In the Philippines, we have a lot of sari-sari stores — small stores that sell all sorts of stuff. My posts are stories of all kinds of stuff that I experience or learn, most especially while being a woman, a wife and a mom. :)
I am a stay-at-home mom. Even though my older girls go to school everyday, I am with them at breakfast and after school. It’s not often that I go out, though I do drive them to their after-school and weekend activities, because the littlest one is with me. I have to plan my moves. I’m blessed that my mom stays with us and I can now leave Gianna with her sometimes. We have a Manang and the two older girls can pretty much fend for themselves. Many times, I bring a kid or the kids along when I have a meeting in church on a weekday and King can be bothered. There is strength in numbers, so I feel safer when all 3 or 2 are together at home as opposed to leaving only 1 at home alone with Manang (on the times that my mom is not around). As much as I can help it, I don’t stay out long either. In other words, we’re together a whole lot.
But, on the rare occasion that I leave without them, they’re always chatty when I come back! So chatty, that they fight for my attention. “Mom! Mom! Look at this.” “You know what, mom?” “Mom, look what I made.” “Mom, look what I can do.” “Mom, can I show you something?” “Heeeey, I was talking to mom first.” The littlest one now knows to say “Mom! Talk to me.” Hahaha. Sometimes they overwhelm me. King jokes that they miss me. We’re always together!
But I realize that my children love to talk to me. They want to spend time with me. They enjoy my company. They’re not tired of me (yet). Even when I embarrass them (deliberately or accidentally), I know they secretly like it. They laugh at and with me. They want my attention, my affection, and my opinion. The older ones complain when they notice that I leave home like 3 days in a row. It’s tiring at times, and the pressure is incredible. But you know what, it’s a good thing! My kids not only love me. THEY LIKE ME! They really really like me! Hahahaha.
When Gianna knows I’ve parked, she already goes to the window and screams for me. “Mommy? Weeeeee mommy’s here!” Sometimes she’ll say “You’re back, mommy? Yay!” She makes my heart smile each time. I think (I hope) she is past her recent phase of wanting me by her side at all times, like she would call me IN A PANIC, once she realizes that I’m not near her. She would cry for me not to go to the bathroom! Anyway, the older girls don’t get as excited, but they’re always happy to see me too.
Thank you Lord for this massive blessing. To be loved AND liked by my kids is indeed a good thing. ❤
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3
Danae has been asking for a phone for quite a while now. We always tell her that we don’t think she’s ready for it yet. And besides, if we do get her a phone, it would probably be a non-smart one. Basic, old school phone first. She has an ipad because it’s required for school, and we see that she needs to be more responsible with regards to its use and with regards to our rules.
The other night, however, she said that she didn’t care about getting a phone anymore. We were having a heated discussion about her attitude, and somehow being responsible and having a phone was brought up. I took her word, even though I knew she didn’t mean it.
Later on, she apologized for her attitude. She seemed sincere, but sometimes apologies are just words until you see change. But of course as parents, we need to forgive our children despite that, because we are called to love them and model grace and forgiveness to them. So all was well.
The following night, she brought up “her phone” again. I smiled and half-jokingly said,
“I thought you didn’t care about phones anymore.”
She said, with a sheepish smile, “Mommm, I was full of pride then.”
As a parent, that gave me so much encouragement. You know, I talk and talk and talk, trying to give them wisdom while hopefully setting a good example, and hope that something sticks even though many times their actions, words, and reasoning baffle me. We pray, pray, pray constantly for and with them. We discipline them and do our best to deal with their heart more than their behavior. We have Bible time with them. They go to Kids Church, we have victory group. At times, I cry to God because I’m so tired of the craziness — three kids coming at me with their own issues, sometimes their issues are with one another, and often they’re the same annoying issues. Few other times, I check out. I let King handle it when he gets home (poor King hehe 😬).
But when Danae said that, it just confirmed to me that the Holy Spirit indeed is at work in her life. She recognizes the specific issue in her heart, and she listens to the Lord! She may have a difficult time fighting it or controlling it sometimes, but she is aware of what God is teaching her. After her emotions, she eventually listens and obeys. God made me smile as He gave me that assurance. The word of the Lord is living and active. It changes me. It changes my children. The Lord is transforming me. The Lord is transforming our children. King and I are in faith, despite or maybe moreso because of our occasional despair (yes, our children are awesome many times too), that we will eat the fruit of our labor, that our children will love and honor God all the days of their lives.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezrkiel 36:26-27
Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in obedience to him.
