Dive

‘Dive into deeper connections’. This was the resounding call of the session last Sunday at The Feast. Bro. Bo Sanchez said despite the thousands of “likes” and “followers” and smiling emojis we’re getting in our Facebook’s News Feed, he can sense a growing loneliness among people.

He also said, we’re in the middle of a Digital Tsunami. According to Global Digital Report, the average Filipino spends 3 hours and 57 minutes a day on social media alone.

More presence online and less connections offline.

We need to connect more with each other.

Dive

We often hide our inner thoughts and feelings because we’re concerned if they’ll be accepted by other people. But we also shut out other people from knowing and accepting us by not being open. By not being open with others, we’re really saying we don’t fully accept ourselves. We’re denying ourselves that chance to speak out, to declare our inner thoughts and feelings.

At the Awesome Kids’ service we highlighted to the children the importance of being a good friend to each other.

Cartoons with their BFFs and besties were the focus during the activity.

During our Light Group (LG), we discussed the importance of a gadget-free encounters with people that matters to you.

To put away mobiles phones during bonding moments with friends and cherish more the presence of each other.

If you notice that a friend is carrying a burden, there’s only one thing to do. Say these 4 magical words: “I’m here for you.”

Listen. Don’t interrupt. Don’t give advice. Don’t preach. Don’t pontificate. Shut your mouth and listen.

Being open is a kind of invitation to others. What you share about yourself should encourage others to come in, so to speak, and make contact with you. To involve themselves with you.

Being open is difficult. It makes us feel vulnerable, psychologically naked and usually anxious. But it also is important in terms of really letting others get to understand how we think, how we feel and what we believe.

Here are 5 ways for you to be more open.

1. Make your outside behavior the same or congruent with your inside feelings and thoughts.

2. Focus on feelings. It’s usually easier to share opinions or thoughts about something. Everybody has an opinion. It’s harder to share feelings. Be in touch with how you feel. Share openly the feelings as much as you can. Some feelings cover or come from other feelings. Anger may come from hurt. We might find it easier to show the anger. However, if we work really hard and try to understand the hurt, if we share the hurt and are open about the hurt, we are actually being more open at a deeper level.

3. Try to change your questions into statements. Sometimes, we have an attitude or feeling about something and we’re afraid to share it, we’re afraid to be open. Instead, we ask a question. For instance, we might say “do you love me?”, when instead we want to say I love you. Change your questions into statements you can make about yourself.

4. Communicate in the first person. Begin sentences with “I” instead of “you”. You might say, ” I feel happy that you’re here,” instead of asking, “Are you glad that you’re here?”

5. Try not to say, “I don’t know.” This generally means I don’t want to think about it anymore. You’re probably getting to a level of being open that makes you anxious. Decide what it is and whether you can really trust it with the other person or persons.

John

The Catholic Church celebrates today the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. His life was fueled by one burning passion – to point others to Jesus Christ and to the coming of God’s kingdom.

During the Awesome Kids’ Ministry service at The Feast, the little children was reminded to always put God first in their lives.

Like St. John the Baptist, every kid was destined by God for an important mission.

Putting God first is realizing it’s all about Him. Everything in your life is to be directed to Him. Your every breath is to go back to Him. Your every thought is to be for Him. Everything is about Him.

Scripture tells us that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15, 41) by Christ himself, whom Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, John leapt in the womb of Elizabeth as they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41). The fire of the Spirit dwelt in John and made him the forerunner of the coming Messiah. John was led by the Spirit into the wilderness prior to his ministry where he was tested and grew in the word of God.

John broke the prophetic silence of the previous centuries when he began to speak the word of God to the people of Israel. His message was similar to the message of the Old Testament prophets who chided the people of God for their unfaithfulness and who tried to awaken true repentance in them. Among a people unconcerned with the things of God, it was his work to awaken their interest, unsettle them from their complacency, and arouse in them enough good will to recognize and receive Christ when he came.

