Just My Thoughts, Parenting

What Can We Do?

We are on enhanced community quarantine right now. I have not tried leaving the house since I last bought groceries from small stores, last Saturday. So far, we’ve been okay. Kids are somehow productive. I’ve been hearing the ukulele and piano more these days. We have been playing volleyball and badminton in the backyard. The kids have been baking and doing some reading. We have started watching The Chosen.

There is always something to do, especially with Gianna who wants to do different things and play different games all day. But I woke up this morning with the desire to set some daily goals for our family. I am the kind of person who wants to volunteer and help others, and right now I feel helpless. I feel like I can’t do much because I can’t go out apart from buying supplies. I want to obey the directive to stay home. I have no business being out. As I stay home, I protect myself and I protect others.

So I will do my part here. I will use the opportunity to spend quality time with my kids and teach them.

Goals for the kids. Remains flexible. If some are not done, that’s okay. Try again the following day.
I must not stress about the list, but focus on the overall goals. 😉

I admit, our family is not great at keeping a routine. I know this because of the years we have homeschooled. But I believe at this time, when they have no choice but to stay home and they have no more school work (4th quarter final exams were done early, providentially!) and they can’t give me their usual excuses of being tired, we can set daily goals. I want to be deliberate and yet give them some freedom to choose their individual tasks, such as the game, the chore, the art work, the song/piece. Other tasks of course, we have to agree and do it together. And they will also have ample free time to do what they want — play in the backyard, do other art, read other books, talk to friends online, tiktok, dance, exercise, bake, cook, netflix and chill. We will keep the schedule flexible. If we don’t get them all done daily, that’s okay. The overall goals are to bond as a family, to keep learning, to stay productive and active, to learn life skills, character building, and to stay in God’s Word. We may not be able to do much for others right now, but we can do much for and with our immediate family!

And I will pray. Anytime and all the time are good times to pray. I pray when I am reminded of other people. I pray when I see posts and videos and hear news reports. I pray when I talk to people online. I pray when worry strikes. I pray when my imagination goes wild. I pray when I watch my children sleep. Prayer is our friend and our weapon. Let’s pray God’s promises over our families and our current situation. Receive the calm that prayer brings and the peace that Jesus gives. Fight the enemy through prayer, using God’s very words, deafen him with our worship to the Almighty. Bless others with our online presence and our sincere how-are-yous, uplift them with our encouragement. Let’s stay connected and pray for one another — so that as we face the facts of our situation, we can rise up in faith together!!! We may not be able to physically help others at this time, but our prayers are powerful! And the Lord is faithful to hear and answer them!

PARENTING AND PRAYER. Worthwhile endeavors during, but definitely not limited to, these unusual times. 😉

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer, 1 Peter 3:12a

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

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:17-19

4 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY

Lord, help us!

So many sad, scary, maddening, unbelievable things happening in the world lately. I just saw a video of what happened in Charlottesville and I am appalled. The hate. The anger. The mob. The exhilaration, the adrenalin of them coming together as a group. The unbelievably strong conviction they have that what they’re doing is right. The self-righteousness. The pride. Armed and ready to kill, yet according to one of them, they “showed incredible restraint.” Except for one who ran over some people with his car and killed one person, which they believe was a justifiable act. I just couldn’t believe it.

And here in my own country! The killing of a 17-year old boy. Does it matter if he was guilty of using and/or selling drugs? Innocent until proven guilty. And then when proven guilty, let the judge give him a sentence. He shouldn’t have been killed based on suspicion! He shouldn’t be killed even if found guilty! I know so many things are messed up in our justice system, corruption in the prison facilities and all. But I’d rather hope for restoration, reformation, rehabilitation, than believe that people are hopeless. Who are we to judge that they will never change? The Lord can change even the hardest of hearts. And this kid may have been innocent! Too many “Nanlaban” (resisted) stories in the news for me to think that it was not as witnesses said. Staged to look like a “justified killing.” It’s so scary to think that this could happen to any of us. I’ve watched enough (or too many) crime shows that depict real life to know that corrupt police officers can indeed plant evidence, twist facts, manipulate the system. Abusive of their power. Corrupted by greed. Empowered by their leader/s. Not all police, thank God, but some really are unworthy of trust.

And then about two weeks ago, my husband and I “survived” a shooting. We were two restaurants away from where the crime was committed. We did not see anything outside, but we heard gunshots, followed by screaming, then we saw people running inside and then towards us. At that time we had no clue what exactly was happening. But we immediately stood up and started moving. I grabbed my friend by the arm and pulled him. In my mind, I was panicking, wondering if it was a bomber or some guy going on a shooting spree, in which case I could get shot from behind. The danger was real. The fear was real. But I thank God for His grace and protection. First, my kids and my mom were not with me when I met with our friend. Second, King followed, so I felt safer that he was around. Third, King came 30 minutes before it happened (he came into the mall passing through the area of the crime scene). Fourth, I parked where I don’t normally park — on the other side. Fifth, we were able to walk away quickly, exit the building, and get home unharmed.

