A Dose of Good News: Music Finds Its Way Back to Marawi through Coke Studio

We salute Coca-Cola Philippines and the Coke Studio artists for doing their part in helping Maranaos and the city of Marawi.

Music will once again be heard in the streets of Marawi City and in the hearts of Maranaos as the government and members of the private sector work hand-in-hand to rebuild the city, its communities, and homes. In support of various efforts, Coca-Cola Philippines, through Coke Studio, spearheaded a hydration drive in evacuation camps, including the Maria Cristina Evacuation Camp, Buruun Gym, Sta. Elena Evacuation Camp and Saguiaran Gym, where around 5,000 Maranaos are sheltered.

Each family received various Coca-Cola products, including three 6-liter bottles of Wilkins Distilled water, and Coca-Cola shirts, while young local musicians sang OPM hits for the crowd. Customer partner Shakey’s also provided snacks for the evacuees.

The evacuation center in Saguiaran, which has one of the biggest concentrations of Maranaos, hosted a mini-concert featuring a Coke Studio bands The Ransom Collective and Franco. They sang their own songs and distributed hydration kits to the evacuees.

“This is our way of showing support and solidarity with the Filipino people – to be able to contribute in the rebuilding process. Music is one of the things that threads through every person, regardless of age, religion, culture, and socio-economic bracket,” said Stephan Czypionka, Marketing Director of Coca-Cola Philippines. “We are committed to help the communities that we serve, especially in times like these that we have to come together to rebuild not just the physical structures, but most importantly, the lives of the people.”

Coke Studio was launched early this year and successfully changed the OPM landscape with its creative collaborations with various artists. It also served as a platform for teens and young adults to come together, drawn by their common love for music.

The Filipino youth is also coming together to help rebuild Marawi, driven by their passion for music. A benefit concert at the Mall of Asia concert grounds, and a recyclables collection drive are just some of the fund-raising initiatives to build schoolhouses through the Little Red Schoolhouse program implemented by the Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines.

The construction of a school building is part of the commitment of
Coca-Cola Philippines through the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation’s (PDRF) United4Marawi campaign. The Company also joined the PDRF in a three-day medical mission for the evacuees in Iligan City. Volunteer health care professionals provided check-ups, surgical procedures, and psychiatric intervention to the evacuees.

The Company also provided for the daily hydration needs of the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines stationed in Mindanao.

“We are committed in helping rebuild Marawi and the communities impacted by this conflict. In partnership with relevant government agencies, we in the private sector will be bringing our sustainability initiatives to the area,” said Jonah de Lumen-Pernia, Public Affairs and Communications Director of Coca-Cola Philippines. “Our 5by20 entrepreneurship programs will be provided for the spouses of soldiers deployed in Marawi, while water systems will also be installed in the communities. We’ll also build a Little Red Schoolhouse.”
Coke Studio staged a benefit concert for the rehabilitation of Marawi on Saturday, December 9th, at the MOA Concert Grounds. Coke Studio artists such as Abra, Gab and John of Urbandub, The Ransom Collective, Gracenote, Moonstar88, Autotelic, Ebe Dancel, Franco, Reese Lansangan, BP Valenzuela, Sandwich, Noel Cabangon, and Curtismith, joined various school bands for the benefit concert. A collection drive of PET bottles was done on site to help raise funds.

Finding God in Music, Nature, the Movies

How does the Lord speak to you? How do you experience His love, His presence?

My number one answer would be nothing less than through His Word, the Bible. All God’s promises are written there. Along with His purpose for you and me, His guidance and of course, His plan for the world.

Aside from God’s Word, I also experience His presence through music. There are times He speaks to me through songs. Lately, I have had some down moments and this was one song which I sensed that God used to comfort me:

There’s this line in the song: Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place which just really blessed me 🙂

Nature is also something that just amazes me and brings me much closer to the Lord. Whether it’s the quiet waves of the sea (or a body of water for that matter), the green majesty of the mountains and plains as they are covered by grass, the blue skies and the movement of the clouds — these move me to praise and thank God.

New Zealand has such amazing scenic places reminding me of God’s handiwork.