God’s gracious gift to us
What is the significance of John the Baptist and his message for our lives? When God acts to save us he graciously fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes our faith come “alive” to his promises. Each and every day the Lord is ready to renew us in faith, hope, and love. Like John the Baptist, the Lord invites each of us to make our life a free-will offering to God. God wants to fill us with his glory all the days of our lives, from birth through death. Renew the offering of your life to God and give him thanks for his mercy and favor towards you.

“Lord Jesus, you bring hope and salvation to a world lost in sin, despair, and suffering. Let your grace refresh and restore your people today in the hope and joy of your great victory over sin and death.”

Cape

When I was a kid Papa Ramon was my superhero, he was like Batman, Superman, Flash and Thor rolled into one.

Last Sunday, during the Awesome Kids Ministry service, the children were able to honor their dad with a special craft activity.

Cape

If the scientific study of fatherhood has taught us one thing, it’s that there are data-driven, biological, and psychological reasons why kids seem to do better with dads.

We also had our Light Group (LG) meeting where we discussed the value of our father’s presence in our lives.

According to the Parenting.com website, even dads with average parenting skills can make a real impact on their children’s lives.

Four decades of research and hundreds of studies have proven what should be obvious to everyone: The more involved a dad is, the more successful his children will be. A father’s influence can determine a child’s social life, grades at school, and future achievements.

Involved dads = Successful children
The dad effect starts as early as birth. A review of studies by the Father Involvement Research Alliance shows that babies with more involved fathers are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident in new situations, and eager to explore their surroundings. As they grow, they are more sociable. Toddlers with involved fathers are better problem-solvers and have higher IQs by age 3. They are more ready to start school and can deal with the stress of being away from home all day better than children with less involved fathers .

At school, children of involved fathers do better academically. For example, a study by the U.S. Department of Education found that children of highly involved fathers were 43 percent more likely than other children to earn mostly As and 33 percent less likely to repeat a grade. They are also less likely to have behavior problems at school and to experience depression.

According to the Father Involvement Research Alliance review, girls with involved fathers have higher self-esteem, and teenage girls who are close to their dads are less likely to become pregnant. Boys show less aggression, less impulsivity, and more self-direction. As young adults, children of involved fathers are more likely to achieve higher levels of education, find success in their careers, have higher levels of self-acceptance and experience psychological well-being. Adults who had involved fathers are more likely to be tolerant and understanding, have supportive social networks made up of close friends, and have long-term successful marriages.

Everyday activities are important
A study by Brigham Young University researchers finds that involvement in everyday activities, such as eating dinner together, watching TV, playing in the yard, and playing video games are even more important to share with Dad than big outings or trips, although those contribute to children’s development as well. Fathers and youths in the study experienced more satisfaction and cohesion in their family when fathers were involved in everyday core activities.

W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project and associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, says that fathers’ special input differs from mothers’ in at least four ways: playing, encouraging risk, protecting and disciplining.

Playing
By asking parents of 390 families how they play with their children, psychologist Ross Parke found that “in infants and toddlers, fathers’ hallmark style of interaction is physical play that is characterized by arousal, excitement, and unpredictability.” Mothers, on the other hand, were “more modulated and less arousing” in their play. This became glaringly obvious to me when my husband left home for a year and a half to work in Afghanistan. My modulated play was not cutting it. Several months into the experience, our three kids began complaining to me, “You never tickle us.” I had to take a page from my husband’s playbook for a while.

A manual from the U.S. Children’s Bureau explains the impact of fathers’ play this way: “From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Roughhousing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions.”

Encouraging risk
Where mothers tend to worry about their children’s safety and well-being, fathers encourage their children to take risks. Psychologist Daniel Paquette’s review of scholarly research found that dads are more likely to encourage their children to overcome obstacles, to talk to strangers, and to go in the deep end during swim lessons. One study in the review (J. Le Camus, “Les interaction pere-enfant en milieu aquatique”) focused on a group of parents teaching their children how to swim. It found that “fathers tend to stand behind their children so the children face their social environment, whereas mothers tend to position themselves in front of their children, seeking to establish visual contact with the children.”