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours. Psalm 128:1-2
A week after Pasko at Pamilya, our Alabang church had its own Christmas traditions event which we call Cherished Traditions. It was a busy day for me as I had to prepare for my DIY corner, do last minute shopping for some candles and Danae’s hoodie, and get some lab test results. Of course when you have 3 kids, things don’t always go the way you would hope. To make the long story short, I was late for call time and I came with a gloomy disposition. I had to ask my DIY partner, Belle, to pray for me. Thank God things started looking up from then on.
I was happy with my table for the DIY advent wreath. People got to see and try out different ways to make an advent wreath. I got to share what we do as a family when we light the advent wreath candles every Sunday for 4 Sundays before Christmas day and on Christmas day itself. The other DIY corner for the advent calendar was also super nice! Eden was in charge of that, with her partner Liza. We also do the advent calendar with our kids every Christmas season. Our senior pastor’s wife Shirley Marquez created a beautiful dessert table. She’s always spot on with her creations. We wives learn so much from and are inspired by her. She decorates our center every year too! I did one tablescape in Sta Rosa, but for Alabang Ms Gigi Escosar generously set up 3 tablescapes! They were all beautifully Christmassy!
photo credit: Eden Ramirez
Advent calendar by Eden 🙂
photo credit: Capella Manalang
After our guests were free to go to our DIY corners, check out the tablescapes, have their pictures taken in many picture-worthy areas, and enjoy their Krispy Kreme donut and hot choco, our cool father-daughter hosts Ptr Chico and Nina opened the program with the raffle! The raffle table was full of prizes! We had about 40 winners if I remember correctly. We also had a fun icebreaker, after which our kids gave us the most awesome dance number. Haha. Yes, I love my own. It was a joy and a privilege to teach our kids, the pastors’ kids, to dance. Thanks to the ever talented Luchie, for the song. She was the one who found Mandisa’s Joy Unspeakable. I’m so proud of our kids. They did really well despite the lack of practice, and they gave it their best. Each one of them wanted to make God smile as they danced, and I believe they did. 🙂
Ptr Ariel and Ptr Janssen & his family were our speakers. Ptr Ariel delivered such a moving testimony. Truly, he and Shirley lived their message that Christmas is not about us, but about Jesus Christ. When Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration, they went through the toughest time of their lives when their son Jerome fell ill and passed away 13 Christmases ago. Despite the painful memories, they still choose to celebrate every Christmas because it is Jesus they celebrate. Jesus is the point of every Christmas tradition. Ptr Ariel shared the why of Christmas traditions. The Morados family shared the how, the message they also shared in Pasko at Pamilya.
The whole Huang family rendered us a lovely song. It was their first time to perform together, and we all went AWWWWW when we heard their youngest Coleen’s beautiful voice. I made sure our dance crew was there to support their fellow dancer. Christmas is love. Jesus is love. It was like magic. Sigh. From the parents to each of their children, they are just gifted. ❤
Somewhere in between, they also showed our kids’ video, where they share about their favorite traditions and what impact it makes on them. To end the event, we gave each guest a really nice giveaway and they called back the dancers. It was supposed to be a celebration with everybody dancing, but I guess they enjoyed just watching the kids haha.
Our coffee table book last 2014. 🙂
Shared our well loved Christmas traditions. 🙂
Cherished Traditions is always something we wives look forward to and work together to bring to others. Thanks to our leader Shirley who has imparted so much to us about the love of God, His love for people, about generosity, about love for family, being deliberate in making memories with our family, discipling our children and passing on our values and traditions to our children. Thanks to her leadership and Maryanne’s, and to each wife’s valuable contribution on the scene and behind, it was another fruitful event. I am just so grateful that I get to be a part of it. Things I never imagined I would be doing, they’ve given me the opportunity to. Plus it’s always a joy! It never feels like work. The motivation is always the desire to honor God, to serve and be generous. Because each one has that mindset, everyone works well together. I’m so thankful that that is the spirit I am surrounded by. Unity. Love. Servant leadership. Thank you, my sisters. It truly is an honor serving the Lord with you. ❤
My girls like music. They like singing and dancing. Of course they hear different songs everywhere and of course they tend to like the catchy but not-so-wholesome songs these days. One time, Danae saw a choir competition on tv, and of all the songs she could have recalled, “spaghetti pababa” was the one that stuck! They catch some of the lyrics right away without thinking about what they’re actually singing. Danae also knows the “clean” versions of some songs, which means she is aware of the dirty ones. King and I don’t approve, but as much as we would want to control what they listen to, obviously we can’t.
