Be A Blessing

It came as a total surprise when Salve Duplito, Edric’s co-host on the show On the Money, asked me if I would be willing to do an interview about the article I wrote on To Buy Or Not To Buy A Designer Bag.

At first I hesitated. Me?! Why?! I write so I don’t have to speak! I am shy! (Kind of…in a self conscious, prideful kind of way, which is wrong!) Sigh. The irony is, the more I write, the more people want me to talk about the things I write. I wish I could just say, “please check out this link…” because it’s so much easier to be behind a computer typing my thoughts and editing them. I would much rather do that than speak. Speaking makes me breakout from stress and afterwards, I am tired for a week!

Why? Because my default mode is introversion. I like solitude and quiet activities that don’t require a lot of interaction with human beings. (I even need breaks from my own darling children sometimes, so I lock my bedroom door or breastfeed for too long.) But when an opportunity arises that seems to be a divine invitation to share God’s word or to be a blessing, then I ask Edric and let him help me make a decision.

My first instinct is to find some way to get out of a possible commitment. So I need his objectivity and insight. Plus, he is my “boss” and so I run things by him. If he says, “yes, go for it,” then I know it is something the Lord wants me to do.

When he found out that Salve asked if I could do an interview for the show, he encouraged me to do it. His perspective was “be a blessing.”

I have learned this same mindset from my mom who often goes outside of her comfort zone to reach out to people and make a difference in their lives. Whether it is sharing the gospel to a total stranger, spending time sitting beside a person she can encourage and minister to, or accepting speaking engagements where she can impart God’s word, she embraces these opportunities. She doesn’t think about herself or focus on what others will think about her. She has been a great example to me.

God didn’t put me in this world to do only what is cozy and comfortable. I have a job to do…to tell the world about him and to glorify him. If that means that I am going to have to stand on a stage, or walk into a room full of strangers and make new friends, or attend an event, or do something like an interview for TV, then I absolutely should (for as long as I do not neglect my husband and kids).

To psyche myself up for these moments, I tell myself…Be a blessing. This is not about you so stop thinking about yourself!

What does it mean to be a blessing?

1. Consider others as more important than myself
. Because my tendency is to think about my needs and my own preferences, this passage helps me alot…

Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vain glory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others. (Philippians 2:3, 4 NABRE)

When I walk into a room of people, and I am tempted to think of what kind of impression I am making, I have to mentally slap myself and ask…
How can I make a positive difference in someone’s life?
How can I make others feel special and important?
How can I engage people in conversation and be genuinely interested in who they are and what they do?
How can I encourage and minister
to the people I meet with or speak in front of?


2. Use every opportunity to glorify God and point others to Christ.
The gospel must be apparent in my life, in the things I say and do. I

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NASB)

I need to keep in mind that I represent Christ’s agenda — saving souls — and not my own. My mom used to say, “never steal an ounce of God’s glory.”

Will people be attracted to Christ when they observe my life?

3. Pray
. I can do absolutely nothing to make a difference for the Lord if I am not spiritually equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit. He helps me to overcome my insecurities and self-consciousness. It is he who enables and goes before me. It is he who must speak through me. It is he who purifies my motives.

So, going back to the ANC interview…I met with Salve to do it. When I saw the script, I was thrilled that she was so accommodating of my spiritual perspective. In fact she asked me questions that allowed me to talk about my relationship with Jesus. This wasn’t edited out of the interview! And a wonderful bonus was I got to know Salve better and make a new friend.

When I look back on how God brought the opportunity to me, I am so glad I obeyed Edric when he said to do it. And I am so glad I forced myself to do something that was “unlike my personality.” The gospel is worth being inconvenienced for. It is worth the sacrifice of time, effort, resources. It is worth being rejected for, ridiculed for. It is worth giving my life to. It is worth dying for.

Therefore, I must not box myself in or put restrictions on what God wants to do through me by insisting that I do only what feels comfortable and natural. Rather, I must have the same conviction that Paul had…

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. I do all things for the sake of the gospel… (1 Corinthians 9:16, 19, 23 NASB)

The best way to be a blessing is to live out, share, and proclaim the gospel whenever and however God wants us to.

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Pajama Stocks

We sat around the dinner table with family some time ago and my brother in law, Joel, found out that Elijah started investing in the stock market last year. Elijah talked about what companies he had picked to invest in and the rational behind his choices. And he said this all while wearing pajamas. It just seemed a little bit funny I suppose, that a 9 year old (this was before he turned 10), would be chatting about financial investments. So Joel said, “Why don’t you write an article about it and call it ‘Pajama Stocks.'” I thought…that’s a great title. I love it. But I had put it off until today, when Edric asked me to have Elijah share about how he ventured into it to encourage parents to teach their kids to start being financially literate early.