Protecting
Perhaps it’s their size, strength, or inclination to protect, but fathers appear to be better at keeping predators and bad influences from harming their children. Psychologist Rob Palkovitz said in The Atlantic, “Paternal absence has been cited by multiple scholars as the single greatest risk factor in teen pregnancy for girls.” When fathers are more involved, they can better monitor what’s going on in their children’s lives, including interaction with peers and adults.

Disciplining
Although mothers discipline more often, fathers discipline with a firmer hand. In their book Partnership Parenting, Drs. Kyle Pruett and Marsha Kline Pruett write, “Fathers tend to be more willing than mothers to confront their children and enforce discipline, leaving their children with the impression that they in fact have more authority.” Mothers, on the other hand, try to reason with their children and rely on kids’ emotional attachment to them to influence their behavior. Although Mom and Dad may not seem to be on the same page, this diverse approach can be very effective in disciplining children.

The good news about being a dad is that you don’t have to be spectacular at it to make a major positive contribution to your child’s life. W. Bradford Wilcox looked at data on delinquency, pregnancy, and depression in adolescents and compared the statistics with how the teens rated their fathers or if they lived with a single mother. He found that outcomes for teens in single-mother homes were about the same as those living with both a mother and a poor-quality father; teens had higher levels of delinquency, pregnancy, and depression. But teens living with their mother and father, with whom they had an average-quality relationship, experienced much lower negative outcomes. Teens who had a high-quality relationship with their father had even lower rates. Wilcox concludes that “great, and even good-enough dads, appear to make a real difference in their children’s lives.”

Prepare

Are you raising your kids to become an entrepreneur or a corporate slave?

The ‘Big Message’ in last week’s The Feast was ‘Preparation is Everything’.

Inspired by the story of Joseph in the bible – preparation is the price we pay to become great leaders.

Joseph was only 16 years old when his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelite traders.

The Pharaoh appointed him as the Governor of Egypt when he was thirty.

God spent 14 years just preparing his chosen leader.

Preparation takes time and let us be patient and not lose heart during the most difficult stages of our preparation.

For the Awesome Kids Ministry we shared to the children the value of preparing for the future by knowing the basic concept of money and honoring their parent’s effort of providing for the family and how to save money.

They made a simulated mini saving’s piggy bank adorned with colorful stickers.

Preparation Awesome Kids

Children learn everything from their parents. Raising children the right way is an invaluable way of helping them raise their parents’ grandchildren the right way. A culture full of spoiled children extinguishes the fire of earning what we have. A culture full of spoiled children encourages laziness. A culture full of spoiled children breeds spoiled and irresponsible adults. The ability of parents to discuss with their children financial responsibility is paramount. 

On a bigger picture, here are some
things you can do to raise your kids to become entrepreneurs according to PowerPinoys.com:

1. Encourage them to ask questions. Sadly, many Filipino people now are having this kind of mentality that “if you ask questions, you are dumb.” This is why many people now who instead of asking questions, they keep the questions to themselves which make them more ignorant. You better filter this kind of mentality from your kids.

Don’t Let this happen to your child. There’s are Filipino sayings that “Matalino ang batang mapagtanong” (Intelligent is a child who asks questions) and “Ang taong mapagtanong, daig ang marunong” (The inquisitive person surpassed the wise).

These words are just true. Asking is a form of active learning and this kind of learning results to a better retention. If your child ask you a question, answer his question then again ask you child something like “aren’t you going to ask why? or how?” or some other sort of followup questions. This way, you are programming your child to not just simply ask questions but you are programming your child to verify the answers as well.

Give your child scenarios that are new to them. This will make them think of the whats, whys and hows of A,B,C, and etc. You might want to give them valuable rewards if they got it right to encourage them to think more. Remember, keep your child always hungry for knowledge and encourage them to try new things.

