Support in the Little Things

Part of being married is supporting your husband’s decisions. While I personally don’t find it difficult to support my husband on the big things, I struggle when it comes to the little things. The incident I’m about to share is so trivial to the point that I didn’t even bring this up with my husband until now! Surprise, honey! 🙂 Haha!

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My husband and I are both work-from-home writers and we love what we do. Omar writes about superheroes and basketball. He’s very fortunate that he gets to write about the things he loves. 🙂 Sometime last month, I noticed that he was spending so much time writing about this article on the best Spider-Man costumes of all time.

There are ways to get articles done quickly. Most writers know that. I was surprised that he was spending hours on this one piece! He was getting paid per article. In my mind, I was computing that if he wrote 3 or 4 articles in that span of time that would’ve been more profitable, right?

At one point I even commented, “Hon, parang ang tagal mo ata sa article na yan.” (Hon, it seems like you’re spending a lot of time on that article.) I just couldn’t help it! Omar said that it was taking some time because he needed to research more and he was analyzing the best of the best.

I was tempted to suggest that he should stop doing it. My husband was creating an original article and not a curated one. When I say curated it’s more of a rewrite with a little bit of your opinion. Original articles take more time and effort obviously but he couldn’t ask for a higher rate for that.

I had the choice to either make a big deal out of it or just let him finish. I couldn’t remember exactly what I needed him to do but I needed his help that time either with our son or something else. But whatever it was, I knew it could wait. I could’ve insisted though that he drop what he was doing and attend to me. I had no doubt that he would but it would mean interrupting his momentum.

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I was overly concerned with him wasting time for an article that brought him minimal returns. I prayed and asked the Lord to help me shut up, literally. I asked Him to calm my heart and trust my husband that he knew what he was doing. Then God opened my eyes to something.

I saw that despite the challenge of writing that piece there was JOY in my husband’s eyes. I saw PASSION in what he was doing. His focus was different. He was really enjoying what he was writing! I may not understand why but I knew I should support him even for just a few hours (around 4-5 hours to be exact).

God assured me that letting my husband be was the best form of support I could give. That meant allowing him finish the article without disturbance, letting that concern wait, and leaving the results to Him (in terms of provisions). I couldn’t shake the feeling of dismay that Omar would’ve earned more by writing more articles in the span of time he supposedly “wasted” for that Spidey article.

When he posted the blog and shared it on social media, it generated more than 157,000 in reach and over 18,000 in post clicks (the actual number of people who actually clicked on the Facebook link and read the article)! The engagement in their Facebook page was unbelievable, too! His employer was so pleased with him! That blog has become one of their top performing articles to date.

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Best of all, my husband created a perennial article that could be reposted or refurbished anytime regardless of the trend. It’s a classic, so to speak. Fanboys of their site loved the article. It doesn’t matter if a fidgety wife didn’t get it. What mattered was, their target market were hooked on it. 🙂

And I couldn’t be prouder. 🙂 When I actually read it and saw his picks for the article, I was impressed! I became appreciative of the art and the stories that went along the creation of each Spider-Man costume. I saw how thrilled my husband was when he realized how quickly the fans were consuming his content. He saw the reach increase by the thousands in a matter of minutes!

I got excited about it, too! I planned to blog about this sooner but I got busy with other things and then this morning in my devotions about marriage I was reminded to be your husband’s biggest fan. I was brought back to that time when that article was published and realized that I had the chance to be in the front row seats, cheering for him when we were seeing the engagement that his article generated. 🙂

His success eventually led to his employer becoming confident again to invest in Facebook ads for his articles so they can get more traffic on the site. More traffic means more earnings for his employer and more stability for him and ultimately, for our family. In a volatile, fast-paced world of the web ENGAGEMENT is everything. Writing compelling articles that get people talking can give unprecedented traction for a website and that’s exactly what his article did. 🙂

He wouldn’t have achieved it if I gave in to my worries and asked him to stop doing it and go with something easier. I never thought that supporting him in that small thing and simply letting him be could result in something great. It took a lot of restraint on my part not to comment further when he was so engrossed in his writing.

It was only GOD’S GRACE that helped me that time. 1 Peter 3:3-4 says,”Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.”

Support through gentleness and being quiet was what my husband needed from me at that time. I’m extremely thankful that God gave me the grace to do so. He reminded me to trust in Him and trust the leader (my husband) He has given me. 🙂 If I didn’t allow the Lord to reign me in and hold my tongue, I would’ve missed out on that moment when my husband got the recognition he deserved from his employer and the people who make their business thrive. That seemingly small support I gave him, allowed me to witness one of the highlights in my Omar’s writing career. 🙂

More often than not, our husbands require us to support them on the trivial things. Those small increments of support when accumulated over time builds our husband’s confidence. It makes them bolder to take on risks and face challenges knowing that they have their wife by their side. My husband isn’t perfect and he makes mistakes but he knows that I, his biggest fan, will always cheer for him regardless. It’s not easy when you need to do it at that particular moment but when you’re looking at it in hindsight, God will make you realize that it’s worth it. 🙂

I know that I still fail and struggle in this area, hon. But I want you to know that I will always be your cheerleader. No amount of arthritis and gray hair will stop me from cheering for you. 🙂 I love you! 🙂

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The Blame Game

It has been a tough two weeks for me and my little trooper. Asthma found its way to creep into his healthy body and tackled him down again. Taking care of a sick child is not only physically daunting but also emotionally draining. Every time Timmy gets sick I end up doing the blame game, pointing all fingers at myself for my irresponsible parenting and defective genes.

