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! 🙂

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. 🙂

True Love Disciplines

A couple of weeks ago we had to go through a week of intense discipline with our three-year-old toddler. Timmy is a very sweet and funny boy but that doesn’t exempt him from having tantrums and rebellious moments. One thing that kept recurring with him is his tendency to show his rebellion by stomping his feet, raising his voice, and hitting objects (like the table and the couch). IMG_20140908_181718 We knew we had to deal with it more drastically even if it meant having to spank him every day (and on certain days more than once a day). For some reason, it doesn’t stick to him that this behavior is wrong. He had been already been spanked before for doing these things but after which we went back to simply telling him to stop. 20141029_212807 My husband Omar became quick to discipline the moment he did any of those things. Timmy would cry his lungs out and even shout while crying. He would call my name and beg for my rescue. As painful as it was for me not to even come close, I had to do it. I had to let him sort things out with his dad and once they’re all good that’s only time I could come in. He also did the same thing to me when I spanked him and he was calling for his dad. Sorry son, dad’s not home so you have no choice but to deal with me. IMG_20141010_081437 After that intense week, we saw those antics lessen a lot. Even now, he’s very mindful of how he reacts to situations. I can see in him that he gauges his own response before actually doing or saying it. There was a time when he whispered, “I want to sit down on the floor.” Before, that was his way of expressing his rebellion and he says it loudly. When I asked him again in a stern voice, he looked at me and said, “I just only want to play.” He then continued to play and didn’t say that statement again. 20141025_092845 It’s true what they say that it’s easy to love your children but it’s so difficult to discipline them. When I see Timmy, I see a lovable child who gives butterfly kisses on my cheeks and always demands my attention in the cutest possible way. But I also see that he’s growing up and his human nature (that we all share) is kicking in fast. The desire to do things his way, the urge to push boundaries—the very things we adults struggle with are manifesting already. 20141025_101102 God made me realize that it’s the very reason we are given parents to correct us and direct us to the right direction. I grew up being disciplined, too. I developed a healthy fear and respect for my mom because of that. We want our son to have the same healthy fear with us, too. We want him to grow up listening to our guidance and counsel because we only want what’s best for him. I learned a lot of things during that week and I want to share them with you. We need to be consistent. As parents we need to be consistent on what is allowed and not allowed in our home. If raising voice is not allowed then we should not to do it to each other, too. When we discipline Timmy we tell him that he doesn’t see mommy and daddy do that to each other. It’s hard but we have to model it consistently in our household so that he gets the idea clearly.

Proverbs 13:24

Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

 We need to be forgiving. I have to admit that it’s hard to deal with a stubborn child. It’s hard to forgive if your child keeps testing you. I’ve learned to be more forgiving through Timmy. You see, after we spank him, said our sorry’s and I-forgive-you’s Timmy is back to his normal self. He would play with us. Show sweet gestures as if he wasn’t bawling a few minutes ago. He, too, was forgiving of mommy and daddy. Sometimes after I discipline him I still feel irritated but his natural response of wanting to be with me again taught me that this is what forgiveness is all about. You forget and move on.

Proverbs 22:15

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

We need to be patient. Our children are not robots programmed to do anything we ask them to do. They have free will just like the rest of us. We need to patiently mentor them. Guide them, explain things to them, and pray for them. Even if it means having to teach the same things over and over again, we need to just press on and do it until they fully understand. I realized that I can’t give up and just let him go on showing these behaviors just because I’m tired of it.

Proverbs 29:15

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

We need to show tough love. Not everyone believes in disciplining or spanking their children. But tough love is the only way kids learn. Even us adults, we learn the most from our most painful experiences. You don’t learn by cruising through life. You learn from its ups and downs. Tough love makes our children realize that there are consequences to their actions. It makes them realize that their decision to disobey mommy and daddy is wrong. Tough love may hurt but it only hurts for a while. The lesson sticks for a long time.

Hebrews 12:11

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. I can’t say that it’s over and we’re all done disciplining Timmy. He really improved a lot after that week and we can only praise and thank God for that. We know that in the future he will have other behaviors that we have to deal with but we’re taking it one day at a time. God is the same with us. He always keeps an eye on us, disciplining us (even as adults) when we stray far from Him. Not because He’s a possessive God but because He’s a loving God. He knows when we’re headed for destruction and discipline prevents that from happening.

