working on my lesson plan, that there's a

Midnight of May 13| So my wonderful husband wanted to pretend that he forgot about my birthday until this sassy moppet of ours excitedly told me, while I was working on my lesson plan, that there’s a “happy birthday cake” in the fridge. It was a few minutes before midnight, to be precise. I cannot but praise God for the gift of life!

I woke up to a morning birthday greeting and a kiss from my husband! My dear loving moppet also did her share and hugged me tight and gave me a bunch of kisses. I got both virtual and personal greetings from friends and relatives. I cannot but praise Him for the gift of life!

God, indeed, has been making me feel loved through my family since the day I was born until now. I am in awe of His faithfulness and goodness despite of my unworthiness to receive any of His blessings. I cannot but praise Him for the gift of life!

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Our small Bible College threw a short yet surprise birthday party for me. I cannot but praise Him for the gift of life!

He has planned from the beginning that He would like me to see this physical world and eventually know Him not only as the Creator of this world but most especially, as my personal God. Since then, I learned and am still learning to live life according to His Word. I cannot but praise Him for the gift of life!

Today, all I want to do is rededicate my life and my all unto the glory of His name, since I cannot but praise Him for the gift of life.

5 Time-Tested Tips on Wedding Planning

While preparing for my own wedding, I had two dreadful dreams.

First, our wedding day finally came. All our guests were so excited to witness our most awaited day but to our surprise, there were no flowers in our wedding venue. In my next dream, my groom and I had finally exchanged our vows but when it was time for us to exchange tokens of love (i.e. wedding bands), our officiant informed us that the rings somehow are missing!

What horrible dreams they were!

Thank God the opposite happened on our wedding day. Of course, there were elegant multi-hued flowers and setting that day. Needless to say, we had our wedding rings secured in the right place!

Now, how many more days or months do you have before you tie the knot with the man you want to grow old with?

Yes, it’s fast approaching and it is but natural to feel some tension as you look at your calendar and budget. I would like to share with you some consoling and unwonted wedding planning tips I personally learned in my own journey of wedding planning.

I also earnestly hope you’ll read until the end because there’s a special surprise for you over there. But for now, let’s start with these ones:

1. Pray for God to bless and anoint every detail of your wedding. 

The best stress buster is prayer.

There are things that you may overlook but as you entrust everything to God, He will help you remember things that need to be done.

“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Proverbs 16:3

2. Focus on what’s important.

Why are you getting married?

Yes, it’s because you want to mark this as a memorial when you commit your relationship to God before the presence of the people you love.

I hope you also have God’s glory in mind, first and foremost.

Pray that God would draw people’s attention to Him as you and your groom honor each other with your vows.

3. Trust that God will provide all your needs.

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:25-33

Deciding to marry your best friend is a leap of faith. You may not have all the exact money you need but as you pray for God’s provision, He will use people. 

My husband and I were in awe of God’s tremendous blessings upon our wedding preparation. Since our friends were excited to see us finally walk down the aisle and be pronounced as husband and wife, they offered help which we did not expect. I am persuaded that God was the One who burdened them to help us in their special ways.

Please remember to give them thank you notes later. 

4. Do things part by part.  Now that you have committed all your plans to God, it’s time to implement them. Try to sit down, take a deep breath and make a check list. Make sure you have the list of the following:

  • Legal Documents–Secure your documents (e.g. Birth Certificate, Certificate of No Marriage [CENOMAR] in the Phils.) and check them off as soon as you finish. 😉 This might help you if you are a Filipino and this one if you’re in the USA. Since my husband and I are from two different countries, he had to ask his parents to send him a notarized CENOMAR from Bangladesh. We had to ask them to send it by mail.

The point is wherever you are from, take some time to visit websites that will help you get your documents ready so you can apply for your marriage certificates.

  • Entourage–Involve your close friends and family members. One of the tips I learned from my married sisters in Christ is to ask your friends and family members to be a part of your entourage by approaching them personally and handing them a note so it can serve as their reminder if you think that they are pretty busy.

You may also ask them to be in-charge of their dress’ cost and let them know that you would count it as their early wedding gift. 😉

  • Guests–This is one of the most challenging decisions to make–choosing whom you should invite. Everyone wants to see your wedding and you also want everyone to witness your special day of exchanging vows with your husband to be. In our case, we asked at least two members of our friends’ and relatives’ families to come.

