The Gall!

So here I am again with another story of God’s faithfulness and abundant abundant grace.

So the past few months, I was getting these painful stomach aches that radiated to my back. I have some knowledge of basic medical conditions and with some research, I already figured that it must be my gall bladder. I confirmed that I had gall stones after an abdominal ultrasound early last month. I was referred to a laparoscopic surgeon, but I did not move forward with this right away. I just adjusted my diet and started doing short, doable exercise routines. Our schedule was full as well. I was doing quite alright.

Two weeks ago, however, my tummy started feeling bloated again and a bit painful. It was down time, right after mother’s day, so I told my husband we should see the doctor already. We had to move quickly because our helper was scheduled to take a leave in about two weeks. But before we could even schedule an appointment, I had a bad stomach ache on Tuesday. It did not go away after half an hour. Cold sweat, no comfortable position whatsoever, no relief after drinking warm water. I even threw up after taking apple cider vinegar with warm water. I called the hubby to take me to the ER.

Asian Hospital’s ER is usually full but that day, I was processed pretty quickly and moved to the primary care room within the first 30minutes. Thank you Lord! My pain as well, surprisingly, was at bay by that time.

The attending doctor talked to me and then told me that they were admitting me, prepping for another ultrasound, etc etc. The nurse came to put an IV line on my hand. I asked her to be gentle, but ouch! I immediately started to cry. And as if that wasn’t enough, she had to remove it! She kept saying sorry and told me she had to try again on the other hand. She used a smaller needle this time. I was crying like a baby, even after it was all done. Haaaaay. I don’t like IVs. Even King kept saying sorry just to comfort me. But then it turned out that the IV on my left hand was the right placement. My dominant hand was free!

Then another nurse came in to swab me for covid. Aaaagh. I forgot about this protocol. I managed to avoid swabs for 2 years because I DO NOT WANT TO GET SWABBED. But I had no choice. I had just stopped crying, so when she asked if I was ready, I said no. This confused her for a bit haha. Turns out she goes to Victory Alabang. She recognized King. Thank God my first swab was not traumatic at all. It made my nose itch, but she did a good job. After my ultrasound, they told me that my schedule for surgery (lap chole) to remove my gall bladder was Thursday noon.

I wasn’t allowed to eat, which was okay with me at first. Late at night, I had to get an MRI of some sort (they call it MRPC I think) to have better imaging of my gall bladder, bile ducts, liver, etc. It was my first time and it was wild haha. The guy in charge wasn’t kidding about how loud it was. But I was somehow able to focus on the pleasant, old school music being played on the headphones. I also just kept thanking God for the ability to stay calm in an enclosed space, and the ability to hold my breath for 20seconds haha. I was told many times to take a deep breath, release, and hold (for about 20seconds), and then relax. I was in there for probably more than 30minutes. Back in the ER, poor King slept in a chair while we waited til 2am of Wednesday for a regular room.

Later that morning, they told me I could take anything liquid. The hospital gave me blenderized arroz caldo which was surprisingly good. I couldn’t eat beyond 10am though, because I was told I was going to have an endoscopic procedure (ERCP) to remove the stones that were stuck in my bile duct, that evening, aside from the laparoscopy on Thursday. So two separate procedures that required me to be under general anesthesia. I expressed my concern to the nurses and doctors, because I’d never had GA before. And two GAs to me was too much. But I agreed since they assured me it was safe.

My blenderized arroz caldo

By early afternoon, I finally met my surgeon, Dr. Ray Sarmiento. He explained everything to me. He was super nice and accommodating. Before he left, King remembered to ask him about the two GAs and why it had to be separate. I was so happy to hear him say that it would be done together on Thursday. It was supposed to be separate because two different doctors were going to do it, but I guess he decided to do both procedures, saving me from another GA! God heard me! And I was so happy I could eat haha. My last meal or water intake had to be around 5am Thursday.

Also, the doctor mentioned something about having to put a stent on the bile duct, which would be removed months later. I literally said that I wouldn’t need it, in Jesus’ name! Because I DO NOT WANT ANOTHER PROCEDURE. He smiled but continued to explain the greater probability of it happening. Somehow I did not fear this as much.

