Discipleship, Spiritual Family

Great Faith

It’s prayer and fasting again! Nothing like starting the year right as a family. Using the kids’ manual, we talked about the great faith of Abraham and then Sarah last night.

When asked what could be keeping them from hearing God’s voice, perhaps distracting them during their quiet time, Danae and Noelle gave such honest answers. Funny that Noelle included Gianna in her list. Her little sister really is a distraction because they like to play with each other. 😂When asked what one step she can take to help her hear God better, she said that she would lock herself in the room when it’s time to read her Bible and pray. Great action plan.

Danae’s answer was funny too, but profound. She said that her own thoughts distracted her from hearing God. I found it funny because she does get sidetracked easily with things that pop in her head. Then for her one step, she said that she would focus more and WONDER about God’s word more. I thought at first that was a pretty vague answer, not much of an action plan. But when we started praying, I realized she was on point.

To wonder more means to be more curious, to be more interested. To want to know God more.

Wow. I say amen to that. I pray that wonder, that desire grows as they/we continue to read the Bible. We have also been talking about writing God’s word in the tablet of our heart, so I pray that that growing wonder will translate to unwavering faith, straight paths, and great love for the Lord. ❤️

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. Romans 4:19-21

My Kids, Parenting

GOD VS SATAN 2

“Satan made me do it!” “Si Satan kasi!” Words we used to hear Danae say when we would discipline her.

Yup, we do that sometimes too. We blame others for the things that “happen” to us. Really? It’s his fault? It’s her fault? Really?

We always have a choice. Satan, or anyone else for that matter, can’t make us do anything. We have control over our thoughts and actions. It is a choice WE, consciously or unconsciously, make. We can choose to obey God, and not give the devil a foothold. We can choose to believe God, instead of believing the lies of the enemy. We can choose to fight with the word of God, instead of giving in to Satan’s temptations.

Like I said in my old blog, Danae is only 6 but she is already experiencing this struggle in her heart. She is aware of it and she can articulate it. What she needs to learn now, and not later like me, is to stop pointing fingers at others and to own up to her mistakes. She has the power to fight the enemy. She has the power to resist the power of suggestion, whether from satan himself, or from her sister, cousins or friends. But when she does make a mistake, she also has the power to CHOOSE to RESPOND, to correction or any situation, RIGHT.

In Christ, we hold that power as well. The question is, are we using it?

Family, Parenting, TRAVEL

FAMILY FIT FOR TRAVEL!

Our family loves to travel! I guess it started when my parents took me on my first plane ride when I was newly born. My mom gave birth to me in St. Luke’s, and flew me back to San Carlos, Negros Occidental where we lived then. As far as I can remember, we traveled yearly, whether on road trips, boat trips (and I mean Negros Navigation 2-night trips, sometimes in the economy section too!), or plane rides. Batangas, Baguio, Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro were the cities we most frequented while growing up. My mom, because of her job, was provided by her company with free first class trips, which she almost always exchanged to economy tickets so we could all (my dad, mom, brother and me) travel out of the country. When I was older, we visited more tourist spots in the beautiful PI, such as Boracay, Cebu, Bohol, Siargao. I’ve really been blessed to have the opportunity to visit and enjoy different places.

I’m sure it was part of God’s plan that He gave me a husband who also loves to travel. We got to experience it together for the first time on a road trip with my family to the North when we were still engaged. He and I first went with my peers to Pangasinan, then met up with my family in Baguio, then we drove to Vigan, then Laoag, and Pagudpud. Actually, he lived in Caloocan then, so every trip to my house in the south was a road trip! He proposed to me in Bataan. We got married in Tagaytay. Our honeymoon was in Camiguin Island.

Three months after we got married, we were set to leave for Hong Kong. That was the morning I discovered that I was pregnant. So even in the womb, Danae was already traveling haha! When Danae was 2 months outside the womb, her first plane ride, boat ride and first trip to the beach, and first Christmas were when we flew to Cagayan de Oro and visited Camiguin. Her first road trip was to Baguio at 7 months old. When Noelle was still in my womb, she also traveled to Cagayan de Oro. Her first road trip and trip to the beach was when she was 4 months old, in Dagupan and Subic. Her first plane ride and boat ride was at 7 months old, when we went to Cagayan de Oro and Camiguin for my cousin’s wedding.

When Danae was 4 and Noelle was 11 months old, we went on their first international trip to Hong Kong and visited Mickey Mouse!

