Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reflections on the Flood

 So much damages, tensions and anxieties have been brought by the flood here in Thailand. It made a lot of people in Bangkok including us to hoard food supplies as there have been rumors that Bangkok, even if flood-walled, will still be inundated with waters coming from the provinces especially during the high tides. But thank God it has not happened, at least in our area, as some districts such as my friend's where these photos here were taken are already affected. My Thai friend told me that this has never happened here in 50 years. This calamity gave me an opportunity to discuss with her about prophecy and salvation.
 I told her that I don't wonder if such things are happening. Climate change and global warming are some signs that the end is coming near as prophesied in the Bible that there will be disasters one after another. We have seen that calamities such as tsunami, earthquakes and floods cannot be controlled even by the most sophisticated technology on earth. But I told her that with Jesus Christ in our life, we will be assured of salvation. I pointed out to her that we can never run away with our wealth just like these cars parked on the highway left by the owners who have fled anywhere to save themselves, which she readily agreed. How much more when God will judge the world and burn in hell all the sinners  who never repented and accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord?
This disaster that has plagued Thailand is just a reminder that this world is but our temporary home and we need a Living God that can save us from the wrath of sin and will someday take us to heaven where there will never be calamities, pains and sorrows anymore. Let me share this inspiring song to you:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Three Famous Adopted Men Molded by Great Adoptive Parents

Today's topic at Marriage Monday, where thinking Christian women meet every other Monday, is on infertility. A couple who is not blessed with a child, after they have tried all scientific and medical means but still fail, may just choose to enjoy each other's company for life or opt to adopt a child. If I were not blessed with kids, I'd choose the latter. I'd like to simply argue here that adopted children,  if brought up well, can become great individuals and, therefore, be beneficial to the society and to their adoptive parents. Let's take the examples of three adopted children (although there are a lot more) who rose into fame with their humble background. Thanks to this meme that made me know their roots due to the topic of infertility.

Let me start with the one who just passed away, Apple founder and CEO, Steve Jobs. While my next 2 examples were adopted when they were 9, Steve Jobs was turned over to his adoptive parents shortly after his birth. As the 1950's saw the conservative puritan American culture, Jobs's biological parents were not allowed to wed as his father who was a political science professor was a Syrian Muslim. At that time, a child outside wedlock was scorned by society so his American mother who became a speech pathologist after her graduate studies with Steve's father was forced to give him for adoption to an accountant and a machinist, Paul Jobs. Their home garage, where his adoptive dad, Paul, exposed him to tinker machines, which accordingly developed young Steve into becoming the man behind what many enjoy now - iPod, iPhone, iPad, MacBook, etc.

Another adopted child who turned into a great leader is Nelson Mandela. Although he grew up with his real mom and dad, who died when he was 9, his step-dad's leadership influence in the community significantly molded Mandela to become a famous charismatic leader himself.

Although there are many other adopted people who rose above their childhood background, the last but not the least in this post is Barrack Obama. With an Irish-English mother and a Kenyan father, who later died due to a disease,  Obama, like Mandela, was adopted by his stepfather, who was an Indonesian. Obama's step-dad was also a leader so no wonder why he was brought up to become a leader, too.

The common denominators of all these three iconic leaders are, of course, their genes and environment. Even if they got their important traits from their biological parents, they picked up their values largely by the way they were raised by their adoptive parents especially in the case of Steve Jobs. While environment plays a vital role in the child's growth and development, if you want to have a great chance of having a potentially smart adoptive child, do a background check on the family history of your prospective child to adopt. But if you want to adopt a child without specifications, you are showing a truly unconditional parental and  God's love. Many couples have done it and are happy with their adopted child. My dear friend did it and now her 2-year old adopted baby has grown to be a lovable and smart boy and he serves as a real bundle of joy to her and her husband.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Resolution: Household Cost-Cutting and Maximum Saving

With the kids growing fast, which means growing needs, too, we have to be more proactive by planning ahead well. We don't have to wait for the new year to make resolutions. Now, that our kids have already planned what to take up in college, hubby and I have become more pressured for the projected educational costs. So, we have agreed to save more by living below -NOT BEYOND- our means to help us make our kids realize their educational goals and for us to retire smoothly. We still have to enjoy life to the fullest but must keep our goals in mind so we agreed on the following, which may also be helpful to you, dear readers:

1. Cut down the budget on food by avoiding high calorie and cholesterol-loaded choices. It's the best way for a healthy diet as high calorie and cholesterol foods are usually the more expensive (and fattening) ones such as meats, baked, processed and preserved foods. So hubby and I have agreed to subsist mainly on fish and plant-based foods such as legumes, fruits, vegetables and other natural (unprocessed) foods which abound and are cheap here in the "Land of Smiles" and even in our hometown, GenSan. In this way, we can live more healthily so we also cut down medical and hospitalization budgets in the long run. 

2. Don't live by credits. The economic crunch in the US presented us the fact that millions of households get by on credit cards causing them to abruptly shift gears at the bad turn of events. With this scenario, I have promised hubby not to use credit cards again except in real emergencies. Travels which needed to be booked online using a credit card have caused my accumulated credit spending, which has accumulated interests as well. I hate to think of the big interests I've been paying for credit cards even if there are lots of perks and rewards for using them. Oh, we should not be deceived by the rewards as they just entice us to use credit cards more and lure us to forget the compounded interests and our capacity to pay on time! So, if there's no cash to pay your credit card right away, don't travel or purchase anything (unless for emergency) using credit cards. We should save first and enjoy later if we have extra money for any luxury or leisure. 

3. Buy only the necessities.  Hubby assessed our buying lately and we identified stuffs which were not necessary for us to buy. If I open our closets, I find some clothes I bought by impulse which I have not used after all. We also bought some gadgets which are not really of dire necessities. If we sum up the money we used for buying those non-necessities, sometimes using credit cards with interests, they could have been added to our savings.

4. Go for items on sale but of good quality. I've been doing this for a long time but let me include this here for you, dear readers, in case you're not practicing it yet. I've cut costs a lot by looking for our needs on sale. We are lucky to have a Lotus Express right in front of our condo so I'm always on guard for sale items including fresh fruits, vegetables, rice and even toiletries and other household needs. When I buy hubby's or my kids' clothes, I also go for quality but on sale items. Again, be cautious not to buy things because they're cheap or on sale but you don't actually need them or they are close to expiry as they may end up getting spoiled if you don't consume them right away. Or because the food is near expiry, you need to consume it all, so it's not saving after all. In shore, don't buy by impulse. It pays to be practical when buying things.

5. Let every household member aware of the family goals and orient everyone to save. If we want to save more effectively and in a bigger scale, let's orient everyone in the household to set a goal and to practice saving. In our case, we always remind our kids of our big project so they focus their minds on it. We ask them to be frugal and careful in everything even with their school supplies, clothing, etc. We emphasize to them that whatever necessary things they waste needs to be replaced, which requires an amount. Even hubby had to totally cut his spending on his coffee, which is not necessary for him to survive. In fact, it's not good for his health. Every cent counts and it becomes big in the long run.

Whatever we do NOW determines our future so let's be effective planners, wise spenders and be good stewards of what we have. Cut down the expenses on unnecessary things and be economical and practical in buying ONLY the necessities. Most of all, to live a stress-free life, let's not live beyond our means and save, save, save. 

(This article will be printed in the Health & Home magazine in the Philippines.)