Family, Just My Thoughts, My Kids, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Parenting, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Culture of Generosity

We were peacefully watching a movie early last night when some kids came up to our gate. I asked our helper to go out and see what they needed. My curious girls ran to the window to take a look too.

Danae ran back to me, telling me that the kids are hungry. She excitedly said that we should give them the extra can of cookies we had. I just nodded and gave her the can. Our helper handed it to the kids outside as my girls watched from the window.

I read somewhere that we shouldn’t always give out compliments or be generous with our “good jobs!” to our kids. I can’t remember exactly why but I suppose it’s because it might teach them to be complacent or lazy, thinking their mediocre work is great. I suppose also that it may teach them to seek praise for every little thing they do, and as a result, they will not have the drive to do anything unless they are praised.

After what Danae did, I chose not to say anything. I believe that we have always encouraged generosity through our words and actions and have applauded it as well. But today, I wanted to teach her that her act was not extraordinary, and that in our family, it should not be extraordinary — it should be normal.

About 3 hours later, of course, I had to at least acknowledge what she did. It wasn’t right not to. There was no need to gush or make a huge deal out of it. I just gave her a hug and told her she did a good thing. She just smiled and went back to what she was doing.

Giving encouraging words is normal in our family. It’s our culture. I understand the concern about our part as parents in promoting mediocrity and a lack of motivation, when we over-compliment our kids. But I think that deliberately withholding praise is not the key. Excellence, hard work, and joy can still result from encouragement, if done truthfully and with a sense of normality. Our kids get used to being praised, and they also get used to constructive criticism and correction. It’s a matter of balance. The true key, though, is teaching our kids that we do not do things to seek praise from men, but to serve the Lord.

Our hope is that our girls get used to giving and sharing, whether they’re thanked for it or not, whether they are applauded or just hi-fived or not acknowledged at all. That even though nobody notices, they know God sees and that is enough.

Because excellence, hard work, joy, kindness, service, love are an overflow of the fullness of Christ in one’s life, generosity, exercised with wisdom, should be, will be, if it isn’t already, our family’s culture too.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 2:23-24

He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done. Proverbs 19:17

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45

Family, Just My Thoughts, Spiritual Family

HOMEBOUND!

Here’s my take-home as we go home after ten days in the hospital….

COURAGE is not the absence of fear, but STRENGTH IN THE MIDST OF FEAR. I saw this in my husband despite his pain, his fear of feeling the pain, and his fear of what his condition will mean in the future. Although I saw him go through some emotions, I never saw him give in to his fear. I did not see him cower in despair and unbelief. He definitely felt fear and worry at times, but his faith was intact. He was and is secure of God’s love, goodness, power & sovereignty that a few disheartening words did not destroy him. I have courage because he has courage.

ENCOURAGEMENT is something you can’t do without when you’re in the hospital or facing any adverse situation. I did my best encouraging King, but he also drew courage from others. My friends would always ask me not just how King is, but how I am. The family needs just as much encouragement as the patient. Danae broke down at one point and I had to be the one to encourage her that daddy’s going to be okay. THE TONGUE IS INDEED POWERFUL, able to build up or tear down. We are grateful for family and friends who helped build us up by their hopeful messages and timely visits. We appreciate the conversations too, and all the laughter. Nothing like laughter to lift up one’s spirits!

We are also grateful for the few who spoke hopeless words to us because it just showed us that that is not what we want to be, when it’s our turn to be “there” for another. We choose to be encouraging and uplifting, knowing that one discouraging word can bring such gloom to a bright, sunny day (exactly how I felt).

PRAYER is a strong weapon. When that person said those discouraging words to us, it wasn’t anything new. We heard it already, but he just said it in a way that it seemed hopeless. I literally found myself at a loss for words when King and I were alone that night, an hour or two after. I looked at King and I knew that we both felt the same way –DISCOURAGED. We didn’t know how else to deal with it but to PRAY. We fought the discouragement and found courage once again when we prayed. The prayers of our family and friends give us much courage too, to press on and not give up.

SUPPORT from our families and friends was unbelievable. From helping us with the kids and bringing us clothes, to bringing us food and other needs, messaging or calling us, visiting us, praying for us, running errands for us. There was no shortage of KINDNESS  among our families and friends. It makes us all the more appreciative of who we have in our lives.