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Here is what he wrote (with some help from me):

I first became interested in financial markets two years ago. My dad had asked me if I wanted to invest in stocks and we did some research together online to understand the process better. My dad told me to fill out the online form of Citisec but I actually lost the form and forgot about it.

It wasn’t until last year, when I was 9, that I became interested again, especially since my dad was hosting a money show. He would talk about financial investments often. And since he promised to help me set up an account, he told me that I would join a stock seminar with him so we could do it together. By then, the name of Citisec online had changed to COL Financial. 

I was so excited and nervous. I was in a room with a lot of adults, including my dad and I was the youngest person attending the seminar. The seminar took about two hours. It was very interesting. I learned about tips on investing and how the stock market works, and what companies were performing the best at that time.

For example, I learned that Jollibee had grown 40% from 2009 to 2011 because they kept reinventing. And a lot of people like to eat in Jollibee. The seminar was like a homeschool lesson for me.

When we got home, my dad told me he would give me a fund to work with but I had to do research. A lot of research. For one whole day I looked up different companies from different categories, like financial, services, industrial, property, holding firms, and mining and oil. All this information is available on pse.com.ph.  My dad also gave me some advice. I was also able to study the background history of a few companies to track their performance over the years. What really helped me were the charts that showed how the companies have performed over time because I could see changes, gains and loses. One company even lost 500%! I am not going to tell you which one?

Several weeks later, while my dad and I were having one on one bonding time, he helped me set up my account and invest in my top picks. I chose BDO, BPI, Ayala Corporation, Aboitiz, Globe, and Ayala Land. Recently, I also added Meralco. My main criteria was to get companies that went up steadily for the last two years because I intended to do long term investments. That’s why I didn’t invest in mining and oil. I found their performances too wild.

The one exception was the company 2Go, which I plan to use for market timing. It will just be a short-term investment and experiment. Since it’s passport season for people going on vacation, I hope that its stocks will go up so I can sell them.

Since I invested in stocks last December, by God’s grace, my stocks have grown. I’ve earned a little bit of money and it makes me more excited. It also makes me realize that earning money is not easy!

Now, when my parents or people give me money, I think of how I can invest it again or, okay, buy online books because I love to read.

I’m still learning a lot about the stock market and actually, I just invested a small amount to get experience compared to what older people do. But I put it in as much as my dad gave me because he told me it’s not good to leave money lying idle in an account. It won’t grow. In the COL seminar, I learned that inflation rates are higher than interest rates. So it’s not good to leave money in a bank account, either. 

I’m thankful for this experience. And I think it would be helpful for other kids to learn how to manage money, too. We don’t have to wait until we are older. The earlier we start, the more time our investment has to grow. 

I’m praying that my investments will grow if it’s God’s will so that someday I can use it to bless others, to tithe, and to save.

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I’m embarrassed to admit that Elijah knows way more than I do about the stock market. One evening, when a female relative asked him why he didn’t invest in their company, Elijah replied, “Honestly, your company doesn’t have historicals in the PSE yet, and if you look at your growth last year, you only grew by 0.2%.” Everyone who was within ear-shot of this conversation started to laugh out loud. I was slightly floored. Who are you?! I thought, looking at Elijah. At the same time, I realized that homeschoolers have unique opportunities that other children don’t have. They have the advantage of time to pursue interests. Elijah would be swamped with homework if he were a 4th grade student in a conventional school. However, our homeschooling lifestyle allows him to explore and learn beyond books.

Some years ago, I created a tagline for one of TMA Homeschool’s advertisements, “The World is My Classroom. Is it Yours?” Just like his siblings, Elijah surprises me with lessons learned that are beyond the scope of what I have taught. It’s humbling and encouraging at the same time to know that my children are not limited by what I can give as a teacher. This is one of the benefits of homeschooling —  children have access to a world of experiences that no other conventional classroom can possibly give them.

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Money Matters in Marriage

I am not a financial guru (that’s so obvious), but my husband seems to be esteemed as such because of his involvement as host for ANC’s On the Money program. But Edric will also be the first to tell you that he is no expert. He is learning along the way, as he interviews businessmen, financial advisors, CEOs, and the like. Nevertheless, he gets invitations to give talks on personal finance. Yesterday, he invited me to join him to give a short testimony to break up his three hour seminar. I have said no to doing talks in this season of my life (well, I have to be very discriminating) because my commitments revolve around the home. But, when Edric asks me to be his side kick for seminars he has to give, I consider this part of my role as a wife…prioritizing my husband.

