Redefining A “Successful” Day

At the beginning of the year, my husband and I worked on listing down values that we want to intentionally live out, practice, and pass on to our kids and by faith pass on to the generations after as well. It took us months in the making before we finally arrived at a complete list with descriptions that the kids can easily understand and bible verses that speak of these values. We want everything that we stand for to be biblically based and not just things that we’ve come up with on our own (I will be blogging about this separately and post the poster I asked my husband to make of the list of the values; a gift I asked for my birthday almost a month ago).

Anyway, the first and most important value that we want our family to have is our love for God. We want our family to put God first in our lives; to love Him with all our hearts, mind, soul and strength.

Second is love for God’s word and obedience to it at all costs. Third is strong faith– believing that God’s word and promises are true and trustworthy all the time.

It was so timely when my father in law encouraged my husband and me to listen to a series called Outlasters from Lifechurch.tv. It’s main premise is we should live lives that would matter beyond our life. I was listening to the Part 3 of the series this morning while my kids were playing. The pastor mentioned Psalm 112: 2-3 “Their children will be successful everywhere, an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever.”

He said before anything else, we should define what success is for ourselves. The culture of the world usually defines the success of our parenting if our kids were to be “raised well-rounded, well-educated, and happy kids”. He proposes that as followers of Christ, that we are to have a different standardlpg–we should raise the bar higher. He said, as Christian parents our call is to raise up and unleash Christ-centered and biblically-anchored world changers.

He gave three points on how we can practically do this, as he acknowledges that this is not an easy task. He says, and I agree, that though we cannot control what and who our children will become, we can control what our kids are exposed to. What our kids are exposed to most likely will affect who they will become.

Anyway, I highly recommend all parents to listen and watch the series Outlasters which is very much available online (Lifechurch.tv and YouTube). In my opinion, it is one of the best I have ever heard on parenting and passing our faith to the next generation.

Having said that, this is what I realized after a few hours on chewing what I have heard. I look at my kids and the “normal” days I have with them. I can look at it as another dreadful day full of work and at times a whirlwind of so many things I need to do in a day. I must admit that I pause at the start of my day to pray and plead to God for grace and strength so I survive the next twenty four hours. And I need to be filled with His wisdom and love too so I can overflow these to my children.

When they’re finally asleep I assess if the day was a so called “success”. Have I crossed out a lot on my unending to do list? Have the kids behaved well or did they give me a difficult time? Have I taught them something good? (I homeschool my kids) –Have they watched too much TV? Have I provided them with activities that are fun? Were they bored or did we have a great time together?  I can come up with so many more questions… For those who know me well, I very much dislike wasting time and being unproductive. I naturally am wired to accomplish tasks and I always want to do them well.

I am not in anyway discounting the importance of academic excellence, or having a crisp, neat and orderly home, or having a great time and a non-chaotic day at home. These are all good things to have and aim for.

However, if I am to go back to what I value the most or what our family values the most, then I should change the way I assess the success of my day or my parenting altogether. The question I should ask myself is: “Do my kids love God more today? And similar questions around that: did they seek God today? Did I impart faith to them? Have I included God in our conversations today? Do they know more about God ? Have I shared the word of God and shown the love of God to them today?”

If I lived today in such a way that my kids get to know God, want to know God more, and love God more, then my day is a success.  That should be my most important gauge. Not other things.

I need to remember this and be reminded of this. I am too stressed with things that in the light of eternity won’t even matter. My kids were entrusted to me by God. In the end, what would matter the most is that I usher them into having a first hand experience from the joy that comes from knowing and having a relationship with their God.

A normal day with the kids

A normal day with the kids

Grateful.

The night before my birthday.

The night before my birthday.

 

Thank you Jesus that because I have you, my life is made beautiful and rich in everyway.

Thank you that I get to spend everyday with the people I love the most.

Thank you that I can never run out of reasons to thank you everyday.

Thank you for 34 years, and hopefully 60 more years that I can live for You.

All In One Moment

I have been too busy, too tired to write. I have wanted to write for so long, for so many times, and have failed to do so. This is one instance that I am forcing myself against all odds to write something. I feel strongly that if I do not write this while the thoughts and feelings are still real, it may not be the same. I need to remember these thoughts. And I need to savor these feelings. Thus this blog.