Call me sheltered, but this was the first time something like this happened so near me. I cannot believe that somebody was shot in quite literally our backyard! It was apparently a hit, an assassination. How easy it is for some people to take a life is beyond me. Some say justice was served because the man was a corrupt government official. I’m not so sure I agree that murder is justice. And I can’t believe that the perpetrators did it in such a public place! A wholesome, peaceful, public place! My kids, and many other kids, hang out by the fountain to play. Imagine the horror of parents who were actually there at that time. Traumatic and terrifying, I’m sure. I mean, it was traumatic for those who saw none of it, but were locked up inside a restaurant or caught in the stampede of people running out. My kids or any of us could have been caught in the crossfire, since reports said the guy’s bodyguards fired back. Too real. Too scary. Too crazy. Thank God no one else got killed, or was severely injured.

 

Lord, help us! We want to live in safety and in peace. We do not understand everything that is going on or why, but we trust in Your goodness and love for us. We hold on to your word that You go with us, that You will never leave us or forsake us. We trust that through trouble, we can draw strength from You, we can take refuge in You, and You will protect and save us. Help us do our part, not only in keeping our families safe, but by example, teaching our children to be God-fearing, law-abiding, Philippines-loving citizens. To be accepting and respectful of others, yet unafraid to use our influence to share the Gospel, to bring glory and honor to You. To fight, not with arms, but with our hands clasped and our knees bent. We declare You Lord of the Philippines, and we claim that blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Psalm 91

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

 

 

Family, My Kids, Parenting

We Can’t Afford It

Before the school year ended, our family was faced with a dilemma. Do we go back to homeschooling for both girls or do we put them both in regular school? Or should we keep one in regular school and keep the other in homeschool?

Our original plan was actually to put both girls in Danae’s school, but we were suddenly apprehensive about the cost due to certain changes that the school made. I told the girls that we may not be able to afford it. But Danae really wanted to stay in her school. She said if she had no choice then she would agree to homeschooling again. Noelle said she was fine with continuing homeschooling. Perhaps I was not convinced of that plan, that I would constantly check the girls about what they thought about it. I would go back and forth, thinking and asking God what would be best for our girls.

I was leaning towards homeschooling them both again (with the help of a teacher), but no matter how hard I tried to convince Danae, she would not budge. Even when she would recall hurtful situations that happened in school and cry while telling me, she still insisted that she wanted to stay. She believes that she learns better there. Noelle started out excited about homeschooling again, but then slowly seemed indifferent. One morning, she quietly told me how she really felt — she wanted to go to Danae’s school! She was willing to homeschool only because we could not afford to put her in regular school.

That broke my heart. I really cried to God and to King. I did not want to put the burden on my daughter about what we can or cannot afford. She should not have to sacrifice for us. That is our job as her parents, to make sacrifices in order to give her and her sisters the best that we can possibly give. That pushed us to rethink and reorganize.

As I was talking to one of my mentors about this, she told me that they never tell their kids that they can’t afford something. That’s where I realized my mistake. Even though I want my children to be aware of the reality of expenses and I don’t want them to grow up feeling entitled, I should never say the words “we can’t afford.” I realized that telling them we can’t afford something tells them that it is useless to dream, that some things are just not possible for them. Telling them that sends the message that we are relying on our own capacity and looking at ourselves as the source. Instead, like what my husband always does, I should encourage them to pray and ask God. I should help them believe that God is able, that God owns all, that God is good, that God knows and gives best to His children.

Though it may be true that we cannot afford all things, I do not have to burden my children with that fact. I must encourage them with the truth that with God, all things are possible. We do our part as parents, and we wait on God and watch Him prove Himself faithful.

This school year, they are both going to The Sycamore woohooo! Not because we can afford it, but because we believe that God will provide. However, they also know that we take it a year at a time. Next year may be different, not because we can’t afford it, but because their needs may be different. We have been pleased with the regular school set up of The Sycamore (formerly 360 Studio) because basically it is homeschool away from home and we have been happy with the character building and the disciplines Danae has learned, but we do not close our doors on homeschooling yet. The Lord knows best and we will submit to His will for our children. 🙂

 

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

 

Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Luke 12:24-26

 
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Psalm 34:8-10

FEATURED, Just My Thoughts

On Courageous Caitie

I don’t personally know this little girl, but her story touches and breaks my heart. I was not able to follow the whole thing and to this day, even after she has passed, I cannot yet bring myself to read her parents’ posts or look at her pictures. The first post I read, when Courageous Caitie came to my attention a few weeks ago, was one where a picture of Caitie’s bruised arms were shown. A picture of her smiling through all the equipment connected to her was also there.