Take advantage of this ceremony to preach the gospel to your loved ones who are not sure of heaven. Ask your pastor to include the gospel in the ceremony. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would tell you later that your wedding day became the day of his/her salvation?

  • Delegation–You might be good at multitasking but you don’t have to do everything by yourself. Welcome help and ask your friends and family members to aid you if they are willing and available. In our case, we had our delegates fully in charge of music, flowers, food and event planning.

Our wedding coordinator was kind enough to take care of looking for a good reception venue and we got it a reasonable price of Php 5,000 (around $113)! Learn to communicate with the people whom you have delegated to undertake certain responsibilities and it will contribute a lot to what you have been waiting for! 😉

  • Wedding Program–Borrow a few people’s wedding program copies and try to revise the order of the ceremony according to your preference. You may ask your pastor or someone trustworthy to do this for you as well.
  • Suppliers–I assure you that God would lead you to the suppliers you need. Ask your flower suppliers if he collaborates with a credible catering service. More often than not, they will give unsolicited (in a positive sense) suggestions on how you can avail of different wedding services at reasonable prices!

Don’t forget to take a break and give attention to all the other people around you. 😉 Spend time with them and talk about stuff other than weddings.

5. Expect the unexpected.

Yes, you read it right. On your wedding day proper, there are a few details that won’t work as planned but take it as part of your wedding story. Let it go and relax. Enjoy your day and make your guests feel welcomed to your wedding party.

I know, there may be things I forgot to list down but I do hope that the aforementioned reminders would calm your soul. 🙂

Now, here’s the surprise I told you about. I asked a few of my married friends and fellow bloggers to share their stupendous wedding pieces of advice with you and here they are:

“List every detail, even to the simplest one. After everything is planned, everything is listed, BE FLEXIBLE, RELAX 🙂 Expect disaster or any tiny error. Things will not really go as planned sometimes. A realistic expectation is better than a super perfect wedding but with a bride who can easily go insane with just one tiny detail or delay in the schedule.” -Mrs. Daisy Mae Aguinaldo Eugenio

“It’s been three months since our wedding day and we don’t regret that a big part of our wedding budget went to the photo and video expenses. As many people would say these are the only things that will really stay with you when the wedding is over. Once in a while my husband and I browse our beautiful pictures or watch our heart tugging wedding video and it never fails to bring us back to that very special day. It still gives us chills in a good way. These memories can also be passed down through generations. So I advice to hire good and professional photographer and videographer that’s within your budget.” -Mrs. KC Suk De Guzman

“Leave it to your wedding planner. Focus on your husband to be. The color of your flowers don’t matter so much as your love for each other.” – Mrs. Abra Marie Carnahan of Cafe Mom

“Don’t get lost in the little details so much that it takes your mind off the big picture. In the end the marriage is what matters most, not the wedding details.” -Mrs. Kay Cee Groves of Moral Morsels.

“You will need a small purse the day of the wedding. Be sure to fill it with make-up for touch-ups, gum, a small mirror, safety pins, bobby pins and a small perfume. I thought I had everything planned, but had forgotten this majorly important item! I figured my mom would have everything I needed, but I failed to realize she wouldn’t be with me at all times.” -Mrs. Jessa Nowak of In Wealth and Health.

“Number the RSVP cards and save the names and numbers in a spreadsheet. People constantly forget to RSVP with their name and we got blank cards back.” – Mrs. Abra Marie Carnahan of Mere Breath

“Be prepared for the worst but expect for the best. You are to begin a life together. You will have bitter-sweet experiences. Yes, you will see flaws and faults along the way but you must also believe and trust God’s work in both you and your partner. Both of you are work in progress so be willing to let God work. God will be the One to mold your husband, not you. So there’s assurance that He will be better. And remember to allow God to work in you first before you expect your partner to be better. Most of the time God wants to change us first before we expect the change in our partners. He wants us to be fully dependent on Him as we allow Him to deal with every area in the relationship.” -Mrs. Cath Quizon

“Just be yourself. While it’s great to look at wedding blogs to get inspired, sometimes you end up copying, or trying to make your wedding like someone else’s. Take a step back. Remember that, aside from the fact that the primary goal of a wedding should be to picture Christ and His bride, this day is about you and the man you love. Celebrate what makes you unique… don’t try to impress others or think that you have to make your wedding fit into a certain mold.” -Mrs. Julia Potts Valle

