Monday, September 10, 2012

Be a V!

Be a V (Volunteer): Benefits of Volunteering
LJ Schroeder

Answering the phone for a CBN Asia Special 

If I only have enough money to sustain me and my family I would volunteer most of my life.

Perhaps it was my mother who encouraged me to reach out and help others especially fellow believers when I was younger. I was in 6th grade when I first volunteered to be an interpreter/translator for a group of Kiwi youth missionaries while they were doing a crusade in a nearby barangay(village) in our town.

Then I became an active (girl) scout in high school and volunteering is a huge part of the movement. We cleaned streets, planted trees, visited orphanages, distributed relief goods as part of our regular activities and to earn badges.

But I think it was in college that my passion for volunteering went into full bloom! I started stepping-out and initiated more often. I became a regular volunteer or member of Christian organizations such as Youth With a Mission (YWAM), MV Doulos (Operation Mobilisation Ships) and the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF).

Cleaning-up shores in Sorsogon with YWAMers

After college I started volunteer work for a local Christian radio station, 1125 DWAS in our province which eventually paved the way for me to be in the broadcast industry for many, many years.

Although I don't have as much time and energy now I still volunteer whenever possible, mostly in our local church, for various organizations and events such as Fish Festival.

I've found many benefits to volunteering (although I am not after what I can get when I volunteer). The reason why I volunteer first and foremost is to HELP. My life slogan has always been to serve God by being a blessing and an inspiration to people. Volunteering is one of the ways I can apply it. 

I wish I can encourage more people to volunteer by stating some of the reasons why I love doing it:

1. Paying it forward.  I've been helped, inspired and encouraged by countless people my entire life. I was able to attend camps through donors, finished a college degree via my aunt's generous help and overcame obstacles because of the prayers of my churchmates. By helping others is my way of saying thank you and I appreciate the people that the Lord has used as channels of His blessings.

2. Investing in someone's life and possibly changing their future. I have a very high regard for teachers and mentors, especially unpaid Sunday school or volunteer vacation Bible school (VBS) teachers. The people that planted the seed of the gospel in my life were the VBS teachers from the Nazarene church. Every Summer my mother (who's a firm believer of education) encouraged us to attend their VBS in order to continue learning and being productive while school is close. I don't remember everything they taught us during those scorching days, but I carry in my heart the dedication and patience they had for  a bunch of raunchy kids.  
Aboard the MV Doulos ship selling books and doing outreach programs with MV Doulos staff and fellow volunteers

3. Gaining friends and contacts. I've lost count of the wonderful people that became my friends,  brothers and sisters, sources, go-to-people that I've met and worked with through volunteering. Before the social media sites (Friendster, Multiply, Facebook etc.) became popular I was banking on my connections for information, guest hunting and ideas for my radio shows and articles. They were my saving grace!

4. Experience. Here in the US, previous volunteer work can be included in your job employment history. What better way to fill out not just your resume but your time and life than by helping others.

5. The perks! It's a rare occasion when volunteers get paid (yes, there are volunteers who do get stipend or renumeration) but there are other perks that you get as a volunteer. If you work for concert organizers or radio stations, most of the time you'll get back stage or media pass to performances or an opportunity to meet celebs. You also get goodies like t-shirts, bags, CD's or books. 

Since most volunteers don't get paid, org's try to at least provide their meals= FREE FOOD or even transportation.

Meet and greet with Ptr. Louie Giglio and Matt Redman before a concert 

6. Lessons learned. It's a blessing to give than to receive so says the Bible. When we were younger and money was nowhere in sight borrowing from family/friends for food or school was the only option not to succumb to poverty or worse, crime. I remember how humiliating and belittling the experience was, nonetheless it pushed me to work hard and finish school. I made a commitment to myself that one day the roles will be reversed. I will be in the side that's extending help and not getting it (not that there's something wrong being helped.)

7. It could lead to greater things. By volunteering to write, I was able to publish my first book. By volunteering to produce and host a 30 minute talk show called Pauro-Ayahay (Siesta/rest time), I landed my first job. By volunteering as interpreter, I honed my English language and communication skills and now I'm married to a foreigner. Volunteering could unveil your potentials, skills, personality and could even open doors for you.    

