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!

11119879_10206011786188088_2030328357_n

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.

10888453_10152433104321782_5693013177041501487_n(1)

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.

10313373_10152224055256782_7923493506084840859_n

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! 🙂

Advertisements

An Open Letter to My Ex-boyfriend

Dear Ex-Boyfie,

It’s been six years since I said YES to you. Not long after that, I said YES again to your marriage proposal and six months later I gave you my final YES during our wedding. 🙂

I know we’ve been so busy the past few months but I couldn’t pass up the chance of greeting you Happy Anniversary today! Boyfriend-girlfriend anniversary, that is. 🙂 I think it’s important that we celebrate this day because it’s the first commitment we made to each other. It’s the door that led us to where we are now. 🙂

20150516_161234

Let me just say that you’re the best ex-boyfriend ever! Haha! Because you did it right! You were forthcoming in your intentions, you didn’t leave, and you took the next step. You’re the right kind of ex who knew from day one that you want to be a part of past, present, and future. And for that I want to say THANK YOU. 🙂

I truly praise and thank God for you. Every day I see Christ’s love manifested in the way you take care of me and Timmy. Your daily sacrifices don’t go unnoticed, hon. 🙂 We appreciate it a lot. You walk your talk. And I couldn’t ask for a better role model for our son than you. 🙂

2014_12_04_12_12_11

You help me with chores, you proofread my work (haha!), you teach Timmy about God (basketball and superheroes, too!), you massage my aching joints and muscles (you thought you married someone young but no! Haha!), you partner with me in disciplining and homeschooling our son, you rebuke me with love (correcting me gently), you allow me to see things objectively and not emotionally, you encourage me to go shopping (sometimes you even force me!), you come up with the silliest songs (and dance moves!), you keep my health in check, and you never fail to make me laugh each day. 🙂

FB_20150717_20_39_19_Saved_Picture

I’m not saying you’re perfect. But you’re an 8/10. I left two small increments for improvement in our remaining lifetime together. 🙂 Seriously, if this is what an 8-husband rate looks like, I wouldn’t mind that you remain this way forever! Haha! 🙂

Happy 6th anniversary, my ex-boyfie-now-husband HONEY! 🙂 I LOVE YOU SO MUCH! I don’t have to read your comic books and graphic novels to know that superheroes exist. I already have one in you and that’s the only proof I need. 🙂

Much love,

Your ex-girlfriend 🙂

 

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.

psalm103

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. 🙂

How Homeschooling Helped My Shy Son Socialize

Parents with shy kids know how frustrating it can be when you’re child refuses to participate in group activities. No amount of encouragement and assurances can make them do it. They would hide behind your back and on a bad day they would even cry when pushed too much.

As early as a few months old, Timmy already showed that he was an introvert. He didn’t want to be carried by other people except family members. Between 1 to 2 years old, it would take him 2 to 4 hours to warm up to guests. By the time he’s ready to play with them, the party’s over or they’re about to leave. I couldn’t help but think that he was just waiting for them to go away and he couldn’t contain his excitement that’s why he played with them for a few minutes to make their visit worthwhile. Haha!

My son is shy and he got this from his dad. 🙂 Most of our friends don’t know that my husband Omar is an introvert. Maybe because he’s a teacher and he really speaks eloquently in front of a crowd. But if he had it his way, he would rather stay at home.

InstagramCapture_842bd8f2-66ee-48b1-a546-4087c130c7c6

On the other hand, Timmy’s momma has no idea what it means to be shy. I’ve always been a people person so I had to adjust to my son’s personality. Unlike his dad, who has learned the ropes of socialization already, Timmy is just beginning and it’s not easy especially for someone who’s still exploring and discovering things for himself.