Andi, my five year old daughter, had her very first ballet recital a few days ago with Acts Manila. This was her first time to take up ballet lessons and she has been enjoying every class that she has ever attended since the first time she tried it last July. So even if having a recital entailed a lot on our part, (fixing our schedules around her classes and rehearsals, getting sponsors!—among other things) we decided for her to take part in the recital. Andi has always loved performing on stage. I remember cringing at the thought of myself performing in front of people when I was her age. But she lights up when she is there. Literally she beams with delight when she’s on stage. I remember one time, when my friend had her birthday dinner, Andi was asked to sing for her. She first said she was shy. But after one song she said that there are more songs that she wants to sing.

Anyway, case closed. My little one is a performer. She loves the stage. She loves music. She loves dancing. She has danced for us her own version of ballet countless times since she was two maybe.

Last Thursday, I watched her dance. I was getting emotional at the beginning of the program even before her turn came! And when I saw her, I cannot describe all the emotions I felt. It was a special time for me. In that moment, I remembered her again when I saw her for the first time–the moment she was born. I remember telling myself she was the most beautiful baby I have ever seen (Of course I think all mommies feel that way towards their child)! I was scared and excited, clueless and mesmerized. Her belting cries that drove me and my husband crazy. Her radiant smile and infectious giggles. I felt her tight hugs and I saw her many sweet notes and drawings that she’d make for me.

Then I saw her dance on the CCP stage.

It didn’t matter if Andi’s performance wasn’t perfect. It was immaterial that her part maybe only lasted for a few minutes. I knew it was a big deal for her. I knew that she worked hard for this. I knew that she loved what she was doing. I knew that she was happy. And for a mom, there are no words to describe what you feel when you see that in your child.

Seeing her at that very moment made me see a glimpse of the future and destiny that God has for her. I don’t mean to say that I am sure she will be a ballerina. I do have many thoughts about her future but only God knows what she will become. In that one moment, I saw Andi in the past as the baby who filled my heart with so much love and joy, I saw my little girl who is having the time of her life, and I saw the person that she could become. I saw the many things God can do in her life. They are endless. And again, how can I come up with words to describe how I felt at that very moment?

All I know is that I love being her mom. I am blessed to be Andi’s mom. It is my joy to be a part of her journey. It is my privilege to have been entrusted with the precious life of this beautiful child of God.

So thank you, Lord! I am underserving of this gift. And I am eternally grateful.

Happy Andi

Happy little ballerina

The little star and me

The little star and me

Proud family

Proud family

Cute little ballerina

Cute little ballerina

Happy Tears

A few nights ago, during our nightly reading the bible before sleeping, my five year old daughter Andi, asked me, ” Mommy does God still do miracles?”

I said “Yes, He still does miracles. His miracles happen everyday.”

To make my point more concrete, I recounted the story of her cousin Inigo, my nephew, and how God miraculously healed him. I told her how Nigo (as we fondly call him) had a broken heart when he was born, and had to have an open heart surgery at eight days old. I told her that he had to stay in the hospital a long time and we kept praying and praying that God will heal him, save his life and keep him alive. And then she excitingly said, “And he is alive, Mommy!”

Then after a quiet moment, she said, “Mommy, you know sometimes when I cry, my tears are happy tears. The tears I have now are happy tears.” And then she hugged me tight.

I did not notice that tears were swelling in her eyes as she was listening to me tell the story of her cousin, whom God had healed. It is something that is so fresh in my mind, all the details still in mint condition, engraved in my memory. Why? Well aside from the fact that I told her this story a few days after Inigo’s 7th birthday, this miracle that God gave my family is one of the biggest memorial stones of God’s goodness and faithfulness and an unforgettable display of His power.

It was so timely too, that one of my friends resent me the forwarded email I sent her back in 2007 about Inigo and God’s miracle in his life. I want to share this to all of you so that you too will be reminded as I was, that indeed our God is mighty in His power and this power is beyond compare, and that He still does miracles. I know that as I was blessed to have witnessed this miracle, you too can be expectant for God to move in your situation whatever it may be. In the same light, I hope this will also open our eyes to see the miracles that happen around us, big and small. I hope that we will never stop being in awe of our God.

Here are parts of the email I mentioned. Some were written by Inigo’s mom and some were parts were written by me, in a blog I wrote in Multiply, back then when it still existed:

I never thought this would happen in my life. My newborn son had a heart disease, it’s called Transposition of the Great Arteries which is, according to the doctors, a mechanical problem requiring a mechanical solution – an open heart surgery. Inigo was 8 days old when he had the operation at the Philippine Heart Center.

Nobody in the Recovery Room expected Inigo to live further. Each day he was seen breathing was an achievement. His chest was open for a couple of days and we literally saw his tiny heart beating. He was there lying down with several tubes inserted in his fragile body. Several others inserted at the side of his neck, on his arms and feet. The first time I saw him there after the operation his head and face were not recognizable because of edema and I saw quiet tears running down his eyes. It was a bit too much for me to bear. I spoke to him and told him Mum and Dad were always there with him, just waiting for him.