Timmy got his asthma from me and being an asthmatic kid I know how tough it is to have those attacks. I remember spending birthdays in the hospital and getting confined almost every year. My mom took care of me like I’m a fragile bird with a broken wing. Now I’m doing the same except that it really breaks me up inside knowing that he inherited it from me. I find myself apologizing to him every time he’s sick. He doesn’t hear it but God does.

12252010631-001 When we found out he had Neonatal Lupus when he was born I cried buckets. I bawled in front of my husband and parents. I remember my dad comforting me saying that it’s good that we already know how to manage the disease because I’ve had it for years (17 to be exact) and we can take care of Timmy better. As good as it sounded back then to me it was just unbearable. Living with Lupus is not easy and I didn’t want my son to experience it.

By God’s grace, my rheumatologist (i.e. Lupus doctor) said that most Neonatal Lupus cases are transient. They go away once the child develops his own antibodies. She told me not to subject him to further tests. She added that Lupus rarely occurs in men so it could be that my little boy didn’t have it. She advised us to just watch out for symptoms, which I am very well-versed at, but other than that I had nothing to worry about.

10302011093_2 And then his asthma manifested at 10 months old. I jokingly told my husband that our son keeps getting all the bad stuff from me. But inside I was blaming myself again for his health issues and every time he gets an asthma attack the blame game happens all over again. I put on a strong face and double up on my nurturing to restore my son to good health but inside it’s a battle.

His recent attack two weeks ago was no different. Usually, Timmy gets better after a week of medication but this time he didn’t. He was given antibiotics but his cough and colds are still there (yes, up to now). We have lessened his activities so he can rest. I have placed work on hold just so I could attend to him. But his recovery has been slow. His pedia said that it will take 10 days for the antibiotics to fully kick in but she said that he sounded better and he’s on his way to recovery. He was given maintenance meds for 30 days to help speed up his healing.

Phototastic-6_23_2015_b251d9d1-12e5-4acc-9343-e660229fe571My heart broke each time Timmy said, “I feel sick.” I feel a stab inside my chest every time I hear his wheezing, hacking cough. This is one part of parenting that I’d gladly skip. It’s just too much to bear to see your child sick. Good thing, my son remained upbeat and active through it all. He would even encourage me saying, “Mommy, Jesus will heal me.” Or he would say, “Mommy, I feel better now because Jesus healed me.” To which my husband and I would reply happily, “Yes, He did!”

I take comfort in the fact that Jesus will heal me, too. That every time I feel broken and guilty about my son’s health condition He can restore and bring healing to my soul.

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I have been a recipient of God’s grace all my life. He has healed me time and time again. He forgives me for all the blame game I’ve done and He continuously gives me a new slate to start over once more. His track record of faithfulness in my life is impeccable. He has given me every reason to trust Him. He even “crowns me with love and tender mercies.” My all-knowing God is not too hard on me and I have no reason not to do the same.

So today, as I watch Timmy sleeping peacefully I choose to forgive myself. I choose to fix my eyes on Jesus, the One who saved me, forgave me, and restored me. I choose not to blame myself or anyone for my child’s health condition. I choose to believe in God’s power and ability to bring healing to my son. I choose to rest in His loving arms, knowing that He loves my son more than I could ever love him.

WP_20150616_20_16_14_Pro My son is His. His health is His. Whatever future health problems we’ll encounter I know that we will still remain His. And in that I take the most comfort knowing that He’ll be with us every single time. My prayer is that the next time any of my boys get sick that I’ll be able to stand firm and shun the lies of the enemy. That I will not play the blame game anymore but instead put all stakes on my God who is sovereign and true. I know He will give me the grace to do it and the strength to overcome it. He always comes through for me, always. 🙂

9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

So I encourage every mom out there who feels guilty every time their child gets sick, Jesus holds you by the hand. He doesn’t accuse us. He extends His grace to us every single day. He knows what we’re going through. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). We can count on Him to help us. All we need to do is believe and trust that He can. 🙂

The Unhurried Life

This incident happened two months ago but up to now I am still being reminded of the lessons I’ve learned from this experience. It took a while before I got my bearings back after the holiday season. When January hit, I was still out of sorts, mixing up schedules, and forgetting things more often than usual. The Homeschoolers of the Philippines Facebook Group had organized a south meet-up around the third week of January and I volunteered to help.

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Since we started talking about it around December I have somewhat earmarked the date as an event that was still weeks away. That was ingrained in me until probably a week before the get-together. So you could imagine my surprise that on the day itself I got a Facebook message saying, “See you later!” It was from the organizer and my mentor (I’m now even more ashamed to write this!), Donna.

