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

His Eye is on the Sparrow

And He watches over me and my family…..

We were recently at our friends’ place, which they call The Lord’s Camp. Our girls were with their two friends. They went into the pool together while I was watching them in the front porch. I got distracted when our friends (the owners) arrived though, and I went inside. So I think at that point, all the adults were inside the house. But the girls are able swimmers and I knew the little one was safe with them. A possibility of an accident did not even cross my mind. But I did go back out right away. As soon as I stepped out the door, I heard splashing and a tone-less

“Help.”

I saw Gianna moving her arms in the water, looking like she was pretending to need help. I even got annoyed and commented that it’s not funny. I set my stuff down and looked up again. I saw her face. She didn’t laugh or smile. I saw fear and focus. She was keeping her head above water.

I ran and jumped in to get her. She had no floaties on. She was maybe half a foot away from the last step of the pool stairs, where she could no longer reach the floor. I carried her and hugged her. She had swallowed some pool water. She coughed and coughed and coughed and tried to take breaths in. While I kept clapping her back and, though gently, kept asking her what happened. 🤦🏻‍♀️ (Sorry, love, mommy was scared.) She shook her head no to each scenario I suggested.

When she could finally speak, she said through coughs still, that the water pushed her off the last step. She said she tried to get back but couldn’t. And then she looked at me. I encouraged her to go ahead and cry. She did. 😢

Oh my heart! I comforted her and prayed for her. I got her floaties and put them on her arms, and I changed into my suit so I could stay with her. I was also so proud of her for treading! She is an untrained swimmer but somehow she was able to keep herself from going under. I guess I focused on that and the fact that God made me see and hear her in time. God saved us.

I only cried it out the following morning and sought comfort from the hubby. I cannot even bear to imagine the what ifs!!! I am utterly grateful that though it was a tad traumatic and I was paranoid about dry drowning later in the day, the events that happened did not escalate the way they could have. And to think, I learned in the evening, that she said “help” twice and I only heard her once!

When I close my eyes, I do not have to see an unconscious child needing CPR. I do not have to relive the panic and fear in going to the emergency room. I do not have to grieve the death of my youngest daughter. Though my heart races and I take deep breaths as I remember all these, I cannot thank God enough that He saved us.

He saved us in The Lord’s Camp. And He still gave us an enjoyable, restful time there. I will remember it as a beautiful day. Such is the grace of our God! His eye is on the sparrow and He watches over us indeed. ❤️


Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm —
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. Psalm 121

What Do You Love About Mom?

The girls gave me cards for mother’s day, and in the evening, during dinner, King asked the girls what they love about me. ❤️

Such sweetness. Noelle even gave me cash so I could treat myself to some food! ❤️❤️❤️
Simple dinner prepared by the hubby. ❤️ Baked mac from Dentist is in the Kitchen (check them on IG), and King’s baked salmon! 😋

So what do they love about me? Danae said that I was patient with them even though they give me gray hair. Hahaha. They always say I’m patient but I really do have a loooong way to go.

Noelle said she loves my sense of humor. Hahaha. I do like to be silly with them. They cringe when I copy them but it gets them laughing too.

Gianna said she loves playing with me. On her card, she wrote that she wants me to still “be giggle” with her. What she really meant was to be gigil. We always cuddle and I get gigil with her (like you’re so fluffy I’m gonna die, if you get that despicable me reference 😂). And when King asked them what is one thing they would like me to stop doing, she said that she wanted me stop working (meaning writing, being on the laptop or phone talking or meeting with people, etc) so that I can play with her. Awww. My clingy one. The one thing she would want me to keep doing is decorate (like for Christmas, birthdays, etc). I love that she appreciates and enjoys the things I do. And can I just tell you? That evening right before sleeping, she said to me…

“I don’t know why I like being with you. Maybe I was born to love you so much.”

🥺🥺🥺 What a sweetheart. ❤️❤️❤️

Noelle said she wants me to stop commenting on her tiktok (I just said she was gwapa!). And she wants me to keep giving Gianna a bath hahaha. Sometimes a mom needs to delegate, especially to her because she’s usually the more patient one with Gianna, but I guess she’s over it haha.

