Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Proverbs 31 Woman (Becoming a Beautiful Woman Part 3)

"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised "
Proverbs 31:30

I have always been fascinated with the proverbial woman whom King Lemuel's queen mother described in the Bible (don't know who King Lemuel is? Please read it here ). As a young girl and well-acquainted with the Bible, I have forever been dreaming of becoming one. Of course, just like any other girls, it was also my childhood dream to become a princess. And I have an inkling that the Proverbs 31 woman was either a queen or a princess, you know why? Because it's the queen mother who characterized her to the king! How would she know? It takes one to know one, right? :)

Anyhow, going back to my fascination, I just remembered, while this idea was still brewing in my mind, two guy friends I had back in college. Both were special in one way or another; one of them was my friend since high school while the other one was a special someone during those days. My high school/college friend told me while we were casually chatting about his special someone that I was "one of the finest women" he had met in his life. Of course, I was surprised, no, actually I was elated! Hahaha! Imagine hearing that from a guy. I felt like a princess at that time being praised by a charming prince friend. The other guy, who once was a special someone (hahaha), on the other hand, gave me the verse above. He said he saw me as the Proverbs 31 woman. Again, ang haba ng hair ko, but that statement was not yet uso at that time, haha! Definitely, I was flattered (who wouldn't, di ba?).

Now I am writing this not to give you pointers or tips on how to become a Proverbs 31 Woman (or mom for that matter). No, I have not reached that status yet, I think I haven't even come close. Being that kind of woman seem impossible, she "looked" so perfect. But I believe, just like every human being or woman who has walked here on earth, she had her own share of imperfections although she (again, I would like to believe) focused on her strengths rather than on her weaknesses. I am writing this to inspire each one of us; that though this woman "lived" thousands of years ago, I would say that I still see this kind of woman these days. So, who is the Proverbs 31 woman today? She is the...

1. Faithful wife to her husband - vv. 11, 12.

Our wedding bands
Do you still remember these words? "I, (your name, please), take you (your husband's name), to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part." Wasn't it exciting and blissful the first time you had said those truthful words? Well, I tell you, after 5, 10 or even 20 years, that statement should still remain true for you... in thoughts, in words and in deeds. A faithful wife is an excellent wife, the Proverbs said. It is even far more precious than jewels. I may not be able to wear costly diamonds or precious pearls but if I am faithful to the one God gave me to be my husband, then I know I'm more invaluable than any of those treasures. I am his priceless possession.

2. Happy homemaker (stay-at-home mom/domestic goddess or work-at-home mom) - vv. 15, 21, 27.

Me and baby at 1 month
 It's been my dream to be a happy homemaker. You know the kind that bakes the bread for her husband and kids so that her family would eat fresh bread everyday; putting flowers in different parts of the house so it would smell spring-y; sew simple clothes and curtains; knit jackets and make quilted blankets? Yes, I have dreamed of becoming like that. I haven't done any of those... yet. But I am happy. I'm a blissful stay-at-home mom (SAHM). It's also my desire to help my husband make ends meet, that is to be a work-at-home mommy (WAHM). I am hopeful that I'm getting there... slowly but surely.

Some of the beautiful WAHMmies I have met, my ka-"tribe"

3. Artistic and creative crafter and/or hobbyist - vv. 19, 22, 24.

iCreate: cross-stitch, DIY, origami... washi tapes? iLove! :) 
 I have seen a lot of very creative and artistic mothers. Just look at Pinterest and you'll understand what I am talking about. Aren't they all amazing? All I can say is, "W.O.W."!

4. Hardworking career/business/working woman/mom - vv. 13, 14, 27.

Alemars Nadia

My Alemars Mommy Nadia is a very hardworking woman/mom. She's not only working in a non-government organization, she also has a business to run (not to mention a household) and on her way to homeschooling her soon-to-be-3-years-old son. She's just one of the so many diligent women/mothers who would do everything for her family and "looks well to the ways of her household".