I can’t remember which day it was that I told the nurse I had some pain in my stomach (they always reminded me to tell them), but she came back to me with Tramadol. I refused it haha. I mean it wasn’t that painful. I thought they were just going to give me some antacid. I guess they were ready for me in case my pain would be that bad. Thank God it never came to that.

Everything was good on Thursday except that I started getting nervous, so much so that when the nurse put a certain medicine (they gave me loads — vit K to protect my pancreas, antibiotics, steroids, etc) through my IV, I suddenly felt bad, my face warm and numb. I panicked and cried! King also saw my face turn red. I thought something was wrong! I asked for my blood pressure to be checked — it was high. But when they adjusted the IV flow, everything went back to normal. My BP remained elevated but not as high, so whew!

King wasn’t allowed to stay with me in the pre-op room but I’m so happy my friend Doc Liza, who works there, came by to accompany me and pray for me.

When I was wheeled into the OR and prepped, the anesthesiologist gave me a sedative through IV first. I felt that quickly make me sleep. Maybe 2 to 3 blinks and I was out. Then as explained to me while being prepped, I was turned over, prone position on the operating table for endoscopic procedure. My face turned to the side for the GA, the camera and wire. Then turned over again to lying position for the laparoscopy. Surgery went without a hitch.

I don’t remember what time I was wheeled back into my room but I remember hearing King and seeing him in the recovery room. I was in and out, but my mind was awake by the time they lifted me onto my bed. It was still day. I was allowed to get up past midnight, which I did when I had to go to the bathroom. The more you walk and move, the better, they said. So I made sure I did that. I got to drink water and stay on liquid diet by morning. I was so so parched and I wanted to clear my throat so badly. I was warned of sore throat from the tube they put in my windpipe for the anesthesia, but thankfully it wasn’t that bad.

Oh and they took my blood sugar every 3 or 4 hours because it was pretty high. The thought of my fingers being constantly poked scared me, but thank God for technology because their instrument was so quick, it didn’t even hurt. My finger tips were full of very tiny slits though. Hopefully when I get my labs done again, my sugar is not a problem.

By Saturday morning, I was given solid food. And by afternoon, I was finally discharged! I asked Dr. Sarmiento if he put a stent in my bile duct, and he said he didn’t need to woohoooo!!! Thank you Lord!!! His intern changed my bandages and placed these cool ones that you can bathe with (just like the plaster used over my c-section but smaller, since they were 4 small incisions). And I did not even think of the cost, but I am sure if we did two separate procedures it would have cost more. Thank God for insurance coverage!!! We only had to cash out such a minimal, and I mean minimal, amount!

Waiting for our escorts to wheel me out and bring our stuff down.

I’m so grateful for God’s provision, timing, and grace!!! Even though it was quite stressful for King because he had to drop everything for me, it was stressful for my older children to be handling exams and helping their youngest sister with everything, we got through it! King’s presence gave me a great deal of assurance and safety. Him playing worship music gave me comfort and courage at the times I needed it. Through our HMO, I was given awesome doctors! Even the cardiologist who talked to me like we were buddies and his kind, young intern gave me so much comfort and encouragement. The nurses also were always kind and helpful. And even though our helper is out on leave, I had 5 days to recover without thinking of housework because she was still around. Haaaaay thank you Lord! ❤️

I have no more BLADDER, but I have the GALL to say that God is just so, so good!!! Thank you dear friends for praying for me and wishing me well. The story doesn’t end here though. There’s more! I’ll write Part 2 tomorrow. ❤️

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!” Lamentations 3

8 O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
9 Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!

10 For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you! Psalm 84

A mother’s day poem

Handog namin ngayong araw na ito,

Para sa aming nag-gagandahang mga ina,

Ang pasasalamat at pagmamahal,

Na sana’y inyong madama.

💙

Salamat po’t hindi nyo insip ang sarili,

Hinayaan nyong mapagod at mahirapan,

Dahil sa loob ng siyam na buwan,

Kami’y nakitira sa inyong sinapupunan.