I called my husband, who was out for an errand that time, about the get-together. And being the understanding and loving hubby that he was (and still is), he just said okay but next time I needed to put it in our calendar so that I won’t forget. It was 11:00 am already and I needed to be there by 12:30 to help set up the playroom. So off I went preparing our lunch and the stuff we needed to bring. Of course I had to rush Timmy, too.

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I told him to clean up his toys in a stern voice repeatedly and this stressed him out. Timmy usually doesn’t have a problem cleaning up. In fact, he’s more cooperative when we do it as a game. But that day, I was not in the mood nor did I have the time to play a game. I just wanted him to clean up so we can have a quick lunch and go. I got frustrated to see how slow he moved. Parents know this that toddlers are quick to play but slow to clean up and I’m usually fine with that but not that day.

In short, he had difficulty obeying me because I wasn’t gentle in asking and I was putting pressure on him due to my own forgetfulness and messy schedule. I obviously didn’t see that because I was so focused on getting him to obey. That clean up moment became a crying session, to which he ended up saying sorry. We dropped him off to my in-law’s house before Omar brought me to the homeschool get-together.

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Lo and behold, the topic was WORDWISE—how to acknowledge, empower, and affirm your child. I was drowning with guilt that I really felt the urge to just leave and say sorry to my poor son. I’m sure Timmy had already forgotten it the moment we were done with our I’m-sorry-I-forgive-you cleaning up episode. I left that homeschool event encouraged, humbled, and blessed. My former Sunday School teacher Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon was the speaker and it was great catching up with her! But the highlight of that day was learning how I could edify Timmy with my words.

When we picked him up, I sat him on my lap and told him that I’m sorry for stressing him out with the cleaning up. I asked for his forgiveness and he said yes he forgives me. We said I love you to each other and in my mind I made a promise to God that with His help I will try my best to use my words to uplift my husband and my son as much as I can. Asking for forgiveness from my 4-year-old toddler may not mean much to him but it means a lot to God and to me.

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I needed to be humbled. I needed to learn that I shouldn’t stress out my family because of my poor planning and organizing. Most of all, I needed God’s help in every area of my life. I admit that my time with the Lord has been lacking quality before this screwed up schedule incidents began to happen. My quiet time had either been hurried or bland. All because I looked at it as something that I needed to tick off my check list for the day.

God used this incident to remind me that I need to come before him every single day before I start doing anything. He has been patient and gracious to remind me to take my time when I read His Word, listen, and pray; to refuse being hurried when it comes to my quiet time; to appreciate being still before Him; and most of all to let Him take precedence over everything. It’s weird because I remember telling my husband just late last year that I like “unhurried” meals. In fact, at one point he jokingly called me “my unhurried wife.” The very thing I desire is what God actually wants for me—an unhurried life.

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This incident has taught me and reminded me repeatedly not to let the activities of life take away the beauty of life. I actually had the choice not to let Timmy clean up and just do it when we got back. We could’ve enjoyed our lunch together and not had that drama moment. But no, teaching him to clean up became more important than choosing to be a nurturing mom in a stressful situation. In the process, I had to swallow my pride, own up to my mistakes, and ask for my toddler’s forgiveness. To which I got a gracious, forgiving response, a hug and a kiss, and a clean slate yet again. Plus one more shot to get motherhood right the next time around.

God’s love for us is pretty much like a mother-and-child relationship, too. It thrives on nurturing and unhurried moments with Him. Sure there are lots of teachable moments but we respond better to those times when we have spent lots of quality time with Him and invested time knowing Him. My son responds better when my approach to him is how he knows me. He knows me better than being that frustrated mom who forced him to finish cleaning up quickly that time. Thus, he responded in a way that is not like him, too. In the same way, I respond better to God’s correction and when I know Him more. And I can only know Him more when I spend quality time with Him regularly.

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I am blessed to be able to stay at home (and work) with the two most important men in my life—Omar and Timmy. And I don’t take this for granted. I am privileged to love and serve them and vice versa. But there will be times when schedules will be screwed up (and yes, it happened again just last week!). And there will be times that I will fail again and stress them out. But I also know that God’s mercies are new every morning. He can make things right and new again. I just need to come to Him, humble myself before Him, listen to Him, learn from Him, and follow Him moment by moment. By His grace and mercy alone, I know I can live an unhurried life. 🙂 You know what? Just blogging about this and making time for this is a glimpse of what an unhurried life can give you—a chance to look back and reflect; a chance to get things right the second time around; and more importantly, a chance to experience a full life the way God has always planned for us. 🙂

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Two Stories, One Ending

Last week, my husband and I had our annual the-year-in-review tradition. We used to do it on New Year’s Eve or early morning of January 1. This year, we spent a quiet afternoon at a restaurant recounting God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives. It was also the time when we set goals for ourselves and our family.