I have also experienced watching some films that really gave me a moment of introspection. It’s like God was saying something, reminding me something through the scenes of the film, the characters, even its music. One such film that touched me was the movie, The Age of Adaline. The story is about a woman who doesn’t age. While it may seem a good thing that a woman stays in the literal same age year after year, this reality was not something she can celebrate. After all, while she stays the same, all her loved ones continue to age and then die. The film reminded me that not all seemingly good things are really good for us. And that eternity is meaningless without the people we love, without God.

I am thankful that God can use any medium He wants to speak to us, inspire us and even rebuke us (Psalm 24:1).

They Call It Fertility Charting

If you have been trying to get pregnant with no result, you shouldn’t be concerned and hurry to jump to conclusions that you are infertile. You will get more reliable information from a fertility chart. Now that you have made your first fertility charts, you will be impatient to know the interpretation of your chart.

  • Normal Two-Phase Fertility Chart

This type of fertility charts tracks the normal two-phase menstrual cycle and are characterized by the fall in temperature of a woman before ovulation and menstrual cycle along with a rise in the temperature of the 2nd phase cycle by at least 0.4 Celsius. The duration of the temperature during post ovulation is between 12 and 14 days.

  • Estrogen-Progesterone Deficiency

During the second phase, the temperature of the body will rise slightly. The slight difference in temperature between the first phase and second phase shouldn’t be more than 0,2-0,3 Celsius. If you have this type of fertility chart, you will be able to deal with issues caused by the deficiency in Estrogen and Progesterone. A gynecologist will suspect that the fertility issues in a woman are caused by hormonal disorders when a fertility chart repeats the above pattern from cycle to cycle.

  • Anovulatory

It is normal for a healthy woman to experience at least one anovulatory (i.e., when ovulation doesn’t occur) cycle during the year. However, if anovulation occurs from cycle to cycle, a woman will not be able to conceive, since conception cannot occur without ovulation. Anovulatory does not occur with any prominent rise in temperature throughout the cycle. You should visit your doctor, whenever you have the following repetitive pattern three months in a row.

  • 2nd Phase insufficiency

This pattern is associated with the probability of a woman having miscarriage rather than that of infertility. In other words, it’s possible for a woman to get pregnant yet is risky. How does the chart work? Shortly after menstruation, the basal temperature begins to rise, while the woman will not experience any fall in temperature before menstruation. Also, the 2nd phase lasts for less than ten days. You should visit your doctor, whenever you have the following repetitive pattern three months in a row.

  • Estrogen Deficiency

The temperature curve of a woman tends to be chaotic unlike the previous types of fertility charts. The fluctuations don’t fit into any type, described above. A distinct deficiency usually causes this pattern in estrogen. Also, irregular factors may also be among the culprits.

So, you can get some clues about your condition, when you analyze your chart curves. Your fertility chart should be the first indicator of any possible fertility issues when you have difficulty in getting pregnant; however, this is not a diagnosis yet. For instance, women with irregular cycle lengths (28-34 days) may not ovulate in the middle of the cycle, that is, 14th day of the month. The women may ovulate between 14th and 20th day which is a norm for them.

Common Errors in Fertility Charting and How to Avoid Them

  • Use a proper BBT thermometer:

The common thermometer used to measure our body temperature when we have cold or flu shouldn’t be used to measure your basal temperature because they are not accurate enough. Rather, purchase a BBT thermometer, and you will be able to get an accurate temperature within 0.1 degrees.

  • Take your temperature at the same time each morning.

This is very crucial, yet most women desperate to get pregnant overlook it. Before taking your basal temperature, you should be asleep for at least 6 hours. Also, you should take your temperature before doing anything else- even before going to the bathroom. However, the time you do this is very important, and it includes weekends. It should be at the same time every day, before even getting out of bed!

  • Note the reading immediately, in writing.

You should note your reading immediately in writing and not rely on your memory after you have gone back to sleep. Many BBT thermometers remember the last recorded temp, so you could refer back to your BBT once awake and ready to transfer your temperature to your chart. You can also transfer this to your chart as soon as you can to see if there are any signs of increase in the fertility of your body with the latest data. If there were any unavoidable changes in the way you took the reading (for instance, you were a few minutes later than usual), then you should note this on your chart.

