When the Church Becomes Just Like Facebook

When I became a Christian more than a decade ago, the church has been my place of refuge. It was a place I felt safe and secure. I made long lasting friendships with people who are raw and struggling but were faithful to fight and win for Christ.

However, 3 years ago things became a little different. It was one of my darkest years. As some of you know  I battled with depression for almost a year and the place I used to find refuge from became a place of more pain. 

I remembered what Mahatma Gandhi said.

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

I never thought I would ever feel that way towards the church (its people). When all I needed was a hug, a simple prayer or a pat in the back, what I got was either an insult, a mean comment on my parenting or a rebuke that I am not holy enough that is why I am going thru depression. (P.S. Depression much like flu is a disease, you need to get treatment. But this is for another post.)

It felt like everyone in the church were Pharisees who appear holy by knowing the Scripture but lacked love and compassion.

By God’s grace, I found refuge somewhere. I became part of different online Bible Studies and made friends with people who are just like me — hurting and needing some love. Through their prayers, it was then I slowly recovered from depression.

Just like Facebook, the church is filled with holier than thou church goers. They appear to have a perfect life. No problem at all. I am holy, remember? But this is not real life. This is fake life!

How do you think non believers would come to you for help if they knew you never had problems in your life, that you had never ever struggled or had never overcome a problem? It’s ok to struggle. It’s ok to feel pain. And you know what? It’s ok to share it. Because people around you are struggling. People around you are in pain. Stop hiding and pretending to be perfect. How can people even see God’s hand at work if they don’t even know you were struggling in the first place?

Stop acting as if your life is perfect. Be raw and vulnerable and admit that without Christ, you are nothing.

The church isn’t Facebook. You don’t have to take pride in showing off how beautiful and perfect your life is and judging people who doesn’t have it all together.

What people need is LOVE.

Mytote Philippines – Caloocan City

I love personalized products. I know I said that many times over because I am just a bit obsessed by it obviously!

Well, recently I had the chance to be in partnership with MyTote Bag – Caloocan City. They do personalized shirts, pouches, drawstring bags, etc.

Here are some of the samples of their products:

The good news is, when you use the code: AF16, you get to have a lifetime discount of 5% on all their products. What’s more.. they won’t charge you for the customization. Also, when you order from them at Shopee, you get to avail of FREE Shipping for purchases P500 and up. Good deal, right?

Their totes are somewhere P200+ and their pouches at about 150+. Absolutely affordable. Probably some of you are already thinking of what to give out as souvenirs for your next party. Keep MyTote Philippines – Caloocan City in mind.

Find them on Facebook: Mytote Philippines – Caloocan City.

 

Disclaimer: This is an affiliate post. I get a little profit when you purchase from Mytote Philippines – Caloocan City using the code I gave you.

Thoughts on having a Third Baby

All my life, I wanted to have a big family. I wanted at least 8 children. Actually, 8 daughters.

During Natalie’s first year however, things began to change. I think we were ok with one. It was the hardest and most emotional year of my life. There was a battle in my head. I don’t want her to miss out on the fun of having siblings. I know how fun that is because we are four and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was so much fun having a brother and two sisters around. But I was also scared because having more children is beyond my (patience and) capacity. It’s just way way way way beyond me. Then after I surpassed the 1st year, my heart started to ache for another child. I felt selfish for not wanting another baby just because it will be hard on my part.

Then last year, I started wishfully thinking we could have another baby. It was October when I was delayed for 2 weeks. I bought some pregnancy tests and it turned out negative. Still, I went to check with my OB. Maybe there was a mistake. I took a blood test and unfortunately it was still negative. I had to hold my tears because I was with my mom. No second baby that time.

The following month though, I was delayed again. I didn’t want to expect anymore because I didn’t want to get hurt once more. But I was too anxious I couldn’t hold my curiosity. I bought some pregnancy tests and this time it turned out positive!!! I had to keep it a secret until I went to my OB. And indeed I was pregnant for with Baby # 2!