💙

Hindi kayo noon makatulog ng mabuti.

Hindi masyado makakain ng maayos.

Ngunit kahit hindi kayo komportable,

Ang kagalakan nyo ay patuloy na umagos.

💙

Ang sakripisyo nyo para sa amin,

Ay tunay na walang kapantay.

Upang isilang kami sa mundo,

Handa kayong ibuwis ang inyong buhay.

💙

Parang doon pa lang ay sapat na,

Para magpasalamat sa inyo habang-buhay,

Ngunit hindi do’n natapos ang pagmamahal at pagsisilbi,

Dahil araw-araw nyo pa rin itong ibinibigay.

💙

Alam namin na masakit sa inyo,

Kapag kami ay hindi nakikinig,

Ngunit kapag nasaktan o inapi,

Para sa amin ay kayo’y unang titindig,

💙

Sasamahan kami sa pag-iyak,

Ipaglalaban sa pagdadasal,

Dadamayan at mamahalin pa rin,

Di magsasawang magpaalala’t mangaral.

💙

Salamat po sa inyong itinuturo,

Kasanayan man sa buhay o kaugalian.

Pati sa pananampalataya sa Diyos,

Ehemplo nyo’y aming sinusundan.

💙

Kailanman di namin masusuklian,

Ang lahat ng inyong pinagkakaloob sa amin.

Bagaman nais namin maging pagpapala sa inyo,

At mamuhay na mabuti ang aming gawain.

💙

Nakikita po ng Panginoon,

Ang inyong pusong wagas,

Pinakikinggan ang lahat ng mga panalangin,

Na inyong lihim na binibigkas.

💙

Dalangin nami’y ramdam nyo,

ang masaganang biyaya ng Diyos,

Dahil sa inyong pagiging mapagmahal na ina,

Ang kagalakan at kasiyahan Nya’y lubos.

💙

Mahal na mahal namin kayo ‘Nay!

Maraming salamat at nawa’y,

magmahal din kami ng tulad nyo,

Na tunay at walang humpay.

💙

Happy mother’s day to all the selfless, generous, beautiful moms!!! May God richly bless you today and always! ❤️

21 Takeaways

2021 is about to end. Many lessons learned. Many lessons reinforced. Let’s see if we can actually come up with 21! 😂

1. Sometimes we just have to ride it out. Heal, rest, wait. Be patient with yourself.

2. Control is an illusion. Instead of trying to gain it, relinquish to the One who has true control. It’s counterproductive to fight for control. Let go. We’ll grow more and get where we should be, faster.

3. Safe places are precious. It’s all about trust and having people we can be honest and authentic with. Take care of them. Be worthy of their trust too.

4. Give, even if they don’t need it. Give, even if at times they don’t really deserve our kindness. But be discerning. We must allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in this.

5. We have influence. Our simple posts might be an inspiration to others, to be better and to do better.

6. Entitlement is a disease. Recognize it in others and recognize it in yourself. What we tolerate, we can’t change.

7. Pride will keep us from serving others or from listening to wisdom. It can’t always be about our rights or our feelings or our opinions.

8. Listen first! Don’t assume to know what the other person is saying without getting the whole story. Walls go up, minds close when we don’t listen first.

9. Listening is loving. I feel loved when King or the kids are patiently and attentively listening to me, and trying to understand what I’m saying. Make your loved ones feel loved by really listening to them.

10. Doing is the evidence of listening and learning. When we listen and learn, it is seen in our living.

11. Gaslighting is the opposite of really listening. Dismissing someone’s feelings and minimizing what they are going through is hurtful and it might cause them to lose their voice. Be careful. Sometimes we are not aware that we are doing this, especially to our loved ones. Sometimes we even do it with good intentions.

12. Honesty is number one. I call out dishonest comments in my family, or the excuse that something said was just a joke. Lies, big or small, are unacceptable.

13. Celebrate your age! Maturity is caring less about what don’t really matter, and caring more about those that actually do. And not at all feeling sorry about it!