  • Take a vaginal reading rather than an oral one, for much greater accuracy.

Most women take oral reading which is less accurate. It is because of the external factors that can influence the temperature reading of your mouth. The factors include cold or sleeping with the mouth open. In order to avoid the possibility of anomalies between various thermometers, you should use the same type and make of thermometer for every reading. You should also use the same method of taking the reading as well.

  • Avoid alcohol

You should avoid alcohol consumption or anything that can disrupt your fertility if you are really serious about getting pregnant. However, if you drink alcohol, then note it on your chart. It is because alcohol can be responsible for any variation in your normal reading patterns.

Although, a woman has the best part of a week to get pregnant, this varies from person to person. Your difficulties in getting pregnant may be due to bad timing. When you use the fertility charting methods and avoid the common errors described above, you will get the best help possible and the best possible chance of timing things right. And if you want to increase chances of conceiving a girl or boy in particular, timing is key.

Before concluding on your reading patterns, it is advisable for you to meet your doctor for a professional diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor will need an ultrasound examination and a hormone test result. That’s why you should set your worries aside even if you’ve got a reading pattern that is unfavorable and set an appointment with your doctor.

Inspiring Instrumental Music

While I enjoy all kinds of music, there is also a special place for instrumental music for me.

Somehow instrumental music, particularly piano instrumentals, are just very inspiring and refreshing for me. And this is especially true for Christian music, including Christian hymns.

I enjoy just listening to it. Sometimes, I play it while I work on my computer. I also do so when I play games on the computer or on a tablet. It is often one of the last things I do before I go to bed for the night.

I am truly thankful to the the Lord for the gift of music.

I’m sharing here a beautiful playlist of instrumental hymnal music as played by the pianist David Baroni. For more information on ordering his music, you can go to his YouTube channel.

Enjoy 🙂

Reminders on Getting a Car for Work

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And so the time has come for you to seriously consider getting a car of your own for your work. Perhaps you are tired of commuting. You want privacy as you travel to and from work. Sharing a seat with a stranger no longer works for you. And you are tired of waiting for your ride. You want to just hop into your own car and drive away. So what now? How are you proceeding in purchasing your own car?

Here are some basic reminders that might just be helpful for you as you get yourself and your pocket ready to make that purchase:

Budget Matters. One of the very 1st things you need to consider as you prepare to purchase your car is your budget for it. How much are you willing to spend for it? How much money do you actually have? If you find yourself short in cash, will you be getting a loan? What are the payment terms for the loan and how will it impact your regular monthly budget and expenses? You need to carefully think through these things.

Preference and Need. Do you already have a specific car in mind? One you like because of its distinct features? Before you go all out for this car, think also if it will actually serve your need well. I think there is a difference in terms of what you prefer and what you need. For instance you may prefer a sedan but it may not be what you need if your work or business means lots of travel and bringing stocks and supplies with you. Perhaps what you need is a pickup truck. Now to help you make up your mind, you may need to do some research. This means visiting car shops and dealers and asking your friends who are familiar with the car you need. This can also mean finding more information online. You can find more car information, including prices and car reviews at Cars.com.

Right Timing. Just as there are seasons of the year when the timing is just right to go shopping for home or office items as a special sale is ongoing, it is also true when it comes to buying a car. A lot of car dealers, for instance, have a sale or special offers and discounts during the Christmas season or even during their shop or store anniversary. You can take advantage of these offers.

May it be that you find just the right car for you. And yes, don’t forget to drive safely 🙂

Your Provision is Coming Soon

It is incredibly easy to worry.

When you have lost your job or your source of income begins to dry up and all the bills keep coming anyway, it is so easy to wring your hands and feel a quiet panic rise inside you. It is easy to be afraid, to get worried. After all, how are you going to make ends meet? And yet you have professed your belief in an all-sufficient God. Why is it so easy to worry instead of hold on to your faith in God’s provision?

One answer, I think, is that we see with our eyes our needs, our lack. But we can not literally touch and see God here and now. We know He is with us but He escapes our finite senses. And we, too often, would try to think how He would provide and of course, we come up short. We both wonder how and will He really provide this time?

Scripture says that God is able to provide and He can do so in ways beyond what we can fathom. What can help us then from being swallowed up by our fears and our worries from our present lack? What can help strengthen our faith?