Fast forward to when the Little Boy arrived, it was via Emergency CS. I dreaded not giving birth vaginally but we were left with no choice. The recovery period was the hardest. Not being able to move freely, the pain, the breastfeeding hurdles. They were just too much to bear. I can never go thru this again! I swear! This will be the last time. I don’t think I want to be pregnant ever again. I have decided to sell all Natalie’s clothes and all the pink stuff. Because there is not gonna be a 3rd baby for sure, I wanted to let her stuff go.

But now 3 weeks postpartum and almost healed (not exactly back to normal but I feel great already), I am thinking twice whether it’s really going to be the last.

I know it’s pretty crazy. Maybe it’s just hormones. Maybe it’s just the medication. Or maybe I just lack sleep. I don’t know! But whatever God’s will is for our little family, I hope my heart will be ready!

How many kids do you think you can handle? 

Hakab Na! 2017: Busting Out Soon!

Breastfeeding moms in the South, get ready to bust out! Join the South PiNanays as we break down the barriers to sustainable breastfeeding, at Hakab Na! 2017, on August 5 (Saturday), at the Ayala Malls South Park in Muntinlupa City, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Hakab Na! is the Philippines’ contribution to the Global Big Latch On, an international celebration of breastfeeding, held in line with World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7). With this year’s global theme of “Sustaining Breastfeeding Together,” the goal for advocates worldwide is to forge multi-sectoral partnerships to help women sustain successful breastfeeding.

Why sustain breastfeeding? Science tells us that breastfeeding benefits not only babies, but also women, society, the economy, and the environment. Successful breastfeeding is not just a victory for the breastfeeding mother and child, but for sustainable development as well.

You might also like: Nursing Rooms in the City

This is South PiNanays’ third year at hosting Hakab Na! for families living south of Metro Manila. More than 200 mom and baby pairs are expected to join this year’s celebration. On the program: expert talks on breastfeeding and parenting, testimonials on overcoming breastfeeding challenges, a mompreneur fair, and the main event– a simultaneous latch- on at 10:30 a.m. Games and other fun activities await participants.

Bust out with us! For registration and more information, hop on over to https://spinhakab2017.eventbrite.com/

See you soon!

By Issa Ocaya-San Jose

My Birthing Story: Nielsen Kristoff

This is how it happened. My birthing story.
July 9, 2017. I woke up around 6am and as I got up I noticed a gush of discharge enough to wet my underwear and shorts. Because I always had issues with leaks, I thought it was just an unusual amount of urine. When we got to church (it was a Sunday), I noticed there was another leak. I was a bit suspicious already because the watery discharge was too much. Then, it hit me. THIS COULD BE MY WATER BAG!!!!
I immediately texted my OB who happens to have a clinic at Healthway ATC in about an hour. We went ahead and had myself checked. Well, it was “the day”. My water bag broke! My heart raced. This is it. Good thing we brought our hospital bag already. I wasn’t expecting it was going to be that day but I just wanted the bag handy, just in case!

We headed to Unihealth Southwoods and I was admitted at around 12pm. Before we got to the hospital, I made sure I had my make -up on! I looked so wasted with my firstborn I couldn’t even post pictures on Facebook. Haha. But then before I was brought to the Labor Room, the nurse asked me to remove them. I just removed my lippy but the nurse said, “Ma’am pati po kilay.” Grrrrr. So there I was in all my pictures, pale and kilay-less.

 

It was a boring 2 hours at the Labor Room waiting for me to dilate. But nothing seemed to be happening so I was induced at 2pm. The nurse left for a while and she saw me in tears when she came back. She thought I was starting to hurt but I told her I was just watching something touching on TV and that contraction hasn’t started. Haha…

I did progress to 5cm after about 2 more hours. My OB and the anesthesiologist came in at that time. Active labor has started and it begins to hurt! Dr Paul (I think was his name) administered the Epidural. He told me he only gave me a test shot and to tell him if it hurt so he could add more dose. He had to add a few more times because I kept complaining. He would ask me how much it hurt from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest. And when I would reply with a 5 or 6, he wouldn’t add a dose. So I’d say it was an 11. But of course he wouldn’t believe me because I could still smile and joke around.