Case in point, last week. We were all in the car, driving out of Festival mall. The radio was on. King quickly changed the station to one we thought was the “safest,” where they play cool, smooth, wholesome music. Just as he said the words “this is the safest,” the lyrics “I want sexual healing” softly and smoothly came out of the speakers. Hahaha. Thank God it wasn’t catchy enough that the girls missed it. I for one am not yet prepared to explain what sexual healing means.
It just proves that there is no such thing as safe. We can sometimes request the music to be changed (I’ve done that at a resort before — music had very foul language), but we can’t always protect our children from bad influences – yes, songs are not just songs; they can alter our mood, influence the way we feel, our values, the language we use, and how we act. We can only teach our children to be wise about choosing what songs to listen to.
What we try to do is check the lyrics with them and explain what they mean as much as we can. We always remind them that though the beat is nice, some songs do not teach them good things, and many of them do not teach girls to respect themselves. We tell them that these artists are definitely talented, but we don’t agree with some of their life choices and with the messages they share in their music. We teach our children to think first before adopting a certain artist’s views or a certain song’s message. King and I are never shy to tell them when there is a song we don’t approve of. Our girls usually listen, especially when they themselves realize what the song is teaching them. Otherwise, they tell us that they only like and sing certain parts of the song, and we somehow find middle ground.
It’s tricky because we don’t want to be legalistic and restrict them from listening to music, but we can’t also just let them listen to whatever they want. Tricky because it’s hard to separate the music from the words, the artist from the message. Tricky because there are some topics that they will not and should not understand yet. Tricky because we can’t brainwash them to only like classical or Christian music. I myself enjoy grunge, alternative music and I just love Pearl Jam. Well maybe they won’t have much (or any — here’s hoping!) angst to be attracted to it, but I guess it’s fine if they learn to like it too. I certainly prefer it over cheesy, shallow, boy bandy songs which my girls gravitate to. But then again, I’m 37 and they’re 9 and 6. Their preferences will change and their taste in music will perhaps mature. They will grow and gain the wisdom they need to choose what and who they will allow themselves to be influenced by.
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. 1 Corinthians 10:23 NLT
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT
What do you do with music and your kids? I’d love to gain perspective from other parents regarding this matter. Looking forward to reading your replies. 🙂
A little late and no, I have not seen the movie, but see what I did there? Hehehe. I thought this title apt because of how our older daughters are so protective of us. Many times I don’t feel the need to ask King where he’s been and with whom, well mainly because I trust him, and because my daughters are usually way ahead of me. Sometimes they ask out of curiosity, but when King comes home late, sometimes Danae asks to make sure her dad didn’t do anything inappropriate (which to her mostly means spending time alone with another woman). Her tone and her sigh of relief give her away. She’s been aware of adultery for quite some time now (though she has no actual reason to be concerned, neither in the past nor in the present, at least not in our family) and we always reassure her that Daddy and Mommy love God, love each other and love them too much to hurt our family that way. We also urge her to always pray for us. I tease King that he needs to answer not only to me, but to our daughter who seems to be more strict than I am haha.
I thought Danae was only protective of her dad, but I’ve seen how she is protective of me too. We were watching How to Train your Dragon 2 in the cinema last year, and I was seated between her and a man. She, Noelle and King were on my right. the man was on my left. I was 7 months pregnant with Gianna. First she offered to switch seats with me. Of course I declined and told her I was okay. I would rather be the one to sit beside the stranger. She seemed uneasy because she would look in my direction and ask me if I was okay. She confirmed her worries when I asked afterwards. I thanked her for her concern and King reassured her that he was watching over me too.
Noelle surprised me a few months back as well. It was a tight squeeze in the hospital elevator, and Noelle put herself between King and a woman. I was about to tell her to come to me where there was more space, when she mouthed, “I’m protecting Daddy.” I nodded and quietly relayed the message when King was also about to tell her to go around the stroller. We let her be and King thanked her.
Last week, while walking in a mall, I caught Noelle looking at King, after which she said, “Ok good, he looked away.” There was a huge storefront ad with a woman in her undies. Noelle was checking if her dad looked at it, and I’m pretty sure she was ready to tell him to look away if she had caught him doing so (not that King has a habit of looking haha). Just the other night at a video store, she warned King not to look at the music video that was showing a scantily clad girl.
Our children watch us constantly. They watch what we do with each other as husband and wife, what we do with them as their parents, what we do with and around other people. They watch us even when we’re not aware of it. They expect no less than us practicing what we teach them (such as remembering boundaries, and protecting our minds and hearts by wisely choosing what we watch, read and listen to). They hold us to the same standards we hold them to. They are always always watching.