My first book- Eating With One Chopstick 

Volunteering does wonders not just to the volunteers but to the company or organization that needs them. According to our pastor, our church was able to save $10,000 last year because of the people that stepped out of their comfort zone and stepped-up to the plate.

Don't miss out being a blessing and being blessed - volunteer! 

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:10 ESV  

Gary V and Sonicflood front man - some of the artists I've met and interviewed while working for FEBC.

With Ms. Coney Reyes of CBN Asia 

With Purpose Driven Life author, Ptr. Rick Warren during Fish Festival

With Reuben Morgan of Hillsong

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Coming to America by LJ Schroeder

Coming to America
Lj Schroeder

366 days in the US of A! Thank you Lord for another milestone!

It has been exactly one year and a day today since I left everything - my country, my home, my family, my friends, my work, church, traffic, life in the Philippines to be with my (then) fiance John now my husband of ten months. Yay! Come to think of it, there has been a number of milestones since my big move overseas. Except for settling down, I also I received my Green Card, found a new job, ended a decade-long career/ministry in radio, finished two semesters at the School of Ministry (and coming back for more) and did a few travels.

Life has not been perfect here in the US as most people in the Philippines assume, but I believe I am where God wants me to be. Good things don't come easy as the saying goes. I had to start from scratch, make new friends, speak a different language (moreso argue in another language), re-learn, familiarize and adjust. I know that the people and situations that I encounter have a purpose. Challenges and struggles are part of life, of growth, of our destiny. No complains - just a heart full of joy, appreciation and anticipation for things that are yet to come.

I clearly remember the first challenge that I had to deal with during my first few months- my body's reaction to the weather. Although a lot of people are drawn to the warm, sunny climate of California, my skin on the other hand got very dry and itchy... a few days later I was covered in rashes because I can't stop myself from scratching. It was hard to sleep (both with the jetlag and the skin rash) and it even got worse when I developed chronic flakes in my scalp for months. It was embarrassing and stressful. :( Good thing I found an ointment for the rashes and my body eventually adjusted to my new surroundings.

Another challenge I faced was being very dependent on my husband both financially and physically. In the Philippines, I made a living for more than a decade as a radio announcer/producer. In between I took part-time jobs like writing, wedding coordinating and hosting events. I was able to finish short-term courses, travel when and where I want to and even publish my first book.

After our wedding last September, I spent most of my time preparing then waiting for my papers (Green Card and Social Security) before I could apply for a job, so I relied a lot in my spouse for finances for getting around. For some people it's not too bad, but I felt like teenager again asking my Mom (this time my hubby) for money so I could buy simple things like sanitary pads or lotion or shampoo. It reminded me of the time I was in college- someone who just can't wait to have a job and have my own spending money. My husband has always been supportive and generous, but not having the opportunity to earn, to be productive, to contribute to our finances- made me feel powerless and miserable at some point.

Did I mention I don't drive too? Public transpo here is as rare as a Filipino obeying traffic rules. It's a MUST (even a requirement for most jobs) to have a valid driver's license.

Another thing that I have to deal with was making new friends. This is perhaps the most challenging one so far. I may have tons of acquaintances but I have kept very few close friends and they are mostly in my native land. I always tell my hubby, I wish I have friends that are not his friends (not that I don't like his friends). Oftentimes I feel like I am only their friend by affiliation.

Don't get me wrong, I love being with my husband but he can't stand walking in a garden for an hour or window shopping for four hours with me. There are specific occasions or places when a girl friend is all you need. :(

So far I haven't begged my husband to send me back home yet (a good sign!). I haven't had any major bouts of homesickness, although I dream frequently about my family, friends and the Philippines.

This country has plenty to offer, but like any other nation it has its traps, temptations and illusions. If I'm not rooted in the Word or surrounded by people that keeps me grounded, it's so easy to be carried away by materialism, commercialism, idealism, egalitarianism, individualism and all the other ism's that are rampant in this great land.

I miss my beautiful country and my people sorely, but wherever God directs me to go- I will call my home and its people I'll treat as a family.

Oh and I have a husband who's CRAZY in-love with me! (He forced me to write that. Just kidding!) What more can a woman ask for? :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Until Then...