This is one of my favorite bonding moments with Omar. I love hearing how his year went even if we’re together every single day. 🙂 It amazes me how God works in us differently and how when we put our year-in-retrospect story together we see the big picture. So for my first blog for the year, I’d like to retell two different stories from two different people but with one predictable ending. 🙂

2014_12_23_19_13_37Omar’s Story

I actually came more prepared this year with our throwback tradition. I had an outline on my phone so that we don’t lose track of the things we need to talk about. 🙂 When I asked him the highlights of his year he gave two things—his career and his hobbies. I really enjoyed listening to him about how these two areas made the most impact on his year.

First up, my husband landed on a job that involves writing about superheroes. That kind of career is a match made in comic book heaven. I mean he gets paid for writing about the stuff he loves! He not only loves superheroes but his knowledge about comic books is a product of decades of reading and collecting. Comic books were the only gifts he wanted as a child. Sometimes when he tells me all these back stories about the Flash or Captain America, I find myself really impressed at how he remembers all these events. He even stopped reading and collecting twice! The first sabbatical was for 2 years while the other one was for 11 years but it still looks like he never left the comic book scene! He’s very patient with my questions after we watch superhero movies or TV series. During those times, I silently thank God for letting me marry a comic book connoisseur. 🙂

The way this job came was heaven-sent. Prior to that, Omar was writing devotionals for a Bible app. We thought that this will go on forever but a day prior to his first year with his employer he was told that the devos he wrote would simply be recycled for next year. In short, they just needed a year’s worth of inspirational writing. This is one of the risks of being full-time, home-based writers. There will be days when the projects will eventually end.

I was never really anxious that he lost that job. When I told him that I supported him on going freelance, I meant it—risks and all. Even full-time employees get laid off so this was no different. I’ve always believed that God will open doors for my husband because He designed him to provide for our family. Plus, time and time again Omar assures me that I need not worry about finances because that’s his job. And I took my husband’s word seriously. I also know that he wouldn’t settle for something that only pays the bills. He’s a strengths-based kind of guy and believes in doing only the things he’s good at. That mindset actually paid off. 🙂

InstagramCapture_4a8d3257-fae6-4f9a-b676-011d98273224Unlike other husbands who can take on any jobs, Omar has decided early on that he’ll do what he does best. He’s a great teacher and his students can attest to that. But after 11 years of teaching art and values (part-time and full-time) God has led him to a different direction. He has a book in the works but I guess for him to really finish it, he needed to brush up on his writing skills thus the complete shift to a writing career. He still teaches art to homeschooled kids but not in a classroom setting anymore.

He’s a very niche writer and would only take on projects that interest him. Unlike me, I can write anything from digital marketing to the mysteries of Stonehenge. His decision to stick to his specializations has landed him the most suitable projects for his skills. And this by far is the best. He saw this job opening for a comic book writer and contacted the employer even though he was looking for someone from North America. Omar had to prove his knowledge about comic books and immediately got the job the same day! Praise God! Basically he writes comic book news and blogs, maintains his employer’s website, and manages his Facebook page. When he lost the app job, his comic book employer gave him a substantial increase that more than compensated for what he lost. God’s timing is truly amazing! 🙂

This writing job also revived his love for comics and controlled collecting. 😉 He also got involved with a comic book group that allowed him to get in touch with like-minded individuals. During our date I told him that I’m so happy he found that group because it’s great to see him hangout with people who shares his passions and interests. Sometimes their insights helped him with his job, too! I even told him that I’m thrilled that he gained new friends last year. 🙂 I also told him how proud I am that he was firm in his resolve to do what he does best and not settle for anything less. God graciously honored his decision. 🙂

My Story

The highlights of my year also involved two things—moving out and homeschooling. 🙂 For more than a year, we’ve been staying with my in-laws. The decision to move in with them came about the change in my career back in 2013 when we agreed not to accept the change in terms and offer in my consultancy job. It basically shook our finances so we had to give up our apartment.

I’ve been very blessed to have the kindest and most accommodating in-laws. We never had any conflicts unlike other horror stories I’ve heard from other people. My mother-in-law taught me how to make adobo and fried chicken the way Omar likes it. He eats my own recipe but sometimes he requests for his mom’s recipe so I took time to watch his mom and learn from the queen of the kitchen. 🙂 I also learned other cooking and organizing tips from her.

We initially thought we can move out by the end of 2013 when my in-laws came back from Canada. Then we told ourselves that we wouldn’t stay there for a year. I mean they were not asking us to leave. It’s just that we don’t want to overstay and change the dynamics of their household for so long. Having a toddler around also changes everything. However, God had other plans. Seeing that we hadn’t saved enough to move out from my in-laws’ place, I completely surrendered by desire to have our own place. I told God that I will gladly wait until I’ve learned the lessons He wanted me to learn during our stay there (even if takes years!).

WP_20141231_14_33_42_Pro (2)Not long after, God’s provisions came and over the next six months we were able to save for our new apartment and furniture. We sold everything when we moved to his parents’ house because first, we needed the money and second, their place is fully furnished. God also blessed us with a great apartment that’s close to a mall! 🙂 And I mean walking distance kind of close. 🙂 Having our own place again opened my eyes to the privilege of managing your own home. God made me realize that fixing our home, cooking for my boys, scheduling how our day goes, and doing the simplest chores are the very things that give me joy. 🙂 Sure life was easier when other people do things for you. But life is more fulfilling when you do things for other people. I now understand why my mom did what she did. Why all her life she devoted it to taking care of us. Being a homemaker is a job that gets daily rewards. Aside from the unlimited hugs and kisses, the growth you see in your child’s life and the success you propel in your husband’s career—all done in the background—are the intangible trophies you carry in your heart. 🙂 God gave a whole new meaning to my full-time jobs as wife and mom when we had our own place again.

