Discipleship, Kids Church, Parenting

I thank God for VBC

Aaah, Vacation Bible Camp. Not something I have to do, but something I get to do. I thank God for the privilege to be part of a huge team of amazing volunteers. Their passion to serve, their love for God and for the children, their commitment and dedication to do things excellently, to push to the end, their effort to work as one team. If you could see the work that each team put in, how it all came together, you would just be in awe. And yes, they may be talented and skilled, but I believe it’s so much more than that. It’s that love that God has lavished on them, that they are able to also love others through what they do. That love and passion truly trickles down from the leadership of Ptr Carlo and Lea, and the Kids Church staff. Their impartation, and even the care they show us volunteers (shout out to Aubrey and Fely), inspires us to give our best to the kids as well.

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most of the VBC volunteers 🙂 photo grabbed from Aubrey

I thank God for the privilege to mentor the praise dance team! We were rarely complete during practices, some of us had trouble with our left and right, our number of praise dancers fluctuated until the very last week of practice hahaha. We played the stay quiet for 1 minute and then 2 minutes challenge, after which of course their noise doubled! But I would do it again next year. I thank the Lord for the opportunity to work with kids I already love and with new kids I have grown to love. Grateful for their parents as well, who entrusted their kids to us. I believe we all learned something from everything we went through. I am just so proud of the team for giving their best! Through hunger, sleepiness, tiredness, and sickness for some, they gave their best to the Lord for 3 straight days. The same passion and joy from day 1 to day 3. Talk about commitment! Talk about the power of the Holy Spirit in them! How wonderfully blessed the Lord was by His children. ❤

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the praise dance team! all except 1. 23 kids in all! 🙂 

I thank God for the privilege to serve with my girls. The first time I joined the praise dance team, Danae, while a participant, joined me. Then, Noelle, while a participant, and Gianna, the youngest volunteer (1 yr old), joined us. Now I don’t dance anymore. Only they do, with other kids aged 5 to 13. I think that fact alone is amazing! Danae and Noelle were participants first, then volunteers. But Gianna, a volunteer first, then a participant next year hahaha.

Somehow we have taught our daughters to give of themselves — their time, talent, and energy (though it is fun for them, they get tired too 🙂 ). To joyfully serve others, without thinking about getting anything in return (except maybe food because they get hungry easily 🙂 ). To love children. Well, we didn’t really teach them. I guess they naturally like little kids. To work with a team. It is not a show, and it is not about who’s the best dancer. It’s about being in sync, not only in their movements, but most especially in their hearts — the goal is to worship God and teach other kids to do the same. To worship God through their talents. Honestly, sometimes I don’t know because it is beyond what I can see. I see them having fun dancing and singing (sometimes too much fun 🙂 ), and I wonder if they get it. But I believe God sees. God knows. And God is doing something in their hearts, growing them into ladies who worship Him in spirit and in truth.

I thank God for the songs. They are full of truths about God that make you just feel loved and want to love God more. I pray that as they continue to sing and dance the songs at home, these truths will be ingrained in their hearts and minds. I highly encourage you to listen and sing them out loud. Dance, even. Here are the lyrics to one of our favorites…

The Maker (Maker Fun Factory)

I see You in the sunrise

I see You in the rain

I see You in the laughter

I feel You through the pain

Everything that You have made is beautiful

Oh, my God I can’t believe my eyes

But in all of this to think that You would think of me

Makes my heart come alive

Your love is like a mighty fire deep inside my bones

I feel like I could climb a thousand mountains all at once

And I never have to wonder if somebody cares for me

I love the Maker

And the Maker loves me

See if you can spot the littlest volunteer! Thank you for the video, Bless and Aliyah 🙂

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I thank God most of all for His abundant grace. None of it would have been possible, even the patience they tell me I have (which I don’t believe I do — ask people who know me hahahaha), if not for the abundant grace of God. All glory to Him!

❤ ❤ ❤

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Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. Psalm 8:2

 

 

 

 

 

Discipleship, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Parenting

3 Life Lessons from Cars 3

Even though I was standing for probably half the movie, because of course, Gianna and her desire to move struck again, I liked Cars 3. It spoke to me.

1. “Truth is always quicker, kid.”

I completely agree. We get to the heart of the issue if we just tell the truth. No mincing of words, no beating around the bush, no sugar-coating or trying to cushion the blow. Always with love, but clear and straight to the point. It will lead to better understanding.