And it is a blessing to know that though they watch us to see if we walk the talk and hopefully only follow our good example (obviously we set bad ones too), they also WATCH OUT FOR US. They are like our guardians, our watchmen. They don’t just watch us make mistakes, they warn us against making them. They remind us that they care and therefore we should always also take great care of each other and our marriage. I always tell our girls that we are a team — we help each other out, we work together. That’s exactly what they’re doing being vigilant children. They’re helping me and King keep our marriage secure and our family intact.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1Peter 5:8
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
You are two of the greatest gifts God has given me. I became a mom because you came into my life. It is my honor and privilege to be with you nearly 24 hours of every single day, loving you, teaching you, disciplining you, playing with you, goofing around with you, going out with you. It is exhausting and frustrating at times, but I will always choose to be hands-on with you two. No amount of money or potential of a career will keep me from being a stay-at-home mom while you are young. Those just don’t matter to me as much. I believe that’s how God wired me, and I am grateful that I have the opportunity and choice to live it.
Looking back, I might have known how different you were going to be from each other since the day Noelle was born. Danae was born tiny and brown, while Noelle was born big and white! You both of course have my trade mark lips hehehe. Your ways and personalities differ, but I believe you have the same qualities of being loving, kind, compassionate, generous, affectionate, thoughtful, grateful, obedient, and wise. You just display them differently and at varying times haha. It’s amusing to see my traits and your dad’s traits in you. Sometimes, you are walking contradictions really. And I’ve had that said about me too – that I’m an oxymoron (see dictionary for meaning hahaha). But no matter, I love you both so much anyway. I don’t think there is anything you can do (but please please please don’t deliberately try to find ways 🙂 ), to make me unlove you.
I know I have not been the “normal mom” for the past months, neither have I been the perfect mom over the years, but thank you for being so patient and understanding. Thank you that despite my shortcomings, you are excited for our baby and that you already love him/her so much. The greatest gift you two have given me through my difficult first trimester, though, is loving each other. Yes, you still argue and bicker, but I have seen you grow so much closer. The bond that I prayed that the two of you would have as sisters, I am already seeing with my own eyes. I am so blessed to see you help each other, depend on each other, serve each other, and just love each other.
I am 36 now, but even as I grow older, as long as you need me to play catch, stay in the ball pit with you, skate or swim or zipline with you, I will do it. (Promise to do math and all the hard stuff with me too, okay? Hahaha). Your smiles, laughter, and squeals of excitement are a joy to me. I don’t mind getting tired or putting my needs and wants aside for you. Seeing you happy makes me happy. As long as you let me have my alone time with daddy, we’re good. 🙂
Thank you for appreciating me and loving me. I do what I do for you because I love you deeply. God entrusted me and your dad with you girls, and we are fully committed to obey Him, to do our part as parents in raising you. You may not completely understand our ways and our reasons sometimes, but I believe you will when the time comes. It’s a tough job being a mom, but I thank God that He gave me the best husband as my partner and He gave me two tough, but awesome chicks to raise and love. I know you will be tough enough to be awesome moms one day too.
I don’t know how you are going to choose to live your lives as wives and mothers in the future, but I pray that you will always choose to love and obey Jesus. That you and your husband will teach your children to love and obey Jesus as well. That family will be your priority over your careers (not necessarily giving up your careers, but being hands-on moms nonetheless – yes I see it with super moms nowadays – it can be done). That you will spend quality and quantity time with your children, getting to know them and their hearts by talking to them, dating them, playing with them, and taking them on wonderful road trips and vacations. That your children will give you as much or even more joy, as you two give me. That you will see your children as blessings, as gifts, as students, as the church, as the future, as individuals who need the Lord as much as you do, as individuals with God-given destinies. That you will see and experience that being a hands-on mom is wonderful and is absolutely worth it.
It’s mothers’ day and I thank you for your sweet greetings and notes, but you girls give me sweet drawings, notes, hugs and kisses every single day. Despite my occasional sighs and grunts and our occasional arguments, I really don’t need a special day for mothers to feel special. I am already special because I have the two of you. I love you, my princesses. Thank you for making my everyday a happy mother’s day. 🙂
Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.
There are many instances where my kids do things that make absolutely no sense to me — things like doing again the very thing that has gotten them hurt or in trouble, or getting upset that they’re being”blamed” for doing something they actually did, or filling their bags with all sorts of things they don’t need making it too heavy for them to lug around, or fighting about pillows when it’s time to sleep.
I often ask them why they do these things, which more often are not at all worth the trouble, because I want to try to understand where they’re coming from. I often hear “I don’t know” for an answer.
It annoys me greatly and I eventually got tired of it. I still hear their “I don’t know”s of course, but I have since reminded our girls that they should first ask themselves why, before they do something. If their answer is “I don’t know,” then they shouldn’t do it. They should stop.
