Marriage

SEASON OF CHALLENGES

I really enjoyed what Yeng and Michelle did to start their session entitled SEASON OF CHALLENGES, at our recently concluded Couples’ Getaway 2011. We were divided into groups of 8 or more couples. The task was for each spouse to instruct his/her blindfolded spouse to avoid stepping on the unnecessary toys and pick up the one item that is assigned to them. Whichever team would get all 10 items first, would win. Strategic planning, then the blindfolding were done in the function room. The game was outside. I was the one blindfolded. I did not see which lane was for our team, or see the arrangement of toys. King & I were the 3rd in our line and our item was the wrist watch.

I’m so proud of King! He was an excellent leader and team player! As I was blindfolded, waiting for our turn, he already gave me specific instructions. He told me that if he says PENGUIN, I’m supposed to take baby steps. I demoed it for him to confirm. If he says BIG STEP or SMALL STEP, I’m supposed to take a step but wait for him to tell me how much further or nearer, and wait for him to tell me when to set my foot down. Instructions were clear from the very beginning.

When it was our turn, I trusted him completely. When he said STOP, I stopped immediately. When I was not clear on what he wanted me to do, I would clarify. If I could not understand the instruction, I told him so, then he would change it in a way that I understood. He was calm and very patient. I was attentive and surprisingly calm too. I followed his instructions carefully, as best as I could. We went through the challenge JUST ONCE! Which means I didn’t step on any object at any time, else I’d have to go back from the beginning all over again. Of course, my Crocs flats helped too, because they aren’t big shoes. It was easier to avoid the little toys. After our turn, King helped the rest of our teammates by guiding them and encouraging them.

Our team did not win the challenge, we finished 3rd, but it was such a cool experience. The game was very telling of how a couple TRUSTS, how they COMMUNICATE, and with what kind of ATTITUDE they approach challenges in their marriage.

Much like in our marriages, we start the game on the same page. But along the way, things happen, things change. There are times that communication is not clear or is not working. We need to work to understand each other. Re-adjusting is necessary. It was great that I ended up being the one led, just as a wife is. I had to trust my husband’s leadership. I did not assume that I knew better, because I couldn’t. I was the one who couldn’t see anything! Sometimes, we have blind spots. We must be wise & loving in how we tell our spouse of their blind spots, and when we are the ones being reminded, we must trust in their wisdom and love too. Attitude is everything! If you let your temper or frustration get the better of you, then communication, wisdom, trust go out the window, and are replaced by PRIDE.

Haha, I’m getting rebuked as I write this. We did great in the game, but reality is a different story. MUST APPLY IN REAL LIFE! 🙂

Check the previous blog SEASONS to find out what our assigned item represented, along with the rest of the 9 items. Included there are the lessons we learned from the other speakers as well. 🙂

My Kids, Parenting

Danae got me!

We were reviewing for Danae’s first achievement test last week and came across examples of polite expressions in her English book. The exercise was for her to choose the proper response for a specific situation. Things like how to respond when someone thanks you. Should you say “Whatever!” or “You’re welcome!”? The most interesting scenario was of a child who broke something by accident and was sorry for what she did. The choices of the parent’s response were “What did you do??? You broke it!” or “It’s alright. Just help me clean it up.” Danae of course knew the right answer but then told me “You always do that!”

Hahahaha! I knew she would call me on that. I heard myself as I was reading the choices with her. I laughed out so loud. She really got me there!

What a way to get rebuked. The things we know are right, are oftentimes different from the way we act. I’m the type who overreacts first before being rational (well mostly when it comes to my family). It is in my knowledge to respond calmly in situations like that but it has yet to translate into action. I was reminded to practice what I was actually preaching. Now, to help Danae to also respond right, I have to set the example. I have to step up and be more mindful of my actions. As they say, kids do what we do, not what we say.

Marriage, Motherhood

HAPPY FATHERS’ DAY?

I know it’s mothers’ day and this should be a tribute to all moms. It’s not.

I want to honor my husband. Weird, right? Well, not really. I often hear people tell me I’m a good mom, that I’m raising my kids well, that I should take some credit. I don’t disagree, but I really believe it’s because I’m part of a great team and I have an awesome leader.