Oh the courage of this little girl indeed! A tiny body enduring so much, and still having the ability to smile through it. And her parents! Their unwavering faith in God. Watching their baby go through, cry through everything she did must have been torture. Being torn between crumbling like children themselves and being strong for their little one. Being torn between trying every possible treatment in the book and letting Caitie’s body rest. But through it all, they remained steadfast. Not knowing whether God was going to heal Caitie or take her, they still trusted God and believed that He is good. How blessed was she to have been loved, cared for, prayed for by such faith-filled parents.

Now that Caitie is resting in God’s arms, I cannot begin to imagine how much they miss their precious princess. They must be at peace knowing that she is safe, no longer suffering, and happy in heaven, but their hearts must be longing to hear her laughter, see her beautiful face, hold her hand, and cuddle her in their arms. I look at my 1 year old baby (who is also Kaitlin) and I think about my two older daughters. I can’t imagine losing any one of them. It would be too painful. I mourn and cry with the Lucas family for their loss. I pray that the Holy Spirit and the love of so many friends and strangers alike would comfort them in this season. And at the same time, I celebrate with them the life of their courageous Caitie. At such a young age, she touched and inspired so many of us.

I believe that God never moves without purpose and Caitie’s death is no exception. What that is exactly may escape us, but I know her death leads me to pray. I pray that all of us parents will never take for granted the time we have with our children. I pray that we will not be consumed by the trivial, but invest in the most important — God, family, people. I pray that we will celebrate our children, love them, appreciate them, teach them, build them up. I pray that when we (or even they) die, there are no regrets because we loved them well, in words, in actions and with our time, while we were alive.

Children are a blessing
    and a gift from the Lord. Psalm 127:3 CEV

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; 

his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1 NIV 

The Lord works out everything to its proper end— Proverbs 16:4a

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 NIV

“When the time comes for you to die, you need not be afraid, because death cannot separate you from God’s love.” ~ Charles H. Spurgeon

 

 

 

Family, My Kids, THE BRAINY BUNCH

Danae Can’t Dance?

Danae and I had been practicing the past week with our church’s Vacation Bible Camp dance team. We volunteered to join the team that would lead the praise dance on stage and with the kids in the classroom. On Tuesday night, Danae pulled a muscle as she ran abruptly to chase Noelle while we were at the mall. She was limping the rest of the night. When we got home….

Me: How’s your leg?
Danae: Still owie (painful).
Me: Does that mean you can’t dance in VBC on Thursday?
Danae: (thought for a brief second) Lord, please heal my ouchie. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Me: Amen.
Danae: I’ll still dance.
Me: Okay.

I love my daughter’s response! Instead of getting worried and instead of conceding to the pain she was feeling, she PRAYED! She didn’t let a little pain get in the way of her COMMITMENT. Even today, the 3rd and final day of VBC, as she woke up with a sore, tired body, she still danced with us. I am so proud of her! My prayer was for her to learn commitment and SERVANTHOOD through this experience. And I believe she did.

I thank God for the opportunity to impart to her the JOY of serving God and His people, and to actually serve WITH her. I think we even inspired Noelle and two of their girlfriends to volunteer with us next year too! 🙂

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

My Kids, Parenting

OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES….

Last Friday, as we were walking into Soderno, Danae saw a boy walking barefoot. She stopped and whispered to me “I want to buy that boy slippers.” Too bad we did not see slippers inside for boys, only very girly ones.

Inside, they played with their friends and a few more kids that they just met there. Danae told me that one kept saying bad words to her friends. When we got home and got ready for bed, Noelle prayed that God would “heal Ate ******* so that she won’t be bad.” Instead of being upset with the girl, she chose to pray for her, on her own.

COMPASSION.  1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”

My Kids, Parenting

power of a praying child

When Danae was a baby, we noticed that she would cry at dawn for no apparent reason, but we quickly learned that it was because she wanted to pray for something or someone. She would stop after we prayed. She learned to pray even before she could actually talk, putting her hands together and saying “dada” (her amen) after the prayer. When she was 2, she prayed or maybe even prophesied that the baby in my belly was a girl. Now, she and Noelle pray for and prophesy having a baby brother.

For years, King has been telling Danae to pray for parking space each time we have a hard time finding one, and God almost always immediately answers her prayer. Parking isn’t a big deal, I know. But this has been consistent. And even if there will be times that we don’t find a parking space right away, we still believe that Danae has the GIFT OF PRAYING.