And then there’s homeschooling. 🙂 I’ve been homeschooling Timmy since he was born because teaching really starts at home. Last year, though, I’ve been more intentional in researching what I could teach to him like working up his fine motor skills, letting him do more art activities, progressive reading, and more. Most 3-year-olds go to nursery, Timmy basically “learned through play” at home. We also got involved with a homeschool group which met every Tuesday. It’s really a class for music, arts, and P.E. and we joined just for socialization purposes. In the end, I got more than what I signed up for. 🙂 Timmy gained new friends, I had new mommy friends who have been generous in sharing their knowledge and experience, and we got lots of homeschooling support. We even had an amazing Christmas party at an orphanage!

InstagramCapture_cca84d36-32f0-46a2-95ab-81beee9fcb71There were moments when I was second guessing myself about homeschooling knowing that I have a naturally shy boy. But seeing his development now, I realized that building his confidence at home helped him adjust more easily outside instead of thrusting him into a foreign environment like in a school setting where other kids expect you to behave like everybody else. I’ve read this before that homeschooling allows your child to feel secure and confident with the love and attention you give, allowing him to thrive in any environment. The child knows that he is loved and accepted at home and so validity from peers becomes secondary. Their values are not easily swayed because they are firmly built at home. Now, his warm up time is relatively shorter from hours to minutes and he can play and interact with other people already. We also tell him ahead of time the new friends he will meet and that we’ll be there, too, to help him adapt quickly. 🙂

Homeschooling has allowed me to know my child more. It’s not a given that as a mom you know everything about your child. I’ve learned the best way I can get him to obey easily and the most effective way for him to enjoy learning—all tailored to his personality and interests. I am humbled every day whenever I teach Timmy. My character is being molded, too, especially when I have to deal with his stubborn and lazy moments. Or when I needed to deal with his distractions and shift in interest. There are days when I had everything planned and then he wanted to do something else. I’ve learned to become flexible and maximize that moment of eagerness to teach as much as I can about his current interest. Homeschooling added a new dimension to my homemaker life, making it more fun and exciting every day! 🙂

As expected

Our year ended with handprints of God’s grace all over it. 🙂 Our family life and home-based careers are testaments to God’s goodness and faithfulness. We couldn’t be more grateful for what God has done, is doing, and will do in our lives. We’re excited for 2015 because we know that whatever blessing or trials we’ll encounter, His grace is more than sufficient to carry us through. I’m sure we’ll have new lessons to learn and new adventures to experience. The unpredictability of it all excites me! With that, we say goodbye to 2014 and say hello to 2015. 🙂 Happy New Year, everyone!

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Named for a Purpose

As I was reading the Christmas story this morning, something about what God said to Joseph struck me. In his dream, an angel told him, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21).

joseph in a dreamImagine what it would be like if your child’s name will reveal the kind of future he will have. It will probably take a toll on the child and the parents because they will be pressured to live up to that name. As a mom, if my son will be named for a specific purpose I want it to be something grand with a huge impact on the future, philanthropic even. I want his purpose to be clear so I can help him achieve that.

Joseph must’ve felt honored and confused at that time. Honored because he will be the foster father of God’s Son. Confused because he didn’t know what “save his people from their sins” entailed. Save meant Jesus will do something noble and great but sins meant trouble. It meant dealing with people whose main preoccupation is doing all things wrong. As a parent, it must’ve been difficult to reconcile those words and make sense out of it.

nativity sceneI wonder how Joseph and Mary went about raising Jesus knowing what His purpose was early on. Were they surprised that Jesus loved to hang out with corrupt tax collectors, healed the servant of a violent centurion, and spent time with people no one really wanted to be identified with? Did they worry and plead with God that Jesus doesn’t get killed because of the miracles He did and the things He taught?

Modern-day parents like me would probably have anxiety attacks everyday if I knew that my son’s future will be closely connected with thieves and criminals. It doesn’t only take courage to let go of one’s child. It takes something greater, something only God can give. It takes love. Love that I could never understand from a parent’s point of view. Love that prioritizes other people more than your own. Love that chose me over His blameless Son.

jesus_friend_of_sinnersJesus knew what He came here for. From the time He was born in that manger to the moment He started ministering to other people, He already knew the end. It took more than courage to face that suffering and agony. It took selfless love for sinners to make a sinless Savior give His life to save us. And that’s the very thing we celebrate every Christmas, year after year.