For most people I’ve already perfected the “bad parent” equation:

Only child + shy personality = homeschool

It may look that way on the surface but as I see my son progress in his socialization skills God affirmed that our decision to homeschool him was the right one. God removed my fears by showing me first-hand the improvements in the way Timmy interacts with different people as he grows older. 🙂

Confidence begins at home

A child seeks approval from his parents. We are the big people they look up to, run to, and extend their arms to. Our nod is the incentive they want most. Whenever Timmy says or does something really funny and we laugh at it, he keeps doing it again and again. He gains satisfaction that what he does solicits a positive response from us. Every time he receives compliments from us, he beams with pride. 🙂

He loves showing his artwork, writings, block buildings—anything he creates because he wants to hear what we have to say. Are we going to approve? Criticize? When he gets an enthusiastic cheer from me, whether it’s a homeschooling exercise or the basketball shots he makes, he’s encouraged to do more. 🙂

WP_20150508_18_53_59_Pro

When he talks, I look him straight in the eye and listen intently. If he can’t find the words to say, I would encourage him to go on. I would fill in the words sometimes but mostly I would let him figure out a way to express himself and help him process it better after he’s able to finish his sentence. Timmy knows that mommy and daddy are ready to listen so he can take his time when telling his story. 🙂

At the heart of socialization is confidence. It takes confidence to talk to someone, express one’s thoughts freely, and interact with other people. We first noticed Timmy initiating conversations with old people. He loves grandmas and grandpas in the malls or restaurants. Maybe because he talks to adults most of the time. He’s more comfortable talking to strangers than having people we know talk to him. In short, he prefers initiating. 🙂

Even in his homeschool coop, I noticed that he has significantly changed in the way he interacts with his friends. Warm up became shorter and shorter as he got to know them longer. He enjoys playing with them even if most of the bigger kids like to carry him. Haha! They look at Timmy as the baby in the group. Whenever we get home from our coop, he would say that he misses his friends. 🙂

InstagramCapture_336164d8-5363-4af7-b870-796e8998ea90

Timmy is not rejected or put down at home. It’s the safest and most secure environment for him emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and socially. This gave him the confidence to socialize with other people. He is encouraged to speak his mind. I ask him questions and allow him to interrupt our storytelling if he has ideas or some random thoughts. When he makes mistakes in our homeschool exercises, I would tell him that it’s okay and ask him if he wants to do it again, to which he will agree. 🙂

Sometimes he intentionally commits mistakes because he likes my “oh no” face. Haha! So I have to tell him that we can fool around later but he needs to focus on his activity first. I would challenge him to show his toy animals or something else that he can finish it. Haha! He would cooperate not out of fear but out of obedience, respect, and I guess fun. 🙂

WP_20150406_10_07_40_Pro

My shy boy’s shining moments

Once we were eating at this restaurant that had a play area. Timmy always looks forward to going there. It was a weekend I think and there were a lot of kids. He approached everyone and said, “Hey, guys!” I was like, “Did he just say that?” Haha! He then started talking to the boys there. He has the habit of telling other kids the object he’s holding like, “This is a dragon. This is a porcupine. This is a killer whale.” It didn’t bother him that some ignored him. I mean that’s rejection right there. He just kept talking until someone responded!

I think he’s a teacher in the making. 🙂 He likes to share his books to other kids and sharing something informative. At first, he would put the book on the floor near the kid because he’s shy. Now, he would give the book directly and tell the title like, “This is Barry the Fish with Fingers.” Most of the time, kids are not interested in the books he offers. And it breaks my heart! Not because he looks rejected but because a lot of kids don’t like books anymore. 😦 But when Timmy shows toys, he gets their attention.

WP_20150424_10_37_28_Pro

One time we were at a bookstore and Timmy approached this little girl sitting on the floor. He offered his book again. She didn’t look interested so he got another one and showed it to her. I think the girl was only two years old. He read the title and some of the words inside. The little girl just stayed there but looked at other books. Timmy didn’t leave! He stayed there and kept trying to engage the girl in a conversation. Haha! 🙂

He actually does this every time we’re in a bookstore. He would approach kids, give them books, and talk to their parents! Sometimes he would sit beside the parent reading to the kid, listen, and answer the mom’s questions. Seeing these moments affirmed our decision to homeschool Timmy. 🙂 We took our time developing his confidence at home, observing what kinds of environments overwhelm him, managing his emotions, and helping him adapt.