2. Teach your child how to ask for help. Again, this is closely related to #1 but this is a bit different. Teach your child that if he cannot do a particular thing, the initial response should be to ask somebody who knows how to do that thing. Kids are in their learning stage where they need guidance. As a parent, you should help your child as much as possible BUT here are some points to remember:

  • Don’t spoon-feed them. Show them how to do it. Once they’ve seen it, let them try it on their own with your guidance.
  • Praise them if necessary to boost their confidence.
  • Ask them questions like “Can you think of better way to do this or that?”
  • Remember this proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. It is always worthwhile to teach your kids to do something than do it for them.

3. Teach them the importance and value of Teamwork. Let your kids know that not all the time, they can do every thing alone. Teach them that if they want to achieve big dreams, teamwork is necessary. Tell them they may be able to build their own house but they cannot create a high building alone or it may take them a lifetime.

4. Teach them how to be creative and analyze things. Always encourage your kids to try new things. Let them experiment on ideas and show them that learning can really be fun. You can send your kids to go music class and play instruments. Learning how to play piano, for example, can really boost your kids’ analytical and creativity skills while having fun.

Another thing you can help your kids improve skills while having fun is by providing them physical and digital games that touches creativity and analysis. One of the most famous toys that promotes creativity is Lego and other similar toys.

Have your walls bunch of interesting arts and other crafts. Tell your kids your favorite musician, artist, and scientists. Always ask them challenging “what if” questions that will push them to analyze situations.

5. Teach them how to save money. Being rich is not about how much money you are earning but it is about how much money you keep. You should teach your kids to not spend more than what they are earning, or else they will be in debt their whole lives.

You should teach them not to invest on things that loses value as time goes by. You should teach them to invest on things such as education, new skills and other self development stuffs they can use to earn money. You can start teaching them how to save money through their allowances.

6. Teach them how to learn from their mistakes & learn to accept rejections. You should tell your kids that not everyone and everything will work their way. Teach them to anticipate the worst case scenario and set solutions for those cases.

Practice your kids to commit mistakes and fail. Yes, fail. Kids who are not afraid of making mistakes and not afraid of what other people say are the ones who can handle risks and are emotionally stable. Teach them to learn on their mistake and laugh about it later.

7. Teach them how to be good at public speaking. Your kids don’t need to do what adults entrepreneur do. Simply exposing them in an environment where they can express their thoughts is a good place to start to learn public speaking. Let your child join other kids while playing on the playground and do some story telling activities. Simply having your child exposed in story telling or reporting type of activities will get away shyness and build confidence instead.

8. Teach them how to lead others. Your kids should learn how to motivate others to achieve a common goal. This skill can be acquired from you, the parent. Set a good example! If you are a father, you should be the leader in your family. You set goals for the the family, create budget (for moms), plans for leisure activities, etc. It will be automatic for your kids to be a good leader to.

Here are some skills and attitude you might want to impart your children to be good leaders.
Initiative, Consistency, Teamwork, Strategy, Planning, Perseverance, Decision making, and Good Communication.

11. Teach them how to sell. One of the biggest part of every business is selling. Any good company with good products or services, if not able to sell is good as nothing. The main point of making business is to create profit and if you cannot make any profit then what do you call your business? Charity?

This skill is where most people laugh at but are not good at. It has been injected to people’s mind that if you’re selling something, you are in a lowly situation which is a big no. Not all people have this skill but once you have this, it can be applied not just in business but in other aspects of life as well.

12. Teach them problem solving. Entrepreneurship is about solving other people’s problems. You may want to give your kids quizzes and puzzles to solve. Think of Sudoku, jigsaw puzzles, rubicks cube, and etc. Playing computer games can also help them increase their problem solving skills. But be picky on what computer games they will play as there are computer games that only wastes your kids precious time.

Learning math is really a fun way of learning how to solve a problem. Let your child learn the value of math by showing them what they can do if they know math. You can also let your child learn problem solving through physics problems and a lot more.