Traveling is really part of our design as a family. And I can see that in how manageable my girls are whenwe go on trips. Of course it was very hard the first few times, but because we’ve done it often enough, they’re pretty much used to it. They rarely cry on the plane, even as babies. They can be a little bit too excited, in fact. Imagine, I was able to fly alone with the two girls to and from Bacolod, when Danae was 4 and Noelle was 10 months old! They’re not scared of the water either, though Noelle was, during her first encounter. But no sea or motion sickness at all.

We are in faith that God will let us travel even more! It can be costly (but thank God for my mom who treats us and for Cebu Pacific’s piso fares and the like), but the memories are worth every centavo. It is always exhausting, but the experiences we have as a family, especially for our children, are worth all the effort. This year, 2 family trips down, and 1 missions trip for King and 1 more family trip to go. But as my friends encouraged me last month, I can’t wait for God’s surprises for us! There might be more! Woohoo! 🙂

FEATURED

FRANTIC and FRUITFUL FEBRUARY 2

A friend and church-mate, Ms Evelyn Ong, and her group built this tradition of blessing the girls of Marillac Hills, Muntinlupa every year. This is their fourth year of doing this outreach, and they gave me the privilege to share God’s word.

Because it was February, the theme was God’s love. I had the liberty to choose what message to share and because the girls there have sensitive cases, I chose to share about Identity, but the bottom line of every point was how much God loves them. My brilliant husband gave me the idea for a prop to use as the object lesson.

I made a mini cake out of clay. I created it myself and I thought the outcome was pretty good. It was my first time to make one. I loved my creation. It was valuable in my eyes. It was complete, whole, beautiful.

God created us, therefore He knows every single little detail about us. God created us beautiful, whole, at peace, and with a purpose. We are His creation, His most valued, His masterpiece, His beloved.

Everybody thought my creation was nice. As I ended my “preaching,” I asked a volunteer to come up and destroy the cake. A couple of them didn’t want to do it because it was too pretty to destroy. The whole place echoed with shouts, as they seriously tried to dissuade the last volunteer from touching it. But she finally did, at my encouragement.

When sin, whether our own or others’,  destroys, devastates, depresses us, we end up different from how God made us, how God sees us. No longer beautiful, no longer whole, no longer at peace — broken, bitter, disillusioned, lost.

My cake looked trashed. The princess was on the floor and cut in half, the decorations were a mess. Some even said it had turned ugly. Many agreed with me when I asked, that that was how they felt at times after bad things happened to them.

Just as I can easily recreate what my volunteer destroyed, GOD CAN EASILY RESTORE AND RENEW WHAT SIN AND SATAN HAS DESTROYED. Just as only I can fix the mini clay cake and make it look exactly the way it used to look because I am its creator, GOD IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN MEND US, mend our broken hearts and bind up our wounds BECAUSE HE IS OUR CREATOR. He is THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN MAKE US COMPLETE, make us beautiful and whole again. The only one who can give us peace. The only one who can bring us back to our original purpose. The cake cannot fix itself. We cannot mend ourselves. But I can make my cake look even better after it has been destroyed. And GOD NOT ONLY CAN, BUT WILL GIVE US A NEW HEART even after we have been destroyed, and MAKE US NEW CREATIONS!

That is the great hope we have in the Lord. That is how great His love is for us. 🙂

Just My Thoughts, Parenting

SOUND FAMILIAR?

I’ve taken note of these conversations in the past months because they made me think. Campus missionary Francis Villanueva’s great preaching at youth service yesterday about LUSOT, LAKAD & LAGAY, pushed me to finally finish and post it.

Me: Nae, don’t stand on that chair. Your sister will copy you. (a constant line in our household)

Danae: Oooh o-kay. I don’t want to be an “ATE” na.

Me: Why?

Danae: ‘Coz Noelle always copies me eh.

It really struck me when I had this conversation with Danae months ago. Don’t we feel pressured at times to be on our best behavior because people are watching? But that is the reality. People are watching and emulating us. So we can either choose to not care and do whatever we want, or be responsible and set a good example.

At a party last August, Danae tore up the package of a yoyo and just threw it on the floor.

Me: Hey Nae, are you supposed to do that?

Nae: It’s okay mom, everybody did it.

Me: Pick it up. Even if everybody is doing it, if you know it’s wrong, don’t do it. Even if everybody does it, it doesn’t mean it’s right.