14. Simplicity breeds contentment. I don’t want a lot of things, and I see how that makes my life and my husband’s life easier. Not much to yearn for and buy. Not much to complain about either.

15. Allowing our kids to talk to us about anything, to come to us for every question or crazy idea they have in their minds, to share with us things that we won’t even grasp haha, to come clean with their failures or issues with others, and us responding appropriately, always with love, is the best thing we can do to nurture a close bond between us and our children. It builds trust and honesty.

16. As parents, we get affected by our kids’ friendships, especially when we hear wrong accusations, questioning the heart of their friendship. Sometimes as much as we want to fix it, we can only teach and then let our child learn on their own. It teaches them to stand up for what’s right, while being forgiving. It teaches them to be loving, while also exercising wisdom with regards to giving trust.

17. Rest is productive! Take time to do this regularly. Don’t wait for exhaustion or burn out. It takes longer to bounce back if we do.

18. Not being believed is the worst. Like you have to have proof before they receive what you’re saying. Like your word is not enough even when you have always been honest and you have absolutely no reason to lie! Give benefit of the doubt, especially to those who are generally trustworthy.

19. Skills are good, but character and heart are more important. Skills can be innate, like you might be predisposed to be good at something. They can be learned too. But heart and character are built over time, through difficulty and suffering, by dying to oneself and obeying God.

20. It’s always worth it to make the effort to build relationships. The responses may differ and our effort may not always be reciprocated, but it will matter to those who make it matter.

21. To truly love is to sacrifice. Notice and appreciate the sacrifices people make for you. They do it because they love you. Notice how willing you are to sacrifice for the people you love too. Or perhaps how you are not, and work on being less self-centered. And always remember what Jesus did for you. Appreciate the lengths He went through to save you. Thank Him for His sacrifice — the evidence of His deep, immense love for you.

Happy New Year everyone!!! Here’s to greater things in 2022!!!

May we be people who never stop seeking the Lord and are grateful recipients of His mercy and grace! May we be people who continually call upon His name and are saved from our troubles! May we be people who witness (see) the faithfulness and goodness of God and people who witness (tell) every miracle to others! ❤️

Christmas Traditions!

Our family started building our Christmas traditions since our oldest girls were small. It was a great opportunity to share them in my friend’s website, simplenotsimple.com!

Here’s the link! https://simplenotsimple.com/2021/12/02/happy-birthday-jesus-four-christmas-traditions-to-celebrate-the-true-celebrant/

Hope it helps those who want to start their traditions, or inspire you with ideas. And I hope it reminds us of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. ❤️

17 years!

It’s been 17 years since the day we said I do to each other. Let me see if I can share with you 17 things we’ve learned in our 17 years together.

1. Marriage is not the goal. It is just a tool. >Christ is still the goal.<

2. Listen first. We can respond correctly when we listen first.

3. Respond. Acknowledge. This reassures me that he cares, and vice versa.

4. Words must be backed by action. A promise must be kept. A yes must be a yes, a no must be a no. An apology is not enough if there is no attempt at change.

5. >Action should be accompanied by words.< I love yous are highly valued. Apologies are sweet when they are given without prompting. Explanations and clarifications are very much appreciated. Trust is built this way.

6. >High appreciation, low expectation.< Be generous with thank yous! Be grateful for the littlest things! Express appreciation often.

7. We have different love languages. Be mindful of our spouse’s love language so that we can love them the way they are wired to receive love.

8. Sacrificial love. We must be willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of those we love. Out of our comfort zone, beyond what we are used to.

9. Serve with joy. Joy is key! We can serve mindlessly and joylessly. We must remember that we serve the Lord as we serve our spouse and our family. Let the Lord’s delight be our motivation to serve.

10. Never be >complacent.< Being comfortable in our relationship as husband and wife is a blessing, but we remain vigilant. Pray for each other. Protect each other, and protect the marriage. We are not immune to sin and temptation. Forgive right away. We are not immune to bitterness and resentment.

11. God’s design for husband and wife is best. Husband leads, wife helps. Both humbly serve one another. I am called to submit to the leadership of my husband, and we are both called to submit to the Lordship of Christ.