Also, the quicker we hear the truth, the quicker we accept the truth, the quicker we deal with the truth, the quicker we heal, make changes, and move forward. Lightning didn’t like hearing that he was old, but the sooner he accepted it, the better he was able to train for the race. Denial, because of pride, just delays the inevitable. It’s counterproductive. It does not solve the issue. It may even make things worse. We should seek the truth with humility. Be open to correction and advice.

2. “My last chance to give you your first chance.”

Lightning McQueen prepared the way, showed the way, and though that wasn’t his plan, he got out of the way. In his pursuit to become faster and better, he taught his trainor, Cruz, to race. And in his last chance to win and continue his career in racing, he gave her the opportunity to shine. Even if it meant she would outshine him. Her youth, her speed, and her passion were an advantage. He even continued to coach her during the race. This ought to be our attitude in discipleship and parenting, but deliberately and with a goal. We lead, we teach, we let them grow, we tap their potential, and we let them soar. We take a chance on them, support them, root for them, believe in them. We celebrate when the “rookies” (our children, both biological and spiritual), turn out ten times better than us. We continue to be there to guide and mentor.

And like Lightning, we don’t quit. We don’t quit life. We don’t quit church. We don’t stop discipling others when our mentees outgrow and outshine us. We don’t stop because we’re getting old. We keep running the race with them. We make disciples together. Better and stronger, together.

3. “You got into his head.” “You’re a racer. Use that.”

Storm was a fast racer, but he played dirty. He fought dirty. Not with how he raced, but with his words. He would act all supportive and pleasant, but he was really speaking death to Lightning, implying retirement, the end of his career, the decline of his talent or skill. He used the same tactic on Cruz, when she was catching up to him during the race. He told her the lie that she did not belong there, that she did not have it in her to be a racer, that she was just a trainer/motivator. All while smiling and appearing to encourage her. Cruz almost believed him. But Lightning told her that the only reason Storm was trying to get into her head was because she had already gotten into his. He was afraid she would beat him. Satan is exactly like that. He is the expert at planting seeds of doubt, fear, hopelessness in our hearts. He does that because he is afraid of us. He is afraid of our potential to ruin his plans. He is afraid of our calling, which is to advance God’s kingdom. He is afraid of our design, which is to bring glory to God.

If Satan fights with lies, we fight with the truth. We must always remember and be secure of who we are in Christ. The power of Satan lies on our belief in his lies. When we are armed with the truth of who our God is, of who we are and whose we are, we can overcome. Cruz overcame when she believed in who she was. She was a racer. No amount of lying or berating Storm did, changed that. She did not let him go on “winning.” She did not cower in defeat. She did not give in to discouragement. She fought back and came out victorious.

 

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Eph 4:15

And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:2

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:14-15

 

Discipleship, Funny Fridays

DC 2017

The Discipleship Conference 2017, entitled Engage, was a bunch of firsts for us. King was part of the team who handled the conference, so he had to be in MOA Arena a day ahead. That meant I needed my own ride going, which I don’t think I’ve done in terms of big church events, for the past 12 years. That also meant we would not be sitting together because he would be working during the event. Something I haven’t experienced in the past 12 years as well.

We’ve brought the girls to some conferences and convergences when they were younger, but this was a first for Danae, alone with me! We decided to bring her because she was going to be transitioning from Kids Church to Every Nation Campus (youth) soon, and we wanted her to get a vision of what God is doing in and through our movement. I’ve been casting the vision in our victory group (the girls and their friends), that our group is not just so we can learn more about God and grow as Christians, but so that they too can share Jesus to others and lead their own groups one day soon. This was the perfect time and opportunity to help open her eyes more. She was excited that Ptr Steve Murrell was preaching.

It was my first time to Uber! Haha, shallow I know, but I was pretty stoked. We rode with my friend, neighbor, inaanak, and Uber expert, Thine. We sat together as well in the event, along with Thine’s husband, Edrei, who is our (Every Nation Campus) South Hub Leader. I think the fact that they were our seat mates was just perfect.

In our Vios Uber….

Thine: Are you attending Unashamed (Every Nation Campus’ student conference)?

Danae: Yes.

Me: Yeah. But you can’t be alone yet. Either Daddy or Mommy will go with you.

Thine: Who do you want to go with you? Dad or Mom?

Danae: Mom! Coz Daddy will keep talking to people he knows.

Thine and me: Hahaha. (We totally got what she was saying! Our husbands almost always get held up by people who want to talk to them, and our husbands are basically always excited to see and talk to people.)

During the conference….

Edrei: How old are you?

Danae: says age.