5. Ingenious mompreneur/momtrepreneur - vv. 16 - 18.
I don't know about you but I noticed that these days more and more moms are carving out a reputation as successful mompreneurs/momtrepreneurs. And this new, how should I call it, "title" is not just another feather in the cap, but also a proof that mothers are resourceful and skillful.

6. Gracious philanthropist - v. 20.
Philanthropists are people who give or donate their money and time for the welfare of others.They could also be individuals who willingly volunteer and through this volunteering deeds greatly affect others. We, moms may not be able to give large sum of money but as long as we render our time and support to the needy, I consider that as act of philanthropy. I remember a friend who donated her breastmilk to some of the kids affected by the Haiyan typhoon. I believe it's not only my friend who extended that kind of help, there were other gracious philanthropist moms who did that as well.

7. Honest politician - v. 25
With all the hullaballoo going on right now in our beloved country which involves politicians and their pork barrels, I would like to believe that somewhere in the Philippines, somehow, there is still an honest Filipino leader or legislator (that happens to be a woman or mom too!). Let's just keep praying and believing. Who knows? One day, it could be you... and me! :)

8. Passionate teacher - v. 26
This could be, well, a teacher whom we see in the schools. Have you ever noticed? Majority of  teachers, specially during my time (I'm not that old, heehee), are single women or mothers. Nowadays, a teacher could be a mom who doesn't have to go to school or doesn't even have to earn a licensure exam for teachers. She could be a mom who passionately homeschool her children. And I have seen awesome moms like that, homeschooling her 7 children! How could she do that?

I am desiring to home educate my precious daughter too. I'm so thankful that there are other home school advocates and also moms in this country. I know I am not alone. My desire for this type of education for my daughter was beefed up when I got to attend homeschooling conference and workshops sponsored by The Learning Basket . Those events were really very helpful and encouraging. I believe in their mantra: I am my child's "first and best teacher".

9. Woman who fears God - v. 30
The last chapter of the Proverbs said that a woman who fears God is to be praised. I believe this is the best part of being a Proverbs 31 woman. She loves God above all and because of that, her beauty from within radiates, surpassing the physical appearance. And I can't think of any other women who epitomize this characteristic more than my mother and mother-in-law. They may not be the prettiest (according to the world's standard) but for me, they are simply the best!

My mom, or Mamu (that's how I call her) is the bravest and strongest woman I have ever met. I'm not talking about the physical capability here but the emotional and spiritual strength. With all the challenges and hardships she had been through, I couldn't admire her more. She's just awesome and the nice thing is she doesn't take the glory. She would always give the praises back to the Lord. You'll always hear her say, "Glory to God."

My Mamu
My mother-in-law is the other woman who exemplify the "woman who fears the Lord". Whenever negative issues arise, she's quick to say, "Leave it to the Lord and let Him take care of it." Instead of dwelling on the hurts or pains caused by other people, she would say, "Pray for him/her. Forgive and just let the Lord do His job." Isn't that something?

My MIL holding our li'l fashionista at 1 year old
Becoming a beautiful woman physically is not bad. It is rewarding, actually. You get a lot of "oohs" and "aahs";  people's heads turn, not just once but twice; men become gentle (as in gentlemen) and give you their seats or their spots; there's a lot of perks. However, the Proverbs say that it is fleeting, it doesn't last long and it is deceptive. This book of maxims admonish us to seek that kind of beauty that lasts, which comes from within; that is a life that reveres, honors and loves God. It is still possible to become a Proverbs 31 woman in our time. We may not be "all" that she is, but I'm sure, in one way or another we fall under one of her characteristics.

How about you? Do you also desire to be this kind of woman? In what way/s are you like her? Please feel free to share your thoughts. :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Becoming a Beautiful Woman (Part 2)

About a week ago or so, I started this series about becoming a beautiful woman (read it here). Although this coincided with the International Women's Month Celebration, the thought of "beautifying myself" was actually one of my goals this 2014.

Becoming a beautiful woman I believe is a continuing process. However, just like any processes it must begin from something, and that is, from within ourselves, from our hearts. Subsequently, what we have started will not stop there, it will show and our physical appearance will project it. And once displayed, all we have to do is maintain it. But how do we keep ourselves physically beautiful? I am not a beauty expert but I have some beauty routines that I would like to share here. I hope it will help moms, also other women in general and inspire them to have their own. So, here it goes...