Hours passed and there I was still 5cm at 7pm. They also noticed baby’s heart rate was going down every time I contract so there might be something happening inside. My OB then decided to call my husband and explained the situation. We all agreed it was time for an Emergency CS.

Emergency CS, ladies and gentlemen.

My heart sank. Why??? We weren’t ready for this. but we had no choice. We couldn’t wait any longer.

At 7:44pm, my Little Boy finally said hello to the world!

birthing story

Apparently, his cord was strangled on his leg so there was no way he’d go out vaginally. Unless some miracles happen and he miraculously freed himself from it. But time was of essence. My water bag broke at 6am and he had to be delivered within at least 12 to 16 hours. We waited enough but he couldn’t seem to escape the cord coil.

You might also like: 3rd Trimester Pregnancy (35 Weeks)

Back at the Delivery Room, I awoke from a deep slumber at about 9:30 and heard my son cry. I wanted to jump, shout and dance (seriously!) but I was too weak to even open my eyes! I barely remembered what happened during that short moment.

I just remembered them bringing me to the Recovery Room and for the 2nd time, I saw my Macho Gwapito once more. I breastfed him for a good 30 minutes. It was such a great feeling it still makes me smile now.

Finally at about 12am, I was back to my room (with my Baby) and was reunited with my husband.

It was a painful first night and the nights after that. Caesarean recovery is no easy! More so, it was the start of our sleepless nights.

Today after more than a week, my heart is still full. I cannot fathom why God gave me another beautiful blessing that I certainly don’t deserve. I hope like any mom, that I would be able to be the best that I could be to him and his Ate.

How about you? What is your birthing story?

Irresistible Cheap Homecoming Dresses

Looking for cheap homecoming dresses? Read on!

From where I live, Homecoming usually happens in December. It’s the busiest time of the year. It’s a time of Christmas celebration, family gatherings, or reunions. Needless to say, this is also the time people start looking out for beautiful dresses they can wear for the many occasions they will attend at this time of the year. I believe in the United States, Homecoming usually happens in September or October. Well, it’s already July! Homecoming is going to happen in just a few short months and we should all get ourselves ready to meet our long lost friends and high school buddies.

Lucky you because you don’t even have to leave the comforts of your own home to be able to find a beautiful dress to wear. You can shop online for cheap homecoming dresses that will surely wow your friends (and yourself!). A quick search on Google will bring you to a wide range of selections. But because I want you to save time and energy, I have here a beautiful collection of dresses you can find at 27dress.com. They offer inexpensive yet beautiful creation for any occasion. I particularly love a short homecoming dress. Although they are short,  the intricate style and design make you look absolutely fab!

Just take a look at all these beautiful dresses?! Aren’t they super gorgeous?

 

What’s more there is an ongoing sale! You can get an extra 10% off when you use the coupon code: Summer. What are you waiting for? Go find some cheap homecoming dresses and enjoy your reunion!

Extra tips:
1. Wear comfortable high heeled shoes. Just enough for you to walk around with. If you can’t wear a 4 inch shoes in 2 hours then don’t. You don’t want to go home with blisters.
2. Pick a neutral colored purse if you are wearing a bright colored dress or vice versa. You don’t want to appear too flashy.

Which of these cheap homecoming dresses do you find most appealing?

3rd Trimester Pregnancy (35 weeks)

The past few days had been very challenging. I am on my last stretch of pregnancy and I would say this isn’t exactly how I imagined it to be. I was often asked how my pregnancy was. Did I have any cravings, issues with my pregnancy, etc. Well, I had none. I always tell them I couldn’t afford to be a needy pregnant mom with a needy toddler! Life goes on…

But these past few days (now on my 3rd trimester) were a different story. Since Tuesday night I’d been feeling strange. I’ve been having irregular contractions that became an intensified pain the following night. We ended up in ER on Thursday and I haven’t been well since. I am on bed rest. Literally just getting up when I needed to pee and eat. Even with that much rest, I still got very sick yesterday with high fever and vomiting.

I felt like being in my toddler’s shoes when she’s sick.

She doesn’t want to take paracetamol.

She doesn’t want to put Koolfever.