12. He leads, I help. But there are situations where I have to lead, and he helps. That is well and good, as long as it is situational and temporary. I would still not want to be the leader. I help my husband be the best leader he can be. >He must be first into battle.<

12. Submission is not silence. As a watchman for my husband and my family, I need to speak up when I see something that is not right. Wisdom calls for me to do so. Out of love, and with gentleness.

13. Parenting is hard when we are not on the same page. Unity and teamwork are key. Also, a Christ-centered marriage, not a child-centered one, is best for our children.

14. Overlook the things that don’t really matter. Many things will irk us, but nitpicking will only add to the stress. Let go. Breathe and release.

15. Go on dates, on adventures, and laugh often! What a joy to have a constant friend, a best friend in our spouse! In seriousness and in silliness, till death do we part.

16. Talking is healing. Build a relationship where communication lines are always open. Make it conducive, comfortable for unloading. Listen. Understand. Empathize. Speak life. Pray.

17. Walk with other couples. For learning and growth, for accountability and balance, for friendship. Also because marriage is missional. The Lord uses marriage (not just ours) to draw others to Himself.

So much learned, and so much more to learn! May our marriage honor the Lord and bring glory to Him always. ❤️

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:9-10

Yoki’s Farm!

A few weeks ago, the girls had a scheduled free day, and our birthday girl mentioned she wanted to go to a zoo/farm. We remembered Yoki’s Farm, which we saw posts of from our friends. But because lockdowns and alert levels here keep changing, I honestly do not keep up anymore, I wasn’t sure if it was open for kids. I messaged them right away, but did not get an immediate reply. Thank God it was at just the right time when they did reply. I booked as soon as they said they’re open and that kids are allowed!

When we got there, around 10 in the morning on a weekday, there were about 2 families ahead of us at the reception area and about 5 vehicles in the parking lot. We were all considered adults except for the youngest. The animal encounter package costs 800 per head, and children (ages 4-7) get 30% off. 3 and below are free! We all opted for the animal encounter package except for 1. The farm tour (that is the same tour but without animal feeding) costs 300 pesos only. Tour guide costs 100 pesos. Tips are permitted, and I encourage it. Our guide was super nice and he made sure we could maintain social distancing in every area he led us to. I like that he and the other tour guides are working students.

Yoki’s Farm is apparently owned by a Chinese man named Yoki, who is married to a Filipina. I forget how many hectares the whole place is, but we only were toured around maybe a third of it. Our first stop was the coi pond. I never knew there were fresh water sting rays. So cool! Then we fed tortoises! Oh how I enjoyed that. The birds were super cool too! Anyway, I’ll just let you enjoy the pictures and >this link< for my amateur video. It took us about 2 hours to finish the tour. There is a cafeteria where you can get noodles, hotdogs, ice cream, and other snacks I’m sure. It’s really worth the trip! Outdoor spaces are good for us and the kids. ❤️

Sulcata tortoises (lighter ones)
and Aldabra tortoise (Lucy)
This one likes to hide but I’m glad
I caught a glimpse of him.
Don’t remember its name though 😅
Ibong adarna? Sarimanok?
Actually a pheasant!
Peahen
Galah – from the cockatoo family
Indian parakeet
blue and gold macaw
Black cockatoo – he was a heavy bird!
Akita – handsome dog 🤍
Cassowary – Kevin from Up!
Red barn
Fresh ostrich egg! It was already bought (purchased for consumption), and we were fortunate enough to see and hold it right before it was brought to its owner.
Ostrich
Foghorn leghorn!
Turkeys
Miniature horse
Zebra – the one we fed was named Marty
(like in Madagascar the movie)
Big space for the animals to roam and eat! Some zebras and miniature horses are too wild to feed or touch.
They have some pretty plants too. This one’s near the hydroponic farm.

You can also check out my daughter’s >montage< on youtube to see reptiles and the museum, and get a glimpse of the hydroponic farm!

I think they are working on having giraffes, and we can’t wait to go back! They only accept about 40 groups per day so it’s best to >book< rather than just walk in.