(Control 5/Studio)

Until Then...
Lj Schroeder 

This month marked my 12th year in the broadcast industry. I look back and can't help but be swept away by emotions... I am overjoyed, humbled, accomplished, blessed, enriched and nostalgic for all these years. Above all, I feel grateful to God and in-debt to the people He used for opening the door to my dream job/ministry and for the enumerable lessons and treasures I've acquired along the way.

But alas, even good things must come to an end!

Next week is also the final days of my "on-air" ministry with Far East Broadcasting Company (FEBC), my home and family for many years. After more than a decade working as a full-time staff, dozens of shows, hundreds of events, thousands of listeners and co-workers I've met, tons of memorable experiences- I bid farewell (for now) to a huge part of my life. It has not been an easy journey, but I wouldn't be where I am and who I am today if not for the training and opportunities that working in FEBC has given me. My heart is like a treasure box bursting with mementos- the time, the people, the craziness, the tears, the laughter and the hundred other things that continue to inspire, challenge, shape and guide me to my destiny.

I started as a volunteer right after college, then as announcer/producer, until a few months before my early retirement I was "promoted" to an OIC-position for one of our new programming divisions and back to being a volunteer when I settled down and migrated to the US. In spite of the distance and the time difference, I managed to host and produce a (temporary) daily show for almost a year!

In my life I've always struggled with good byes and separation. I thought I had gotten over my separation anxieties, but here I am having radio withdrawals. Lol! 

So with all the courage that I can muster, it is with great delight albeit with tear-stained eyes that I say MARAMING SALAMAT at HANGGANG SA MULI (Thank you and Until then) to radio broadcast...
to my former home, my comfort zone, my family...
to you our dear listeners and friends...
to shows, the studio and the airwaves... 

So long consoles, microphones, headphones, audience, queue sheets, playlists, scripts, recordings, interviews, OB's, OTS, textjock, static and dead air...    

Join me next week for the final episodes of Love On Air on 702 DZAS,, between 11pm-12mn (Manila time.)

What an honor and a gift to serve my Master through FEBC! 

(FEBC MIC Awarding Ceremony, June 2011 with Kuya Dan and Kuya Caloy)

It is now time to pursue other passions, create new dreams, discover different paths and make more friends. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Zumba line-up (Intense Work-out)

Zumba Line-Up (Intense Work-out)
Lj Schroeder

Starting today I'll be posting my Zumba line-up on here because I'm having a hard time searching for the old ones in my Facebook wall. Here, it is easier to look for them via tabs or history. Anyhow, this week's Zumba line-up is more intense, faster and a bit difficult but totally worth it!

Again you might want to modify some moves/steps as I find some of them challenging. Also if this is your first attempt on Zumba, do some basic movements or warm-up exercises before you start to prevent injuries or consult with your physician if you have serious medical conditions. 

I wish I could say that I'm a professional Zumba instructor/expert, but I'd be lying. :) All videos are from youtube.

1. Cha-cha/footwork - Save the Last Dance (Watch for the guy in white shirt, he seems to be having soo much fun!)

2. Fast/emphasis on the belly - Tootsie Roll (This is really tricky! The hip rolling and the foot work are kinda fast.)

3. Full body/cardio - Move Like Jagger (Watch the old lady, she's my motivation on this video.)

4. Cardio - Sexy and I Know It (Again look out for granny! :))

5.  Full body work-out/super fast moves - Walk It Out (Something to make you sweat profusely and make your heart beat faster.)

6. Stretch - Sweet Dreams (Easy movements.) 

7. Booty/hips/stretch - Just a Dream (I like this but if you prefer a slower cool down, try the last video.)

8.  Stretch/cool down - One In a Million (There are a few tricky steps like the split, but you can tweak them.)

Have fun and be healthy!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Colors of February LJ Schroeder

Colors of February
(Violet Cabbage Flowers, Bloody Oranges, Nasty Rashes, Pastel Skies)
LJ Schroeder

(Violet Cabbage Flowers)
One my fave things to do- admiring God's wonderful, colorful, sometimes intriguing creations. They are a mirror of how creative our Maker is.

(Blood Orange and Strawberries)
For the first time, I had blood (moro) oranges c/o of our friend Katie and my fave fruit, strawberries as desserts for breakfast.