It’s a process

As Timmy gets older, I’m also learning how to deal with his shyness better. Omar has also been very helpful giving me an inside look in the world of an introvert. 🙂 This socialization progress didn’t happen overnight. Being with him all the time allowed me to see what situations are threatening to him and allowed me to help him cope under those circumstances. Let me share with you some of them:

Situation 1:

Timmy doesn’t like it when he’s asked to perform on the spot. Sometimes he just runs away, although he does this playfully. I told him that instead of running or hiding to just tell me or the person asking him, “I’m shy” or “I feel conscious.” I told him that they will understand. He doesn’t like it when people are staring at him. This has helped him especially when friends or relatives ask him perform his antics. Given enough time, Timmy shows off his dance moves and shooting prowess but not instantly. 🙂

InstagramCapture_198905e3-f9cf-4694-8806-a4a540887bae

Situation 2:

Timmy doesn’t like being surprised. The anticipation scares him. I have a friend who has a big personality and she tends to get really loud and shout whenever she sees Timmy. He gets shocked every time he sees her. As a result, he doesn’t like being with her. He has this impression “na gugulatin sya” (that he will be surprised) when she’s around. He would play with her eventually but it would take a long time. We slept at her house for two nights and he only felt comfortable on the day we were about to leave. I told my friend not to surprise Timmy and when she took my advice, the next time they saw each other they became instant best friends! Homeschooling allows me to not only help my son but also other people around him by orienting them on how to deal with shy kids like him. 🙂

Situation 3:

Timmy doesn’t like loud birthday parties (e.g. Jollibee or McDonald’s parties). The noise is just too much for him. One time I told him that we’ll be there to just watch them. No one will force him to join the games. He took comfort in the fact that we’re just there to observe. Being an introvert, new environments can be overwhelming to him. So we would stay at the back and I would let him go and roam around when he’s ready. He would leave my side eventually and interact with other kids but at his own pace. 🙂

WP_20150411_16_20_41_Pro

I’ve learned NOT TO FORCE my son because socialization doesn’t really work that way. There’s a way to approach people and interact with them without feeling awkward or coming on too strong. Some kids are just not built for the stage. My son is one of them. And it’s definitely okay. 🙂 God beautifully and wonderfully created him that way. Maybe he’ll be the director or scriptwriter but not the actor. Other children are born to perform. I was the type who could sing and dance whenever my preschool teacher would ask me to. Meanwhile, my husband wailed his way through preschool not wanting my mother-in-law to leave.

We didn’t want to subject Timmy to that. Now, our shy boy is getting more and more independent and confident. He skipped all the stress of being thrown immediately to a new environment and being left there to survive alone. I’m sure some kids will thrive there but not my son. I would rather build his confidence at home and let him go at his own pace rather than rush him to “socialization maturity” and be traumatized in the process. He’ll get there anyway and we see it right now in the way he interacts with other people regardless of their age. 🙂

WP_20150411_15_23_28_Pro

Yes, he may be an only child and a shy one at that. But he is our child and we know him more than anyone. Homeschooling didn’t shelter him from the world. It prepared him in a way that best fits his spiritual, emotional, mental, and social progress. He’s still an introvert but he’s learning socialization in a way that’s easier and more enjoyable for him. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂 He even has random spurts of performing on the spot when asked to! He’s still finding his way with people and we’ll happily take our time. 🙂

Socialization was the homeschooling giant I secretly feared but I held on to God’s promise in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” And that meant that He will also take care of his people skills. All He asks of me is not to fear nor be discouraged. He’ll give my son the ability to slay that giant. 🙂 God has already gone before me in this homeschooling journey. He is with me, covering all the bases. I just need to stay close to Him every step of the way so that I don’t lose sight of what truly matters—building my son’s character and creating a loving, God-fearing, and accepting home where he can thrive inside and out. 🙂

Instasize(15)

P.S. My husband cried while reading this blog because I was able to articulate what a shy child needs. Those were the very things he needed, too. He added that he was grateful that we’re able to do it right with Timmy this time. 🙂

Countdown to Half a Decade

Today marks our fifth wedding anniversary. I really can’t believe five years went by just like that! 🙂 Half a decade, WOW. It may seem like a short period for some but for me it’s a huge achievement—a milestone that only God can accomplish. 🙂 Our marriage is not the fairy tale type. It’s more of reality TV. We have our good days and bad ones. It has been a journey of ups and downs, strengthened by steps and leaps of faith.

As I am doing this countdown, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how much Omar and I have grown both individually and as a couple. I think the past five years we’ve had is equivalent to ten years’ worth of highs and lows for the average couple. But if I were to give a ratio to how it has been so far, I can say it’s 90% good and 10% tough but still not that bad. 🙂

20150510_114628

I say that not because we’re perfect people but because God has proven Himself faithful all throughout our marriage. 🙂 We wouldn’t be where we are today—stronger than ever—if not for His grace. He allowed us to love, accept, forgive, and appreciate each other while keeping the “kilig” (spark) factor. 🙂 I still find myself telling my husband, “Shucks, hon. Ang pogi mo naman.” (You’re handsome.) Haha!