Kids at Danae’s age can reason out like this already. Even though we started her early, teaching her to throw trash only in the trash can at age 1, she still came up with this reasoning. It definitely reminds me of what Ms Jenn Punzalan said at the EN10 pre-con, that if it is that important, it is worth repeating. Doing our part in keeping the earth clean is very important to me, and therefore it is worth repeating, teaching it to our children over and over again. And it definitely reminds me of our nature as humans. We can easily be influenced by our environment, our culture. Let’s stand for what we know is right and back it up with action.

When we arrived from marriage boosters one night last August, Danae told me she watched something.

Danae: Mom, I watched Chicken Little.

Me: Oh yeah? Where?

Danae: On Disney channel. I changed it. (smiling mischievously)

Me: Ok, you’re gonna get the rod for that.

Danae: But mom, you were not here.

Me: You know the rules. You’re not supposed to change the channels by yourself. You need to obey even when Daddy and Mommy are not home.

Do we obey traffic laws only when there are cops or MMDA present? Are we honest with our business affairs or school tests even when no one is watching? Do we choose to do what is wrong even when we know what is right? Do we keep doing what is wrong, waiting for someone to point it out to us before we stop?

In Cagayan de Oro last month, in Coron last July, in Boracay last February….

King: Bible time!

Danae: No, only at home!

Me: We read the Bible not only at home, but wherever we go.

I think she finally got it since she didn’t say this the other night in Tagaytay. We must form the habit of reading our Bible daily. There are no vacations in connecting and communing with God.

Marriage

MARRIAGE BOOSTERS!

We recently attended Marriage Boosters with Ptr Chico and Maryanne Pena. We were the last batch of couples for this year. I’m sharing parts of my letter to King, which we were all assigned to do for our spouses, along with the very important lessons I learned and relearned from our tender-hearted, humble, wise, exemplary teachers.

My dearest King,

doing this marriage boosters with you has been really fun and quite revealing. i’ve enjoyed laughing, whether secretly or not, with you. thank you because you are a man with a big sense of humor….. i appreciate that you’re not as serious or as high-strung as i can be at times. i’ve also realized that there’s so much we still need to know about each other and that even the littlest details are important. i want to know you more….

> You can never be too young to learn to work on your marriage. King and I have only been married for 5 years. Somebody asked me if we needed to attend such a thing, maybe thinking that King is a pastor or that we seem happy or that we should still be in the “honeymoon” stage. Of course we do! There is much to learn and it’s better to learn them early on. Francis and Belle were there too, and they’ve only been married for 2 months!

> Have fun! Do things, learn new things together! Laugh together! Date regularly! I tell you, it was so refreshing to spend time with King without the kids for a couple of hours every week. We were there to listen to Chico and Maryanne, but there were many exercises that made us talk the way only married couples can or should talk. We laughed a lot about ourselves too. We really enjoyed it.

> There’s so much more to discover about your husband. Want to know more and be interested in him, in what he does, in what he likes. Let him know you more too. You’ve got a lifetime to do this. Marriage was not intended to be boring. Discovering each other is exciting!

i am grateful to God for giving me a man like you. you are imperfect, but you are 100% more the man than any other man could ever be for me. i truly believe that you are my half….better half? maybe hehe. but together, we are ONE. it doesn’t matter that we are different and we have different wavelengths at times. what matters is God brought us together because it was His plan and His purpose.

> Unity. I thank God that He gave me a man who shares the same faith and the same values I do, who shares the same vision for our family. We may think differently and approach things differently, but we are united in wanting to honor God in our marriage and in everything else.

> King and I don’t wear our wedding rings because they don’t fit anymore haha and we’re both allergic, but engraved on our rings are 3 names — King Jesus Phoebe. Our desire is to keep Jesus in the center of our marriage. We are not merely committed to each other as husband and wife, but committed to our God who authored our marriage. And that’s why we value, work on and fully invest in it.

i admire you for your humility. your heart to serve is just so amazing. i promise to always support you and pray for you. it doesn’t matter if other people don’t see. I see. God sees……I believe in you, babe. I believe in your anointing and your calling. but more importantly, I believe in the One who called you and is anointing you.

> Be your husband’s #1 fan! Be supportive, encourage him daily. Tell him constantly that you believe in him. Most men, my husband included, need verbal affirmation. We don’t want them to get their “boosts” from other women, do we?  Trust me, your husband’s eyes will twinkle when you tell him how much you believe in him and how proud you are of him. I think this was the part that made King cry when I read my letter to him. Hehehe.