It helps if we choose to look back on those times when God came through for us, when He provided what we had needed then. If we have walked long enough with the Lord, I am sure we have our own collection of stories of his sufficient provision, of his timely intervention in the past. This is the time to remember as the Psalmist says in Psalm 77: 11-12:

    I will remember your great deeds, Lord;
    I will recall the wonders you did in the past.
    I will think about all that you have done;
   I will meditate on all your mighty acts.

It is so easy to worry, to fear and yes, to forget. And so today, before you let fear and worry hold your heart and mind tightly, choose to remember how God has been there for you in the past. And choose to hold on to His faithful word. Call on Him and ask Him to meet your need (Jeremiah 33:3, Matthew 7:7-11). Believe that His answer, your provision is coming soon.

note: This post was first written on 9 June 2015 and was kept in one of my files. I found this again tonight and decided to share it here.

Want to Have a New Hair Style?

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

Human as you are, you want to have different things every day. Different clothes, styles, fashion and almost everything. Including your hair sometimes you want to have different styles daily. Correct? Pretty sure, you are wishing to have a different hair style without trimming your natural hair. Also, I guess, you want to have different hair colors without dying your hair. Right? Hair styling and hair coloring are fun things to do, but there is a danger that you will damage your beautiful hair.

So, the answer to having a new hair style almost every day is for you to use wigs like any of these beautiful yet affordable freetress hair wigs. This brand of hair wigs has many styles that you will love. Whether you love the long straight hair, short curly hair, straight long hair, or any other styles, you can find it with freetress hair wigs. There are also other hair shades aside from the black and the blonde hair wigs.

Do you want to shop for hair wigs? Okay, do visit divatress.com as this e-commerce store offers thousands of products with brands from A to Z. You can also find beauty products and other hair accessories. Check this online store anytime you want to and when you shop, always enjoy the free US shipping!

7 Things to Remember When Doing Youth Ministry

My earliest experiences in reaching out to young people and serving them was at church camps back in the ’90s.

I was really just a young person then as well when I first started serving as one of the youth camp staff (assistant dorm counselor). The participants and staff came from different parts of the country (Philippines). I continued serving in this national church youth camp for the next two summers. And then the practice of holding national camps was stopped and regional camps and city-wide/province-wide camps were held instead. I continued to serve on for several years and then stopped as I moved to Thailand to serve as a missionary there.

Prior to moving to Thailand, I was given the opportunity to work with former street children in Cebu. A number of these children were in their teens. I served among these young people for a full year before I left for Thailand and when I came home after my first 2 years there. I served among them again until I was able to go back to Thailand.

In Thailand, particularly in Bangkok, I was given the privilege to help with youth work again in a local Thai church. My effort towards church planting/outreach work with a team also enabled me to connect with some young people in the village where I lived.

When I came back to the Philippines for good in 2007, I was eventually led to work with young people again. The difference this time, however, was I was now mainly involved in a training role and with the youth from different churches and groups throughout the country. I eventually helped in developing and producing a youth course which would help young people find their role in God’s Kingdom agenda and be engaged in the Great Commission. This course has been further refined and has now been made available in different countries. I let go of this training role for the youth in 2012 – the year I turned 40 🙂  I continue to love the young people that God sends my way but I have also come to realize that with my age, I may not be the best person to reach them now.

Through the years of serving the youth, I have learned a lot. I have gleaned several insights which I would like to share here. Perhaps as a youth worker or even as a parent, these 7 points might be of help to you:

  1. Listening is key. The best door, at least in my experience, in dealing with young people is to approach them with a listening ear. The youth have so many concerns which may no longer concern us older people 🙂  Many of them have heartbreaking stories about their families as well as failed relationships (romantic ones, friendships). If we want to reach them with the Gospel, if we desire to disciple them, we need to have ready ears to listen to them. We need to ask them questions and then be interested in what they have to say.
  2. Make room for fun. Approaching young people with too much seriousness and formality will not work. You need to be able to share laughter with them. Ask what songs or movies they like. What are their hobbies? Engage them with fun activities whenever possible. Do not make them think that having a relationship with the Lord is just all about reading the Bible and Bible studies. Help them to understand that while following the Lord might mean saying no to certain things, it also means saying yes to a joyful, purposeful life in Him. 
  3. Spend time with them. Young people love to hang out. So it is best to allocate time to just be with them. You also need to watch, however, and remind them that they also need to be spending time with their family. I have heard of many stories of parents complaining that once their kids become believers (especially if the parents do not have their own faith journey), they now spend so much time “at church” or being involved in “youth meetings” (other versions: Bible studies, discipleship classes, youth activities). While the young people may come to love our company as well as that of their fellow young people, it is our responsibility to make them aware that their world is not just us or their Christian friends. That, in fact, now more than ever they are meant to be a blessing to their family and to others. We should not take away their family time or school time away from them.
  4. Be authentic. In past generations, there seems to be a prevalent thought or value that Christian leaders need to always portray an image that they are strong, that they do not have weaknesses. That approach, I must say, no longer works especially with young people. We do not have to confess all our sins or weaknesses to young people but we need to be honest that yes, we have our own problems, our own struggles and weakness. And what keeps us intact and going is Christ’s grace and strength. When we make mistakes, we admit and apologize.
  5. Walk the talk. This is related to the previous point. Sometimes when we teach something to young people, we might think they have not really paid attention. But they do. And they will actually observe if we live ourselves the things we taught them or challenged them to live by.
  6. Always pray for them. Pray for them by name. Ask God to be real in their lives. We are just instruments of God’s truth. It is God’s work to transform their hearts and minds.
  7. Be updated with youth trends, concerns, challenges. Understand their world, their concerns and challenges. Read about these. Ask them questions. You need to be able to relate God’s word to their world. When you do Bible studies or discipleship, contextualize what they are learning into their own situation.

The journey of reaching and serving young people is both fun and challenging. But like all things we do, we can always ask God for wisdom and for the grace to continue the journey.

New Beginnings – The Way Forward

I started this blog in March 2015. And my very first blog post was this.

My main purpose in starting this blog has been to put articles of inspiration — spurred by all things positive and good going on around the world.  And the reason behind that is there seems to be more news focused on all the negative things going on but the truth is there is always something good going on around the world as well. But the problem is it is not as amplified as the news of crime, corruption, war — well, you get the picture.

Well, I think I started out with a good purpose but the reality is I couldn’t maintain this blog! There were just too many things going on in my life and not to mention the reality of maintaining other blogs. So this blog became like a neglected child in what could be a dark and lonely internet world.

My last post was so last year! Check here to see it. And like many other things that we do not anymore have time to take care of, I considered just totally stopping this blog. That means not renewing its domain name (Inspire Now) and getting it out of my paid hosting plan. But then there were some new stirrings in my heart about this blog as 2017 came in. A new direction for this blog began to occupy my thoughts.

I began to think: what makes my life full and fulfilling? Well, that is following and serving the Lord. Yup, and that’s one thing that my husband and I do together as well as separately. And so I looked back and see myself as far back as the early 1990’s when as a university student, I already began volunteering to teach kids at church and serving the choir during Sundays and serving the youth in summer youth camps ran by the church.

By the late ’90’s, I came to see serving should not just be done within the church, there’s serving to be done by the church and outside of the church, too. So my path of serving the Lord began to change. My husband has his own stories of serving God and people, too. In short, we have many stories and learnings (!) to share to those who would like to listen. And we can share them right here at Inspire Now.

Some of the specific things we have been involved in for the last two decades (close to three actually) include:

Cross-cultural missions
*serving as a missionary, missions mobilizer
Church leadership
Support Raising/Fundraising
Counseling
Preaching and Teaching
Worship/Music
Developing ministry teaching/training material and translation
Men’s Ministry
Serving in the marketplace
Youth ministry and camps
Children ministry and outreach

After writing that list, I was amazed at how many things God has allowed and led us to be involved in. Through this site,we hope to help others as they navigate their own journey of serving the LORD. We do not have all the answers but we will share what we can as to how we have been able to continue the path of serving the LORD of the harvest!

May Inspire Now truly inspire its readers to serve the Lord and His people and to reach others that they, too, may find their call and purpose in the light of eternity!