She doesn’t want to eat.

She just wants a hug from Mommy.

And yesterday….

I cried while taking paracetamol. I took her syrup with a higher dose coz I don’t have tablets anymore. The texture is too thick and it’s yucky!

I cried and struggled when my husband put a Koolfever on my forehead because it was too cold and uncomfortable.

I refused to eat until after lunch when I felt a little better.

My husband couldn’t leave my side. I just wanted him by my side.

At one point, my husband couldn’t contain it anymore and started laughing at me.

“NOW YOU KNOW!!”

Yeah, now I know how it feels when my daughter is sick and I know I will have more compassion on her when she’s extra clingy. 😄

I know this too shall pass. I could give birth anytime after9 July 7 but I don’t know if we will make it till then.

Your prayers are appreciated!

What was it like for you in the 3rd trimester? 

SEO 101 for FREELANCERS

SEO has been a dreadful word for me since I have gone online. I don’t know much about it till  now. So when I met Roms at Boss Bellas a couple of weeks ago, I knew I had to interview her and ask about SEO 101!

Tell us about what you do?

Hello! I’m Romela Iane de Leon-Ortega, and you can call me Roms 🙂

I help brands (both local and international) optimize their websites for search. My goal is to enable businesses harness the power of user traffic from search engines to drive their bottom line.

I do SEO consultations, as well as implementations through the help of my team of experienced SEO professionals.

What is SEO in a nutshell?

SEO is a set of processes that you apply on a website to help it rank better for relevant search terms (keywords, i.e. “online school supplies shopping philippines”) typed in by people in search engines. The goal is to drive traffic to your site from search users who are ready-to-buy or to-decide.

SEO is a marketing discipline under online or digital marketing. Unlike with social media marketing, SEO is focused on search queries or keywords that signal the intent of people to make a decision and opt-in to your offer. I would say that SEO fits a wide spectrum of people. It suits creatives, marketers, coders/developers. Part of the SEO process involves technical applications, content marketing, and relationship-building.

Why do entrepreneurs or bloggers like me need to know the basics of SEO?

Entrepreneurs can make use of SEO in meeting their business goals. People using search engines are deliberately looking for something to buy or research about (i.e restaurant reviews). As I’ve mentioned earlier, SEO is a discipline that focuses on user-intent. And that is reflected in their use of keywords or search queries. While having a social media presence is equally important to drive awareness, the social channel uses audience targeting, which in my opinion quite misses out in the spur-of-the-moment intent or need of a user when looking for something. That’s the opportunity for brands. By implementing SEO, you have greater chance to reach to a market that’s ready to buy or opt-in for you. Also, SEO yields long-term results. It is not a growth hack technique where one day you win, the next day you lose or you’re not sure if you’ll get the same results. With SEO, you can power in long-term traffic to your website once you do it right, and continue with marketing your brand or content

For bloggers on the other hand, of course it’s important that you are found on Google when people look for an authority figure in your niche. If you are a life coach for WAHMs, for example, then it’s a must that you rank for keywords that relate to your service. Like I said, SEO is not a one-time win. It usually needs six months of time/work investment, so you can continually drive traffic to your site from search engines in the long-term.

Do you do coaching or seminars regarding SEO?

Yes! I specialize in one-on-one SEO coaching, workshops, e-book courses, and video courses (to be launched very soon!) targeted for SEO beginners and freelancers. I teach the basic course because I believe there’s a need for aspiring SEOs to start on the right track. There’s a lot of misconception about SEO. Some people are mislead to believe in black hat or unethical SEO techniques. These sort of things I believe are very short-term. They can hurt your brand, and does not always add value to the search user.

What’s your advocacy for your SEO business?

Apart from helping our local brands, I’m opening up a new market to meet my advocacy goals. I want to encourage WAHMs (work at home moms) to learn SEO and try their hand in this highly dynamic, and creative marketing technique. I really think moms make the best marketers because they handle the economic and lifestyle choices of our families, right? They are mostly the ones you find in supermarkets, schools, churches, etc. So I think moms are a natural fit for SEO. Plus, I am happy to say that SEO is not usually tied to an hourly pay. You can charge better rates because SEO work is normally project-based. So there goes your time and location freedom!

