Just My Thoughts, Marriage

HUMBLED

There’s this restaurant we like inside Disneyland called the Royal Banquet Hall. As King and I lined up to order our food, some guy cut in and was entertained ahead of us by the guy behind the counter. We were slightly annoyed but whatever. We just wanted to order and eat. I was slowly carrying two trays of food to the cashier when one of the crew offered to help me. I was so grateful. I told him that my husband would be needing help too, because he would be carrying 3 trays. The guy then went to King, but seeing that my husband didn’t understand, I had to call his attention. He turned to me, and I was able to tell him that “he’s trying to help you.” When he came to me, he told me that he thought it was the same guy wanting to cut in again and trying to get our food.

Don’t we all make this mistake at times? We assume too quickly. We jump to conclusions. We talk before listening.

As I was getting King’s permission to continue writing this, he told me a few more details that were key. He told me that the guy who approached him only said, “I’m getting that tray,” insisting he was getting the tray. So instead of responding favorably, King responded with “I ordered this. Why are you getting it?” When he asked King if I was his wife, that’s when King turned and saw me.

I should listen to my own advice. I assumed too quickly that King was the reason for the miscommunication. I jumped to the conclusion that he talked first without listening. I didn’t bother asking what the guy said or how the conversation went down. I did not even consider that the guy could have said something totally off.

There’s a reason why we have twice as many ears as our mouth. We need to listen twice as much as we talk.

Sorry Lord. Sorry babe. God indeed humbles the proud. (insert sheepish grin here)

Motherhood, Parenting

“YOU’RE NOT LISTENING TO ME!!!”

Danae and I were at the dining table yesterday, eating and talking. I thought we were talking about what happened in Japan, so when she was saying something about a storm, I immediately corrected her and said that it wasn’t a storm but an earthquake. She got confused and I proceeded to tell her about the events in Japan. She got so frustrated with me that she put her head down and cried. I asked her why she was crying and she loudly said, with all her emotion, “because you’re not listening to me!”

Poor Danae. I felt for her. Many times I felt frustrated when I was young, that I wasn’t being heard. I immediately apologized and explained. I should have listened first because she was talking about typhoon Ondoy and what she remembered about it.

I’m so glad that early on, we are already learning how to listen and communicate. I’m glad that my daughter can freely tell me how she feels. Thank God I’m the type of mom who is willing to hear her out and talk it through. And thank God we were only discussing relatively unimportant details of a certain event. Fast forward to adolescence when we talk about things way more complicated, this dynamic, this habit of communicating, will be of great help to us.

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. 🙂

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. 🙂

My Kids, Parenting

LIFE LESSONS FROM RAISING TWO PRINCESSES

When Noelle turned 4 months old, she already wanted to drink from my glass, and she would stare at food like she wanted to eat. I let her try drinking from my glass, which she was able to do, but she coughed up most of it. When I fed her with a spoon, she still didn’t know what to do with it. She didn’t even suck on it. After a doctor’s visit, I confirmed a lesson that we could apply in our lives. Even though Noelle wanted to eat and drink already, she wasn’t ready for it yet. Much like us, there are things that we want and want now, but God can’t give to us yet because we’re just not ready.

One evening, just recently, while I was helping her drink her milk, Danae was asking me if she could do something. I think I told her to finish her milk first. She has this habit of grunting and tsk-ing when she doesn’t get her way, which she did. I found myself saying “di ka kasi nag-oobey kaya ka nafu-frustrate.” Think about it. The reason why we get frustrated with life is because we do not obey God, and we’re so insistent on our way, forcing things to happen how and when we want them to.

Many times, we tell Danae to obey first before she can get what she wants. There’s nothing we enjoy more than seeing our girls happy and having fun. But sometimes they need to obey first before they can enjoy the things that make them happy. Why? Well, I can’t give my children chocolate first thing in the morning, without having breakfast first. I can’t allow them to watch tv or play computer games when they wake up, buy every toy they see in the store, let them make a mess and not clean up afterwards. Those would not be good habits to form. I can’t let them leave the house or go to sleep without brushing their teeth first. I can’t let them run around outside the house without the supervision of a trustworthy adult. I love them too much. God is the same way with us. He wants us to obey Him first, seek His kingdom first then all these things will be added to us. He loves us perfectly and knows best after all.

When Danae was around two, I heard her say when she was sitting in the corner after a rod, that she’s bad. That really broke my heart because we never said that to her and we never meant for her to feel that we thought she was bad. Right then I prayed with her and let her declare that she is a good girl. I remind her every single day that she is a good girl, despite the many rods that she gets. Now she knows it well. I wanted her to declare herself that she is a good girl so that she will remember and believe that she is good. When she believes that she is good, she will act according to what she believes. Isn’t that the same way with us adults? Sometimes we make mistakes and condemn ourselves. We start believing the lie that we are no good, unworthy, ugly or unlovable, and start acting out those beliefs. Then the cycle starts again. I say declare that you are good, that you are a new creation, changed by God! Declare it, so you’ll believe it, and then live it.

Danae is 3 and a half. The things that we discipline her for are the same things that she does over and over. It’s pretty tiring, so aside from telling her that we give her the rod because we want her to learn and we want her to learn to obey because we love her, we tell her to remember the pain of the rod. If you don’t want to get the rod because it’s owie, obey. It’s that simple. But of course, she’s only 3, so she does them again. She only remembers the pain when it’s already time for the rod. She doesn’t remember it when she’s in the middle of disobeying. If only we adults would remember the pain of disobedience too. Sometimes we act like 3-year-olds and forget God’s discipline, committing the same offenses over again. God disciplines us because He disciplines those He loves. Discipline is always painful, so let’s remember the pain!

King taught Danae this “catch phrase”, which we remind her of every time she gets the rod: REMEMBER TO LISTEN AND OBEY RIGHT AWAY. Listening, after all, requires obeying, or else it’s just hearing, and delayed obedience is still disobedience. But it doesn’t end there. I added something to that as well. When she says that sentence, I ask her “without?”, she says: WITHOUT WHINING, OR SHOUTING, OR MAKING DABOG. She must learn to obey without complaining. Can’t we all learn from this? Say it with me. REMEMBER TO LISTEN AND OBEY GOD RIGHT AWAY WITHOUT COMPLAINING. Good job hehe. 🙂