Edrei/Thine: Where do you want to attend? Youth or Kids Church?

Danae: Kids Church (me, secretly: awwww, my baby is still a baby, yaaaaay!!! Haha, the struggle is real!)

But really, I love how they were encouraging her that she is an intern (future victory group leader), and that she will be helping them reach out to international students. I’m just being a needy mommy. 😉

A few days before Engage, I told Danae that she will share what she learns from Ptr Steve’s preaching to our victory group. She agreed and took down notes. With some help from me, she was able to download it to her victory group mates.

YOU – together, not alone, we.

ARE – not will be, might be, could be, should be. are. right now.

THE – no plan b. we are it.

SALT – lead others to Jesus. don’t lose your saltiness and cause others to stumble.

of the EARTH – your own community. the unreached in your community.

Jesus’ ministry was out of compassion and was extremely personal.

I can’t remember if this was before or during our victory group meeting that Sunday after Engage….

Noelle: Mom, why is ate (big sister) leading vg again?

Me: Training, love. You are also going to share the Word in vg.

Noelle: What? No!

Me: Yes, love. Remember, you are all going to be doing this one day with your own groups.

Noelle: But…. I don’t listen!

Hahahaha. Even if she’s distracted often, I know she picks up a lot.

What a privilege to witness how the Lord is working in and through our daughters. I pray that they will be as convinced as their Dad and I are of discipleship. That they be willing and eager to be discipled, and that they be willing and eager to make disciples. 🙂

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[b]baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[e] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[f] Matthew 22:37-39

Kids Church, My Kids

VBC 2016

We just finished Victory Alabang’s Vacation Bible Camp entitled Waterworks Park! It was a great 3-day event for kids aged 4 (though a few were 3) upto 9 years old. Our Kids Church team has been preparing for this for months — production, design, snacks, registration, tech, team leaders. I once again was privileged to be part of the praise dance team!!!

 

These are just what the design team did on the outside. I wasn’t able to take pictures of the wonderful rooms! We have such talented people serving in church! 

The very first ministry I volunteered in when I came to church and got discipled was Kids Church. I was single, but had always liked kids. As a kid, I was fond of babies. I grew up enjoying playing and talking to kids. My friends trusted me with their babies too. And when I started with my discipleship journey, my victory group leader then was a Children’s Church (4 to 6-year-olds) teacher. She included me in her team. I served in Children’s Church a couple of years, til I got engaged (see here how Kids Church played a role in the start of our courtship), got married and got pregnant.

The baby-making train paused for a few years and so I was able to volunteer for VBC 2013. Noelle was 4 years old, Danae was 7. With two small kids, I knew I couldn’t go back to being a regular volunteer. Summer was the perfect time for me, VBC the perfect event to serve. Both girls were attendees (Noelle’s second VBC, Danae’s third), and Danae joined me also in the praise dance team. However, the train got going again later that year, so I wasn’t able to volunteer for VBC 2014. The girls attended, and Danae chose to be part of the kids’ choir at that time. For VBC 2015, which would have been Danae’s last, we already began our practices when I realized that our family was set to go to Cagayan de Oro for my cousin’s wedding! Thank God we were able to tap my friend Bianca Peralta to lead the team. They were in very able hands.

Early this year, Ms. Fely, our Kids Church staff, made sure we were free for VBC 2016 hahaha. I am so honored and privileged to be part of the praise dance team!!! Bianca and I were the mentors (aka the old ones). And not only did Danae and Noelle join me, their friends decided to join us as well! At first I felt sheepish that I invited 5 additional kids to the team without permission, discovering that there was a limit haha, but I think we all agree that it turned out for the better. This is the first time that we were more than 20 in the team and that there were more kids than teenagers and adults.

The praise dance team, ages ranging from almost 2 to 16 years old. Not included are a 14-year-old and her 20-something-year-old sister, a 38-year-old (me), and the youngest 40-year-old. 🙂


It’s such a joy to see 11-year old Bianky and 12-year old Josh, who have been Kids Church volunteers for a few years already, lead the team. Such a joy to see the faithfulness of all the kids, even the teenagers, to be there for practice week in and week out. I am so proud of the team! The biggest surprise, especially for me as a mom, was Gianna. She was not only such a trooper as I took her to all the practices I attended, but she actually danced with us and memorized all the steps! She is only 21 months old and she already has the makings of a dancer, just like her dad.