Deuteronomy 8:5

Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you.

What a week it has been but it was full of lessons for all three of us. We show our love to our son through so many things like spending time with him, buying him the stuff that he wants, taking care of him, teaching him, and playing with him. But I guess disciplining him is the form of love that truly helps in molding his character. It’s the most difficult expression of love yet the most fruitful in the long run. 🙂

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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. 🙂

A Letter to My Savior

Dear Jesus,

It’s Holy Week and I admit that it’s only around this time that I get to meditate on your crucifixion and resurrection. It doesn’t come naturally for me to recall what You’ve done. And for that I’m sorry. 😦 I know that a sacrifice like that deserves more than just a few days of recollection. It deserves a daily expression of gratitude. When I opened my Bible today, I asked You to highlight something for me about Your journey to Calvary and Luke 22:42-44 seemed to jump right out of the pages.

Luke 22:42-44 NIV

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

gethsemane

I tend to forget that You were as much human as we are when You came here on earth. You are both God and man. I admit that I have trivialized Your human side. The very thing that made us common, at least for a short while. Being human is hard, I can attest to that. I have never experienced a perfect life nor seen a perfect world the way Adam and Eve had. You know what it feels like to be pristine, pure, and perfect. Yet You chose to be dirty, filthy, and wretched like the rest of us.

I’ve had my own share of pain, suffering, and betrayal but not in the magnitude that You had Yours. Seeing what the future holds at that moment might have been a curse after all and not a blessing. You knew what You will go through. You could feel the stabbing betrayal of Your trusted friends, the seething pain of scourging, the tormenting anguish of being deserted by Your father, and the blinding darkness of death. You begged and cried for one last time for God to bail You out. Your plea was so intense that instead of beads of sweat, drops of blood fell on the ground.

portrait-of-jesus

Yet in that moment of bargaining, when You had every reason to give up, You yielded to Your Father’s will. You showed me that part of using Your free will is choosing to finish what You’ve started. It’s not about giving up in the middle of the battle. It’s about pressing on and going against fear, doubt, and hopelessness. It’s about seeing the victory at the end and not letting the blood and bruises stop You from fighting.

And You were fighting for us. You were fighting for me. You were thinking about my name and my future with You. You knew that if You walk away, we will be lost for good. Hope will never be a part of our vocabulary. We will never see the sense in saying “things will be better” because it will never be. It was a make or break negotiation for You. You had the option to impose Your will and say, “I can’t.” But You didn’t. You resolved in Your heart that You’d do it regardless.

Thank You, Jesus. Thank You for not giving up on mankind. Thank You for dying for us. Thank You for defeating death by coming back to life. Thank You for showing us that we have victory over sin and death because You did it for us. The cross and the empty tomb remind us that we are forgiven and redeemed. Your triumph gives us confidence that we can surpass anything because You’re alive and You’re with us.

stained glass heart

I may not say it that much but I want You to know that I’m very grateful for Your sacrifice. I know I’m one of Your far too many delinquent children and I’m humbled and up to now still baffled by Your encompassing love. Thank You for Your grace that never ends. Thank You that I can face each day full of hope because of who You are and what You’ve done. Thank You that You love with no questions nor limitations. And most of all thank You for giving Your life for me even if I don’t deserve it.

I love You, Jesus. I may have failed You so many times but this frail human being before You loves You with all her broken pieces. By Your blood You have restored all my shards, making a beautiful stained glass depicting a portrait of a redeemed life. Thank You, Jesus, for being my Savior, my Lord, and my everything. 🙂

Your Child,
Ivy

 

I dare you to move

Over the past couple of years God has been prodding me with a terrifying challenge, “I DARE YOU TO MOVE.” Career wise, I had been in my comfort zone for the past 11 years. I thrived behind the pages of books. Fresh out of college I landed on my dream job in a specialty book store. Had it not been too stressful for my health I think I would not have left. My second wind came not long after when I became a consultant in the same industry. I couldn’t ask for a better job. It had everything I wanted. I was blessed with admirable superiors. It was like having your career placed on a silver platter.

Baby love :)

Baby love 🙂

Then I got married. I married a wonderful godly man. Not only that, months after our wedding, we had a baby! So in less than a year, we became a happy bunch! The changes were happening so fast that I never really had the time to process each transition we had. It was during this time when I started to feel a certain “tension” that I couldn’t explain, a certain discontent that I couldn’t pinpoint, and a certain longing that I couldn’t quantify.

Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
The tension is here

Between who you are
And who you could be
Between how it is
And how it should be

(Lyrics from Switchfoot’s “I dare you to move”)

Funny that those lyrics came from one of my favorite songs and one of my most loved movies, “A Walk to Remember,” which is incidentally the theme of our wedding! 🙂

A Day To Remember

A Day To Remember

Going back, I finally had the chance to verbalize this to my husband during our Valentine’s date this year. I told him that the desire to be a homemaker and a stay-at-home mom is getting stronger each day. My job then did not require me to go to work daily. I paced myself according to my health’s needs without compromising the work I needed to deliver. At first, I thought that it wasn’t so bad. However, the tension remained. It never abated. In fact, it even intensified. I told my husband that this desire to be a full-time homemaker is something that I never had when I was still single; probably because I didn’t need it back then.

Hubby love :)

My superhero 🙂

It’s like God turned on a switch when I got married. It felt like He gave me permanent glass shoes—beautiful yet fragile. He gave me precious roles that I should fill and that doing otherwise will cause it to break. It was a realization that I was trying to ignore but was proving more difficult to do.

I knew what I wanted to be and where I wanted to be. But I didn’t have the courage to leave my comfort zone. For the longest time, my husband and I were not on the same page on this as well. I was always mulling on leaving while his stand was for me to stay. So I waited and waited until the day came when God gave me no other choice but to move. A re-organization happened within the company leaving me with limited options. After much prayer and consideration, my husband and I agreed for the first time that it’s time to close that chapter in my career and move on.

Worth the trade-off for my boys :)

Worth the trade-off 🙂

What amazed me the most about this decision was the peace it brought inside of me. I finally moved. I finally accepted God’s dare. And I was at peace. Despite the big drop in our finances, I knew that God would provide for us and carry us through. God confirmed that not long after when our neighbor told me that they were looking for a copywriter. The best part about it was that it was home-based! In less than a week I got a new job that fit everything I truly wanted and needed. My husband was also blessed with a couple of jobs! One was a continuation of his previous contract and the other one was from his previous employer but this time involving a different industry! God’s ways are truly higher than ours!

Isaiah 55:8-9

“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.”

Now that I am a homemaker and stay-at-home mom, who happens to work on the side, all the tension and discontent that kept nagging me the past two years has disappeared. Sure we had to make adjustments with our budget and move into my in-laws temporarily. But even these things were already orchestrated by God beforehand. My in-laws are currently on vacation in Canada for four months. This has given us time to get settled financially and force us to let go of our excess stuff through a successful garage sale. What a relief that was, too!

Family love :)

Happy wifey and mommy 🙂

Sometimes God makes us go through big faith-shaking decisions so that we will learn to trust Him completely. When this happens, we need to believe that the God who led us will also be faithful to deliver us. We are still in a transition phase and soon we will move to a new place again. It’s an exciting yet tiring phase of moving and settling. Nonetheless, it’s also very much like being in the eye of the storm where everything is calm despite the strong winds and heavy rains around. I have learned that moving only makes sense when you follow someone who will lead you to a better place. No one else fits that bill than our Heavenly Father who knows exactly what is best for us. I know that our sovereign God is doing just that for our family. He is leading the way slowly but surely. And with an all-powerful, all-knowing, almighty God going before you, there is definitely no turning back. 🙂

Deuteronomy 31:8 

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.

When being human is too much to bear

Sometimes God opens our eyes to things that we haven’t seen or noticed before. I’ve read about the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection many times. I’ve watched movies about it, too. I decided to read something about the life of Jesus in Matthew 26—particularly on the night He was betrayed and arrested. I know these stories by heart (or so I thought) but this time God opened my eyes to details that I haven’t paid much attention to. I felt like I was an intruder looking into the very heart of Jesus at this very crucial time in His life. I think at this point, Jesus must’ve thought that being human was just too much to bear.

Bailing out

There are times when our problems seem insurmountable that we want to bail out on life. Jesus had the best of both worlds—being God and man—when He came here up until the point when it seemed to have turned into a curse. Being God, He knew what would happen to Him. He had already seen it beforehand. But being human made all the pain real and palpable. Jesus knew that this had to happen. He knew that with God’s power, He could also turn things around. And so He did what most of us would do. He bargained, pleaded, cried, wrestled, and begged that His Father would bail Him out of this situation. Jesus went to His Dad three times.