“One of my friend’s advice? “Open your legs.” I hope I’m not shocking you, but it was so funny. Especially with her strong Dominican accent. You don’t have to use that – just thought I would add a touch of humour here.” -Mrs. Jennie Lawlis Goutet of A Lady in France

Think carefully about what you want your wedding to say about you and your future husband. Even though this is “your” day, you want everything that is done to glorify your Lord. In addition, your wedding should reflect who you are – music that you have chosen, colors and styles that you prefer, vows that mean something to you, traditions (even new ones) that reflect your personality. Your wedding says something about you – it can be a testimony of God’s grace in your life, and a meaningful event that speaks of who you and your groom are as individuals about to become one. Mrs. Ruth Bachorik

“Ask around at your church to see if anyone does cakes, photos, or other services. We were blessed with our church family’s talents. Look online for deals (80% of our wedding supplies came from online for much less than we would have spent on it finding it in stores).Take time to savor every moment of the special day, it flies by fast. Don’t forget, your wonderful groom to be will not ever be enough to fill your God-shaped hole. That’s my top advice, you can use any or none of it….Don’t lock your knees…people pass out in ceremonies all the time when they lock their knees while standing….” -Mrs. Robbi Bittle of About a Chick.

Eat a full meal before you put on the dress! Even if you have a dinner afterwards you will either A) be too nervous that you will make a mess on your uber expensive dress or B) like Samantha Ford-Godette said, be too busy to eat at all! My wedding day I got a handful of almonds, one bite of cake, and a bag of jalapeno chips.” -Mrs. Amy Dickerson of Accidental Happy Baker

Please get these words of wisdom “with all thy getting.”

Before I forget, congratulations on your wedding! May God bless you and your husband-to-be!

Please keep in mind these consoling and unwonted tips on wedding planning. I hope they indeed helped you! ❤

Written with lots of love,
Nance 😉

What Makes a Woman Beautiful?

“Beautiful!”

That’s one of the English words I learned as a child. It was one of the challenging words for me to spell back then too! 😉

Kidding aside, this word is one of the most encouraging words anyone could hear. Consequently, becoming beautiful is what most of us strive to be–we want to be beautiful in and out.

Women, especially, even invest in becoming physically attractive.

According to a survey done by Worldwatch Institute, $8 billion are spent on cosmetics ALONE each year by American women.  Please note that cosmetics ranked second in American’s top commodities. I am sure that it’s the same way in Asia or in other parts of the world.

One report even stated:

“If you look at the entire worldwide cosmetic industry, sales reach about $170 Billion dollars a year. It’s distributed pretty uniformly around the world with ~$40 billion in the Americas, ~$60 billion in Europe, ~$60 billion in Australia & Asia, and another $10 billion in Africa. The Western world spends a bit more per person but India and Asia are quickly catching up.” -Worldwide Cosmetic Market

Please refrain from thinking that I am against make-up. No! I also love buying a few cosmetics. Nothing wrong with that. 🙂

By now, I am quite confident that you can agree that ladies place a high value on how they look before others. I am sure that you, just like me, are also one of those women who endeavor to keep yourself physically clean and beautiful. That’s wonderful!

It’s also part of being a good testimony to those unbelievers of Christ. Besides, even one preacher once said to this effect, “If the barns need painting, paint it!”

“If the barns need painting, paint it.”

The question though is “What really does make a woman beautiful?” Is it just the cosmetics and variety of beauty regime that beautify a woman? Is it surgery? How about shoes, accessories, and apparels? To some degrees, the ones I just mentioned, indeed, can affect how one looks. I don’t want to sound too dogmatic.

One popular celebrity, Audrey Hepburn, ascertained beauty this way though,

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman’s reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”

She also worded one indispensable beauty tip,

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

This is quite an inspiring encouragement, isn’t it? How much more pertinent it is if we can learn about the kind of beauty that pleases God, the Master of Beauty. What does He think about beauty? I am persuaded that God, as our Creator, knows how to teach His creatures to REALLY be beautiful, not only before men but most importantly, before His eyes.

1. A surrendered and submissive woman is beautiful.

Paul wrote,

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 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 12:1-2 (NASB)

This is an encouragement for all women, whether single or married. It is God’s desire that we surrender our whole being to Him.

Being submissive and surrendered to Him doesn’t always mean leaving one’s career and being in a full-time ministry. It just means being sold-out for God!

In addition to that, surrender and submission entail dependence on God as we try to make a difference in this world.