Start with a clear and clean skin.
 A clean and clear skin is always, always where every beauty ritual should start with. I believe that it really doesn’t matter how much make up I put on, not to mention the cost of each cosmetic, if I don't have that spotless (or should I say, dirt-free) skin. Thus, I make sure that I constantly wash my face. The facial wash doesn't have to be pricey, as long as it works for me, then I'm okay with it. Truth be told, I really don't buy my facial wash (haha, thanks to my sponsor, my beloved big sister, heehee). My skin care habit is pretty simple; wash and moisturize. That’s it? Yes, that’s it, yet it does wonder to my face and I'd bet it would give the same advantage to you too. I wash it in the morning and then wash it again before I go to bed. I use the moisturizer only in the morning. But if you have a night cream, it’s much better. What’s important is the routine of cleaning the face in the morning and evening.

Facial Wash

Using the Oilatum bar was sort of an experiment. We bought it about a year ago for our baby (that is before we discovered Mustela). Sadly, for some reason, we were not able to use Oilatum for her. So, it was just stocked inside the cabinet. Then one day, I saw them (there were two bars) and they are about to expire this year. It will be a waste if I don't use them, sayang naman. It's quite expensive for baby soap. So, I used it on my face (experimentation) then I saw an amazing results. It's like a beauty bar. It made my facial skin softer, smoother and clearer. I would say my little experiment, not to mention the price of this baby soap is really worth it.
After washing the face, the next thing to do is to put on moisturizer. I wasn't fond of moisturizers before. With a hot weather like ours, who would want a sticky and oily face? But I was wrong about that idea. Even in a hot and humid country like ours, I realized I still need to apply moisturizer. It makes my skin supple and younger-looking. I am not advertising or promoting this product but I really love Olay Total Effects. I learned to use this because my mom, my dad (!), my big sister and Tita are all using it. Before I was like, what's with this product that they all like it? I tried it and now I'm hooked.

There you go, that is pretty much it; wash and moisturize and I believe every woman will reap from it.

A little makeup won’t hurt.
My sister and I were always part of our school program during our elementary days. One of the things that I liked about it was, we did not only get to dress up but we had also the chance to be made up. Because of that we grew up with fondness for cosmetics colour palette but I didn’t get to use makeups again until I had to teach. My students’ parents told me that I could pass for their children’s classmate because I looked so young. My co-teachers then came to the rescue and taught me how to put on makeup. Since then whenever I would go to work I didn’t fail to apply makeup and I loved it. It was a bit time-consuming and it took a while before I managed to prettify myself in 10 minutes or less. I’m not saying I have reached perfection, nor am I an expert, but at least I know how to put a bit of color on my face. I believe every woman; moms specially should have a makeup kit with the “basics” such as, face powder, lipstick, lip balm and blush on. I think a hint of tint on our face will not only make others admire us but it will make you feel good about yourself. I remember, the first time my baby saw me wearing makeup she said, “Mommy, nice!” Hearing that from my baby, it was… flattering.


Eye Essentials

Face Powder

Lip Savers
Spritz, Spray or Dab
I love it when people pass by me and they leave a sweet scent. It’s like I want to stay close to that person and just smell her all day long. I remember during my college days when some of my girl classmates would just sit beside me and say, “You smell so good, can I sit beside you?” I love that feeling. It gives me more confidence. It makes me feel beautiful. For me, the scent of a woman is evocative; it gives an impression to others that you know how to take care of yourself… even if you’re a fulltime mom. That is why whenever I leave the house, I always spray cologne all over my body though I just have to go to the supermarket. Every time there is a special event or gathering or even meet up with friends, I wear a perfume for the simple reason that it’s more long lasting. I love it whenever I get a scent of myself as I move. I always carry my perfume/cologne in my bag so I can still spray on some more wherever I go.
Scent of Joy
In conclusion, I believe that becoming a beautiful woman is not just being “Belofied” or “Cathyfied”, although it’s not bad to have that privilege. It’s about feeling good inside because I am at peace with my God, content with what I have while still in pursuit of the dreams God placed in my heart and comfortable with living in the present. It is also about taking care of my body and at the same time running a household, loving my hubby and raising a baby. It is about believing that I can be a great mom and awesome wife without losing myself in the process. And that kind of beauty, no matter how you conceal it, will always show.