GRACE is what gets us through each day. THE INCREDIBLE GRACE OF GOD. God gives us the extraordinary ability to be grateful for little things. God gives King the extraordinary ability to push through his fears. God gave me the extraordinary ability & strength to take care of one who, in the first 6 days, could not do anything without my help and of two little ones at the same time. God gives us the extraordinary peace in our hearts, assuring us that everything is going to be okay. God gives me the EXTRAORDINARY LOVE to do everything I never thought I could do for my husband. I now know somehow what my mom went through, taking care of my dad as he received chemotherapy in the hospital. I now somehow know what IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH truly means.

We don’t know yet exactly why God allowed this to happen, but we do know that in times like these, how we respond is always a choice. By God’s grace, we are able to CHOOSE TO BE GRATEFUL. 🙂

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Cor 12:9

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

Family, Just My Thoughts

UNDESERVED BLESSING

We had the privilege of staying one night at a nearby hotel as we were generously blessed by a friend. We used the opportunity to celebrate my mom’s birthday with my family and my brother’s family. As we were telling the story about how we got the overnight stay and that we weren’t the only ones blessed by our friend, one of them quipped that King should keep being “good” so that more of such blessings will come our way.

There was nothing wrong with what was said, but it just made me realize something. I know that this was not given to us because King was “good,” though indeed he is. Or given to our other friends because they were “good,” though indeed they are. I believe it was given to us because that friend of ours who blessed us, really just wanted to bless us. It’s about his desire to give, his generosity, not about how “good” he thinks we are.

Just as God blesses us, it’s not about how deserving we are, but it’s about His generosity. A lot of the time we are undeserving, but He blesses us, is gracious to us, is faithful to us anyway. When we respond with grateful hearts, we get blessed even more — we got upgraded to an awesome suite! 🙂

Family

Two Loved Ones Lost

January was an eventful start of our year.

The Luceros celebrated New Year’s Eve with us in our home. We celebrated my nephew Gabby’s 3rd birthday, and my daughter Noelle’s 2nd birthday. We had an eventful week of prayer and fasting in church. We had a great family reunion and vacation in Boracay with the US & Cagayan de Oro Torreses.

And sadly, during the first and second week of the month, we lost two loved ones a week apart from each other. The first was my aunt (who is really my second cousin) and the second was King’s uncle. I don’t know if they ever met in any of our family gatherings, but when I started thinking about it, they had so much in common.

We call my aunt Tita Bem, though her real name is Esther. We call King’s uncle Tito Bembs, though his real name is Rolando. They were both single, never married, and did not have any kids. They were both in their 60s when they passed away. They were both great cooks too!

I will always remember Tita Bem’s generosity because for many years she baked me my birthday cakes. She shared with me her recipes when I had an interest in baking cookies and making lasagna. She was the one who gave me the recipes to the sandwiches I make, which my friends tell me are delicious. She would give us discounts when we’d order from her, whether to give out baked goodies as gifts even before I had a family, or for my daughters’ parties when I had kids. She was really an awesome baker. My favorites were her lasagna of course, her revel bars, snicker doodles, banana cup cakes, carrot-banana cake with cream cheese, chocolate cup cakes with marshmallow icing! At least I can say that a small part of her legacy is somewhat passed down to me. All I need now is an oven so I can start baking lasagna and snicker doodles again haha. The rest, I will leave to the experts. Tita Bem’s legacy of delicious food, which she inherited from her mom, actually lives on, as she has passed it on to her assistant Lenlen who may just be as gifted as Tita Bem. I thought that was extremely generous of her, considering Lenlen is not a blood relative. That really speaks of her giving nature that was not confined to family alone, just as she gave her time, her cooking, baking, singing, and beautifying talents and efforts to serve the Lord and His church.

Generosity is also something my tita had in common with King’s uncle. Tito Bembs, my father-in-law’s brother, from stories told by everyone who spoke in his eulogy and told to me by King himself, was a man who always thought of others first. He gave even if it would mean he had nothing left for himself. I would say he was generous to a fault, because many times he was already abused by other people, but he gave nonetheless. For him, possessions are merely possessions. People, especially people that he loved and cared about, were what mattered, and therefore he was always willing to help them. I got a taste of his generosity too, when he sent us a comforter as a wedding gift. He was still abroad then and I’d never met him yet, but he sent it to us, and it was actually what we used as our very first “bed” in our very first house in Sta Rosa! He also cooked the delicious food that we served in Danae’s 1st birthday party. He was quite a character too, always making us laugh. His legacy of generosity and humor lives on among his nephews, my husband included.

Tita Bem and Tito Bembs are two people whom we love and whose lives made an impact in ours and in many others. They are missed and they will always be remembered.