Technical rehearsal. Gianna knows all the steps! She loves to dance. 🙂 photo credit: Ms Fely


My daughters make me so proud. They practiced in church and at home. They took it to heart. They were taught first to follow, so that they could lead. And because they are leaders, they must set a good example for the other kids. They were reminded that all we are doing is for the Lord. I love what Ptr Carlo said to us on the last day of practice. How we worship reflects the kind of God we worship. When we worship and dance with all we have, the kids will see that the kind of God we serve is deserving of all we have. They will see that God is an awesome God because His children worship Him so.

Danae and Noelle, and even Gianna when she was not sleepy or distracted by the other kids, gave it their best. Danae stepped up and wanted to greet the kids once we were in the praise dance room. She smiled the whole time she was in front leading the kids in praise dancing. When it was Noelle’s age group’s turn to be in our room, Noelle owned it. She was up there leading her class, smiling and giving it her all.

VBC participants Coleen and Noelle leading their age group (7-year-olds). Their song, “I am not Afraid.”


Josh with the mic, Bianky to his left. Danae also with the other mic (under her elbow). The 8-year-olds’ song, “People Be Strong!”


Bianca and I could have dominated everything, but we truly believe in the next generation. Some were nervous, but they took on the challenge to be the ones to lead, to talk to the kids and teach them the steps, to greet, encourage and even pray for them. It’s such a privilege to witness young worshippers worshipping and young leaders rising. We agree with what Ptr Carlo said in our meetings — we want to get out of the Holy Spirit’s way. We don’t want to be the ones hindering these children from doing what The Lord is calling them to do. We do not look down on them because they are young. We nurture them, teach them, disciple them, pray for them, equip them, empower them.

 

happy servant leaders! 🙂


I’m so grateful for the opportunity to be volunteers alongside my daughters and the future leaders of our church and our country. I pray they will never stop giving of themselves, of their time and talents to serve God’s people. I pray that faithfulness, commitment, servant leadership will be instilled in them. I pray that they not only strengthen their existing relationships, but also establish new ones as they bond over serving in church. I pray that their hearts remain pure before the Lord, living the truth that nothing is ever about them and everything is always about Jesus.

Our awesome volunteers!!! One last dance — Splish splash, it’s a bible bash! 🙂

“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” Matthew 21:16

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre. Psalm 149:3

 

Discipleship, Just My Thoughts, My Kids, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Spiritual Family, THE BRAINY BUNCH, YOUTH MINISTRY

What’s The Point?

It was King’s birthday the other day. I was thinking all day what we could do for him when he’d get home from work, until I decided to use the money I had set aside, to give to him as our gift. Noelle told me to just buy him a gift, but I really didn’t know what King wanted. I knew that it was something he was not used to, yet he would appreciate.

I explained to both my girls that the only budget we had for our trip to the mall was for their dad, and that we were not buying anything for them. Danae immediately pointed out that she had money. Noelle also had money. We agreed that they would buy according to how much they had.

King was shopping in the clothes section, while the girls kept pulling me to the school supplies. Danae finally chose a set of oil pastels, which was well within her budget. Noelle chose an art kit, 20 pesos beyond hers. I agreed anyway, figuring Danae’s money would be enough to cover it.

Lining up at the counter, Danae realized that she had left her 200+ pesos at home. She was upset, but I had to remind her of our agreement. I really did not have extra. And it wasn’t the end of the world anyway. She could still get them another time. Noelle on the other hand, had her 100 pesos in her wallet, which she had placed in her bag immediately after we counted her cash. I asked King for the 20 pesos that she lacked.

The whole thing reminded me of what Pastor Steve Murrell shared at our church’s Metro Manila staff meeting regarding passing the baton, after connecting it to a funny experience he and his brother had when they were teenagers. You can run the relay the fastest, but it won’t count for anything if you leave the baton at the start.

Exactly. Danae may have had more money than Noelle, but she got nothing out of our trip to the mall. Since she didn’t have it with her, it was useless.

What’s the point of all this learning, growing, equipping, if we don’t bring it and use it? What’s the point of running the race fast, if we don’t bring the baton and pass it? What’s the point of knowing the Gospel, of experiencing the love of Christ, of learning to live life to the full, of being discipled, if we don’t GO share and teach it to others?

Let’s not miss the point. Let’s not miss our mark. Honor God. Make disciples. #Discipleship2013 #Victory #EveryNation

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Just My Thoughts, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Spiritual Family, YOUTH MINISTRY

PROMISES

Promises. We all make them. Hopefully we all try our best to keep them. But did you know that I LOVE YOU is a promise? I speak to youth and singles out there. Did you know that when you say “I love you” to someone, you are promising to love that person forever? Think about it. Going into a relationship, nobody ever says “I love you for now,” “I love you for the next 3 months, but I can’t be sure after that,” or “I love you for as long as I feel this way.”