Danae said she wants me to stop monitoring her tiktoks and what she watches. She wants to be able to watch movies without having to ask for permission. Oh, sorry, not sorry! We will always be vigilant about this. And then she wants me to keep buying her stuff. Hahaha.

I love my daughters. They are each their own person. They have their quirks. They have their own priorities and desires. They have their own minds.

A super power that moms need is godly wisdom. So that we know when to push and when to back off. When to be cool and when to put our foot down. When to let them explore and when to be protective. When to play and when to discipline. When to gather them and when to leave them alone. So that we know what quirks to respect and what attitudes to never tolerate. What qualities to celebrate and what ideas to shut down. What opinions to applaud and what values to recalibrate.

I love being a mom. A friend made me realize that I have been a mom for 15 years. 😱 It’s been a roller coaster of emotions but I would never trade it for anything in the world. I enjoy my individual relationships with my girls. To know them, to journey with them, and to have a hand at shaping them into God-fearing and God-honoring women, is indeed a privilege and an honor. Motherhood is a gift. Each of my daughters is a gift. ❤️❤️❤️

Thank you dear hubby, for coming up with ways to make me feel loved and appreciated. How truly blessed am I. ❤️

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17

Radical Change

Motherhood. A beautiful gift from the Lord. But a gift that takes work and many times, lots and lots of tears.

I remember the time, well one of my big moments of great frustration (believe me, there have been quite a few), I was crying out to God because I was at my wit’s end. I had come to another point of questioning — what’s wrong with me? What are we doing wrong? Why is it so hard to teach our kids? Don’t they love us enough to obey? Why don’t they appreciate what we do for them? Why do I even bother, when they don’t seem to care? What’s the point of me staying home and being a hands-on parent?

God reminded me of what He already taught me in one of my other episodes.

“It’s not about you. Don’t make it about you and your ability as a parent. I will be the one to change them. Wait and see.”

And then He just gave me a picture that made me laugh and extremely excited. From tears to genuine excitement! It was one of my girls being a missionary. Now that may not seem surprising, since their dad is a missionary himself. But this daughter of ours is the pickiest, the most cautious, and the most particular. I understand her because we are somewhat alike, but she takes it to a whole other level! Not adventurous with food at all, very particular about plates, utensils and glasses. She does not like heights or roller coasters, or dirty, unfamiliar places. She brings her own pillow and blanket when she feels iffy about the place we’ll be staying at. She would not make a very good missionary hahaha. 😅

But you see, God was showing me that when He transforms people, the change is RADICAL. The change in my children would be so evident that I would know for sure that it is the Lord’s work and not mine. What a promise! It was God telling me to…

“keep being the best mom you can be, and let me take care of your children. You know I love them more than you do.”

My children will be more than okay, because their growth and transformation is not dependent on my ability or inability to parent. I am merely a co-laborer, and the true Builder is the Lord. I will continue to lift them up to Him. He has them in the palm of His able, loving hands. Even when we go through rough patches, they will be okay. Just as God is continually doing work in me, He will not stop doing the same for my children. Oh the loving and freeing assurance from our God! ❤️

So now that’s the running joke in our family. Not that our daughter (or daughters) needs to become a missionary, because we would not want to put that pressure on her, although, not gonna lie, that would be absolutely awesome. When I see her being picky or in our words “arte,” I say “pag-ikaw naging missionary……” Hahaha. But really, the thought of the maturing that God will do in her and in all our daughters…. it’s just mind blowing and truly exciting!!! I look forward to everything that God is going to do in our children’s lives.

Advanced happy mother’s day, dear mommies!!! May the Lord encourage and give you so much hope today! ❤️

All your children will be taught by the Lord, and great will be their peace. Isaiah 54:13

Actions and Words

Actions and words.

They must go together

For what good is one

Without the other?

By all accounts

You are wonderful and good.

But you make mistakes

Like any human being would.

Without your gentle words

How do you start to mend?

Without your humble words

How do you help them understand?

Or a gifted communicator

This you could be.

One who draws people in

And gets their loyalty.

But if you don’t follow

Your words with honest action,

Unreliable, flaky, unfaithful —

These will be their contention.

Broken promises

Hurt those who care about you.

But remember this.

Silence is painful too.

Raising PKs

One evening, both of our older girls told me that they were exempted from their Christian Living final exam. They said that CL is easy for them. I asked why it was easy, one of them replied with….