> Stand by your husband. It is important that he knows where your loyalty lies, especially when situations are rough for him. It will strengthen your bond of unity all the more.

you are a dreamer, babe! you’ve got great big dreams. sometimes i am bogged down by unbelief, but you…. you dream big because your faith is big. thank you for being an example to me. and thank you for leading our family with such faith. thank you for dreaming big for me and our kids, for wanting to give the world to us.  i will dream and pray with you….and i will always be here for you, supporting you and standing with you as God prepares us for our dreams and as God prepares our dreams for us.

> Share your heart’s desires with each other! Dream together. Listen and pay attention to what’s in your husband’s heart. Don’t only pray for each other, but pray together. This will knit your hearts as one and strengthen your relationship — your friendship and your marriage. The best gift you can give to your children is a strong marriage.

> High appreciation is key! Be grateful for your one and only husband. I know sometimes when we’re mad or frustrated, it’s hard to be grateful. But if we could just train ourselves to make our emotions follow by taking our thoughts captive and obedient to Christ, it would make a huge difference. There are really times that I’m already frustrated but I would think of King’s good points haha. There is much to be appreciated about my husband after all, stuff that truly matter — his faith, his heart, his humility, his love for God, his love for his family.

> Pray for your husband, that his relationship with God is strong and healthy, but do not neglect your own. Our husbands are our leaders, but there will be times that they will be down. We must always be ready to encourage, to uplift, to speak life, to balance, to give wisdom, to pray. You can only give what you yourself have.

i love you, babe.

> Always tell your husband you love him. Always. 🙂

Family, Motherhood, My Kids, Parenting

WHEN YOUR CHILD IS SICK

Danae has had on and off fever since Sunday. Not only that, it would spike to as high as 39.5, then disappear. What made it more weird was that Danae was active and she didn’t lose her appetite. She was a bit cranky of course, but that’s normal when kids are sick with cough and colds, which she was. On Wednesday, I already wanted to see her pulmonary pediatrician to make sure it was nothing to worry about, but the doctor’s schedule that day was already done when I called. That night, Danae had no fever. Thursday morning, she was feeling very well and we thought that was the end of it. She was warm to the touch, but she didn’t have a temperature. We thought we didn’t need to take her to the doctor anymore. When we came home that night from a date, she was crying because she had woken up from her sleep and wanted me (yes, even my almost-5-year-old is still clingy haha). Her nose was also bothering her, so we dealt with that with the meds we had. She fell asleep a while later.

She woke up around 3am yesterday morning for some reason, got up to pee, then started groaning. I woke up, felt her, and she was burning. Her temperature was back to 39.5! I gave her Ibuprofen, but I couldn’t take it anymore seeing that she was crying and feeling really bad. I asked King to take her to the emergency room. I wanted to go with them, knowing that Danae would want me beside her, but King insisted that I stay with Noelle, also so that in case Danae needed confinement, I could get our things ready and just follow to the hospital. Danae also understood this and willingly left without me. That was around 4am.

Worrying is exhausting! I was home, tired and sleepy, but I couldn’t sleep. I kept praying and thinking about my daughter. I kept thinking about Danae’s history with Pneumonia. Her first was when she was 11 months old. Her second was when she was 2 years and 10 months old. And now that she’s 4 years and 10 months old, she’s gonna get it again? Is this gonna happen every two years??? No way! I refused to believe that. I started getting angry at the disease and Satan himself. Why are Danae’s lungs being targeted? Why does Danae seem to have a lung thing? I don’t want her to have a lung thing! Was it because I smoked for 7 years that my daughter is suffering the consequences, reaping what I sowed? Lord, have mercy on my daughter! I claim healing over her lungs. I also started getting angry with myself. I should have insisted to go to the doctor when I felt she needed to be checked. I should have listened to my gut. I should have been more vigilant and on top of their sicknesses, even if it’s as minor as a cold. All these emotions and thoughts came up almost all at once. All this while going in and out of sleep, calling King, texting & posting on facebook for people to pray, and waiting for updates. Exhausting.