I pray the animals will be cared for excellently and that they live long. What a privilege to enjoy God’s creation up close. 🥰

So Here We are Again….

Here we are again, almost time for elections, online discussions getting heated. On the one hand, I appreciate the passion people have for our country. I learn from their posts. I believe they really have a place in this world, to challenge our minds and our points of view. Or actually reinforce what we already know and believe. On the other, I understand how things can get out of hand and how important it is to maintain respect. I witnessed debates, the arguing, the disrespect, the unfriending during our last elections. And I’m seeing it again now.

Our eldest daughter is going to be voting in the presidential elections after next year’s, and I was wondering…. What if our family were divided on who to vote for? What if she expresses her support for someone I am not in favor of? What if she has a different opinion from mine? Will we have heated discussions at home too? Will we walk away or cut ties from each other, and then just reconnect after elections?

By that time, she would obviously be an adult, and she can already make her own decisions. My job as a parent is to teach, impart, and yes influence. Should I force her to make the same choices as mine? As if my choice is the only right one. Can I get mad at her, intimidate her for not adopting my point of view? Sure I can, but I don’t think that would sway her to see it my way. It might make her resolve even stronger. Should I attack her or mock her when she expresses an idea that I am taken aback by?

I will share what I think is right, present facts, but I cannot be so passionate that I forget wisdom, love, and grace. Lord help me! 😂 There has to be room for the Lord to work. In her and in me. I cannot control her choices because she is her own person. I must respect that. She has her own relationship with God and I would hope that she prays for major decisions like this and I need to trust that she is listening to the Lord too. I will have the very difficult but necessary task, of not taking it personally, and loving her anyway.

The way I respond will matter more than who I vote for. Because honestly, I have used my right to vote ever since I could vote. And none of the candidates I voted for ever became president. I still believe in not wasting my right. I still believe that my vote matters. And my only choice is to trust the election process and trust the Lord for the results. I believe no matter what I do, He is still in control of everything. The only control I have is over my own choices and my own responses.

2019 local elections 🌹

And I believe the most significant impact I make is in my smallest circle, my family. The impact I will make with my presidential choice, yes, because though it does not reflect ALL of my values or represent EVERYTHING I value, it does reflect some. But more importantly, the impact I will make with how I conduct myself when talking about the presidentiables. With how much Christlikeness or how little is seen in me when I communicate to my children and to other people with regards to the elections. Because what I hope to teach to my kids the most, by words and by example, is the love of Jesus, obeying Him, honoring Him with our lives, and trusting in His ways. THE LEGACY I WANT TO LEAVE MY CHILDREN IS JESUS, not my presidential bet.

I hope in our families, in our spiritual families as well, we consider this. We are family. We are all connected through Christ. Remember that it is His name we represent. We are first a Christian. Our nationality, race, family name, school, organization, political affiliations, etcetera are all secondary. OUR LOYALTY IS FIRST TO CHRIST.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deut 6:5-7

“May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.” Hebrews 13:21 NLT

My Thoughts on ODL

So it’s the second year of online distance learning. My kids miss their face to face classes, but I still think ODL is the best set up. And I don’t mean just for this season.

Last year taught us a bunch of things. I heard my older daughters complain about school being different. About the work they needed to do and schedule they needed to keep. But I also saw them take responsibility for their classes. They woke up on time. They got themselves ready to go onscreen. They actually stayed in their classes — trust me, this is a big deal. They checked their classwork and made sure, as much as possible, they had no missing work. They communicated with their teachers as needed. I did not have to nag them or even check on their work.

After the first few weeks, my eldest surprised me by her saying she liked ODL. She said she could focus and therefore learn more. She’s the type who gets so easily distracted, even by her own daydreaming 😂. I was also pleasantly surprised by how her teachers tapped her and entrusted her with certain tasks. And through practice, her drawing, painting, and crocheting skills developed greatly.

My second surprised me with the friends she gained outside of school, and all the techie knowledge she gained from watching gamers and gaming herself. The stuff she tells me goes over my head 😂. She kept up her school work and her social, albeit online, life. And it wasn’t all gaming too. She reached out to a couple of girls, built friendships, and shared the Gospel to them.