Of course King is flawed and makes mistakes, but he leads with such great faith and great humility. He loves the Lord and he does not assume that he knows everything. He listens and is willing to learn. He admits when he is wrong and tries to do better. He is patient, kind, joyful, loving, faithful, and forgiving. Sometimes he’s all jokes, and sometimes annoyingly so haha, but he gets serious when it counts. Constantly he speaks life, encouragement, and wisdom to me. He teaches me about God, about the church, about character, about relationships, about generosity, about family, about love, about many many things. But even when he does not speak, he teaches me. He teaches me by example. He leads us by example.

Many say that behind a successful man is a woman. I say in front of a successful married woman and mother is a good man. In front of me is my man. I am a good mom because of the grace of God and because of King’s leadership.

My Kids, Parenting

DANAE’S FIRST MOVIE DATE!

Danae watched Gulliver’s Travels yesterday with her cousin Javi and his grandparents, as she was invited the other night. It was her first time to watch a movie in the theater without us. I did not hesitate because I knew she would be in good hands, and I was pretty sure the movie was safe for kids. Danae wanted to watch it, too, so it was perfect.

I got her ready by early afternoon, got her bag ready with water, a towel, and a wallet with money. I reminded her not to eat ice cream because she was coughing and no juice because she had water in her bag (we try our best to keep her from taking too much sugar — she’s active enough even without it), but she can buy snacks. I also reminded her to be careful while watching the movie. She asked me if there’s kissing. I didn’t know if there was but I told her that she knows what to do if there is. She’s quite aware about emotions and relationships even just by looking at two people, for some reason. She almost always knows when a kiss is about to happen, and she either calls me to tell me or if I’m right there, I already notice her getting ready to cover her eyes, which she has been trained to do ever since. (For a previous blog explaining why we train our kids to do this, click here.)

When she got home, she told me that she didn’t use her money. Apparently wowo Panser and wowa Monette (lolo & lola – grandpa & grandma) treated her to a snack as well. I asked her about the movie and she told me there was kissing and that she covered her eyes. She even told her cousin to do the same. I’m so proud of my little girl! We were not there, but she was responsible enough to cover her eyes. She could have thought “mommy and daddy aren’t here, so I’m gonna do what I want! I will look!” But she didn’t! She obeyed us even when we weren’t there! We stand by our decision to teach our kids to protect themselves with the things they watch, read, and listen to. We hope and pray that this will be their lifestyle as they grow up. I am truly amazed by God’s goodness and my daughter’s maturity! 🙂

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. 🙂

Parenting, Spiritual Family

EN2010 Through A Mom’s Eyes

We just concluded our 3-day Every Nation 2010 World Conference at SMX last Saturday. What an awesome time, coming together from all over the world as one church, hearing the most inspiring testimonies, learning from the most diverse bunch of speakers ever, and worshiping God in our own ways and languages! Check out the article on Inquirer.

When registration opened, we were out of town, and we asked a friend to register for us, including the kids. It was not cheap, I tell you, but we knew it was best to bring them along. Aside from the fact that we didn’t have a choice on who to leave them with, I couldn’t also bear to leave them for 3 days. The most we’ve left them at home was for about 10 hours, 4 hours of which they spent sleeping. Anyway, going to the conference last Thursday, I was slightly nervous about leaving Danae in Children’s Church by herself. She’s almost 5 and quite independent, but I guess my protectiveness prevailed a bit over my confidence in my daughter. Kids Pastor and our friend, Larry Uy, said  I was more concerned than my daughter was. I kept expecting to see Danae’s name on the screen haha, as they might need me to get her, but Ptr Larry was absolutely right. Danae was perfectly fine in Children’s Church!  She was there for 4 hours on Thursday night and around 7 hours (not continuously) on Friday. She even told me she met new friends. Ptr Larry’s presence there made me even more at ease, too. I’m so proud of her! The problem came only when it was time to go home and she didn’t want to be separated from her cousins. She loves them so much and misses them since they don’t see each other often, that she’d cry every time. Having said that, I am so blessed by the wonderful fact that King’s family is also part of our spiritual family. My parents-in-law served as ushers at the event even. 🙂

So where was Noelle? With King and I, of course! She was manageable enough, except when she started making too much adorable noise or when she started pulling me to walk around outside. It was a riot having her around though. She had really really funny moments! She danced, made friends, charmed everyone’s pants off. Every time she saw a baby at the back or outside, she approached them, pulled her shirt up and showed her tummy for some reason haha. She didn’t stop eating her snacks. When one session was over, her favorite “Aris” (Tito Francis), took a piece from her stash and just held it, asking if it was okay with her for him to eat one. She responded by staring at first, then putting the rest of the cookies in her mouth and taking the one that was in Francis’ hand! Hahaha. She didn’t want to share at all. I saw many dedicated dads and moms alike, taking their kids up & down the escalator to entertain them when they got bored or restless. Noelle loved that escalator! It was a long and fun ride for her. When she got outside, she almost always refused to go back into the huge doors.

