Family, Just My Thoughts, My Kids, MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY, Parenting

Music and Our Kids

My girls like music. They like singing and dancing. Of course they hear different songs everywhere and of course they tend to like the catchy but not-so-wholesome songs these days. One time, Danae saw a choir competition on tv, and of all the songs she could have recalled, “spaghetti pababa” was the one that stuck! They catch some of the lyrics right away without thinking about what they’re actually singing. Danae also knows the “clean” versions of some songs, which means she is aware of the dirty ones. King and I don’t approve, but as much as we would want to control what they listen to, obviously we can’t.

Case in point, last week. We were all in the car, driving out of Festival mall. The radio was on. King quickly changed the station to one we thought was the “safest,” where they play cool, smooth, wholesome music. Just as he said the words “this is the safest,” the lyrics “I want sexual healing” softly and smoothly came out of the speakers. Hahaha. Thank God it wasn’t catchy enough that the girls missed it. I for one am not yet prepared to explain what sexual healing means.

It just proves that there is no such thing as safe. We can sometimes request the music to be changed (I’ve done that at a resort before — music had very foul language), but we can’t always protect our children from bad influences – yes, songs are not just songs; they can alter our mood, influence the way we feel, our values, the language we use, and how we act. We can only teach our children to be wise about choosing what songs to listen to.

What we try to do is check the lyrics with them and explain what they mean as much as we can. We always remind them that though the beat is nice, some songs do not teach them good things, and many of them do not teach girls to respect themselves. We tell them that these artists are definitely talented, but we don’t agree with some of their life choices and with the messages they share in their music. We teach our children to think first before adopting a certain artist’s views or a certain song’s message. King and I are never shy to tell them when there is a song we don’t approve of. Our girls usually listen, especially when they themselves realize what the song is teaching them. Otherwise, they tell us that they only like and sing certain parts of the song, and we somehow find middle ground.

It’s tricky because we don’t want to be legalistic and restrict them from listening to music, but we can’t also just let them listen to whatever they want. Tricky because it’s hard to separate the music from the words, the artist from the message. Tricky because there are some topics that they will not and should not understand yet. Tricky because we can’t brainwash them to only like classical or Christian music. I myself enjoy grunge, alternative music and I just love Pearl Jam. Well maybe they won’t have much (or any — here’s hoping!) angst to be attracted to it, but I guess it’s fine if they learn to like it too. I certainly prefer it over cheesy, shallow, boy bandy songs which my girls gravitate to. But then again, I’m 37 and they’re 9 and 6. Their preferences will change and their taste in music will perhaps mature. They will grow and gain the wisdom they need to choose what and who they will allow themselves to be influenced by.

You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. 1 Corinthians 10:23 NLT

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

What do you do with music and your kids? I’d love to gain perspective from other parents regarding this matter. Looking forward to reading your replies. 🙂

 

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

Please Wait!

My friend from Japan sent us some gifts last week — yummy truffles for me and King, a clay play set for Noelle, and a scrunchie-maker for Danae. The girls were thrilled with their new toys. They hurried eating their breakfast so they could play, despite our request to wait.

To make the long story short, Danae couldn’t wait. Instructions were in Japanese, but she went ahead and tried to make it work. She managed to get the big lump of stretchy yarn stuck in the weaving contraption! We just heard her groaning, asking for scissors. I tried to help, but couldn’t. King stepped in and was the one able to fix it for her.

It just reminded me of how we are. We’re in a new, exciting season, and we can’t wait to enjoy it. But we realize we’re on unknown territory. We don’t know what to do. We want help, but we’re not patient enough to wait for it to arrive. Sometimes, we don’t seek help at all. Itching to do something, we go ahead blindly, winging it, hoping the results are favorable. More often than not, however, they don’t go so well. Instead of being able to enjoy it the soonest, it takes longer because we create problems that we need to troubleshoot first. And sometimes, that’s the only time we actually seek help.

God wants us to enjoy our seasons. But if we don’t seek His will first, we get distracted and derailed. We end up doing things that we’re not supposed to do — maybe good things, but things that waste our time, energy, and resources. Worse, we end up doing the wrong things. If we go ahead of Him instead of wait on Him, we get delayed even more. We make unnecessary mistakes. We dig holes for ourselves that are difficult and take time to get out of. We get lost. We end up needing to go back to square one, when square one should have been to seek God first.

AND YET, when we do get ourselves in trouble, God is always more than willing and available to step in and save us. When we ask for His help at the very last minute, as an afterthought, He is still gracious to give us what we need. He gives us hope, countless chances to go back to Him. And along with those chances, He equips us with lessons, realizations, and hopefully, if we listen and truly learn, wisdom.

There are God-appointed people who can help us with some things, but there are just some things that ONLY the Father can do for us. 🙂

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me. Psalm 54:4

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

It’s Just A Song

Danae was singing a One Direction song the other day, which she heard from other people (disclaimer hehe), and its lyrics went something like “let’s go crazy crazy crazy till we meet the sun.”