I guess that’s why there are those afraid to utter these 3 words. It’s a “game-changer” in a casual relationship. Although I do not believe in casual relationships, wherein people just dive into them for the fun of it without really thinking about consequences, I get why they’re not so generous in professing their “love.” It’s because if they do so, it will mean COMMITMENT.

For me though, if you can’t commit to a person for whatever reason (age, distance, family background, season in life, absence of love), you have no business getting into a relationship with him or her.

But what about in the case of those who get swept up by their own emotions and easily confess their love to another?

Boys, when you tell a girl you love her, you are actually making a commitment to love her forever. That’s the very reason King and I, during our courtship, were advised to refrain from saying this to each other, as we were still seeking God regarding the future of our relationship. I advise you the same thing. If you can’t back up your statement with a marriage proposal, then DON’T EVEN SAY IT. If it’s just a case of TIMING, then don’t say it YET.

Why? Simple. You tell a girl you love her, you make a promise, she holds on to the promise. YOU BREAK YOUR PROMISE, YOU BREAK HER HEART.

Girls, I know it’s so special when you hear a boy tell you he loves you, but be discerning. Is it the right time for this? If he’s saying all these things to you so freely without backing it up with anything, you should wonder if he’s mature enough to even get into a relationship, let alone lead you. Are you able to guard your heart when you allow him to be so free with his words and actions? And even if you return the affection, unless it’s a marriage proposal, DON’T SAY IT either!

Why? Simple. You tell a guy you love him, you make a promise, he holds on to your promise. YOU BREAK YOUR PROMISE, YOU BREAK HIS HEART.

Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Contrary to what Peter Parker said, though it was a cool line that elicited excitement from Gwen Stacy and the rest of us, in this case I LOVE YOUS are the worst promises IF you can’t keep them. Because even with the best intentions and even if you have all the right reasons to break the promise, the result is still the same. You defraud and hurt another. DON’T MAKE PROMISES YOU CAN’T KEEP.

Go back to BASICS. Guard your brothers’ and sisters’ hearts by guarding yours. Like I said before, it’s a matter of life and death.

MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Parenting, Spiritual Family

C.O.R.R.E.C.T.I.O.N.

Victory Alabang held a parenting seminar morning of last Saturday, July 14. Tired from our trip, the girls and I came late, arriving in time for the break-out sessions. I left the girls in one of the rooms to watch cartoons with the other kids, so I could attend the 0-9-years-old group with Pastor Ariel and Shirley Marquez, while others attended the 10-12 group with Pastor Sonny and Malou Oaman, and the 13-and-up group with Pastor Chico and Maryanne Peña.

Pastor Ariel focused on teaching us about disciplining our YOUNG CHILDREN, by communicating with them and giving them the rod. He made it clear that giving our children the rod is NOT child abuse. It is not done to punish, but to correct. It is CORRECTIVE, not punitive. One of the verses he shared is one of the most effective verses we shared to our children, to further explain why we discipline them. I will never forget that night months ago, when Danae read it herself. She was genuinely surprised that not giving her the rod actually means we HATE her.

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. Proverbs 13:24

Our girls understand that we discipline and teach them because we love them.

Here is the acronym we learned.

CLARITY. Rules must be set. Rules must be clear.

OBEDIENCE. This is our goal: to teach them to OBEY without delay, without challenge, and without question. We need to teach them this based on mutual trust. We love them and have their best interest at heart, and they can trust our decisions for them.

RIGHT ATTITUDE. Do not discipline in anger. Have the right attitude when ministering with the rod. Cool down first, or if your spouse is present, let him or her do it. We aim for the rear end, and no other body part. Beware of hurtful words. The sting of the rod will quickly fade away, but the sting of our words can last a lifetime.

RESTORATION. After establishing guilt (ex: “Did you or did you not hit your sister?” – question answerable by yes or no only; asking them why will teach them to make excuses), tell your child that he or she is forgiven and loved.

EXPLANATION. Explain every single time why you are giving the rod. Bottom line: we love them and want them to grow up to be good people, and we are obeying God’s word to teach and discipline them.

CONSISTENCY. The same rules apply anytime and anywhere, and the same corresponding consequences apply as well.