Truth be told, I missed some of the preachings and testimonies because I had to attend to Noelle, but thank God for my husband who did not mind doing diaper duty when needed! And because there were times that Noelle was occupied with the music, with eating, or coloring or writing (on the chair even — sorry!), and quietly distracting others hehe, I was able to sit through many of the sessions. I learned a lot, got encouraged and inspired a lot, and my faith got stirred up a lot!

The first 2 days with the kids, however, were extremely tiring for me. I slept tired and woke up tired, especially since on the first night we ate dinner in Makati  really late (MOA was closed & other restos nearby were full) and got home around 2am thanks to SLEX traffic. Poor Danae missed school the next day, which starts 7:30am, because she was also bushed. We let the girls sleep longer so they’d be ready for day 2 of EN2010. But as you can tell from the picture, by afternoon, during the break as we had our early dinner with a friend and delegate from Victory Cebu, Noelle was out cold! We actually decided from the first day that we’d leave them at home on the last day. We wanted the kids to rest and I wanted to rest too. My muscles were aching from carrying Noelle, I lacked sleep, and I just didn’t have the energy anymore. It was the right decision, although we missed them and talked about them constantly, because we were able to spend time alone and I was able to worship and listen without much distraction. And I’m sure the others around us were able to do the same haha, although they did miss Noelle’s presence too.

Looking back at EN07, I remember bringing Danae with us as well. She was 1 year and 8 months old then. This year, EN2010, Danae is 4 years and 8 months old, while Noelle is 1 year and 6 months old. It was definitely inconvenient, but I wouldn’t change the fact that we brought our kids. Even though they don’t actually listen to the preaching of the Word or sing praises to God (well, Danae does now), I believe something supernatural happens in their minds and hearts. We are starting them early, exposing them to the huge, world-wide spiritual family that we have, to praying and worshiping together, and to appreciate the beauty of our God that resonates through and transcends the diversity of His people. We are sowing God’s Word, sowing seeds of faith in our children. That alone makes it worth it! EN2013, God-willing, here we, the Luceros, come! 🙂

Family, My Kids, Parenting

WISDOM FROM MY CHILDREN

Danae was watching tv one day, waiting for the next show on Playhouse Disney. She looked at me and said, “I hope it’s Chloe’s Closet.” It just amazed me to hear Danae use that word. She uses “wish” a lot, saying she wishes she could ride a tricycle, or have some toy or whatever, but not “hope.” She wasn’t hoping for anything deep like world peace or justice either, but as little as she is, she already knows how to hope. Her first written sentence is also about hope. “I HOP I COD WISH FOR MI SCOTR.” What about us? As old as we are, do we still know how to hope? Or have we lost all of it? Who do we put our hope in?

May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 39:7

A few weeks ago, Danae didn’t want to read her Bible before going to bed. When we asked her if she didn’t want to know God more, she said, “I already know God.” Hahaha. Sound familiar? Do we think we already know everything there is to know about God? More importantly, do we think we’re so close to God that we can’t get any closer? Do we already know God’s next move, His plan?

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! 1 Chronicles 16:11

Danae is a lot like me in terms of personality, where she can make a big deal out ofsomething so small. She doesn’t know yet how to pick her battles, while I am still learning hehehe. Noelle is the one more like King, who is easy going and is fine with almost anything. They get into arguments (well, Noelle expresses herself physically, while Danae does it verbally and physically), and Danae is the one who easily gets upset. When Noelle grabs from Danae, you’re sure to hear a protest from Danae. When Danae grabs from Noelle, unless it’s something that she really really likes, Noelle doesn’t complain and finds another thing to play with or use. Danae is an active kid (probably an understatement), and can be rough many-a-time. She gets excited and “gigil” with Noelle, and we’re the ones fearful that they both might get hurt. Noelle most often just giggles away. When Noelle hurts Danae, whether deliberately or accidentally, Danae pretty much gets annoyed easily. We often remind her to take a look at her sister. Even though Noelle is younger, she could learn a thing or two from her.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12