It means trusting His word in every decision we make.

It means displaying our recognition of His thoughts to be better than ours even if taking a stand for Christ leads to our persecution.

Needless to say, it also means doing the tasks He has called us to do in our field with a cheerful spirit. (I need to work on this myself!)

Only then can we be beautiful in His sight.

2. A woman who speaks kindly is beautiful.

 She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26 (NASB)

It is one thing to speak kindly to lovable people and another thing to speak words of kindness to people who don’t deserve our benevolent treatment.

King Solomon describes that a virtuous woman who is also beautiful in God’s eyes utters words of kindness.

It’s challenging I know, but God’s grace is enough to enable us to choose words kindness over nasty ones when we face difficult people.

“Did you mean that I have to speak words of kindness to people who criticize me day in and out?” Yes, we must if we want to please our God. Again I say boldly, “Yes, we must do so.”

One key to keeping our speech sweet is by saturating our mind with teachings of God’s word.

As it has been said, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

What would come out of our mouth is rooted from the things we allow to run through our minds.

3. A woman devoted to God’s Word is beautiful.

What is our priority in our life? What priority in life would make us beautiful and commendable in God’s sight?

Jesus Himself commended Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, for not keeping herself busy with the work of the Lord but with the Lord of the work. Mary thought that there is only “one needful thing” in this world –to spend time at the feet of Jesus Christ.

Being a woman, I guess, entails the curse of being crazy over details (or maybe that’s just me). When we think of projects, we think of details. When we think of wedding plans, we think of details. Many women are perfectionists and detail-oriented because that’s how our brain works.

Admittedly or not, we tend to focus on work too much when we are tasked to do something. Consequently, though, we SOMETIMES forget that “one needful thing” God expects from us–a quality time of conversation with Him which includes Bible reading, meditation, and prayer. 

Perhaps you say, “I’m busy. I can’t afford to do that. I need to cook breakfast early in the morning, prepare my kids’ lunch and clean up our home. I also have to do an eight-hour job. I have no more time.”

You are not the only one who struggles with this. I do and everyone else! BUT God wants us to lovingly spend time with Him every day consistently.

Only then can we reflect the beauty of God that stems from a heart that is right with Him. I assure you that when we start our day right with God then He will give us a joyful countenance. It is a joyful countenance that comes from knowing that He will help us as we fulfill our tasks daily and face our trials with an assurance of His help. He will give us songs even when our heart is heavy.

I remember one little notepad posted on my friend’s office desk which says something to this effect,

“God stretches our time when we give him the first part of our day.”

I have proven this myself and I am sure you did too. Let’s pray for God to help us do this consistently until He comes.

4. A modest woman is beautiful.

Yes, remaining modest is one of the struggles women have in this generation. Why? I’m sad to say that Satan tempts women to compete in showing as much as skin as they can.

Unless we are surrendered to the authority of God’s word, we will always fall into the pit that Satan has put before us to make insipid (i.e. immodest) fashion style.

Remember this important verse:

“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

The verse is clear enough. God desires that the beauty we portray in public radiates, not because of our dresses and accessories but rather, because of the good works resulting from our worship of Him.

Now, I may have written much more than usual but I believe that we need to hear these reminders from the Bible.

Every day is a challenge to reflect the beauty of God and we can only do that by His grace. It’s one thing to be beautiful in people’s eyes and it’s fully another thing to be beautiful in God’s sight.

 

Empanada Crust–Choose Your Own Filling!

Have you ever had that craving that you can’t resist? Well, I’ve had that many times. It’s been our custom as a family to have our “Friday Food Feast” since Friday is like Sunday to us in Bangladesh. That’s the time, we enjoy sumptuous food with our family and friends.

One Friday, I craved for “Empanada“–“a Spanish or Latin American pastry turnover filled with a variety of savoury ingredients and baked or fried.”

“Where can I get a recipe?”–That was one of my questions and then I suddenly remembered something!

As I mentioned in my previous post, my father loves cooking and he used to buy cook books from National Bookstore. Fortunately, my mom carefully kept one of them so I decided to bring it here in Dhaka so I pulled it out and looked for the recipe.

Cookbook

ALING CHARING’S FILIPINO & FOREIGN RECIPES by Rosario Fabian One of the priceless legacies of my father!