So, I tagged along with him to a company that requested he give a 101 money talk that integrated family values. I am including my part of the “intermission” because his segment is paid for…mine is FREE! ;)

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Edric and I chose to get married young. We were crazy romantics like that. Well, as you all know, love does not put food on the table. Between Edric’s corporate job and my PR work, we were making P40,000, which means we didn’t have a lot of financial liberty. We started off very simply. I was very blessed to have a husband who liked to use a spreadsheet and make year long budget projections. So this is what he did…percentages, budget allocations, monitoring of our spending patterns etc.

Admittedly, I had no idea what it meant to keep a budget. My mom didn’t have to stick to a budget or so it seemed, so I thought that it was normal to be able to spend indiscriminately. She wasn’t an extravagant person so I wasn’t either. She never splurged on designer bags or shoes. My parents were not the type to buy heirloom watches or jewelry either. They invested in travel, land, properties, and businesses.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized how much people spend on designer clothing, bags, watches, shoes, and the like. Fortunately, because my siblings and I were not brought up to have an appetite for such things we didn’t mind not having it later on either. (My mom still shops at the tiange and gets compliments for her clothing without people realizing that she spends less than 1,000 pesos for most of what she wears! I love this about her.)

Going back to the early years of marriage, I wasn’t a major shopper but I didn’t have a concept of what it means to plan for your expenses. It was a foreign concept to me. And this is why I needed a husband like Edric. Edric is very FRUGAL.

It took me some time to realize the wisdom behind my husband’s strictness when it came to money management. But I began to appreciate it as the years went by. If I was in charge of money in our home, we would now be in dire straits.

One thing that he did give me was a discretionary fund or a “fun fund.” It was a fund for personal things – going to the parlor, buying myself clothes, eating out with friends, etc. We have often encouraged couples to have a discretionary fund that a wife can use without having to clear everything with her husband. If I bought anything outside of that fund, then I would ask for permission because he was in charge of managing our overall budget. Otherwise, my personal expenses were not audited. I had liberty, within my budget, to go shopping or treat myself.

The second money principle I learned in marriage was the concept of “living within your means (or even below, if possible).” Because I came from a family with means, I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know what it was like to have to take public transportation or have a second hand car. I knew how to do house chores, but I had no idea how hard it was to make money and make it grow. I would feel stressed when we didn’t have enough money to pay for repairs or fix things around the house.

God taught me NOT to make money my source of security. I had to learn contentment, avoid panicking that money was not in abundance, and quit comparing my state of life with siblings and friends. We couldn’t really travel out of the country. I didn’t have an unlimited budget for shopping. Even if I had a discretionary fund, it wasn’t that big. (Praise God it grew as the years went by!)

Living within our means was humbling at times and uncomfortable. I remember when I was 8 months pregnant with our first child, I was driving down McKinley to pick up Edric and I had to do a U-turn. But the car stalled in the middle of the road while I was doing the U-turn! Traffic was blocked on both sides of McKinley. I started to panic. Edric wasn’t answering his phone and I didn’t know what to do. Should I go out and push the car? I was 8 months pregnant! Cars were honking me. It was rush hour. I was so stressed…on the brink of breaking down. I prayed and prayed and after about 10 minutes, the car finally re-started. Whew. What an ordeal.

For a while I was bickering to myself and thinking, Why do I have to go through this? Why can’t we have a car that works better? I never had this problem when I lived at home! (Well, wake up honey, this is your new reality. God is working on your character.)

Although it was stressful at the time, Edric and I laugh about our adventures and the challenges we had at the beginning of our marriage. We used to park one of our cars on an incline just to make sure we could give it enough momentum to start the next day!

These comedic memories have turned into romantic memories. Seriously. When Edric and I reminisce about how God has faithfully provided for us through the years, we look at each other and say, “I am glad we went through that together.” It wasn’t easy but it made us closer. We started off without much so we had a lot to look forward to.

Many people wait so long to get married these days because of career choices, wanting to build up a piggy bank fund so they can buy a house, a nice car or two, and comforts that they are used to. My encouragement to women out there is learn to be simple and easy to please. Don’t be so high maintenance. It scares guys. They will feel like they can never afford you! Be wise and marry a man who loves God and works hard, and God will bless him financially. But be willing to adjust your own preferences. You may not get a big house right away or a shiney new car, but hey, you can look forward to those things together.