“Because our dad is a pastor and our parents (you) teach us the Bible.”

I cringe when I hear them attributing certain things to their dad’s title/work. I was quick to tell them that it has nothing to do with their dad being a pastor. But everything to do with us being followers of Jesus. Even if King were not a pastor, he would still be ministering to, discipling and teaching people, sharing the Gospel, volunteering in church. I, too, would be doing the same thing even if I were married to a “normal” Christian. We were already doing these things before he was even on the road to becoming a pastor and before I met and married this man who was studying to be one.

In other words, we would still teach our children the Word of God. Daddy being a pastor has little bearing on why we teach our kids about Jesus. Jesus is the reason. Nuff said.

And then she brought up another thing…..

“Right. But people expect us pastors’ kids to know everything in the Bible.”

She proceeded to tell the story about one of her teachers asking the class about a certain verse. No one answered, she said her mind was a blank at that time, and she got called out for not knowing it because she’s a pastor’s kid. Haha. My exact words were….

“Kebs!”

Which they did not understand hahahaha. “Keber! Never mind what they think.” I explained and reminded them that they don’t need to let others put that pressure on them. We, their own parents, don’t. What matters to us is their flourishing relationship with God. Forgetting a verse or not knowing everything written in the Bible doesn’t make one less of a christian. Being a pastor’s kid doesn’t make one a super Christian either! No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. We are all works in progress. We all need grace. We all need Jesus.

If other people think less of my children because they don’t fit their idea of a pastor’s kid, or expect way too much from them, that’s okay. We can’t control that. We remind our girls that there will be people like that. But our goal is to obey Jesus, to continue to be changed by Him. Not for appearances. Not to compete with others. Not for our reputation. Not for the pleasure of other people. But hopefully, truthfully and sincerely, for the love of God and His people, and for the honor and glory of God alone. ❤️

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6

Four Sisters

2012. Iloilo. ❤️

Four sisters —

My mom and the elder three.

Four sisters,

Two of whom we lost just recently.

Pre-war sisters

The two were regarded.

Long lives of 88 and 85,

By the Lord, they were rewarded.

Tita Ninay

We called them both fondly.

Ninay Doris and Ninay Gena

From Iloilo and San Carlos, respectively.

I grew up knowing my cousins.

Our parents gathered us together

Either there or here in Manila,

For vacations and bonding time with one another.

More summers were spent

In CPU, in Iloilo city.

Many childhood memories there.

And the batchoy….mmmm yummy!

Nong Tinoy and the rides

In the Benz and the Beetle.

Different family gatherings.

Being the youngest cousin, I was just so little.

Nang Nits who cared for us

With her hair always in a neat bun.

The dimly lit streets full of frogs,

And the scary basement — that was fun.

Ninay Doris was a physician,

The school president’s first lady.

Ninay Gena was an optometrist.

Both in positions to help the community.

Women of faith they were.

With their gifting, served God and His people.

Ninay Gena for forty years was the church pianist!

Their ministries, by no means feeble.

Loving mothers they were,

Sweet grandmothers too.

Mentors to the next generation.

Of good repute, godly, and true.

But my fave is the sisterhood

That my mom had with them three.

Pre-war and post-war sisters,

Doris and Gena, Arline and Phoebe.

They loved one another so.

Distance was never an issue.

Car, boat, plane rides, emails and calls,

All these they made sure to do.

Despite all the loud voices,

Imagine seniors trying to communicate…

I thank God for technology.

The sisters were able to keep up-to-date.

I have daughters of my own now.

I tell them having sisters is such a special thing.

Just like their four wowas,

They will never be alone in anything.

We all miss you here

Tita Ninay Gena and Doris.

But we know you’re with God,where you belong

Because you have always been His.

CHANGE

Change.

Inevitable, you surmise.

But some are just so unexpected.

They catch you by surprise.

The reason eludes you,

Leaves you scratching your head.

At night, it keeps you awake,

Away from the comfort of your bed.

Memories surface

Of shared good times and bad.

You wonder what happened.

You can’t help but feel sad.

How long will you allow, though,

The suffering of the unknown,

When no words are said

And only coldness is shown?

Loving from a distance —

This may be the key.

Forgive, move on forward,

And set yourself free.