Honey, I’m sure you’re reading this. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! 🙂 For a stats junkie, I’m sure you’d appreciate an overview of our marriage in numbers. Haha! Here’s where we’re at right now. Spoiler alert! It’s been quite an adventure. 🙂

5 YEARS

In our five years of marriage, we have made countless decisions. From something trivial like what we’ll have for lunch to big ones like should we get a yaya (nanny) or not, we try our best to be a team. We only had roughly seven months of being alone together but during that time I was already pregnant with our honeymoon baby. 🙂 We try to make up for that by having date nights as much as we can. We set aside time to watch our favorite TV series and basketball games. And we have our annual year in review every New Year’s Eve. 🙂 I look forward to more of these with you in the coming years!

20140223_2038514 JOBS

When we got married I was a consultant for a bookstore chain and you were teaching at a Christian school. So that’s two different jobs. A couple of years later, I left my consultancy job to become a full-time, home-based copywriter. You also decided to quit teaching and become a home-based content writer—that’s two new jobs for us. At first it was tough because being a freelancer means we’re mainly dependent on projects. But by God’s grace, the shifting tides are over and He has provided us with long-term clients and employers and we are still working with them. 🙂 Yay!

Some may think that your job is not ideal for raising a family. Being in the corporate world, climbing the corporate ladder, and having an 8-to-5 job have been society’s model of how a husband should provide. Good thing God’s ways are different. He didn’t provide on-the-job specifics. 🙂 God’s command to husbands is to love his wife as Christ loved His church (Ephesians 5:25). YOU’RE DOING THAT AND MORE. 🙂 Your home-based job gives you the opportunity to be with me and Timmy. You’ve been able to provide for us and I’ve never seen you happier, too! You write about your passions for a living and that’s pretty awesome.

Will we ever go back to the daily grind of the 8-to-5 workforce? Probably not. 🙂 I wouldn’t trade the time flexibility and stress-free work environment we have. The opportunity to raise Timmy with both of us around every day is also a privilege that we shouldn’t take for granted. We may have changed career paths over the past five years but looking back, it’s all been worth it. 🙂

20130908_1721033 HOUSES

From the time we got married, it was a no-brainer that we’ll have our own place and we did (house #1)! Those first two years felt like we’re just playing around. Haha! Then we decided that I’ll not continue with my consultancy job anymore and you lost your big client around the same time. We had no choice but to move out. Since your parents were in Canada that time, we moved to their place first (house #2) and I marked on my imaginary calendar that we’ll move out when they come back or after Christmas so we can spend the holidays there. That didn’t go as planned and we ended up staying there for a year.

I’m so blessed to have kind and loving in-laws who made our stay as comfortable as they can. 🙂 I only have the best words for them! But our tenure there I think was more for me. God kept me waiting until I’ve learned all the lessons and character-building I needed before providing the means for us to move. Last October we found an apartment (house #3) that’s perfect for us! It’s also at a very strategic location (behind a mall). 🙂 Are we staying here for good? Probably not. We don’t know when the next house will be or if it will be the one we’ll own but I’m glad that we’re content where we are. 🙂 I know that when we’re ready, God will give it to us. 🙂

WP_20141207_15_34_28_Pro

2 IMPERFECT PEOPLE

This perfectly describes who we are. We entered into this marriage knowing that we’re two imperfect people that will be living under one roof with lots of quirks which we’ll either love or hate. Haha! Just like any couple, we have disagreements, miscommunications, and a million shortcomings in between. My forgetfulness, being accident-prone (bumping here, getting wounded there—everything!), and being disorganized is something you need to put up with forever. But believe me when I say that I’m trying my best to improve on these areas. Seriously! I’m just so grateful that you’re very patient and gracious with me. 🙂