Problem solving added with creativity is the ore of innovations. If you hone your kids’ skills on these, they will have a big advantage over others.

20%

Are you prepared for famine?

Sand, sea and sun collided today at the Ministry Fair 2018. Donned in eye-catching summer floral OOTD (outfit of the day), the servants encouraged attendees to sign-up for a Light Group (LG) and also to join a ministry.

The Ministry Fair was so successful because of good preparation and planning.

It was refined each year as the team learns from experience. They did some adjustments and fine tuning every year.

Preparation

The Awesome Kids Ministry servants in action. My Light Group (LG) sharing insights about Bro. Bo’s message. Joseph wisely saved 20% of the harvested grain, and was able to save not only Egypt during the famine, but the surrounding nations as well. That should be our goal—to be faithful stewards now while times are good, in preparation for any future hard times. Attendees (bottom right) signing up during the Ministry Fair 2018.

Preparation and planning for special events is very crucial, be it large or small.

This holds true also in life.

Bro. Bo Sanchez shared this ‘big’ message today preparation is everything.

He highlighted the bible story of Joseph who was thrown in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

In prison Joseph interprets the dreams of the cupbearer and baker of Pharaoh and his interpretations are exactly correct.

Unfortunately, the ungrateful cupbearer, who promised to remember Joseph, forgot all about his promise as soon as he was free, and Joseph had to cope with yet another setback, with another blow to his hopes.

Joseph had to languish two more years in the dungeon, but he did not grow bitter.

He is prepared for the challenges that come to him in life and thinks not only of himself, but always of others.

Preparation is the price we pay to become great.

Joseph was only 16 years old when his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelite traders.

The Pharaoh appointed him as the Governor of Egypt when he was thirty.

God spent 14 years just preparing his chosen leader.

Preparation takes time and let us be patient and not lose heart during the most difficult stages of our preparation in life.

Joseph knew Egypt was in the midst of an economic boom (part of the economic cycle).

Joseph told Pharaoh that for the next seven years they should save one fifth (20%) of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.

This way, when the famine came they would have enough food to survive. The plan worked to perfection.

We can’t help but think about our own economy and how it parallels this story.

I came out of a time of great abundance when I was an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) and now I was in a tougher time.

OFWs that stored up provisionally during the boom time aren’t really affected by what’s going on right now.

They are barely affected by any economic slowdown.

Those that didn’t have the foresight to store up for the coming famine are faring much worse.

We can control how we handle our own finances.

There is always hope.

Bro. Bo encouraged everyone to live within their means and save the 20% of your earnings for investment.

Just as Joseph put Egypt on a pay-as-you-go economy and saved for the lean years, so should you and I put back some cash.

Pay raises are not forthcoming, and if our jobs are downsized, we are going to need cash to see us through.

Reduce expenses and save something out of each paycheck while you can.

Each of us must learn from the character of Joseph and examine the policies he put in place to administer the economy of Egypt and guide it through a massive downturn.

God will bless your efforts to manage your money and your life when you obey His laws and principles of financial management.

They were the basis for sound economic policies for Joseph, and they are sound household policies for you and me today.

Unleashed

We are commanded to forgive others, God is really after our own good. So forgive from the heart and set yourself free.

This is what we shared to the kids last Sunday at the Awesome Kids Ministry service.

Unleashed

Remember, forgiveness is for our benefit. The other person’s behavior may never change. It is up to God, not us, to change others. Our responsibility is to be set free from the pressure and weight of an unforgiving attitude.

We took a bottle of water and some effervescent vitamin tablets.

We encouraged the children to think of someone they need to forgive.
• Someone hit you and pushed you down.
• Someone won’t let you play a game.
• Someone broke something of yours.
• Someone called you an unkind name.
• Someone took what you were playing with and won’t share it.

We talked about how they were hurt. They felt mad.

We encouraged them to ask God to let go of these feelings.

