Trust the Ultimate Planner

We are counting down to the last 2 days of the year 2013, and as have been in the past years, I use this opportune time to take a quick glance at the year that just passed and  to cast a vision of the year that is to come. And planners have been an instrumental tool in this ceremonial event. Armed with my planner, a pen, and a cup of coffee, I officially close the year that was, and declare the beginning of a new one.

Now, I am a fan of planning tools. If you’re a planning freak, like me, you’ve probably tried one or a combination of these commonly used planning tools. Time management tools come in different forms:  a simple calendar, paper-based planners, planner apps in your mobile phone or iPad, or tabs, and then there are also planners in your computers (such as Microsoft Outlook). These are some of the planners I’ve used and trusted to take me through the years.


(Image source: Belle de Jeur / The Ultimate Homeschool Planner: Apologia)


(Image source: / Starbucks:

My top favourite is the Franklin Covey Planner. I’ve used it for a number of years, until I’ve duplicated the system and developed a template of my own. Comes with a mission-vision-values template, time management tools, and motivational quotes. I love the fact that it’s a straightforward application of  Stephen Covey’s best-selling book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (one of my favourite books).  I will most definitely welcome Covey planner refills as a yearly Christmas gift :)


(Image source:

I love the idea of putting down my ideas, goals and plans in paper. I get excited planning my year and filling up my calendars with schedules of activities and events. This year 2014, I am using a Starbucks planner, along with my girls, that I got for free. I’m in the last few parts of my closing ceremony of 2013, and getting hyped up with 2014 plans and goals.

The year 2013 flew by so fast, I am taking the next 2 days to process all the learnings and mark all the highlights of the year. I am confident 2014 is going to be another exciting year. I don’t need an ultimate planner to know that for sure. I know and I trust the Ultimate Planner of it all. Jeremiah 29:11-12 says it clearly:


(Image source: Preparing The Way/FB)

I can choose to trust God, and be willing to flow with His plans. Or I can make my own plans and follow my own desires. I love the insights shared by Pastor Juray Mora on Day 5 of this year’s prayer and fasting (you can listen to the podcast here). “Our breakthroughs and blessings are planned by God. It’s on  the way all the time. Question is: are we willing to flow with God’s plans.”

The greatest preparations we can make, as we enter 2014,  is walking in faith with God, knowing Him and experiencing Him in a greater measure. No paper planner can make that happen. Only a relationship with the Ultimate Planner can.

Lord, give us a greater knowledge of who You are in our lives,  patience that will never let go of You and Your Word, and an added measure of faith to believe for your blessings and breakthroughs, this 2014, and the years to come!

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

Happy Wife, Happy Life

(I wrote and posted this Note on my FB page, and  since I’m resuscitating this blog and have not started writing entries, I thought of reposting this here)

yowieandme“Happy wife, happy life,” said my husband last night, as he agreed to watch with me a Tagalog movie I wanted to see. I was smiling from ear to ear. Though busy with work, he dropped everything he was doing and gave me his full attention while I rant to him how my day was, the highlights of my day (which was practically everything that happened during the day- hahaha!). Last week, he watched over the kids while I spent bonding time with my girlfriends, and when I got home, surprised me with my favorite chocolates. He would call me from work, every now and then, to ask me how I’m doing, and tell me that he misses me. Some days, he would go home early from work and we would hang out together, just the two of us, and sometimes with the kids. He would do the grocery, because he knows I hate doing it. And he would do all these little things that make me happy,  so he’d earn so many pogi points. I really do appreciate his efforts to make me happy. And really, I’d give him an A++. He really brings a little of heaven here on earth.

But this is not always the case every day. Sometimes he would do something that would really, really disappoint me. Big Time. And I would rant: You did not call me. You did not answer my text. You’re late! You forgot to do it again?!. Talk to me! And I would be so unhappy.  I would get disappointed. And in my prayers, I would ask, “God, why can’t my husband make me happy all the time? Why can’t every day be like yesterday?”  In deep, prayerful, quiet moments like this that I would be reminded of my selfishness. God lets me see my own brokenness. I see how famished my heart is. I realized I can never be satisfied or happy enough. One day, I’m high on love, the next day, my soul is needy again. And would demand from my husband to fill me, fill my aching void. I wonder how he feels about living with me. How much pressure is there on him to be married to someone like me. I wouldn’t risk asking him that. I will try one of these days.