You have your own set of things-I-need-to-tolerate, too. Haha! And I’m learning to be loving and patient about it as well. 🙂 One of the things I really love about you is that I can talk to you even if we’re not agreeing on something. You have NEVER raised your voice at me. You sometimes speak loud unintentionally but not because you’re mad or anything. I think it will never go away especially since you’ve been a teacher for a long time and you’re used to speaking to an audience. Haha! You’re a master of gentle rebukes, hon. 🙂 And you know that it’s the most loving way to deal with my faults. 🙂
20150425_113053

1 GOD (AND 1 BABY!)

God has already written our love story even before we were born (and I mean we were born almost 9 years apart). 🙂 He has already seen how we’ll navigate through our married life. He has planned everything! Part of that plan is being blessed with a baby boy named Timothy. 🙂 Our little guy has been a source of joy! He’s a firecracker, full of energy and life. 🙂 We couldn’t be more grateful for this privilege of not only being husband and wife but also being PARENTS. We didn’t even expect it because of my condition (Lupus). But God graciously gave us Timmy despite all my health constraints. 🙂

Every day Timmy never fails to make us laugh. He has all these antics, random acts of sweetness, and crazy one-liners. 🙂 He’s a testament to God’s faithfulness and goodness—a reminder that God can truly turn something GREAT out of a bad circumstance (i.e. a complicated pregnancy and premature delivery). Now we have a little team! Are we going to add more? We’re still unsure. It’s too risky. Having one is more than enough. 🙂 Maybe we can have pets? Haha! I don’t know. For now, we’ll just focus on being good stewards of the life God has entrusted to us. 🙂

10888453_10152433104321782_5693013177041501487_n

What a countdown! You know what? It got me thinking, like if we reach 10 years that would be what 10 houses? 9 kids? 8 jobs? Maybe 7 cars? Haha! Whatever it is I know that it will be an adventure worth taking with you. 🙂 HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, HONEY! Thank you for being the spiritual leader that you are. 🙂 Thank you for loving me the way Christ does. Thank you for being a spectacular dad to Timmy. Thank you for being a ninja husband who can do almost anything! You are my smart prince charming, ultra powerful super hero, and lifetime MVP. 🙂 I LOVE YOU! 🙂

That fine line between opportunities and distractions

Being a work-from-home wife and mom is probably the best thing that has ever happened to my career and health condition. Stress is one of the main triggers of a Lupus flare (i.e. relapse) so I really needed to eliminate that from my life as much as possible. With tons of writing opportunities online, it’s very tempting to accept job offers because after all I’m just at home. But with my condition and a toddler always demanding my attention, I can’t simply take on any additional writing job. Still, I didn’t listen to that tug in my conscience to step back when an opportunity came my way.

MTXX_20150203_045329 (2)

Months ago, my husband’s client asked us if we still have niche topics we want to write about because he wanted to put up another website. I mentioned three and he said he had been planning to put up a site in one of the genres I mentioned. So I helped him come up with a name for his site along with all the copies he needed. I really enjoyed writing about it but I didn’t realize that the scheduling of these posts can be quite overwhelming. Not only that, he asked me to run Facebook ads on the blogs I write to get more traffic to the site. I didn’t realize that it could be so time consuming, too.

Prior to this job opportunity, I was really content and happy with my job. I get some writing gigs from time to time but for the most part I only fulfill what my company requires of me. I’ve got my schedule all figured out every day. I was having a blast learning with my son and homeschooling him. My cooking skills had been improving because of constant practice and my husband had been giving me compliment after compliment. But when this job opportunity came, I didn’t anticipate how much time it would eat up from my responsibilities as a wife and mom.

WP_20141110_13_58_23_Pro

Soon I found myself sacrificing my homeschool time. What used to be our letter of the week had become our letter for two weeks. I mean there’s nothing wrong with that if you did a lot of things with one letter. What happened to me was it got extended because I wasn’t intentional on what we were supposed to do that day. I gave Timmy some time filler activities for those days when I didn’t prepare anything for him.

The new writing job may have brought in more income to our household but it also made me lazy and it slowly took away my growing love for cooking. Why cook when you have the money for food delivery? In our village, there’s a place that delivers really good home-cooked viands so we would opt for that. Although my writing jobs were never compromised, my time with my husband and son was. I had no problem with my deliverables but I was struggling with the service I was delivering to my two boys.