It’s a celebration of gratitude for the One who was named for a purpose and we were part of that. We were the “people” referred to in that phrase and it was our “sins” that He needed to “save” us from. When Jesus walked on earth He had Your name and mine in mind. It was personal. It’s like Jesus was saying, “I’m here because of You, ______ (put your name there). I’ll give my life so you will be reconciled to the Father and won’t be separated from Him. After my death and resurrection, nothing will separate us anymore. Your sins will be forgiven and paid for.”

electrifying-jesus-crucifixion-pamela-johnsonJesus was God’s gift to mankind. He’s the giver and the gift. The magi may have brought Him the finest gold, frankincense, and myrrh but He already gave Himself to us from the time He was born. This is the reason why Christmas is all about giving. We were given so much when Jesus came here to save us. We were given a Savior. We were given a second chance. We were given exclusive access to the Father through His Son. We were given forgiveness and grace. And most of all, we were given eternal life.

As we celebrate Christmas, may we all take time to just thank our Savior for loving us with a kind of encompassing, inexplicable love that none of us deserve. I know my sins and I most certainly know that I don’t deserve Jesus’ love and sacrifice. But He did it anyway. And I am floored with the grace and forgiveness He extends to each one of us.

JesusHe was named Jesus BECAUSE He will save His people from their sins. Jesus was named for a purpose. He lived doing everything aligned with that purpose. He suffered, died, and rose again because that was what He came here for. And at its very core is His people—we are the WHY behind that WHAT.

Today, we remember that we have been given the greatest gift God could give us—His Son, Jesus Christ. You may have heard it time and again that He is the reason for the season because that’s the truth. Without Him, there will be no reason to celebrate. There will be no concept of gift giving. We wouldn’t know what it means to give to those who can’t give back and to receive something we don’t deserve.

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Thank You, Jesus. Thank You that You lived out Your purpose for us from the time You were born. I am forever grateful to be redeemed and saved by You. Thank You for giving us the reason to celebrate Christmas. I’m not really sure about the date You were born but nonetheless, I want to greet You HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I’m pretty sure that if there’s one place where people really know how to party, it’s in Heaven. 🙂 I know You can have a cosmic celebration anytime You want but I just want You to know my life is Yours and that’s the only thing I can give as a form of gratitude for the salvation and eternal life You’ve given me. Merry CHRISTmas! I love You! 🙂

Why we’ve decided to homeschool our child

Up to now I still get blank stares and awkward smiles when I tell people that I’m homeschooling Timmy. A lot of parents are unaware of homeschooling—what it is, how it’s done, or if it can be done at all. Coming from a traditional school, I didn’t know about it until high school when I found out that some of my friends from church were homeschooled. Since then, my interest for homeschooling grew and I’ve decided that I will go that route when the time comes. And here I am many years later about to venture into the wonderful, whimsical world of homeschooling. 🙂

Our little homeschooler :)

Most people think that home and school are two separate locations meant for different things. My husband and I believe the opposite. For us, home is where teaching, learning, and mentoring take place. It’s the fertile ground for values formation, character molding, and individualized learning. Omar and I both went to traditional schools and he is a teacher by profession. We have seen and experienced what it’s like to be on that side of the fence. We’re also non-traditional learners so it was a no-brainer that we’re going to homeschool Timmy. 🙂

Our son is three years old and he’s been having informal homeschool from the time he was born. From the songs we sing to the daily activities we do, we incorporate fun and learning at home. Most kids his age are already in school particularly in Nursery. Apparently, this level is not required anymore by the Department of Education (DepEd). Their age requirement for kindergarten is five and for first grade it’s six. We’ll start formal homeschooling in a couple of years and he’ll be at the same grade level with the rest of the kids who started early. He will graduate at the same time, too! So, why did we choose homeschool? 🙂

We want to build our son’s CHARACTER first more than anything else.

Toddler years are the child’s formative years. We want to instill obedience, respect, and discipline in Timmy more than academic excellence. Sure we want him to get good grades and all that. We know it will come if he has developed certain disciplines and when he is obedient to do school work. All these involve character formation. We’re raising a man, a future leader of his home and we know that a lot will be expected of him. Through homeschooling we know we can instill and prioritize godly values that will prepare him when he goes to a normal school and onto adult life.

Matthew 19:14

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Deuteronomy 11:19

Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

In addition, we feel that his confidence is best developed when he gets constant love and attention from us. You see, Timmy is a shy boy but he is slowly coming out of his shell. 🙂 He can now easily talk to someone he has just met. Just recently he has been sharing his toys to other kids even those he doesn’t even know! 🙂 He will extend his arm and say, “Want to share my letters.” Usually it’s toward the kid in the other table or someone just passing by. He does it to kids he knows, too, but he’s still too shy to give it so he puts it down on the floor beside his friend. Haha!

Putting him to a nursery would terrify him but since we’re able to build his confidence and teach him at home, he’s now initiating to reach out to other kids and socialize. I could picture him crying everyday in a day care had we opted to enroll him there. Even in his weekly homeschool playdate, Timmy has adapted really well. As parents, we know the personalities of our kids and we need to be sensitive to situations where they can best thrive. 🙂

Timmy’s Homeschool Playdate 🙂

We want our son to ENJOY learning and not be stressed by it.