We asked the kids to put a piece of the tablet in the water and the children imagined asking God to help them forgive.

As the bubbles start to come off the tablets, they imagined giving the hurt feelings to God.

The tablets took a while to dissolve, which also illustrated that sometimes it might take a long time to forgive.

The water might also have changed color, which illustrates that it’s not as if the thing that hurt you had never happened, it’s just been changed by God.

For the craft activity, they colored an artwork that reminds them to always be kind and good to others.

I felt God’s embrace every Sunday because of these children.

Their presence affirm God’s abounding graces and mercy.

They taught me more to love and to live life.

A simple activity but has a profound meaning.

It was difficult for me to forgive few years back but I learned to let go.

To more years of serving and loving the children of God!

Balloon

Last Sunday, the Awesome Kids Ministry team taught the children about forgiving oneself.

They enjoyed a short skit and a balloon analogy about forgiveness.

For the craft activity, they made a hot air balloon artwork that reminded them that God sets us free and we must forgive ourselves.

Balloon

Forgiving yourself is far more challenging than forgiving someone else because you must live with yourself and your thoughts 24/7. Despite the challenge, emotionally healthy people must have the capacity to forgive themselves when they have made a mistake.

I was reminded of a sixty-five year-old taxi driver I met few years back. He asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a former OFW and shared my healing journey.

Like many others who learn of my concerns, he decided to open up about his life to see if I had any advice.

He’d been married for twenty-seven years, and had tried to commit suicide two years prior by overdosing on pills. His wife found his body and helped revive him. He was grateful he didn’t succeed in committing suicide, but said that, though he thinks his wife is a great person, he is not attracted to her. He said that ever since his suicide attempt he had been attracted to many of his passengers and one of these days would like to “take it to the next level.”

I didn’t really want to dwell on his attraction to his passengers, so much as try to get back to his childhood.

Many of the problems we have as adults have their roots in our upbringing. Come to find out, he had a very rough childhood. His parents were alcoholics, which drove him to seek aid and comfort from a male church leader he trusted.

This church leader tried to have an inappropriate relationship with him. So he was cut off emotionally from his parents, and spiritually from the religion that was supposed to sustain him during difficult times.

This sense of being isolated from his social world led him to make many bad choices, starting from a young age. These added up, until he felt like he couldn’t escape from the consequences.

He felt trapped in a prison of his own making, and that’s why he wanted to end his life. I told him that it must be really hard to carry all of these difficulties with him his whole life, but that it was time to forgive others and, more importantly, forgive himself.

I told him to write a letter to himself listing all the things he forgave himself for. Writing is very therapeutic, but it also helps to hear a message. So I wanted him to read the letter out loud to himself and process it aurally as well. Who knows if he ever followed my advice. Many hurting people know what to do, but don’t do what they know.

Sometimes our poor choices stack up, and churn the ground beneath our feet into quicksand.

We must remember to relax, breathe in, and not let our current situation rob us of the will to make changes. Don’t’ wallow in a temporary negativity—take action!

Don’t spend so much time going over the past that you allow it to define you.

Life is full of choices and every choice we make will either take us in a positive, life-giving direction or rob us of the opportunity to be a life-giving individual.

Forgiving ourselves does not let us off the hook, it does not justify what we have done, and it is not a sign of weakness.

Forgiveness is a choice that takes courage and strength.

Let us pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I understand that there is nothing to gain by holding myself in unforgiveness and there is everything to gain by releasing myself from unforgiveness and beginning the process of healing.

I want to move forward and make a positive difference in the future. I confess the ungodly accountability, self-abasement, and the vows I have made to never forgive myself. Because Jesus died for my sins, I choose to forgive myself–to no longer punish myself and be angry with myself.

I forgive myself for letting this hurt control me and for hurting others out of my hurt. I repent of this behavior and my attitude. I ask for Your forgiveness and healing.

God, help me to NEVER again retain unforgiveness of myself or others.

Thank you for loving me and for Your grace to move forward with You.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.