(Side Effects of Sulfa- Rashes)
Turned out I was allergic to the UTI meds that the doc prescribed to me. I developed burning rashes all over my arms, legs and chest. Not to mention terrible headaches and fever. Not a pleasant experience. 

(Indulgence - Early Evening Skies.)
The best shot I was able to take. We were running late for our mid-term exams, so while we were ordering dinner from In & Out I snapped this at the parking area. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Little Wonders In Our Not (Yet) So Wonderful Backyard

(My blank canvass. Wait 'til I turn it into a master piece or a haven whichever is doable.)

The Little Wonders In Our Not (Yet) So Wonderful Backyard
Lj Schroeder

Growing-up in our grandparents' house with a huge yard abounding in trees (star apples, coconuts, guava, mangoes, aratiles, avocado, jackfruit, bananas etc.) stirred my love for nature and the outdoors. My cousins and I had more than enough ground to explore during our curious, energetic years. I remember searching for house spiders inside our kweba (cave) for an insect match, catching fireflies at night and peaking inside our little hands to see if they do light up or sneaking after dragonflies or butterflies to check their colors or when I was stung by a family of bees while picking star apples one afternoon. Ouch!

When I moved to the metropolis- Manila from the province- Bicol one of the things I knew I was going to miss were the trees in our yard. But God answered my silent longings by allowing me to work in a company with a dormitory that was located in a more province-like part of the metro, surrounded by old trees mostly mangoes and star apples to my delight.

Quite the opposite happened when I, once again, relocated to the US and settled down with my husband in a beautiful valley called Rancho Cucamonga. Most neighborhoods here don't have much land area but majority of them have pretty flowers or a well-maintained yard. My husband however, is not really into gardening (I love him still) resulting in the present condition of our yard. Not that it's bad or ignored or trashed. There's just not much in there, yet I can see the potential. Or probably I just have too much spare time while I'm waiting for my elusive Green Card. (That's another post.) Anyway, it doesn't mean there's no beauty in an (almost) blank canvass or in this case backyard, right?

So while I am in the process of converting our small piece of land into something exciting, I captured a few little things of beauty or interest in our soon-to-be WONDERFUL backyard. That's the goal. :)

(A tiny, wild yellow flower amidst our almost dying grass.)

(Frequent visits from hummingbirds.)

(A rare appearance by a blue bird. I don't know what type of bird.)

(Not ours, but they've crossed the fence- our neighbor's lemons.)

(More colors and life come spring! My new flowers-primrose survived winter. Yay!)

(Herbs- parsley, sweet basil and mint. My sweet basil are not looking too good right now though. :()

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Stir Fry Chicken and Asparagus

Lately I've been trying a few recipes from the inter-net. One of our new faves is this chicken recipe I copied from the Food Network with a few modifications.



2 pcs medium size chicken breasts, cut into bite size
1 bundle fresh asparagus (cut into 1 inch length)
1 cup sliced white mushrooms (Optional. We tried this once and it added more flavor. I highly suggest adding this!)
2 tbsp minced spring onions/shallots
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves minced garlic or garlic powder
1 tbsp minced ginger or ginger powder
1 tsp sugar (Optional. If you like additional taste.)
1/2 cup sherry
2 tbsp soy sauce
salt for seasoning (You can also omit this if you are in a low sodium diet.)
1/2 cup water or chicken broth (If you wish to make it saucier/tastier.)
corn starch (The original recipe calls for this if you want to coat the chicken or prefer the sauce to be thicker. I omitted this and the recipe still turned out nicely.)
black pepper


1. Mix ginger (if powdered), garlic (if powdered), sugar, sherry, soy sauce, salt and marinate the chicken in the mixture for 20-30 mins. Set aside.
2. Heat pan and put 2 tbsp of oil and stir fry asparagus, then mix mushrooms and spring onions. Remove from pan after 2-3 mins (don't overcook).
3. Use the same pan and add the remaining oil. Sautee ginger and garlic if you prefer the minced/real ones. Stir fry marinated chicken until it's cooked/golden brown.
4. Add water or chicken broth if you prefer for more sauce, simmer. Then add cooked veggies.
5. Season with black pepper. Serve with rice. Enjoy!

Serves 2.