THOROUGHNESS. Make sure you finish it. Complete the process from beginning to end, from establishing of guilt to restoration and prayer. Prayer teaches them that when they disobey Daddy & Mommy, they are also disobeying God (Deut 5:16), and therefore need to repent before Him.

IMMEDIATELY. Minister immediately. Do not wait till you get angry or till you get home. Do not let your anger build up. Do not let your child suffer in fear of his or her “impending doom” (haha). Go back to the car or go to a bath room if necessary.

OUT OF SIGHT. Keep it private. It should be just him or her and you. Keep your child’s dignity intact by disciplining him or her privately.

NEUTRAL OBJECT. Use a neutral object, such as a plastic ruler, a wooden spatula, or a rubber spatula, as your rod. Do not use your hand because we use our hands to express affection to our children, lest they be confused.

It was a good time to realign our disciplining ways to how God wants us to discipline our children. We realized when we got home that we already have old notes regarding the same topic, and yet we still needed to hear all of it all over again. It just goes to show BASICS are always important, and it never hurts to be reminded of them from time to time. 🙂

Just My Thoughts, Parenting

CONTACT!

EYE CONTACT

When Danae was born, I was mesmerized. I could not take my eyes off her and she loved looking into my eyes as well. We would hold our gaze for minutes at a time, especially while she was breastfeeding. It was like communicating to each other how deeply we loved each other, silently. No words could fully express how we both felt anyway.

Ever since, maybe also because of the mommy books I read then, I felt it important to have eye contact with my child, most especially when we would speak to her. It  is more sincere and it makes more impact when we tell her that we love her, that we’re proud of her, or when we give her instructions that she needs to obey.

We taught our kids early, and are continuing to teach them especially because Noelle refused in the beginning, to look into a person’s eyes when they apologize. A blurted out apology is unacceptable because it does not hold true. A proper apology teaches them to take responsibility for their actions. You hurt or disrespect someone, you look into their eyes to let them know how truly sorry you are. It’s hard but it’ll teach them to think twice before doing or saying something hurtful, and to teach them to humble themselves — something that is still difficult for me to this day. It’s another story though if the other person doesn’t want to look at them when they’re trying to say sorry. We just make sure that our girls do their part. They are being trained for something they will need to do, hopefully not often, when they’re grown up.

Eye contact shows my children that I am serious about something I’m trying to teach them, and it teaches them to pay attention. It shows them that I am listening to them and am interested when they’re communicating with me. It shows them also how sincere we are when we’re the ones apologizing to them. It fosters our deep connection with them when we express our love, joy, and gratefulness.

I’ve always disliked it when people do not make eye contact when spoken to. It feels like either they’re hiding something, or they’re lying, or they’re not listening, or they don’t care, or they’re prideful, or they’re insecure. I want my children to be sincere, trust worthy, humble, secure, and respectable human beings. I know teaching them eye contact will help.

PHYSICAL CONTACT

The other day, Danae told me that her classmate kissed her on the lips. Appalled, I asked her why she let him. She explained to me that it wasn’t her who kissed him, but he who kissed her.

Teaching opportunity once again! I told Danae that when her classmate/s kiss her, they are not respecting her. When they try it again, she should stop them. It will teach them to respect her, and they will eventually understand that they must not treat her that way. Overreacting, am I? I don’t think so. I say train them early so it won’t be so difficult for us parents and for our kids when they’re faced with such challenges during adolescence and adulthood.

This actually applies to all ladies. We have the power to say NO! If you want to be respected, set the boundaries. The men will take their cue from us. If we tolerate it, then they’re going to keep doing it. If we don’t, they will stop. This way, you weed out the boys from the men. This way, we know who earns our respect as well.

Marriage, Spiritual Family

COUPLE’S GETAWAY!

I’ve been trying for two weeks to write about the recent Couple’s Getaway, but I could only get so far. It’s been overtaken by newer write-ups, and has been stuck in my drafts.  Just the other day, I realized that I have been going at it all wrong.

Instead of relaying what happened and how the theme U.N.I.T.Y. (understand, nurture, identify, treasure, yearn) was imparted and taught to us, I would like to use this post to honor the people behind the whole thing – Ptr Chico and Maryanne Peña. They have made a difference in many people’s and many couples’ lives because of their personal, intimate approach to imparting what they have learned as husband and wife in the past 20 + years.