I told her to stop singing it because she had no clue what it meant and their songs are mostly about boy-girl relationships that they are too young to have. What she said to me next must be the most common EXCUSE in the entire world….”It’s just a song.”

Needless to say I corrected her, but isn’t that what gets people in trouble these days? When we take things too lightly? A lack of caring, a lack of responsibility, a lack of wisdom. “It’s just…..”

“It’s just a song.” (with lyrics that stir the heart even at too young an age)
“It’s just a movie.” (or shows that give negative impartations)
“It’s just fiction.” (books with questionable content)
“It’s just cleavage.” (skimpy clothes)
“It’s just pretend.” (acting, child’s play/dialogue/monologue)
“It’s just a joke!” (cursing)
“It’s just a pen.” (shoplifting)
“It’s just words.” (chatting with questionable strangers)
“It’s just a picture.” (revealing photos of yourself on the net)
“It’s just for entertainment.” (porn or magazines with sexual content; certain clubs or bars)
“It’s just sex. It doesn’t mean anything.” (adultery, one-night stands)

Yeah, no big deal. It’s only something that potentially leads you to compromise yourself, your faith, your relationships with loved ones, and your relationship with God. “It’s just” SIN.

Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16

Just My Thoughts, Marriage, YOUTH MINISTRY

NO SECRETS!

IF YOU’RE ENGAGED, getting ready for this lifetime commitment with your fiance, with the wedding date set, knowing full well that God has brought the two of you together, here’s a tip for you that will save you a lot of heartache. NO SECRETS! If you have a dark or even not-so-dark past, you owe it to your fiance to tell them the truth. Why? Why do you have to dig up the past and share it? You’ve gotten over it, already healed from it. So why is it necessary? Exactly. You’re over it and are healed, so why not? Unless….. you’re still hiding something, or still unconsciously living in the past. Think about it. Yes it’s hard to come clean in the beginning and feelings may get hurt, but it’s the best way to let your future spouse know who you were and how far you’ve come (especially in cases like mine and King’s — engaged 6 months after meeting — click here for full story), and it’s the best way to test your own feelings, your character, and YOUR RELATIONSHIP as well.

Once your relationship stands the TEST OF REALITY, you’ll see that it’s the best way to prepare for your marriage. You are giving each other the opportunity to forgive one another, because like I said feelings may get hurt, depending on what happened in yours or your fiance’s past. You are creating a clean slate between the two of you. You are creating a CULTURE OF LOVE, honesty, trust, open communication, forgiveness, acceptance, humility, security/confidence, peace, unity — basics and essentials in a great marriage — as you enter into yours. You are laying down the groundwork.

I admit, I am no expert since I have been only married to King for a mere 6 years and 10 months, but this is something I personally felt I had to do before we got hitched. I had to swallow my pride and tell King the truth about my past. Because I have been completely transparent to him, there is none of the drama! No surprises, except the good kind. No reliving of the past, pointing fingers, counting of wrongs, or bitterness and resentment towards each other. Our marriage is not perfect, and like everyone else’s  it takes work and a whole lot of learning, but I believe in that aspect, we did good.

Having said that, I have an even GREATER TIP FOR YOUTH AND SINGLES. While you’re still young and single, or maybe even old(er) and single, BE WISE! Do things that need not be hidden. Have relationships that you need not be ashamed of in the eyes of men and in the eyes of God. Live a life that need not be kept secret. Imagine that you don’t have to come clean to your future spouse because you have NO SECRETS! The freedom, the joy! For both you and your fiance! It’s a great honor to God, a great gift to your future spouse, and the best gift to yourself. 🙂

Just My Thoughts, Marriage, Parenting

I CHOOSE CONFLICT!

Being married and raising kids is a tough, tough job. But the way I see it, we spouses and parents, have two choices when we see our family members having trouble with something or doing something we don’t agree with or when we see that they’re about to make a big mistake. Do we engage or do we ignore? Do we talk about it or do we avoid confrontation?

Even though it’s exhausting, exasperating, dumbfounding and confusing, I’d rather engage my husband and children in conversation than not show them that I care about what they’re going through. Even though it takes more time and energy, my husband and I would rather teach our kids ourselves than let them learn everything on their own. We’d rather they hear it from us and learn from our wisdom and experiences as much as possible, than let them learn the hard way. Even though I am at risk of feeling burdened and heavy, I’d rather carry my husband and children’s burdens with them than risk making them feel alone and abandoned. Even though most of the time it means we will end up in an argument, I’d rather talk to them than pretend that an issue does not exist. Even though it takes harder work, I’d rather be involved in every aspect of my husband and every aspect of my children’s lives than be oblivious & passive. Even though I am prone to make mistakes, I’d rather do something with my God-given responsibility and gift than do nothing at all.

I CHOOSE CONFLICT OVER INDIFFERENCE ANY DAY.

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! 🙂

Family, My Kids, Parenting

WISDOM FROM MY CHILDREN

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

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

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

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

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

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