I found the recipe and tried it out. As almost everyone does, they try a recipe and post it on Facebook. 🙂 I did that too and one of my cousins asked me about the recipe for the crust only! So…let me share with you the recipe for the crust only from this book. 🙂 You can decide as to which filling you would like to put. You may put cooked tuna or any left over you have in your fridge. In my case, I used chicken curry.

Recipe for Crust
2 cups all-purpose flour (no sifting)
1 tsp. fine salt
6 tbsp. water
2/3 cup butter or margarine (chilled)
2 tbsp. white sugar

Mix sugar, salt, and flour. Cut in butter using a blender or 2 knives until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle water and mix well with hand to form a ball. Knead lightly. Sprinkle flour on a board and roll out dough into 1/4″ thick. Cut using a round cutter (a medium sized saucer can be used if there is no molder. Place saucer up-sde down on dough and cut with a knife.) Then, fill each cut dough with 2 tbsp. of sauteed fillings. Fold dough to form a half moon, press one end to the other. Brush with egg yolk or milk. Arrange on a grease baking sheet. Bake at preheated oven until crust is golden brown.

There you go! The book did not specify the amount of time and temperature needed for this recipe but I set our oven to 190°C and baked the empanada for around 15 minutes. I followed my nose and turned it off when I smelled that it was done.

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Here’s my very first empanada–and my guests appreciated it so much. Credits to the author of the cookbook! 🙂

Make your family happy with this empanada, and as I said, just choose your own filling! Of course, remember to thank God for this blessing before posting it on Facebook! Let me know if you succeeded in trying this one out.

Love, Nance

My Late Father’s Legacy of Wisdom

March 22, 2015 marks the twelfth death anniversary of my father–Philippine Marines Sgt. Major Rafael Rodrigo de Sagun.

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Papang–that’s how we used to call our father.

All I can remember about him was his being a man of few words. Needless to say, he was creative, strict, smart, disciplined, selfless and most of all, a loving father. He was a teacher in and out our home. I have memories of him teaching us sundry life skills–riding a bike, playing volleyball, observing good manners, cooking and even sewing. My mother did teach us many skills too but I am pretty sure that people who know my father well would agree that  he was exceptional among other fathers.

His Words of Wisdom

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As he aged, he suffered from many health issues which led to complications. He had bleeding ulcer, went through a surgery after having an inflamed gall bladder. He also had diabetes and high blood pressure. I cannot recall the precise number of the medicines he had to take but I knew it was a lot. His physical condition might have influenced his behavior.

Despite his physical sufferings, he struggled with life by faith. He remained supportive to us. He was not perfect. More often than not, people mistook his strictness as spitefulness.

I, as one of his children, understood well that his intentions were purely out of a desire to do things right as much as possible.

Yes, it’s been twelve years since my father passed away and I am writing this to share with you the words of wisdom that will remain inculcated in my heart:

  • “The sun doesn’t always shine brightly.”–There are days when we feasted on French fries, burger, pasta, and fried chicken and there were also days when we had to eat dried fish and rice or sometimes just rice and salt. He used to remind us that what’s on our table should not stop us from being thankful.

  • “Who are they?”–Other kids would bully you; that’s inevitable. They would criticize you, misjudge you, talk about you but who cares anyway? Their judgement would not make you less of a human. Go on and live your life. Remember how Jesus prayed for his enemies since they did not know what they were doing.

  • “Start and end your day with thankfulness”-After getting up or before going to sleep, he used to remind us to offer prayers of thanksgiving and prayers for our family, relatives and friends.

  • “Study hard so you can buy whatever you’d like to eat in the future.”–it’s self-explanatory. Hard work pays off. Most of the people who suffer financially suffer not because they don’t have a good fate. It’s sometimes a result of their inability to value their studies when they were students.

There are many other words of wisdom that my father taught us but I don’t want to take too much of your time reading. I hope though that I can teach those I mentioned above to my daughter, Joanna, as well.

My father may not have left us a big amount of money, a vast land and luxurious cars but he left us these legacy of wisdom which we can pass on to our next generation.

His Salvation Testimony

My father has passed away, but I am confident that he is with God the Father in heaven–it was not because of his righteous life. As I said, he was not perfect just like every one of us. I am confident that he is with the Father in heaven at the moment because two weeks before his death, right in front of me, he professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and accepted him in his heart that he’s the One and Only Savior of the world and of him personally. He did that while he was bedridden. He went to heaven because he learned from the Bible that religion, good works and anything he has done would NOT save him from the punishment of sin in hell. He accepted that Christ’s death on the cross paid his sins fully–that’s it.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Matthew 8:36

Here’s the sad news my friend, you can have all the treasures of this world, and still remain unsure whether you can go to heaven or not when you die. Here’s the good news though, you can know how to get to heaven. 