Let me just tell you that before October, I had been really looking forward to the Couple’s Getaway because it was going to be our first time to spend the night alone without the kids since Danae was born. Our original plans fell through and we had to bring the girls with us. Thus our couple’s getaway became a family getaway haha. I was disappointed at first, but then I was still grateful that we were still going. And it turned out to be just as enjoyable, maybe even more! Not only were we able to participate in all the activities and attend all the sessions, we also did not have to stress and worry about the kids since they were just in our hotel room with our trusted helper. We were even a blessing to those few who brought their kids too, since they played with our kids in our room.

I’m so grateful for Ptr Chico and Maryanne. First of all, they are dear friends of ours. They’re so supportive of us, always encouraging us. But what stood out for me during the Couple’s Getaway was the Nurture part, where we were tasked to go on a 500-peso amazing lunch date after the first session. We had to feed our kids then, and since we were staff too, I wondered if we would be able to go on the date. We all walked to a restaurant with Ptr Chico, Maryanne, their 2 sons, and the volunteers. As we sat down, Maryanne quickly told us TO GO ON OUR DATE AND THAT SHE WILL TAKE CHARGE OF DANAE & NOELLE. I was floored!!!!! I couldn’t believe she was saying this to me, but of course we took up her offer. It just really showed me their genuine desire to help us spend time together alone. They know that we don’t get to do so as often as we’d like, since our kids are young and Noelle had just learned to stop breast feeding. Like I said, though we date almost regularly now, we haven’t spent a whole night alone for 5 YEARS. It was just such a generous thing for them to do, totally unexpected and totally heartwarming. Not everybody would be willing to do it for us. NOT EVERYBODY WOULD BE WILLING TO DO IT, PERIOD. We’re grateful to the volunteers who helped us out as well.

I believe Ptr Chico and Maryanne are the right couple to take care of and disciple the married and soon-to-be married couples, via Marriage Boosters and I Do. The best teachers are the most humble and down-to-earth ones, those who are perpetual students and especially those who talk the talk AND walk the walk. That’s Chico and Maryanne, not to mention relatable and funny too. They never claim to be experts and they don’t just give us a formula that we can follow to make our marriages work. They share with us what they have personally experienced and learned in their walk with God as individuals and as husband and wife, and they let us couples talk it out privately, since each couple is different, with different issues and different needs. They help us be better husbands and wives by giving us Biblical principles and practical things to think about, talk about, and do for each other. They are also open to any of us who need counsel. One of the most amazing testimonies given during the getaway was by this young couple who went through something so terrible that the wife was already ready to leave her husband. But because of Chico and Maryanne’s help, the time, advice, and prayer they sowed into this young couple, they are still together and their marriage is going in the right direction. That is the kind of work God is doing in the lives of our couples in church through Ptr Chico and Maryanne today.

It’s clear as well that their plan is not short-sighted. They do not want the Marriage Boosters or the Couple’s Getaway to be just a seminar, which we attend, possibly learn from and possibly apply to our lives. They want us to apply what we learn and teach it to other couples, so they can teach other couples, who will teach other couples and so on. They even entrusted to King and me, one session of teaching the engaged couples of I Do two weeks ago, which was really an honor for us to be part of. We’re so blessed to learn from and co-labor with such an exemplary pair.

SO, PTR CHICO AND MARYANNE, WE THANK YOU AND WE HONOR YOU. May the Lord bless the work of your hands, cause increase in every aspect of your married life, your family life, and your ministry. May you reap a hundred fold what you have sown and are sowing into countless people, individuals and couples alike. May you leave a lasting legacy of loving and honoring God to your children, your children’s children and the generations after them. We love you. 🙂

Parenting

EN2010 (pre-con): Discipleship@Home

There were quite a number of sessions before EN2010, and King wanted me to attend the international staff meeting Wednesday morning, the day before the conference. I had to wait for Danae’s class to finish, pick her up, get the kids and everything ready, then proceed to ENLI building in the Fort. In other words, I missed the staff meeting. But King relayed Ptr Jim Laffoon’s message to me and I couldn’t agree with him more when he said that we need to be careful with technology, be careful that it does not take over our personal life, our priorities. It’s so easy to be so absorbed in the internet, facebook, our phones, etc. That convicted me and made me decide to turn on my computer for blogging & stuff, as much as possible, when the kids are asleep or when I know it will not interfere with my priorities. I don’t like that often Noelle has to literally pull me away from the computer when she wants me to just sit with her. She and the rest of my family should come first.