InstagramCapture_9b80c96d-2986-4766-b0b3-caad5323c3ba

Irony of all ironies, I even prayed for this job. I was pretty optimistic that I could juggle my responsibilities. The fact that I used the word juggle was a tell-tale sign that it wouldn’t turn out well over time. You can only juggle for a short period of time; soon enough one of those things would fall and break. Around the last week of February, I was really considering giving up that website. But I felt guilty because my client already made a substantial investment on this venture. He really likes creating new blog sites with niche topics.

My husband was trying his best to help me in the “growing pains” stage of the project. He was doing this longer that I was. I was barely a month into this new writing stint when I felt like giving up. I just didn’t know how and when. I didn’t even know what to pray for. I liked what I was doing but I didn’t like what it was costing me. During my prayer time I just allowed God to look into my heart because that’s where all my intentions, plans, confusions, and needs are. I didn’t know what to ask for so I was just asking Him to look and deal with my issues internally. When I took on this job I didn’t grab it with a tight fist. I remember telling God that this new opportunity was His and it’s His for the taking.

email-happy

After a month and a half, my client stopped the project. I have never been so happy losing a job! I knew it was God who pulled the plug. The peace was so overwhelming, I cried. I even sent a cheery “thank you” email to my client. That day, I apologized to my husband and son for not being there for them. When my toddler saw me crying, he didn’t know what to do so he just said, “Dad, can you pray for mom?” And so he did. 🙂 My husband told me that I wasn’t neglecting them. He even commended me for having the ability to even homeschool Timmy despite the work that I was doing. He said that “we even watch TVseries together” so I never really deprived him of time (doing series marathon is our one of our favorite “we” times).

I guess it wasn’t really that obvious but it was the little things that I mentioned earlier which could dangerously morph into big things that could endanger the peace and harmony in our home. And then I remember the story of Nehemiah when he was building the wall. He faced many oppositions and distractions. He said in Nehemiah 6:3, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” In the NIV, it used the words “I am doing a great project.” My great work and project right now is (and will always be) my family and I cannot allow anything to distract me from that.

InstagramCapture_4106b7d1-0848-4483-b7ac-370055776086

I have a real copywriting job with an amazing company and I didn’t really need that other job. It was a WANT not a need. As a writer, sometimes I just want to write about the topics I like so maybe that’s why I was all too eager and excited to take that on. The line between an opportunity and a distraction is a very fine one that only a discerning eye can see. I wasn’t too discerning the first time it was presented to me. But I praise and thank God because He opened my eyes and grabbed my attention before things went out of control.

Today, I remain content and joyful with my family life—homeschooling with more vigor and creativity; spending quality time with my husband; cooking with gusto; and managing our home with love. I’m still gratefully working from home. I got my routine and schedule back. I managed to catch up on my reading. Life is simple again. God rescued me early and I couldn’t be more thankful. He even made me realize that if I feel the need to write about something I want, there’s always my blog to go to. 🙂 Each one of us is doing a great work and we just can’t go down and stop. We need to press on until our job is done whatever that may be. For me, it’s being a wife and mom.

WP_20150318_14_00_26_Pro (2)

This experience has really taught me the value of setting my priorities. I have three main relationships that I need to nurture—my relationship with God, my husband, and my son. The rest are secondary. If anything will compromise those three relationships then it’s not an opportunity, it’s a distraction. It could bring in more financial gain or even world acclaim but if I don’t earn the approval of the people that matter most to me then it has no value. I truly praise and thank God for that 42 days of juggling. I’ve learned that balancing acts can only last for a short time. It’s good for a season. We’re not made to walk on tight ropes. It is the intentional management of time and priorities that will last for a long time. God wants us to experience a full life and not a fast, always-on-the-run, catching-up, all-too-busy one. And a full life is achieved through incremental investments of time on relationships that mean most to us. 🙂 It’s not about carpe diem, dive-head-on all the time. It’s about seizing the right moments and making those moments count. 🙂

What is the great work you’re doing right now? Is there a distraction that’s disguised as an opportunity that is preventing you from continuing or finishing your great work? Feel free to share your thoughts! 🙂

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.

CYMERA_20150220_142705

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.

WP_20150221_19_06_14_Pro

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.

InstagramCapture_3b944ad5-2e3c-45e8-9c55-435e1f616162

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.

WP_20150216_11_15_15_Pro (2)

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.

MTXX_20150208_090830

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.

MTXX_20150208_090955

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. 🙂

WP_20150118_14_36_25_Pro(1)