A friend of mine messaged me in Facebook expressing her concern for her daughter’s preschool curriculum. Her daughter knows a lot of things already but what she’s about to learn can be pretty advanced for her age according to my friend. Another friend shared her frustration to her son waking up too early and being picked up too early by his school bus. These are the very things we don’t want Timmy to experience. We want him to enjoy every learning stage he goes through. We want him to have a stress-free learning experience so that his sense of awe and wonder will always be there. 🙂

I also wouldn’t want to have the stress of dragging him out of bed and forcing him to study when he’s not in the mood to do so. We have to establish a schedule for his homeschool and a specific room for that and I plan to involve Timmy in the process. We’ll create his daily schedule together, fix the room together, and plan our activities together. That way, he feels engaged and not forced to do things. 🙂 We want to give him the flexibility of learning using different methods and not being limited to textbooks. Through guided exploration, we want Timmy to discover and learn things in a dynamic way. 🙂

We want to focus on his STRENGTHS and manage his weaknesses.

As parents, we know the strengths and weaknesses of our kids. Timmy’s good with letters even at a young age. He has shown interest in books early. He looks forward to story time and initiates it, too! Seeing that inclination, we invested on books and all sorts of letter items because he loves forming words, spelling them, and reading them. It’s also the reason why he started to read early. 🙂 He’s also an auditory and visual learner that’s why phonic sounds were easy for him to remember and imitate. Timmy mastered his phonics at two and started reading when he turned three.

On the flip side, he’s not into writing. I know that he’s not yet ready, too. Girls are more patient with coloring and writing. Timmy gets bored with pencil. I got him to write/color when I gave him colored pens. I noticed his love for colors and focus when he uses colored pens. He still doesn’t write and it’s okay. 🙂 We’re still working on his fine motor skills. 🙂 In the meantime, we will hone his creative mind and let him use as many art materials as he can. They may be random doodles and strokes but it’s a start. I don’t want him to “hate” writing by pressuring him. I know he’ll learn that eventually.  🙂

We want him to EXPLORE different learning tools and not be limited by textbooks.

I already mentioned it earlier about utilizing diverse tools to enhance Timmy’s learning experience. When I was teaching him phonics, I made a Powerpoint presentation since he likes to tinker with my laptop. So I gave him a good reason to do so! I will open the file and let him read it. 🙂 I also made some letter pops, reading cards, and a reading book for beginner words. I didn’t buy any phonics books because I know that my son loves visually stimulating materials. Not only that, the internet is full of resources that parents can use and most of them are free! 🙂

Another Motor Skill Activity 🙂

I’m sure that when Timmy learns how to Google, he can access all the information he needs. As a parent/teacher I can closely guide him in his internet use. We can use technology and traditional methods hand in hand. We can present the facts in a fun and digestible way that will spark his interest even more. I think this is the advantage of one-on-one homeschooling because you’re able to tailor your instruction to your child’s interests, strengths, and learning style.

The adventure is just beginning

There are many questions as to how homeschooled kids can survive or even thrive in a normal school. Personally, I don’t think it’s a problem because at the end of the day it’s all up to the student. There’s this teen who went from Homeschool to Harvard. This infographic compares homeschool and public school in the US while this infographic shows how homeschooled kids measure up. This TED Talk from a homeschooled boy is also very powerful. The flexibility and diversity that homeschool learning provides gives way to a multi-faceted education for any child. 🙂

Timmy participating in an arts and crafts and storytelling session 🙂

These are just some of the main reasons why we’re homeschooling Timmy. Of course there are others such as protection from bullies, cost savings (no uniform, school bus, exorbitant fees, etc.), and many more. I have to admit that at first I was terrified because I thought Timmy will not learn anything from me. Then I realized that as parents we are our child’s best teacher. No one knows them better that we do. We’re also not alone in this. God is our partner. The One who created our children will help us mentor our little ones. 🙂

Whatever Timmy’s learning so far, I can only attribute it to God’s grace and wisdom. All the ideas come from Him, even my patience comes from Him! He alone can prolong Timmy’s attention span when we’re doing activities together. And with each milestone, I can only praise and thank God for allowing me to witness it and for the privilege of being a part of it. 🙂 Although we haven’t formally enrolled Timmy in a homeschool program, we are enjoying what we’re learning at home.

WE’RE A HOMESCHOOLING FAMILY! 🙂

There’s no such thing as a perfect day with a toddler but it’s always a grace-filled day. 🙂 I’m grateful that Omar works from home, too, and we’re partners in educating Timmy. At the end of the day, we’re only but stewards of our son and God expects us to be faithful. We’re foremost parents before teachers and raising him in the knowledge, fear, and love of God is more important than getting perfect scores. I look forward to our homeschooling adventures—the lessons, challenges, and the awesomeness of it all. 🙂 It may not be the traditional route but sometimes we have to take the road less traveled to make a difference. 🙂

Even Superheroes Bleed

When I look at my husband Omar I see someone strong and invincible. He’s our leader, protector, provider, defender—everything you could expect from a real-life superhero. So when I saw him wincing in pain about three weeks ago, my heart was filled with dread and anxiety. We were about to have dinner when Omar said he needs to go to the bathroom. Almost 20 minutes later, he came back saying that we need to go home immediately because he was having extreme stomach pain. I could tell by the look on his face that he wasn’t doing well.

