Set Apart

February is just a few sleeps away and before I knew it, our eldest child Dana , will be in 1st year high school.  Dana came into our lives at the time when I was actively building a career in the banking sector.  Two years out of college, I joined the academe and a rural bank that has prepared me for a bigger challenge in the country’s national bank.  I was a driven, career-oriented woman with a single focus – to excel in my work so I can lead a branch in 5 years’ time (well, at least to make good of my answer to the common question posed by the HR officer at the end of each interview – “How do you see yourself 5 years from now?”)   Then Dana came along, our bundle of joy  – the pride of the firstborn!  So there I was in my early 20’s – juggling career and motherhood while building a home with my husband.  It sounds perfect, but it wasn’t!  Everyday  is a grace-filled day, up to this very hour!

Dana is a miracle baby.  I had to take a 2-week break from work as we almost lost her in my 1st trimester.  The birthing process in itself was also a miracle as I thinly escaped paralysis due to an error in the epidural procedure administered by the anaesthesiologist (we didn’t file a law suit and I have long forgiven that doctor) which had me lying down (again) for 3 months, lest go abroad for a blood-clotting procedure (as it was not yet locally available at that time)!

Dana is special not only because that she’s the firstborn , but also because she displays unique learning skills at an early age . She was able to walk and talk at 8 months old and merrily sang along the “happy birthday’’ chorus of her guests on her 1st birthday.  Growing up, friends and kin would say she is wiser than her age with the way she nurtures friendship among peers and handles conversations with adults.  Dana is different in more ways with our youngest, 7 yr.old Boj, but  I would say Boj is also very special in a different way. Truth is, although individually unique, we know our children have already been set apart for a greater purpose.  The key is to guide them as we unlock the God-given potentials and make them shine for Him.

Come June, we plan to send Dana in one of the science schools in the country where she was able to pass the rigid admissions exam.  ‘’Set apart for a greater purpose” has become a conversation centerpiece of late.  ‘’Think of princes and princesses sent off to boarding schools so they are formally trained for royalty and the culture and the arts’’ , I would tell her , and let her know that she  is the same. Our dearest princess whom we have taken cared of for 12 years and who is now ready to be launched for greater heights!  As a parent, it’s never easy to let go of a child. I realized though, that parenting, in the strictest sense of the word, will never stop at a certain age. For who says we are no longer parents of our children when we become 50? It only stops when we die.  But the ‘’hovering’’ stops when we release the child unto God – the maker of our child.

Yes, there are times when I don’t want to let go – or even think about it – but  I take refuge in the story of Hannah , who asked and bore Samuel , who became the last among the judges, and the first prophet and counsellor to the great kings, Saul and David.  Hannah could have chosen to keep Samuel, the promised child, for her own, but she remembered her own promise –  “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” ( 1 Samuel 1:27-28)

Samuel was just weaned when he was turned over to Eli, the priest.   Jesus was 12 when he went about doing his Father’s business.   We know they have been  ’ set apart for a greater purpose’.     This gives me comfort in knowing that Dana too, has already been set apart, for she is ‘’God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for her (us)  to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

What about you? What keeps you from letting go and trusting God more for your children’s  future?

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photocredit : sohoparenting.com

Chains and Dungeons

No, not a title of a book nor of a potential box-office hit movie. But the real chains and dungeons that imprison us day in and out. Could be a “routinary” day job that constantly drags you out of bed – zealousness  absent in each working day. A financial crisis that has put a yoke upon us – as if an oxen with chains in our necks and weight on our shoulders.  Relationships that need mending and restoration. Or a seemingly hopeless state because of a life that is constantly haunted by a dark past that a nightmare always robs us of sweet dreams.

Having recently seen the two – part interview of Lance Armstrong in Oprah’s celebrated OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) and the much talked about Les Miserables newest film version ( here’s my recent blog on this) , we know humankind is basically flawed – beset with self-preservation and selfishness.   “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? “ (Jeremiah 17:9) . Left to ourselves, our egoistic self can trumpet all the glory and make us feel, breathe and smell invincible.