You see, we are all broken people, with a famished craving in our hearts. We all belong to a fallen world. We know what happened back there in the Garden of Eden. The effects of the Fall are something we live with every day. We are never satisfied. We all have an insatiable need, a bottomless well, that can never be filled.

Hence, my husband can never give me all the happiness I need. I can never meet all his needs to make him happy. My happiness is not a report card of my husband as a person. His happiness does not depend on me entirely. We are never enough for each other. We would do our marriage a great favor to agree to take off this big pressure to make each other happy.

I like how John and Stasi Eldredge put it, in their book, Love and War:

“You have to have some place you can turn. For comfort. For understanding. For the healing of your brokenness. For love. To offer life, you must have life. And you can only get this from God.”

God has placed an ache in our soul, a desire, a void only He can fill. Oswald Chambers said it well:

“There is only one Being Who can satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“We cannot trade empty for empty.

We must go to the waterfall

For there’s a break in the cup that holds love…

Inside us all.”

-(David Wilcox)

Happy wife, happy life. Yes, there’s some truth to that. I love it when my husband makes me happy. But when I’m unhappy, it’s not always about him. Most of it is about me, and my selfish, famished, broken self longing for God to fill me.

The Goal is not Perfection

It’s exam week, officially starting tomorrow. My girls (Meggy and Maddie) have been busy preparing for the past few days and tonight is the last night for review. After dinner, I decided to take them out at our favorite hang-out place (Poco Deli) and let them finish the last few parts of their review material. I was glad to see them actually enjoying what they do.  I’ve seen them take great interest in learning, and it’s a great relief that I don’t feel the pressure to tutor them at all times. There are times they would come to me or their dad to ask something they didn’t quite get but most of the time, they just learn on their own.

I think it makes for a healthy childhood that kids are given the liberty to learn at their own pace, to not be pressured to learn things beyond their comprehension or their ability to grasp. And to be allowed to make mistakes and be given room to correct themselves. Taking exams is just an exercise for the children  to determine their level of comprehension, understanding, and mastery of the lessons. And while it is important that they ace their exams, it is not the end goal. Some will make it to the top, some in the median, some at the bottom. 

I told my children I do not expect them to get perfect scores, but I expect them to do their best to prepare for it (review and practice) and give it their best during the examination itself. Perfection is not as important as character-building. You put in the discipline, the diligence, the patience, the persistence. You demand integrity (definitely no cheating!), not perfect or highest score. You recognize their strengths, and you help them accept their limitations and weaknesses. You demand their very best, allowing no room for mediocrity.

The goal, really, is not getting to the top, but the building of your children’s character and the proper stewardship of their talents, skills, and abilities to the glory of God. If we instill these into our children’s lives early on, they will be more equipped and prepared to take on bigger tests later in their lives; tests that are  far more complex, and far more demanding. Tests that really matter are the ones that involve our children’s hearts and character; where the most important commendation would be from the Great Master and Teacher: “Well done, my faithful child!” This is the test you wouldn’t want your child to fail at!

Lessons from ballet shoes

Meg has been attending ballet class without ballet shoes for the past three weeks now. This is the third time she lost another pair of ballet shoes. Well, second time to miss a pair, because the other time, she lost only one of the pair. She either forgot or misplaced, or left somewhere. Maegan has not been really responsible with her stuff. She gets too distracted with a lot of things that she can’t focus on keeping her belongings in place. She can be very careless with her things and would just leave them anywhere. One time it was the school jacket,  another time her Bible. I have observed that she would be sorry as soon as she loses a thing, but then she would quickly get over the loss because I would easily get her a replacement. That’s when I realized that by doing so, I have been teaching her to be irresponsible and actually encouraging her to be careless with her belongings. She could well be thinking, “Well, I don’t care if it gets lost, Mom would always get me a new one, anyway.”

When this thing got going again and again for some time, that’s when I realized, “Hey, wait a minute! I have been teaching my daughter the wrong values!” I realized that I was responsible for bringing out this kind of behavior from her. This has got to stop. As soon as I found out that she lost her ballet shoes again, I decided to not get her a new pair. I let her go and attend ballet class without one. I told her that she will continue to dance without ballet shoes until she is able to save money from her allowance to buy a pair. It will be uncomfortable to dance without ballet shoes, and she will be the only one not wearing one. I told her to tell her teacher about the deal, if she asks. She would be embarrass to tell her classmates and teacher, I know, but it’s an embarrassment I would like her to feel so that the lesson will even sink in more. 