At times they tell me they do something because so and so did it, and I have heard myself ask them the age-old question “If someone told you to jump off a cliff, would you?” Haha. Not everything their friends say and do, they should imitate. If they know better, then they should go with what they know. If they don’t know better or at all, then they should pause and seek help from those who do know.
We want to teach our children to be aware of themselves, not to be calculating and stiff, but to be wise. Yes they will make mistakes, but I believe they will avoid many sticky situations if they learn to assess first before they dive into anything.
If they don’t know why they’re doing something, what’s the point of doing it? If they don’t train themselves, or if we don’t help train them, to think about their own motives regarding their decisions and actions, they may end up doing anything. They may end up being influenced quickly by others. They may end up having no conviction, no integrity, no backbone.
“I don’t know” to me, can mean three things — the first two are uncertainty and indifference. I don’t want our kids to be unsure about something they’re doing. I don’t just want them to be sure about something before they do it either, because being sure doesn’t necessarily mean being right. You can be sure yet be surely wrong. More so, I don’t want them to be indifferent, following others blindly or not following anyone at all, not caring enough about what they’re doing and caring less about why they’re doing it.
The third one is the one I want for me and my children. Obviously we don’t know everything and there will be many times that we will not know. It is always good to admit when this is true, because this kind of not knowing does not make us insecure or indifferent. It is the kind of not knowing that, though sometimes keeps us guessing, makes us get down on our knees, seek God, and trust in His plans. The kind of not knowing that makes us relinquish control and submit our lives under God’s authority. The kind of not knowing that makes us grow in our faith and have a more intimate relationship with God.
I am grateful for the privilege to train our children, and when the day comes that that kind of “I don’t know” comes out of my girls’ lips, I will all the more praise the Lord.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke. Proverbs 13:1
2012 was such an enlightening year for me, especially in parenting. There was a season where I was always stressed, very easily angered and often very much frustrated. I would complain to King about how our kids were turning out. They had their great moments, no doubt, but when they would disobey, I would be infuriated and frustrated. I felt like it was the same things over and over again. I felt exhausted.
On one occasion, I couldn’t help but ask King what we were doing wrong. I felt like we were doing our part. I’m a hands-on, stay-at-home mom, for crying out loud! We teach them God’s word, pray with and for them, spend quality and quantity time with them, teach and show them life lessons constantly, make memories with them, provide for them. We encourage them and are affectionate towards them. We don’t spoil them and we discipline them. How come it’s as if all our efforts are futile? They still disobey, disrespect, and fight us.
As I was ranting, I just felt God speak these incredible words to me:
“BECAUSE YOU’RE MAKING IT ABOUT YOU.”
That’s when it dawned on me that I WAS making it about me, about my own ability to change my children. I was unknowingly parenting with what I believed was the formula. I mean, I always knew that there’s no formula in parenting, but right then I realized that that was what I was doing. I expected results based on my work, on my skill as a parent, which is why I was always angry and frustrated. I took on the burden and the pressure to “make” godly children, when that is JESUS’ JOB.
It was so liberating to repent before God for my pride, my self-trust and self-dependence; to RELINQUISH CONTROL and give it back to Jesus, because only He can transform my children to be like Him, into Christlikeness. I, we, will do our part as parents, continually pray for them, do our best to be examples to them and sow into their lives, but that’s just about all we can do. I AM NOT JESUS and just as I could not save or morph myself, neither can I save or transform my children. I need to trust in the finished work of Christ, not on my imperfect, incomplete, limited efforts, and teach our children to do the same.
Parenting is still not stress-free of course and I am still very much flawed and human, but I don’t have to be the overbearing, ever-angry, ever-frustrated mom I was last year. I am relearning to pick my battles and to let go of the little things. Because of Jesus and His finished work, I am FREE TO LOVE and enjoy my children more.
Thank you Jesus for bringing me back to the Cross and for putting me in my place. 🙂
For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. Hebrews 10:10 NLT
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 ESV
Danae burnt herself by touching a coffee maker last week. At first, she was fine. And then all of a sudden, she started freaking out.
Danae: It’s owie….waaaaah…
Mom: We will put medicine.
Danae: It’s not working! It’s still owie…. (kicking and screaming)
Mom, help me!
Me: I can’t do anything, love. It will go away soon.
Danae: Lord, help me!!!! Noelle, pray for me!!!
Noelle: Ok ate, but first ZIP.
Haha. Danae agreed through tears and Noelle prayed for her. First she wanted her very loud sister to zip it. 🙂