Tell us about your upcoming SEO workshop for beginners.

I partner with Manila Workshops in all my SEO workshops and seminars. This coming June 24th, we will be having our 2nd run of SEO for beginners. It’s a whole day event so you can expect that we pack it with helpful information + activities to get you started in your SEO 101 career. For more details, please visit: http://manilaworkshops.com/events/seo-for-freelancers-second-run

 

Romela is a 10-year SEO Veteran and WAHM. She has handled various optimization projects, spanning several industries both local and global. Her usual freelance projects involve small to medium range businesses.

Aside from her own search marketing consultancy business at romeladeleon.com , she’s also working side by side with her husband in running their creative design agency: getsomecola.com

Father’s Day Gift from Selah Soul Art Studio

Have you got a Father’s day gift to your Hubbies and Dads yet?

I love giving personal gifts (as much as I love receiving them). Before I buy any gift, I think first of what personalized item I could give. I mostly get my mission done depending on my budget and time allowance.

One of my go to place is Selah Soul Art Studio. If you love the arts or just love giving something personal, you’ll love this! The momma behind this is actually a college barkada (I never knew back then she had a talent in painting!). She recreates photos to beautiful portraits. She did a portrait for my daughter, for myself, for my husband, for my mom and all our inaanaks last Christmas. I told you, I’m pretty addicted with anything personalized lol

selah soul art studio portrait

I love that apart from the painting, she also gives a digital format that you can post on your social media. Since we are North to South (She is from QC and I am from Carmona), she would mostly ship the portraits. You can have her buy the frame (with additional charge) or have the portrait sent without the frame. Most couriers do not accept anything with glass (like LBC) so your option can be to have it sent via Grab Express.

fathers day gift portrait

You can contact her via Facebook or Instagram. She also has a group of Artsy Mommies which you can find here: Selah Artsy Moms (Blending Motherhood + Art).

We are an online community of artsy mommies who love to express our love for art through drawing and painting! Blending motherhood and art can be pretty tough and we need all the encouragement we can get to keep those pencils and paints flowing! Motherhood and art??? It can be fun!

If you are looking for a Father’s Day gift to your dads or Hubbies, this could be the answer!

PS: You can check the website here: Selah Artsy Moms

Do you also like giving personal gifts?

Mompreneur 101: How to Pursue Your Entrepreneurial Goals

It has been 2 years and 8 months since I took on the hat of being a mom. In that span of time, I also became a businesswoman. Being a mompreneur taught me many things but at this point in time, I know I still need to learn a whole lot more! Thankfully, mom groups and workshops for moms abound these days. No longer are moms seen as a “homemaker” perse. We aren’t just a mother cooking, doing the laundry or dishes, generally running the house. We are pretty much more than that.  Now, we are seen as women who can juggle motherhood with purpose outside the home.

Special Workshop

On May 20 (just a week after Mother’s Day), there will be a special workshop for mommies like you and me: mommies who want to make a difference by merging passion and purpose to motherhood. With the help of My Globe Business and Manila Workshops, they will hold this event entitled: Boss Bellas: Mompreneurship 101 – How to Pursue Your Entrepreneurial Goals.

mompreneur

What will I learn?

There will be lots of topics to be covered like turning your passion into business, building your brand, juggling business and family life and one of the most dreaded part of any start-up entrepreneur, taxation! My Globe Business will also share how they can help any mompreneur advance in their business. Gifts and surprises will also be given by Alfox Printing, Cheri Handicrafts and Raw Bites.

The main speaker will be Frances Amper Sales who has been a big name in the writing industry for decades. Among the panelists will be Ginger Arboleda (CEO of Manila Workshops and COO of Taxumo), Monique Granada – Morales (CEO of Klaseko) and Angelica Dimayuga (Founder of LD Design).

Here’s the good news, there is an Early Bird Discount (tickets at P1000) until May 13. After that, the price go back to regular price (P1500). If I were you, catch the discount while they last!

Are you ready to give mompreneurship a chance?