Anyway, we were able to drop the kids off at my in-laws’, and I attended the afternoon break-away session of my choice: Discipleship@Home. Who’s Discipling Your Kids? I picked up a lot, listening to Ptr David Houston, his wife Sandy, our Ninong Ptr Paolo Punzalan, and his wife Jenn. Awesome, witty, funny, real people who are imperfect parents just like us, who know what we’re dealing with, and who make a whole lot of sense. Our Alabang senior pastor, Ptr Ariel hosted it, and he and his wife Shirley are also one of the couples we look up to especially with regards to parenting. Some of the things shared, I already knew. On one hand, it encouraged me all the more to keep doing what we’re doing, and on the other, it reminded me of the things that we have forgotten and that we should be doing. Still some were somewhat new, and it’s always great to learn from people who are wiser and more experienced than myself. Let me share the points that struck me the most.

Life is in the power of the tongue, and it is especially powerful when the father speaks it to his children. Dads! Your kids need verbal affirmation from you, just like how God affirms His children. Even if it’s uncomfortable for you, do it anyway. Your kids will not even know that you’re feeling awkward, and they will definitely appreciate it, whether they express it to you or not.  And dads! Don’t give all your energy at work. Save the best for your family, so that when you get home, you won’t be too tired to engage with your wife and with your children. Pray for your kids and speak destiny to their lives. Be the one to put them to sleep. The quality time you spend with them will have a great impact on them. King is an expressive dad who makes time for our kids, but I still immediately downloaded these to him. Fathers have such a critical role in the lives of children, and we want to do right by ours.

We need to say our instruction ONE TIME and back it up with consequence when disobeyed. This is of course based on Biblical discipline and our instructions are those that are best for our children, not those that harm them. Many times we wait to get angry before we take action in disciplining our kids. I’ve experienced this a lot. We need to discipline them right away the first time they disobey. That way, we’re still moving patiently, IN LOVE, and NOT OUT OF ANGER. We need to be consistent, no matter how tiring and taxing, and believe that discipline will bear the peaceable fruit of righteousness. I say amen to that and I believe we are improving. It’s very timely too, because Noelle is also a force to be reckoned with hahaha.

Discipleship happens at the dinner table. Let’s eat with our kids! It can be stressful especially in my case, I have a 1-year old who won’t stop calling me until I look at her and acknowledge what she’s doing or take care of what she needs, a talkative 4-year old, and then a husband who wants to tell me about his day. Trust me, it can get crazy! But if we let other people feed them so we can eat in peace (which I do sometimes for valid reasons, but not usually), how can we teach them table manners? More importantly, how can we teach them to pray, or not to waste, or to share? There are many teaching moments at the dinner table, from etiquette to prayer, to being thankful, to generosity, to quality time, to family, to God’s Word and so on. Let us teach and disciple our own kids.

If we fail to point them to God, we are missing what really matters. Ms Jenn shared this story about a mom who gives demerits to her son whenever he does not get a perfect score in his quizzes or tests. That’s a bit extreme, but I know I too have a tendency to over-emphasize the importance of grades, of answering tests correctly. I realized that when Danae had her first set of long tests this week. I felt bad because I felt like I pressured her about knowing the right answers to her test, since we already went through them. I saw her face when I showed my disappointment that she wasn’t able to answer me when I was reviewing her. Thank God it didn’t stick! I really do not want her to be pressured to do really well in school just because she wants to please me. My kid is smart. I want to trust in her abilities. I want her to enjoy test days as she enjoys ordinary school days, and not dread them. But what really matters is she learns to do the work, learns to ask God for guidance & wisdom, and eventually she learns to be excellent — to be excellent not in fear of Mommy’s wrath, but to be excellent as an overflow of her desire to please God.

We need to let little boys be little boys. Let them be active! The first thought that popped in my head was, “What if my little girl is LIKE a little boy?” Haha. Danae is super active and she can definitely run with the boys, but I guess the answer to my question is the same. Let her be her. As long as we give her boundaries, guide and discipline her, I believe it’s right to let her be herself, be who God made her to be and not make her conform to what society thinks a girl should be.

Two other points that Ptr Paolo & Ms Jenn gave were that the relationship is more important than the rules and that it has to be in you before it can be in them. Click here and here for their blogs that beautifully capture these points.

I really enjoyed this pre-conference session because it is a serious subject, one that is very close to my heart, but the speakers made it light and fun. I did not feel condemned for my mistakes, but convicted to correct them and encouraged to keep at it. I love what Ptr David said about restoration after the painful discipline. We embrace our kids, we wipe away their tears, we forgive them, we assure them of our love, because that is how our Father deals with us when we repent of our sins as well. Thank God He forgives me for all the mistakes I make, that He loves me unconditionally, that He gives me hope and grace to be a better mother. 🙂