Chains imprison us. They do because we knowingly and foolishly do some things or because of other’s wrongdoing (think about Joseph the Dreamer).  Dungeons put us perhaps closest to what we can think of ground zero with heavy-maximum security. No light is seen and no matter how far we reach for it, it will be for naught.  In life, we could be living in dungeons. A dark past that constantly haunts us keeps us from reaching the light.  Or maybe we feel that we are in the bottomless pit, hopeless, living like dead. The good news is there is a way to break those chains and free ourselves from those dungeons.  On our own, we struggle to break free, but there is Someone who can do it for us, if only we know Him and believe in him.

Have you found the truth?

“ Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – Jesus

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photo credit :bl4ck-and-wh1te.deviantart.com

What’s Your Weather Report?

Being a working wife and mom doesn’t mean I am a “superwoman”. Like a normal human being, I also struggle with time management – especially that we do not have a control of what’s going on in our husband and /or children’s daily activities.  Keeping tab of all of them is no mean feat. Yes I can be so detailed in most things but marriage and motherhood has allowed and trained me to be more flexible in some and to be more accepting in those that I cannot deal with. The better word to describe it is GRACE.  The moment it steps in your doorstep, peace of mind and peace at home reign!

I recently read a book that talks about (among many others) the “weather conditions” in our homes. As  wives and/or moms, we can either make “torrential storms or tropical breezes” as the climate in our homes.  Most of our “storms” at home start when there is a mess on the floor, books are all over the place, food stains are in the couches and , yes, stickers are on the walls (especially if you have toddlers! i am glad we’re over that stage!), an angry look from your spouse or a petty fight, etc..  Chaos is not hard to describe.  Yes, good housekeeping skills and time management are commendable, so is an able and trustworthy house helper or nanny to keep everyone’s sanity.  Outside circumstances are fast to control us – either we buy in or bust out!  Perhaps the easiest way to be out of the muddle is to fire away those words.  So instead of calming the storms, we are creating stronger, torrential ones!  And nobody loves that! So today, start changing the climate in your home.. and deliberately make room for the sunshine to burst in every corner. Feel the warmth, enjoy the fresh air – let it be that the “tropical breeze” is near… And mind you, you’ll be a whole lot happier and healthier!

Photo Our Homes

photo credit : treasurecoastflrealestate.com

24601

The Les Miserables (Les Miz) (2012 film version)  fever just started in this part of the world! The local cinemas offered a wide array of MMFF entries during the Christmas holidays to honor the local movie industry, which is a great thing to do as a Filipino.  So, Les Miz date will have to wait til the 16th!

To say that I am a fan of Les Miz is an understatement. Although I have yet to see the theatrical performance in a well-respected, world-class stage, I have seen the 1998 Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush and Uma Thurman-starrer film. Quite special since my husband and I are fans of Liam , who once said that “60 is the new 40” (from his looks, i can very well agree), Geoffrey, for his moving portrayal as Lionel Logue in 2010’s King’s Speech (which by the way, was directed by Tom Hooper , who directs Les Miz 2012!) , and Uma , well,  Quentin Tarantino’s ‘bizarre muse’, who was just perfect at that as Fantine.  The 25th Concert Anniversary made us even proud with Filipina world-class performer, Lea Salonga in it. The DVD copy of that concert was a sure treat , not to mention kids getting to see THE Nick Jonas for some serious vocal and theatrical performance! The new film version also boasts of this generation’s finest. Although not so fond of Anne Hathaway’s movies, i think I am going to love her for this!  Locally, we are blessed that there are theater patrons in the city who willingly staged a well-respected play that starred high school students who showed raw talent and great potential. That date-night with my tween and some of her friends was memorable. It was some sort of a Theater Appreciation 101. Complete with what-to-do’s and what-to-wear.  Some lessons are best learned from mom, of course.

Back to this Victor Hugo masterpiece, what is more meaningful to me is the timeless message that it brings – one of love, redemption and compassion. Yes of justice, but more of mercy. That each one of us have our own “24601s”. Trapped in our own sins, imprisoned by our own willful & selfish desires,  but set free with an unconditional love. “Paroled” not once, but  several times.  Undeserving, but given a chance. Such is the experience of one saved and redeemed by God’s amazing grace.