Our Superhero :)

Our Superhero 🙂

Prior to our dinner, he had a speaking engagement and was not able to drink much fluid before and during the talk. When we got to the mall, he went to the grocery and bought two glasses of gulaman (sweet drink with jelly) to quench his thirst. Half an hour later, his started to feel stomach spasms. So we hurriedly asked the waiter to pack our food and went home immediately. I was so worried because he was breaking into cold sweats and was clearly in pain. I offered that we call my father-in-law to drive instead but Omar insisted that he could do it. While driving, he was perspiring and taking short frequent breaths similar to what pregnant women do when they’re about to give birth. Timmy and I prayed for him and even after we ended I continued praying in my head.

We came home and Omar rushed to the bathroom. The things is, he’s neither constipated nor experiencing loose bowel movement. There was nothing coming out it was just piercing pain and all I could do was watch him. 😦 It wasn’t the appendix either because the pain was on the right side. I gave him Yakult and antacid which helped a bit but the pain kept recurring. I asked him if he should go to the emergency room but he said no. After almost two hours of agony, he went to the bedroom and curled up in a fetal position. I kept praying for him in whispers and in my head, stroked his hair, tucked him in, and watched until he fell asleep in that position.

We love our Daddy! :)

We love our Daddy! 🙂

The next morning, I was so relieved to see that he’s okay. Praise God! 🙂 It was Sunday and we were going to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday. I was pretty excited to get last night’s incident out of my head. We were just beginning to eat lunch when Omar’s stomach started acting up again. It was the same pain and it was terrible to see him go through it again. This time, he readily agreed to see a doctor. Good thing there was Healthway in Alabang Town Center and he immediately went there. We finished our lunch quickly and followed him.

When I opened the emergency room door, I saw him in the same fetal position again, grimacing in pain. That’s tough to see when you’re so used to seeing your husband up and about. I’m used to being cared for because I’m the perennially sick member in the family. It was a blessing to have my in-laws with us to take care of Timmy while I attend to my ailing superhero. Finally, the doctor came and gave him and examined him. He was given pain relievers and was asked to have a urinalysis done. An hour later, we got the result with all the wrong things in it. He has calcium oxalates, red blood cells, and pus in his urine. Simply put, he has kidney stones. 😦

Kidney Stones

If you look it up in the web, having kidney stones is one of the most painful experiences any person could go through. That explained the inexplicable stomach pain. Omar’s not new to this. He already had a bout with calcium oxalate stones 10 years ago. He was drinking calcium supplements at night and it formed into stones. This incident is practically the same except that it’s not as painful as his first episode. At that rate it was not even equal to the previous attack! I can only how imagine how bad it was the first time, poor baby. 😦

Answered prayers

I didn’t like the result, not one bit. However, I’m grateful to God for answering our prayers by giving us accurate results. Despite his sickness, now we know how to manage it better. We can take steps that will lead him to a fast recovery. And what a quick recovery he had! After drinking his antibiotics for one week and some pain killers, his repeat test showed none of the previous elements! Sure there were times when he would tell me about certain discomfort he was feeling but it wasn’t that bothersome. Praise God for His quick healing! 🙂

We also saw an urologist so that we have a go-to specialist if in case it recurs again. The doctor told us to have more tests done to better manage his health. Those tests will show if he’s a stone former or if there are teeny tiny stones that were still not detected in the previous. This doctor is very thorough and despite his seeming pessimism on my husband’s health improvements, we understand that he wants to make sure that Omar receives the best medical care. He has seen far too many kidney transplants and kidney failures and he wants none of those to happen to my hubby. From that standpoint, I’m all for more tests and lifestyle change. 🙂

Love my boys!

Love my boys!

Psalm 120:1 says, “I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me.” God really held my hand throughout this ordeal. I really didn’t know what to pray for during those weeks except “please heal my husband.” It was a repeated cry from a wife’s heart and God faithfully answered. 🙂 During those moments of helplessness, God proved to be my only help. He is my refuge and source of strength. He showed me that as much as I love my husband, HE LOVES HIM MORE. He can take care of him and comfort him far more than I could. 🙂

Grateful for family :)

Grateful for family 🙂

Now, Omar’s back to his old self. No more pain, no more discomfort! He still needs to have those tests done but I am confident that it will turn out normal. J It’s good to see my best friend, my superhero looking invincible again. God has been so gracious to give him to us. Timmy and I are so blessed to have Omar as the leader of our home. He is more than what we could ask for. I know that there will be days when we will see him exposed to a different kryptonite and be vulnerable again. However, I also know that God, our real HERO, will come to our rescue. 🙂 He’s not flashy, He doesn’t come with a mask or a cape, He doesn’t even make headlines but HE NEVER FAILS. God’s track record is perfect and His love for His children is so great. That love alone is more than enough assurance that we can face anything as a family. God is not only love personified but also love in action. He answers our prayers out of love, delivers us because of His love, and sustains us with His unfailing love. 🙂