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” I John 5:13

Now, would you like to be sure of heaven before you die? Kindly check this one out. You can also read my personal testimony on how I became sure of heaven here.

If you have accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, then remember to thank God for His gift of salvation.

To you my friend who haven’t made a decision to accept the gift of salvation by accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please don’t ignore this message. Life is uncertain and so is death. Be sure of heaven.

Love,
Nance

Stay Where You Are, If God Wills It So

Unpredictable protests each week from the month of January this year–that’s what we are experiencing in Bangladesh at the moment. People’s businesses, student’s education, my husband’s work and Bangladeshi citizens are affected.

Summer is here. The humidity in Dhaka is quite high. My daughter and I have been sick for many days already. It’s easy to sulk in one corner and have an “I-Me-Myself Pity Party”.

Joanna's meds

Summer is here and my daughter and I are sick because of the hot dry air over here lately.

Yes, it’s tough to continue.

As I opened God’s Word today, I was just so blessed by His message through a supplement devotional, “Streams in the Desert,” I used this morning.

It’s a stupendous poem. It was so heart-gripping that I cannot resist to share it with you.

“I’ll stay where You’ve put me; I will dear Lord,
Though I wanted so badly to go;
I was eager to march with the “rank and file,”
Yes, I wanted to lead them, You know.
I planned to keep step  to the music loud,
To cheer when the banner unfurled,
To stand in the midst of the fight straight and proud,
But I’ll stay where You’ve put me.

I’ll stay where You’ve put me; I’ll work, dear Lord,
Though the file be narrow and small,
And the ground be fallow, and the stoned lie thick,
And there seems to be no life at all.
The field is thine own, only give me the seed.
I’ll sow it with never a fear;
I’ll till the dry solid while I wait for the rain,
And rejoice when the green blades appear;
I’ll work where You’ve put me.

I’ll stay where You’ve put me; I will, dear Lord;
I’ll bear the day’s burden and heat,
Always trusting Thee fully; when even has come
And then, when my earth work is ended and done,
In the light of eternity’s glow,
Life’s record all closed, I surely shall find
It was better to stay than to go;
I’ll stay where You’ve put me.”

“Oh, restless heart, that beat against your prison bar of circumstances, yearning for a wider sphere of usefulness, leave God to order all your days. Patience and trust, in the dullness of the routine of life, will be the best preparation for a courageous bearing of the tug and strain of the larger opportunity which God may sometime send you.”

“Be thou there till I bring thee word.” Matthew 2:13
Mrs. Charles Cowman

What is it that makes you feel like leaving your God-given calling or task in whatever field? You name it, but please stay where you are, if God wills it so. Never give up and keep your eyes fixed on His promises, provision and perfect will. It may pain you to do so, but God will and can use your circumstance for His glory.

So, let’s stay where we are, if that is God’s calling and let’s wait and see His name glorified!

Love,
Nance

Our Engagement Story: “Do You Know That Guy?”

Love Month is coming over and many couples are getting engaged. It is inevitable that some young girls turn to me and ask, “How about you Ate Nance? Tell us how Kuya Joseph proposed marriage to you.”

Soooo….here’s our engagement story:

Just like any other couple, it is but common for us to talk about excitement to grow old together. Of course, prior to that long commitment is marriage proposal. All the while, I knew that my husband would give me our engagement ring but the question was how and when. 🙂 My mother and Joseph’s parents, our ever-loyal love team fans, had given him their blessings and so did my pastor.

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Upper Left, Right & Lower Right: A usual visit of Joseph to our house means my mom would cook special dishes which she would not cook for me. That’s how special he is to my mom–I’m jealous. 🙂 Lower Right: A shot from our Bridal Shower.

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“Did you know that guy?”

Last New Year of January 2010, it was expected of my first and last boyfriend who is now my husband (Joseph) to come over and celebrate New Year with us. His family is in Bangladesh so we got used to having him over during special occasions.

He then came over to see my mom and me. A few minutes after our chitchat, he called my mom and discreetly talked with her. Clueless, I just stayed quiet in one corner.