It was my youngest that I was a little bit concerned about. She started school early the year before, so she started first grade at age 5. She was the youngest among her classmates and knowing that all her classmates were either almost 7 or already 7 weighed on me. But she also surprised me with the way she coped. I mean it wasn’t a surprise that she would get bored and would rather play, but she understood her lessons (with some help of course), did the work, participated in class, and even gained gold achiever status. In fact, all of them did by the end of the school year!

Gold achievers’ circle medals 🏅

I am a frustrated homeschooler. I love homeschooling. I envy my homeschooling mom friends who are doing really well and whose kids are thriving. We tried a number of years with our older girls, but with all the factors in play, it just did not work for us. I always have to remind myself why it is best that the kids are in regular school haha, but I do agree that it is for the best. Our loving relationships remain intact. My sanity and health remain stable 😂. They learn to have their own standards, not to please us or meet our standards, but to be motivated to do their work excellently for their own satisfaction. They learn to do school as their worship to the Lord. They learn independence and responsibility. They develop good study habits. All the reasons for wanting to homeschool them actually.

But while homeschooling, the opposite always happened. We were many times at each other’s throats, mainly because I was impatient and they would get impatient with me too. They took teacher for granted because teacher was mommy. Standards, habits, responsibility, independence, motivation — all out the window. Because of the pressure to do academics, the fun I wanted to have with them and the faith I wanted to teach and impart also kind of went out the window. Plus, the fact that my kids wanted to go to regular school already, was undeniable. I didn’t even try homeschooling the youngest anymore. Hubby also wanted stability for them, so we finally decided to put them in regular school.

When ODL happened, I realized that it was the set up I actually wanted! Somebody else in charge of their acads, not to mention a Christian school (GCFSMCS) that upholds the Word of God in their teaching, (shoutout to the girls’ awesome, hardworking, loving teachers!), while I get to be joyful, loving, present, inspired and hopefully inspiring mom to them! I get to teach them without the pressure. They get to learn from me without the pressure as well. And they are home! Not out for 4-8 hours everyday, and then busy with school work when they get home. I get multiple hugs and multiple visits to my room each day. We have more time to talk about anything and everything. ❤️

Love my girls ❤️

This year, with their experience and a better organized schedule implemented by the school, they are coping well. They are the same responsible children, the same reliable students.

ODL is a gift! It comes with its challenges, but this mom considers it a blessing. And while I know that some time soon I will have to let the girls go enjoy being in school again, I choose to cherish the here and now. ❤️

Learn From Your Mistakes

Our daughters love to talk. They ask a lot of questions. And though it’s overwhelming at times, with the three of them always having something to say (poor daddy 😂), I so appreciate and enjoy our conversations.

A few weeks ago, they asked about our past relationships. Some were easy to answer, some were not. I stalled with some, to which one of them said….

It’s okay to tell us, mom. I know you learned from your mistakes and did better.

But you know, I realized something really important at that moment. As good an adage “learn from your mistakes” is, it isn’t enough. It’s good advice. It’s true that we ought to learn from our mistakes. It’s reassuring to know that there is hope, that we can move forward from our failures. But it is not enough.

It wasn’t only because I learned from my mistakes that I decided to wait for the right man and for the right time.

My mindset needed to change. I needed to be taught and I needed to learn, accept, and believe this fundamental truth.

Only Jesus can make me whole.

No man, no human relationship can ever satisfy the longings of my soul. I am secure, only because Jesus knows me fully and accepts and loves me anyway. I am complete because for everything that I lack, only Jesus fills. Everything I am not, only Jesus is.

If it were only about learning from my past mistakes, I still would have been in and out of ungodly relationships, just trying to get better at managing them. Had I not learned to anchor my identity on Jesus, I would have still looked for happiness and security in those kinds of relationships. Maybe I would have made improvements on my attitude or my words or my behavior, but I would still not have been convinced to wait for God’s will and timing. Or maybe I would have waited, but only until I found another guy I liked who liked me back.

