A Place of Refuge

Make your home an encouraging environment. Our home is a place of refuge for our family especially for the kids.

“An encouraging environment is a peaceful environment. Your kids don’t need a perfect home, but do try to build them up in a peaceful home. Just like adults, kids can feel like they are in battle all day, every day. They are battling peer pressure, culture related issues, hurtful comments at times, and competing values. They are battling bullies, their body image, and school responsibilities. They are playing the comparison game each day, and they are probably losing. Our children need their home to be a place where they can retreat, drop their their battle gear at the door, and be sheltered so they can just be themselves. Your home ought to be one place your kids feel truly affirmed and safe. Encouragement will help them remember they are loved and known and cared for. ”

– Jim Burns from the book Confident Parenting.

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#parentingtip

Brave Heart Moments

Yesterday was quite an interesting day for our whole family.  My two-year-old son gave us a scare. He put a blue rainbow loom band in his nose!

As I was preparing to put Emman down for his daily afternoon nap, I saw him forcibly picking his nose and he seemed very irritated. I asked him what was he removing from his left nostril and he cried out, “ Mommy, rainbow loom!” I saw a blue loom band inside. I tried to remove it with tweezers but it was way out of my reach. I called Angel, our pediatrician and my very close friend. She advised me what I should do to get out. But then it was nowhere insight anymore and Emman was now crying non-stop (which apparently was a good sign, because it means he is breathing well…). Angel told me to bring him to the E.R. so that they could use an apparatus that was long enough to take out the foreign object inside his nose. Their main concern was if the object stays there too long, it could cause infection.

Anyway, I am writing this blog because I want to remember this day, and I want to be able to recount this to my son Emman when he is older. I regret not videoing the doctors taking the band from inside his nose. I was holding him and my husband was parking when we were in the ER. I feel bad that I wasn’t able to document such a once in a lifetime experience (at least I hope so!).

I entitle this “Brave Heart Moments” because I realize that as much as we don’t like events such as what happened to my two year old son, these moments also pose a rare opportunity for each of us to realize how strong and brave we actually can be.

The Mom— me, I freaked out. This was the first time this has ever happened to me in my 6 years of being a mom. My daughter Andi was very active when she was younger but very careful. She rarely did things close to this. Emman on the other hand, seems to be very curious and adventurous about a lot of things. Well, could be their personalities or maybe he is just being a boy. As they say, boys will be boys.

Anyway, I am grateful for Angel, who calmly explained what I should do and assured me that this was nothing serious. She also firmly told me that the best thing to do is to bring him to the ER so it could be taken out right away.  After a few minutes, I eventually just accepted that this happened, thanked God that my son is okay and breathing, and I called my husband to explain to him what had happened and that we should take our son to the Emergency Room.

I thank God for His grace that gives my heart strength do what I need to do and his peace that makes me calm amidst the highly stressful situations. Today gave me an extra stretch and strengthened me as a mom. I can say, for foreign objects being stuck in a child’s nose, “ Been there, done that.”

My husband—Well, it is true JA’s fashion to remain calm and unmoved. Grateful to God for a husband I can depend on and who is always there for me and our children. One call and he is there. And him being there made him our hero.

The Big Sister—Andi, was concerned the whole time when we were still at home. She would try to assist me handing me my phone so I could use it as a flashlight.  When I told her that we have to take her little brother to the hospital, she was so fast in obeying what I told her to do. I told her to freshen up, and get ready. When I had to put Emman in the bed (he didn’t want to let go of me) so I can prepare our bags and so I could dress up too. I asked Andi if she can hug Emman so he can stop crying. Effortlessly, she took her brother, hugged him, talked to him, and made him laugh. In almost an instant, he was calm. Then, he was talking and even laughing!

I thank God for this moment that gave Andi a chance to be a hero to her little brother. I saw her shine the brightest amidst this stressful moment. She is a blessing to me beyond words. She is truly a gem.

My little boy—when he was frantically crying, Angel told me to give him a strong anti-allergy medicine to calm him down. It usually takes effect after 30 minutes and she said it would be perfect timing when we arrive in the ER.  She told me they usually give this there so it would be easier to do the procedure with the child. Anyway, the medicine I had was expired so I wasn’t able to give any to Emman.

I actually forgot about it because when we arrived in the hospital, he was so calm and compliant. He followed all the procedures the nurse asked him to do (check his weight, temperature etc.). Emman even walked to the room without me with the nurse. I was still filling out the forms. I asked Andi to follow him and stay with him.

When Emman was sitting on the bed and the resident doctors checked his nose, they said the blue rainbow loom was visible. They just had to use a extra long tweezers to take it out. I held Emman’s hand and I asked him to lean on me. He didn’t budge, complain, nor cry a bit! What a brave boy!

When it was done (as it just took a few seconds), we were cheering to see the mucus filled blue loom band to be finally out! I gave my boy a high five and told him that he was so strong and brave, I saw him beaming with pride. His face told it all. “He did it!”

I was so thankful that we didn’t need to sedate him or anything like that. Yes, theoretically it could have made it all easier for Emman and for us but it could have robbed him of this precious chance to face something that could be scary (for a little child), be brave about it and come out victorious!

What a priceless moment for my little “big boy”! He was my hero. And he saw himself as a super hero. As I was putting him to sleep, we prayed as a family and thanked God for being with him and healing him today. I told him, he was brave because God was and is with him. I told him I was proud of him. He was a strong, brave boy. He said, “I am like Hulk, Mommy!” (We had movie night and watched Avengers when we got home.)

Thank God for moments that make our hearts brave.

Emman 01 Emman 02

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