The third principle I wanted to share was lowering expectations and raising appreciation. I had to learn to be an encourager and a positive source of affirmation for my husband. Guys go out there and fight a whole different level of stress. Remember, God said that Adam would have a hard time tilling the ground!

Early on in our marriage, I didn’t know how to be a very good encourager. When Edric would tell me his issues with work and finances, I would say, “Well why did you make that decision? Maybe you should have said this or maybe you can do this…” And he would tell me, “Hon, if I need your advice I will ask you.” Oops. Verbal diarrhea in the house. In other words, what he wanted to hear was encouragement so he could go out there re-energized to get through another day.

In Genesis, the Bible talks about how God created woman to be a suitable helper to the man. A suitable helper doesn’t mean a yaya or househelp. The Hebrew word means “Life giver along side.” It is a beautiful picture of how a wife can support and uphold her husband. I am called to be a life-giver to Edric. I do this by submitting to his leadership, trusting that God has made him head of our home, and respecting him. But a big a part of being a life giver is also appreciating him, even for the little things.

When Edric would doubt whether he was a good provider, when he would feel down about not being able to give me the kind of lifestyle he thought I “deserved,” I would tell him,”Hon, I see your life. You love God, you are faithful to him. I don’t doubt that he will bless your efforts. Just keep trusting in him.” And then I would go run away to cry out to the Lord! “God, please let Edric know that you are mindful of him. Please allow him to experience your hand of blessing.”

But I made it a point to communicate to Edric that I believed in his God-given capacity, that I appreciated how hard he worked, the sacrifices he made and still makes to give us a comfortable life. Most importantly, I would tell him how blessed I was that he loves God and wants to be a godly husband and father. His face would change, he would hug me, sometimes even get teary eyed (just a little), and tell me how much my affirmation mattered…that it would inspire him to try his best.

Did I still have my dreams and longings? Of course. But instead of pressuring Edric to be the fulfiller of these things, I turned them over to God. I surrendered them and said, “Lord, in your time, your way, I know that you will give us the things we desire, if it is your will.” I would pray for Edric and commit our marriage, finances, children, and circumstances to him (I still do), and he has been faithful. I’ve received more than I dreamed of, not always what I wanted but better than I could have imagined.
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Lastly, I wanted to talk about the idea of priorities. For several years into my marriage, I was working full time and then part time to supplement our income. But, when we started having more kids, Edric and I talked about priorities and we decided that it was more important for me to be available to the kids and be at home. I am not saying that everyone has to make a life choice like this, but for Edric and I, it was a faith decision to switch to a single-income household. Who does that these days? It is not the trend.

However, we thought of what will really matter twenty, thirty years from now. I knew I cannot buy back the years of being absent from the home and missing my children’s moments. So I wanted to be present to instruct and train them. We both believed in homeschooling and that became my full time job. It doesn’t pay monetarily but it pays in eternal dividends.

And let me just say that I am never bored as a housewife. I have four kids with different personalities who keep me entertained, on my toes, and absolutely dependent on God. Plus, there is decorating, cooking, trouble shooting, and appliance fixing (I am actually pretty capable with a wrench and pliers. It doesn’t sound sexy but I am pretty proud of my handy woman abilities.)

God turned my heart towards my family and home…

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NASB)

The principle is do not neglect or sacrifice the priorities of God, spouse and children on the altar of money. If you are a working woman and your spouse still feels like he is a priority, your kids are growing in character and they are turning out just fine then you are one of those superwomen who can balance and juggle everything. Hats off to you. But, if your home life is suffering then consider how you can make adjustments.

Money can buy some things but not everything. It doesn’t buy a happy spouse, happy children, a happy home, real peace or lasting joy, especially if the most important relationships are neglected.

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We are a happy family, by the grace of God! Tiana doesn’t look too happy here, but she is. :)

Above all else, Edric and I have learned and keep learning that God must always be the center, even when it comes to our finances. He is our ultimate provider. He owns everything. We are merely stewards of what he is given us. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first his kingdom and all these things will be added unto you.” God delights to bless people that love him and follow him. But often times, we have it the other way around. We make money and worldly pursuits first in our lives, the center, and leave no room for God. It is a constant striving after wealth for our sense of security and peace.