Lately, she has been telling me that some of her classmates upset her because they would tease her and keep “secrets” from her. I’d tell her to ignore them and ask help from teacher if they don’t stop. We would pray for it too. There was even a time she got so mad that she ended up scratching her classmate, for which she apologized of course and got the rod at home. One day last week, I asked her how her day was and if her classmates teased her again. She said to me “no, mom. CAUSE I PRAYED.”

Our children’s faith gets built up when THEY pray. When Danae doesn’t feel like praying, we remind her that she has a God-given gift and that she should use it. Praying is a privilege because it is our direct access to God, and it is always a privilege to pray for other people too. It’s up to us parents to encourage our children to keep praying and to rejoice with them when God answers their prayers. 🙂

Family, Motherhood, My Kids

good news and bad news

Danae has had fever since Sunday last week. Thinking it was just a common virus, we treated the fever and we were somewhat confident it would be gone by the 3rd day. To make the long story short, she was diagnosed by a pediatrician with acute bronchitis on the 4th day. But because she had fever again this morning, the 8th day, we decided to go to her ever reliable pulmonary pediatrician. After listening to her breathing, an x-ray was ordered. I knew it was going to be BAD NEWS…..DANAE HAS PNEUMONIA, for the 3rd time (but microplasmic this time) in her entire life of 5 years and 11 months. And incidentally, her bouts with pneumonia have always been right before her birthday.

You have no idea (well maybe most moms do) what a roller coaster ride of emotions I’ve been through. I hate that my Danae gets this sick. I’ve already written a blog related to this. I hate that it’s the same disease, sickness, whatever you call it. And if you remember, we spent ten days in the hospital because of King’s slipped disc, beginning August 15. Two days before leaving the hospital, Danae got sick. When she got well, Noelle got sick. When Noelle got well, I got sick. Then Noelle got sick with me. When we both got well, Danae got sick. Then King got sick. His fever lasted only a day, but he still has cough and colds now. 6 days after the onset of Danae’s fever, Noelle got fever too. Now, she also has to nebulize to treat her wheezing. So both kids are sick. It’s already October 3. When will it ever end?!

The GOOD NEWS is there is NO NEED FOR HOSPITALIZATION. With Danae’s other bouts with Pneumonia (click here for full story), it was so bad that we insisted that she be admitted in the hospital. With this one, her appetite decreased but it did not disappear. She’s not like her hyper active self, but she’s mobile, not sluggish. Despite the severity of her case, wherein both lungs are affected, not just one, I guess her body is strong enough to handle it.  Her fever doesn’t go as high as 39 anymore, and there are hours in the day that she is fever-free.

I am still on that roller coaster ride, but I know Danae and Noelle will get well soon. As a mother, I am a natural WORRIER. I wish it were as easy as changing two letters to make me into a WARRIOR. Since it’s not, I must get off this ride and get on another so I can continually flow with the rhythm of God’s grace. Not resigning to the fact that this sickness will come upon Danae regularly, but trusting in God and absolutely fighting with prayer.

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, Marriage, TRAVEL

long distance relationship

King’s been out of the country for over a week and though the girls and I have been doing okay, it has been tough. For one thing, the girls were sick when he left. There was no question as to him leaving because it wasn’t that bad and frankly, I didn’t even think of it even if Danae got confined. His trip is that important. But taking care of a sick child alone, all the stressing and the juggling, add to that the stress of thinking about my husband’s safety — tough. It’s our first time to be this far apart from each other and this long. The same goes for him and my kids, which is why during the first few, Noelle kept crying for her dad when she’d wake up in the middle of the night. I felt helpless. Prayer was the best thing I could do. Thank God for friends who prayed with us too.

To make matters worse, I could not contact him because his phone was dead. He left his charger here. He was not online either. We only got to communicate on the third night! You can’t imagine my joy when we were able to touch base! But every night since, I would have to wait for him to go online around midnight. I can’t sleep because I wait. I’m grateful for my girls’ busy daytime schedule, but it tires me out too. Waiting up late at night doesn’t help.

I’m happy to hear reports about what King and his team are doing there, but our chats are way too short. He gets in late and is usually tired. Skyping is next to useless because I don’t have a cam and mic. He talks, we type. And the kids can’t wait up for him anyway.

So this is what it feels like to have a long distance relationship. I guess what helps me endure is the fact that he’s coming home in a few days. My hats off to couples who go through this for real, for months or even years at a time. I do not know how they make it work. I don’t think I would be able to survive that kind of life.

Right this minute, I am literally waiting for him to go online. Waiting so I could talk to my best friend, my partner, my leader, my better half. Waiting so I could last another day without him here. Waiting so my love tank can be refilled.

And when he does, I’ll still be waiting. Waiting for him to come home to me.