It must’ve been so wrenching to know that His Father could deliver Him but refused to. It must’ve been even more tormenting to know that He could do it Himself! And yet He didn’t do it because He knew that He had to submit to the will of His Father. He was already seeing visions of the taunting, scourging, and nailing. In a few moments, it would be a reality. I could feel His heart pounding wildly, His legs feeling wobbly, and His entire body trembling. Like any human being He must’ve wanted to escape and run away. Instead, He struggled to restrain His power and give in to His human weakness of feeling every hurt, every distress, and every pain.

On a personal level, that blew my mind. All these restraint and refusal to exercise His power to spare Himself from suffering was beyond my comprehension. He was the only way God can fulfil His will of saving mankind from sin. I am part of that mankind. I know that I do not deserve that kind of sacrifice. It’s like putting an innocent blameless baby to die on my behalf because I’ve been so bad. That’s insanely unfair, absolutely cruel, and extremely inhuman. But who would be willing to do that anyway? Only a Savior whose love is beyond measure, whose compassion is endless, and whose mercy is overflowing can sacrifice Himself for someone as proud and selfish as I am. He bailed me out of the penalty for my sins. He bailed all of us out.

Betrayal

When our friend spills our secret we get furious. When someone talks behind our backs we feel betrayed. No one has ever experienced the worst kind of betrayal apart from Jesus. He trusted 12 men, taught them, loved them, and poured His life on them. But when He needed them most they failed Him. During those times when Jesus went back and forth to His Father to spare Him from His ordeal, He asked some of them to keep watch and wait. His once formidable BFFs became sleeping beauties. And yes, they also fell asleep three times. My thought balloon was, “How can You rely on friends who sleep on You? How can You feel secure knowing that anytime soldiers will come and they won’t even be awake to warn You?” I mean true friends warn you when danger is coming, right? Well, not this time.

Despite the hurt and disappointment Jesus went on to face His captors. With them is one of the 12 named Judas. What really surprised me was Jesus’ statement when He saw him, “Friend, do what you came for.” Jesus for the last time called Judas friend. Even if Judas equated his friendship with Him with 30 pieces of silver, Jesus still saw him as His friend.

When tension started to build up, the rest of the 11 fled right on cue. Physical pain can be tolerated but emotional pain can kill you from within. Jesus must’ve felt so alone and deserted. His heart was broken into pieces by daggers of betrayal and disloyalty. Like a cruel cherry on top, Peter—one of His most trusted disciples—denied knowing Him three times. As if to silently communicate the hurt, here’s an account of what Jesus did.

Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter (emphasis mine). Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:60-62)

Jesus never said “I told you so.” He looked at Peter with bittersweet eyes of hurt and love. He knew that Peter wouldn’t stand up for Him. It was just too much to see it before His very eyes. But He understood and He understood lovingly. He knew that being human meant He would experience every form of betrayal. Even at this point when being human was too much to bear Jesus didn’t give up. He pressed on and continued what He needed to do for you and me. He gave His life not because we deserve it but because He loves us unconditionally. Some people can’t believe that the way to be reconciled with God is that easy; that all one needs to do is trust Jesus and the sacrifice He did on the cross. They find it too easy that someone bailed them out of sin just like that.

You see, it was not easy for Jesus. He felt every seething whip, blow, curse, slap, spit, and every excruciating pain possible. He also felt every stab at His heart every single time. In the midst of all these, He had your name and your face in mind. He was looking forward to that day when the barrier of sin won’t hinder you and me from coming to Him because He paid it all. Jesus opened His arms for us on that cross. He died with open arms, giving His all—His life and even His dignity as a human being.

Three days and more than two thousand years after, He still extends His arms wide open. In Jesus’ eyes, sin and death are no longer barriers to our relationship with Him. We can come to Him with confidence because He didn’t bail out on us; He kept His Word and didn’t betray us. At times when being human is too much to bear, let Jesus bear it for you. He is our God and Savior who knows, feels, and understands. He knew grief so that He can comfort us. He knew distress so that He can rescue us. He knew every human emotion so He can respond to it with empathy and compassion. His humanity and divinity makes Him the only comforter and friend we can truly depend on.