Dr.Gisel Catalan, Inigo’s pedia cardio surgeon, narrated to us a few weeks after the surgery what really happened inside the O.R. (These were the parts I wrote in my Multiply–what I remembered with our conversation with Dr.Catalan)

These are the specifics that struck me with what Dr.Catalan told us:
– “Everything went wrong in the surgery. It was clear to us that Iñigo could not make it. His heart distended (literally went out the cavity of the chest), his lungs collapsed, he vomited so much blood. He was as good as dead.”
– “When I asked Dr. Jonas to tell you his family that there were complications and that we are trying our best— I was being polite. In the O.R., we knew he wouldn’t survive.”
– “We decided to take out all the tubes and the attachments to the machines—We didn’t know why we did it. Because in a situation like that the machines are needed to keep the baby alive. We removed all of it. We didn’t know what happened. It was like the heavens opened and gave him life. We couldn’t believe what we saw. He was suddenly breathing and his heart pumping, with totally no support. It was just him.”
– “It was not highly improbable. It was highly impossible. He is not even part of our medical statistics. It was simply a miracle.”
– “I wish I can take credit for it. Any doctor would want to do that. But none of us could take credit for it. I am just honored to have witnessed that miracle.”
– “You could have brought him all around the world for this surgery. But with his condition (with what happened in the surgery), no doctor any place in the world (even with the best education and training) would not be able to save him. No medical expert could have done something in that situation.”
– “I am changed because of this. This has been the biggest miracle ever that I have seen in my medical career. And this comes once in a lifetime I believe.”
– “Iñigo has gone through a lot. And he is still recovering and fighting. But seeing what God had already done, seeing the biggest highlight of the miracle first hand, I know that if God had already done that, He can do anything for Iñigo.”

Dr. Catalan said that he makes sure that he visits Iñigo once a day (while in the hospital) not just to check up on him, but because Iñigo brings a smile to his face. “I literally get goose bumps when I see him. He has made my faith in God stronger.”

Monday night, the doctors had their last round of check-up before Iñigo’s discharge the next day. My brother thanked Dr. Catalan for everything. Dr. Catalan uttered back— “I should be the one thanking your son, Iñigo made me believe in miracles again.”

We never thought this would happen in our lives. Our hearts are overflowing and much eager to share with everybody how God placed a modern-day miracle through this baby boy. There were a lot more that happened in-between, including another minor operation, the details in the ff blog links of dear people:

http://annaduremdes.multiply.com/photos/album/8

http://voicaromualdo.multiply.com/journal/item/36

http://jennpunzalan.multiply.com/photos/photo/52/1?
(the attached photo ‘Nigo in ICU’ c/o Jenn Punzalan)

My mom had a lingering question in her head before all this happened – Does God still do miracles nowadays? — the same question another friend had in mind all this time. There are no coincidences, we just proved.
I experienced this first-hand, and the elite of doctors testify to what has transpired. Inigo is 4 months old now, and he doesn’t have any idea how many lives he changed and touched, and how much of God’s grace we felt through other people.

I pray that through what we just shared, we would always remember to whom we should live for everyday. To God be the glory.

Iñigo only 1 month old

Iñigo only 1 month old

Iñigo and I, December, 2011

Iñigo and I, December, 2011

Handsome Super Iñigo

Handsome Super Iñigo

Thank you Lord for miracles

Thank you Lord for miracles

Volunteer Teacher

Two nights ago I was at the Victory Fort (our local church) Teacher’s Appreciation Night. Two things struck me that evening. One, what a joy and privilege to volunteer for God and to work and serve alongside great men and women! When I look back at my life, discipling others to live a life for Jesus, and teaching and speaking in church are probably two of the most fulfilling things I have ever done. There is nothing like seeing God change lives. It is an honor to be in some way a part of God’s work.

Second thing that was highlighted for me that night was how grateful I am for spiritual family and all the women that God has surrounded me with. I have learned so much about faith, family, marriage, parenting, ministry, and more from them! I am blessed beyond words for all the impart action that was given to me all these years.

Thank you God for all that you have done in my life. Thank you Jesus for saving me and for giving me a brand new life and a bright future ahead. Thank you Lord for my spiritual family. Thank you for letting me be used by You to advance your kingdom. I am undeserving and unqualified yet you still use me. What an honor Lord and such an indescribable joy! Thank you!!