I can’t thank God enough for the turn-around in my mind and heart. And for discipleship — someone teaching me about Jesus and how to obey Him was key. It led me to not settle for less. To choose to wait for what turned out to be my King in shining armor. 💙

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. Colossians 2:8-10 NLT

DIY Mom

One of the best decisions we made for our home is putting our old floorboards on the wall. I like to keep things simple and minimal, so even though I don’t decorate the whole house, decorating the wall brings some attention to any celebration and to the celebrant. I like to reuse and repurpose. Having no budget spurs creativity in me. And buying party streamers and stuff online don’t work for me because I always do things last minute haha. Going out to the mall to buy is less convenient these days too. So I rely on what I already have.

Our youngest daughter graduated from pre-school last year. Our second-born graduated from grade school this year. All their programs were virtual because of the pandemic. So last year, since they only had a virtual pajama party to end the school year, I decided to have a graduation ceremony for Gianna at home. We invited some of our family to join us via zoom. And this year, I surprised Noelle with a background for her virtual graduation program!

I utilized used and unused old paper for all the cut outs. Congrats is too generic for me so I went with Dr. Seuss’ oh the places you’ll go! Gianna chose pink of course so I just put in some yellows. I almost always cut my letters free hand because I don’t have time to use a ruler and pencil, or even a stencil. I used an old-ish Chinese lantern to make the hot air balloon, wrapped a plastic container with crepe paper for its basket, embellished it with an old scrapbooking fence accessory. I used the bear giveaway from my in-laws’ golden anniversary party a few years back.

I asked Gianna’s teacher what awards we could give her based on her performance in school, so I d-i-y-ed them too. I didn’t have time to get an actual medal so I made one out of cardboard and old ribbon, for her excellent grades. I printed out a certificate to honor her for being most cooperative and friendly. I made ribbons for Best in Fine Motor Skills (I traced old hand stickers on black paper), Best in Cognitive Skills (I used old beads for the cogs in the brain), and Best in Rhythmic Skill (copied free-hand a shadow image online). Again, old paper and old ribbons.

Last year’s graduation. 👩🏻‍🎓
We awarded the older sisters’ medals from their school too. 🏅

For Noelle’s background, I used my stock of black paper which I bought for a friend’s baby shower last year, and ribbon and heart shapes that I had for the golden anniversary party. I had no concrete idea until that morning because I dozed off the night before. I kind of panicked when I woke up that day haha. I went with “you did it!” and made a graduate cap with her initials. The divider’s hinges are a tad problematic, but it’s still good even after about 6 years of being stored.

We stayed in our room during the Zoom party where we all viewed the graduation together. So proud of her for graduating with flying colors! And for dancing the Doxology. Check out the Productive Kids facebook page to watch it.

Upon seeing what I made, she said that we were so extra haha. It was a surprise. But really, it was such a small way of celebrating her and with her.

I also made flags of her name using pipe cleaners (or fuzzy wires), but the spacing on the divider was awkward, so I just put them on our trusty floorboard wall!

Too bad her medal wasn’t available yet at that time. She graduated Gold Achiever. We celebrated with her food requests though! I think she appreciates that more. ❤️

For Danae and Gianna’s recognition day, I reused the flags to cut out letters, and I finally got to use the white frames from an old I Spy board game. I kept them because I knew I would have use for them one day. I’ve had them for years! I turned the D into a P, and put triangles on top of the U and P to make arrows. I hung the other letters together using pipe cleaners. There’s a single nail on the board for hanging stuff.

Another last minute production 😂
Proud of these two for finishing with flying colors as well, and moving up!! Wish their medals were already available then too, but it’s okay because we also celebrated with their food requests! ❤️

It’s not much, but I hope my children know that this is my personal way of showing them I love them and I am proud of them (besides telling them and writing about them 😂). I hope they feel extra loved and extra appreciated, and they take these memories with them long after I’m gone. May they do the same — different form, same heart — for their children too. ❤️❤️❤️

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord. Psalm 129:1-4 ESV