And this brings me to this line – “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.” (excerpt from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (The Bible) .  

24601, no more!

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Watch the Les Miserables International Trailer here and the read the synopsis.

photocredit: http://www.imdb.com

Rains in the Springtime

Living in a tropical country, where we only experience 2 seasons – summer and rainy (spring) , we can only look forward to either of the two with each passing time.  Similarly, in my life, I experience droughts during the dry(barren) season but can always expect for the rains to come thereafter.  Times when I ‘m driven for more of God because of desperate and trying situations, it is with confidence that I go to  Him, believing He is the one who sends the rains (in any form) for my own and for others’ refreshment.   Concluding our Church’s  5-day corporate Prayer and Fasting today with “Persistence and Breakthrough” , I am reminded of this:

‘Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone.’ – Zechariah 10:1

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Rains in the Spring time is a natural occurrence. But because we acknowledge God’s supremacy in our lives, Him, being the creator of the heavens and the earth, the rains and the sun, then we go ask Him for it, unceasingly and persistently! He brings us to situations where we can ask boldly because we have already come to our wits’ end. Left to ourselves, we can be prideful and boastful with our own accomplishments.  I choose to thank God in the ‘dry’ season of my life for it is there that I cry all the more for the rains to come in its due time.  It is there that I thirst more of Him, it is there where I crave more for His word.  And then I know, when the break of clouds shows its first drop of rain,  “Spring’’ has come.. grasses will grow, flowers will bloom, crops will grow , trees will soon bear fruits . I can laugh again in the rain, thanking God for this wonderful rebirth , another season of rejuvenation … of revival … of restoration!  We’re catching all of your raindrops, Lord!

photocredit: http://scenery-wallpapers.com

My Crowning Glory

I don’t really have a bad hair day, literally, as far as I can remember. Blessed with straight hair, a little running through my fingers just kept the strands in place.  As I grow older, I became more adventurous with my hairstyles.  Not that I have become like Coco Chanel who revolutionized the fashion industry – from the pearls, to the LBD, to the flapper style clothes – right up to the cropped glorious locks!  And should I add, up to the scent of a fair lady.  I am not a fashion icon or perhaps I am, only in the eyes of my children!  As I look back, I sported different styles in various phases of my life – the bangs with the long hair as a growing teenager and the short one before graduating from college. The well-kept locks on my first job in the academe, the well-maintained while in the financial sector, the layered bob after I gave birth to the first child, and yes the second, too (there’s just something about pregnancy and short hair 🙂  ) .. and the long one that I have recently been sporting through the years that has gone from being layered, colored and permed. Pretty much the same with my life – various professional experiences,  different towns and cities that I call home (wherever my husband brings us) and meeting new challenges.

After 7 looong (hair)  years, I decided to come out with a bolder, more courageous look, and as I say , also with a new outlook.  Long hair has become my comfort zone.  If I am to embrace change in 2013, then I can certainly go out of comfort zones.  I have been out of many lately, so this “hair” thing isn’t such a big deal after all.  I am glad I decided to sport a layered bob ( and no, I haven’t given birth to a 3rd one, just making sure you’d get this right) , with streaks of highlights to complete it.  New look, one that just gets better with age.  And I think most women can relate.  It is not because we attempt to desperately hide some years but because we’ve grown in a lot more ways. We become mature with life’s experiences, we are able to choose our own battles and we can love more fiercely and passionately.  We have been liberated from the youth’s innocence and will continue to age in wisdom and grace.  BUT more than this hairdo and what-have-you’s, the more important accessory to me is when I choose to wear Faith’s fashion – one that is not concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes but with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God (see 1 Peter 3:3-4).

One can always achieve a new look – and it starts from the inside, out.  When we have a gentle and quiet spirit, we have the confidence that comes from God which is precious to Him.  Our greatest crowning glory comes from Him alone.  And to Him I will always be beautiful – long, short or bald. 🙂

Happy New Year!  Happy New Hair!