Earlier today, she proudly said she already has enough money to buy the shoes. And so we went to Mostacci in Makati to get her a new pair. “Oh, finally I can dance with my ballet shoes on!” Meg was excited as she tries it on, carefully making sure she got the perfect fit, and looking at it like a precious gem. It is so precious to her now, because she paid for it with her own money she pooled in the last three weeks, money she could have used to buy extra treats from the cafeteria, or a new notebook or chapter book from the bookstore. Precious – because she is reminded that for three weeks she got uncomfortable, embarrassed, and she gave up some things, to get this. Now she knows better — to value, take care of, and be responsible for her belongings. Very important life lessons that she will never forget, hopefully. And the mom learned some great lessons, too.

Proverbs 22:6 
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Ask and you shall receive

Today, I learned about asking boldly, and having the faith to receive what I ask for.

I opened my mailbox this morning and was surprised to get this email from my 9-year old daughter, Meg, who is turning 10 next month.

I am shocked at her audacity to ask for a 41-item 2-page wishlist for her 10th birthday. “What!?!” I blurted, thinking why and how in the world will we give her all these? And how dare her think she deserves to get them? I tried to recall when I was 10 what I asked for from my parents, and what I got. I don’t even remember anymore, but I don’t think I had the guts to ask for even 3 or 4 items. Are kids these days really have that “entitlement” mentality, demanding for everything they see their friends have, or just about anything they fancy?

(So what’s in the wishlist of a 10-year old girl? Here it goes, I copy pasted from her email)

My 10th Birthday Wishlist

1. Baby Alive– the girl with curly hair
2. One year Club Penguin Membership
3. Another Barbie doll (stop saying I’m too old for this!!)
4. A Barbie house with lots and lots of accessories
5. A hamster
6. A DS
7. A cellphone
8. A Barbie Ballerina doll
9. A skateboard
10. Roller skates
11. A Baby Pink dress
12. A notebook
13. Barbie dresses
14. Play food
15. Play money
16. A Checkbook
17. More Money
18. Macbook
19. I-touch
20. Acessories
21. A beautiful chest where I could put my treasures inside
22. An Ipod
23. Pointe shoes
24. A pink adult-like bag
25. A big party
26. A cute little puppy
27. Thea Stilton book
28. Magic Tree House research guide of Leonardo De Vinci
29. My own room
30. Diary of a Wimpy Kid-Dog Days
31. My own collection of books
32. A baby pink quilt and pillow
33. A silver tiara
34. Gel Pens
35. My own camera
36. Dresses-Sky Blue, Baby Pink, Light Green, Dark Purple, Yellow Orange, Summer Yellow, Dark Red, etc.
37. Shirts-same colors, except with designs
38. Pants-Dark Blue
39. Shoes-Pink Velvet shoes, Sky Blue slippers, Red strapped sandals, Dark Green sneakers
40. A Pink Leather Jacket
41. Paper Doll

I felt like giving her a sermon on how she shouldn’t be demanding or asking for a lot of things and instead wait til she has the money to buy these herself. I wanted to teach her about the difference between “wants” and “needs” and how we should settle for what we need, and just fancy about the “nice-to-haves.” I was about to take that opportunity as a “teachable moment” until it dawned on me, I am the one being taught here. The lesson is for me.

Bless the heart of this child, for her faith to ask for anything, big or small, fancy or plain, and believing that she will get them! Bless her trusting heart, confident that her parents, who she is sure, do love her, will give her what she asks for. I am ashamed to admit that I don’t ask for much, afraid that I get a no. And I am more ashamed to admit that when I ask I do not have much faith or confidence on the ability of the person who I am asking it from to give it to me. I wish I can be more child-like, have the confidence and willingness to ask boldly and have the faith that I will get what I ask for. I actually felt good realizing that she feels confident about us her parents providing for her and giving her what she desires.

I believe it is the same with God, when we ask from Him, He wants us to ask

boldly believing we will get what we ask for.

After all, we have a God who owns the universe and everything on it.

When I asked her what if we don’t get them all for her, she replied quickly, “Well, at least I get 2 or three of them, I’d be happy!” And she added, “It’s just a wishlist!”

So, what are you asking God for?

Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you..”
Matthew 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Psalm 34:7 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

By milonabarraca Posted in Uncategorized