My Beauty Stash


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Becoming a Beautiful Woman

It was part of my 2014 goal to "beautify" myself. That means, I will not be leaving the house anymore without a dab of face powder, a hint of blush on my cheeks and a swipe of lip gloss and lipstick. You see when I became a SAHM (stay-at-home mom), my thoughts were like, "Why would I need to put on makeup when I go to the grocery or when my husband, our baby and I are going out on a date? People would see anyway that I am a mom and they would rather look at my daughter than me. I don't care what I look like. I am carrying a baby (also breastfeeding her whenever she needs milk), people would not care." So, for one and a half years, I think, I was thinking and acting like that. It was au contraire to my usual self 3 to 4 years ago when I was still a working woman.

Around 4 years ago. I was accompanying a friend and colleague to go sight-seeing in the metro.
Birthday celebration 3 1/2 years ago. Had a yogurt right after dinner with a friend who asked for help in lesson planning.

Hubby and I at a couple's fellowship, 3 years ago.

However, I noticed that the more I tried to do the things I used to do when I was not yet a mother, the more I failed. After a week of being successful to doing my beauty rituals, I would often find myself slacking off again. Then one day, it just hit me (my aha! moment). Being beautiful doesn't start from the physical appearance, it has to commence from within, from my heart and even my soul.

After that realization, I paused for a while (I was actually in the bathroom when this happened), looked at myself in the mirror then asked myself, "How is your heart? How is your inner beauty?" So, here's my take on how to keep a woman's inner beauty.

A renewed relationship with the Lord is always the first step.
During that time of my aha! moment, it dawned on me that my relationship with my God in the past several months was not as ardent as before. Yes, I still pray, only hurriedly. Yes, I read my Bible, but only out of because-I-have-to rather than because-I-expect-to-hear-from-you-Lord reason. And yes, I go to church regularly because I need to and not because "I am excited to worship with fellow believers." So, first thing firsts, I rekindle my commitment with my God. I am not saying that I have finally made it perfect but it's a continuing process that is being refreshed day after day. I thank the Lord for His mercies towards me never fail, they are new every morning (according to prophet Jeremiah), indeed, great is His faithfulness! 

Live in the present.
As cliche as it may sound, it's true. I have this habit of always looking back. What's wrong with that? There should be nothing wrong with that, if and only if, I do it just to reminisce the past, recount the lessons I have gleaned and then apply them in the present. The problem is, that's not what I do. Time and again, I would try to relive the past and tell myself, "What if I did this instead? What if this is the decision I had made? What if..." Full of what ifs and regrets. And because of that my mind would always be filled with trepidation that were not really necessary. Remember the nugget of wisdom Ooguay (from the Kung Fu Panda) told Po, "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is mystery. Today is a gift, that's why it's called present." I believe there's a lot of truth in that statement. Live not in yesterday, not even in tomorrow but in today.

Keep a quiet heart.
I have this book by Elisabeth Elliot entitled Keep a Quiet Heart. She's one of my favorite Christian authors. She is a very good writer and I just love her and all her works. 

What does it mean to keep a quiet heart? For me, it's being at peace with my God, myself and others. It's being content with what I have while endeavor to be the best person that I could be. It is simply seeing the good and loveliness in everything that surrounds me instead of focusing on the unpleasantness. Similarly, it is accepting the things (or even people) as they are, specially if I know that it is not for me to put the matters in my hand. Plainly put, keep a quiet heart.

These are the three points that I have to remind myself of every now and then. As I have said, I have not reached perfection (who has, anyway?) but I am a work in progress. The beautiful thing is, as the process keeps on, the beauty from within, the true beauty radiates and no matter what you do, it just shows.

How about you? How do you keep your inner beauty? It would be lovely to hear you.