A few minutes later, my mom was blushing so much in excitement that she told me that Joseph is finally giving me my engagement ring in a restaurant. She’s also invited! She said though that she wants us to go by ourselves. I took a deep breath and acted as if I don’t know what would happen next. 😉

Joseph then invited me to go to Dencio’s restaurant. The stunning view of the Taal Volcano and the cool breeze of Tagaytay made our day very special.

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Taal Volcano View

During our meal, he asked me whatever I would like to eat so, thinking of our limited budget, I ordered stir-fried shirmps and adobong kangkong. Please don’t laugh. Those were delectable for me! 🙂

Next, he asked me to order whatever drinks I would like to have so right away, I thought of having Buko (Coconut) Juice in its shell. Of course, while eating, we talked about many things. In the middle of our conversation, he asked me to look behind and asked me, “Do you know that guy?” I said, “No.” So he added, “I thought he is from your church, isn’t he?” I laughed and said, “Of course, not. There’s no one who looks like him from our church.”

After that short “out-of-the-blue” interruption, we kept on eating. The food was so enjoyable and to end our meal, I sipped my favorite Buko Juice up until it was finished.

To my surprise, there was something in the Buko shell!

Eventually, I learned that my husband mischievously dropped the lovely gold engagement ring into the Buko shell. After finishing my coconut juice, he initiated to take the ring out of the shell and put it into my ring finger.

I think he was so nervous that he forgot to ask “Will you marry me?” He said from his heart “I love you so much Sona.” Later, he told me that the ring was made from his childhood necklace. His parents had it made into my engagement ring.

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A personally customized engagement ring from my husband’s childhood chain.

I was so touched with what he and his parents did just to be able to give me an engagement ring.

On March 6, 2010, we had our pre-nuptial arrangement in my church with my pastor, my mother, two of our Bible College professors and their family.

Prior to that pre-nup arrangement, my fiance and I, along with our American college professors, climbed up the mountain beside Taal Volcano. The funny thing is, a week later, people were prohibited to hike that mountain for a while since it was showing signs of possible eruption.

hiking before our pre-nup arrangement

Sweaty and yet more than happy after an hour long hiking to the top. Taal Volcano is the smallest volcano in the world. Glad to have made that memory with my fiance. ❤

Anyway, it was decided that our wedding day would be on April 9, 2011, a year, three months and three days later. I praise God for giving me a wonderful engagement! The lonely part is that we lost all the pictures in the restaurant due to the virus on his old laptop. 😦

All we have is the memorable moment of being engaged in our hearts. ❤

Rerouted by God: Must We Follow or Not?

Joanna, my young tot loves adventures. Just like any other kid, she is extremely independent and is always wanting to do things by herself even without asking my permission. More often that not, she ends up regretful after doing the things I have prohibited her to do. She does not fully understand yet the value of my warnings–she does not fully appreciate yet that the reason I redirect her most of the time is I want her safety. I want her full happiness.

Now, just as I want my daughter to be spared from trouble, God also redirects us and even if the reason is obvious,  let me share with you what He impressed upon my heart through His word.

As I read through Exodus 13 this morning, God powerfully spoke to my heart. It says:

“17 Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18 Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.” 20 Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21 The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”

Here is what I realized:

As God leads us upon our submission, He sometimes reroutes us. Undeniably, the ultimate reason for that is He has our welfare–our best interest in His mind. He does so not to hurt us, but rather to spare us from danger and discouragements. It may be challenging to understand the direction He shows us, but all we need to do is trust Him and see how He will provide “pillar of clouds and pillar of fire” along the way. This is also taught in a hymn which was penned many years ago. There is no other way to be “happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

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I know in myself that there are still things I need to surrender to God. I need to trust His redirection just like how my daughter needs to trust my orders so she would be safe. It is my prayer that God would give me the grace enough to trust His leading and see His rescue from disappointments and troubles.

Now my friend, do you see that God is rerouting you as you follow His will in your life? Are you having second thoughts whether you must follow or not. That shouldn’t be! Indeed, there is no peace more perfect than the one brought about by submission to the God who only desires what’s best for you. Pray hard. Seek godly counsels. Read His word. Follow His leading. Without any doubt, you will end up victorious spiritually. Consequently, when you are victorious in your spiritual life, you will see that all the pieces of your life coming into their right places.

Rerouted by God? Yes, we must indeed follow by faith and He will provide all that we may need as we do so.