I was relieved to know that Danae didn’t need confinement, but when King showed me and discussed with me what the ER doctor said, I was dismayed because the diagnosis was Pneumonitis — not exactly Pneumonia but a lung thing nonetheless! Blood test and urine test were normal. I asked if our pulmonary pediatrician was informed. She was not. They told King to go direct to her if we want, after 3 days, since they prescribed meds already. Looking at the prescription, I had no peace. I asked King to take us to Danae’s pulmonary pediatrician because I wanted her expert opinion. He obliged, even though he and Danae already spent a good 3 hours in the ER and even though he already bought the medicine.

We made the right decision. The pulmo pedia said that Danae’s lungs are clear! Though we still don’t know exactly what is causing Danae’s fever yet, which was at its highest (40!) at that time, and we have to observe it until Sunday, the doctor isn’t that worried and at least it is not a lung infection again!!! Whew! I should not have insisted that they go to the ER in the first place. If only I waited a few hours to go directly to our doctor. Oh well. Lesson learned.

Sigh. When our children are sick, it’s just the worst thing ever. I feel bad when I see them feeling bad. It’s harder when you’ve got a baby who needs your attention too. I feel torn many times. But thank God Noelle is well and provides comic relief haha, even though she can be demanding. Thank God He gives us moms wisdom to know what to do in times like this and the push we need to actually do it. Thank God for reliable doctors! As parents, it’s really so hard not to worry.  But the burden isn’t so heavy when you’ve got a husband who is as dedicated as you are to your kids, friends and family who are standing with you in prayer, and a faithful God who loves you and who’s got you and your children in the palm of His hands.

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Phil 4:6-7 (MSG)

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

GREAT NEWS! Last night was Danae’s first night of continuous sleep, after a whole week of interrupted sleep. Her fever is gone! She’s coughing and snorting still and sleeping a lot, but I really feel she’s on her way back to good health. THERE IS POWER, THERE IS HEALING IN THE NAME OF JESUS! 🙂

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! 🙂

Parenting

God’s Word to a Child

Attending the 8am service today and hearing Ptr Jun’s preaching about the authority of God’s word in our lives reinforced my plan to share about what our daughter Danae has been learning these days. As much as possible, King and I read the Bible to our girls (though Noelle doesn’t really sit and listen yet and Danae gets distracted a lot still) before bedtime. We believe that we are sowing God’s word into the hearts and minds of our daughters whether they understand it already or not, whether they listen attentively or not, whether they stay awake for the whole thing, including processing and prayer, or not.

But teaching them about God does not begin or end at Bible time. Every situation is a teaching opportunity. An ordinary moment like a ride in the car can turn into a teaching moment when we teach our kids to be thankful for what we have as they see other kids selling sampaguita or begging for money in the street, when we teach them to pray even for a mere parking space, or when we teach them about helping others as we bring friends to the bus/fx station or straight to their homes. A hilarious instance like when Danae did not listen to me during Family Camp, kept walking on mud and fell like I said she would, became a teaching moment on listening and obeying right away. There are countless opportunities to teach our children.

When Danae says that she does not love someone, either a friend or family member because they’re not being nice to her, we always remind her that the Bible says that Jesus wants us to love others (John 13:34). When we hear her complain because she wants something that a friend has even though she already has one that’s a different version, we remind her of what she learned in Kids Church — “Do not compare. Be happy. (Exodus 20:17)” When we discipline her and she says that she will obey, we remind her to let her “yes” be “yes” and let her “no” be “no” (Matt 5:37). Let’s just hope and pray that she never says “no” to obeying haha.

We’ve taught her the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), but for some reason, only the first 5 has stuck with her. Before, every time she would see a statue or a bust, she’d point it out, say that it’s an idol, and remind us that God said to not make idols. She says “Oh my gosh” a lot but months ago, she heard someone say “Oh my god” and started copying it, jokingly even, knowing that we disapproved. Now she knows not to take God’s name in vain (or disrespect His name). We also have the R word, which is respect. All we need to say is “remember the R word?” and she immediately quotes the 5th commandment, “Respect your parents.” Though of course sometimes, it takes her getting the rod before she actually does it.

I find that it’s easier to go to the Bible to explain to Danae why something she is doing is wrong, because she accepts it as the truth. It actually matters to her what God says, and she actually wants to obey God and make Him happy. In other words, God’s word already has authority in my little girl’s life! I’m so amazed because I was nowhere near her maturity when I was her age. Of course she’s only 4 & 1/2 and acts like it a lot, but we can see that the Word of God is already at work in her life. Wow. 🙂