Here is the good news: When you follow God and come into a personal relationship with him through his son, Jesus Christ, he not only provides for your needs and more, he gives you riches that money cannot buy. You may not become a millionaire or billionaire, you become more! You become a child of a Father who has infinite resources; who knows when to withhold and when to give; who cares about the desires of your heart but knows when to protect you from them; who never abandons you; who gives you purpose and meaning beyond the drive for worldly successes; and who gives you eternal life with HIM to look forward to.

 

 

On the Money Kids

Elijah guested on Edric’s show, On the Money, for the Christmas episode along with four other kids (three were also homeschoolers). He had such an amazing time. He kept talking about how cool the studio was. But, I think the best part for him was just being with Edric. He is at that age where bonding time with Edric matters a lot. They do one-on-ones every now and then and Elijah comes back from these occasions with his emotional tank full. I wish I had a spy camera that can record their conversations because neither of them divulge as much as I would like them to when I ask them what they talk about.

After the ANC interview, I asked Elijah what he answered and how it went. And he just said, “You have to watch it, mom. I can’t tell you.” Well, I finally found the link for it. On the Money:Christmas Episode Every time I watched Elijah answer, I thought, my goodness, he is like a little Edric!

Elijah's first field trip to a TV studio. It just so happened to be his daddy's show!

Elijah’s first field trip to a TV studio. It just so happened to be his daddy’s show!


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The REAL Cutest Newsman

My husband, Edric, has been a host of a show called On the Money for the last couple of weeks. It airs 3:30, 6:30 and 11 on weekdays on ANC with replays on weekends.

How it all came to be was really quite miraculous and God-ordained. It wasn’t anything that either of us was expecting, but there was clear leading from the Lord, from his word, wise counselors, and circumstances to venture into this unchartered territory. His main motivation was to allow God to use it as a platform for ministry and influence.

He’s kind of been taking it step-by-step, show-by-show, without giving much thought to the implications on people’s perception of him as a TV personality. In the first place, popularity was not his goal. But being on ANC every single day and several times a day has given him a lot of “face” time. He was even voted as “Cutest” Newsman of 2012 by Spot.ph.

Whoa! This was surprising news to him when he heard about it this morning. It had a bit of a “showbizzy” feel to the whole blurb about him. Frankly, I didn’t think it really captured who he is. I wish they had let me write the article! It was really more about his physical appearance. But Spot.ph did say that this was all about brainless fun.

When he told me this morning, he was laughing and said he was actually embarrassed. “Are you sure you’re not flattered?” I teased him. “No way! That’s the last thing I would want to be recognized for!”

I believed him. He doesn’t like that kind of attention. It’s sort of anti-thetical to what he would like to be known for (if at all). I know he’d rather be known as someone who passionately loves God and lives for him. But they don’t give out awards for that, at least not on TV. That would be the day!

He does hope that the show, On the Money, will help Filipinos to better manage their finances. And beyond that, he is looking forward to how God will expand his borders for the sake of the gospel.

It is definitely challenging to be in the media. For example, I watched his interview about being voted “Cutest Newsman” and everything he said about God was cut out when they wrote about him online. That’s to be expected, of course. So the best way he can represent his beliefs and views about faith is to be excellent at what he does so that people will care enough to listen. And that’s my prayer for him. That’s his prayer for himself.

I’ve put my “friend” hat on (which I do as a wife when he needs a confidant or someone to bounce off ideas with), and we have talked about whether being a TV host will conflict with his priorities – God, wife, children, work, ministry (in that order). And we have talked about whether it will detract from his homeschooling advocacy. We have also discussed what the gains will be, as well as the possible pitfalls. (Thankfully, ANC values integrity and wants it’s personalities to do the same. At least it seems that way.) We’ve both come to the conclusion that the biggest temptation is really pride.

At the end of the day, Edric doesn’t want being on TV to change the core of who he is. I don’t want it to either. He didn’t even want to look at the Twitter feeds or Facebook comments of people who were talking about him being voted “Cutest Newsman.” It was partly because he found it silly, but partly because he didn’t want to focus on that and get a big head about it. I was the one who wanted to look at all the comments while we were playing a board game with the kids. But the kids were like, “Mom, you are violating our game rules. No Ipads.” Geez…so strict!

There we were, playing a board game as a family, and Edric was fully present and engaged, focused on the children, on all of us.

Cutest newsman or not, I’m blessed to be married to Edric Mendoza. He does look good on camera but I’m more thankful that he’s got a good heart, a heart that loves the Lord, that loves his family. I know the world doesn’t care much about this. But the kids and I do.