Replanting Season

Nasty asthma attacks kept me home today.  This is the time when I should be well-rested as my doctor  (who also happens to be a dear friend!) said, but when you are used to be working around , it is sometimes difficult to even just shut your mind off. If only there is a no-brain snooze alert button, I’d gladly push it on a second! But thank God we’re not robots and I thank Him even more that times like this only make me draw closer to Him.

I read my past journals and I have seen how God has answered my prayers in different ways.  I held back a tear or two as I looked back on how God has orchestrated everything in my life and that of my family and put us to be where He always wanted us to be.  My journals were like a never-ending love letter-writing to God and He always answers in specific, clear ways.  After all our “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33a).  I poured out all my heartaches, even discontentment, sorrows and cried tears of joy many times over! Just like today.

The beauty of reading and meditating God’s word every day and doing it over and over again is that His word is true and never-changing. For instance, I have written in my journal His promise to me in 2011 found in Isaiah 37:30 which was spoken to Hezekiah regarding Judah’s deliverance:

“This year you will eat what grows by itself,
and the second year what springs from that.
But in the third year sow and reap,
plant vineyards and eat their fruit. “

2011 was the year we ventured into a hugely (huge – in our capacity)  capitalized business in one of the leading Supermarkets in the country. The Word was true, we never enjoyed the profits, in fact, we stopped operating due to huge losses that made the business not sustainable at all. 2012 was the toughest year for us, financially and health-wise. But because we held on to God’s promises, and my husband kept on telling me to keep the faith, hold the fort at home while he makes executive decisions and continues to be the main provider, we never wavered. As I mentioned in my previous post, that year has always kept me on my knees in desperation and more importantly in thanksgiving – for in spite of the trials – we always remember that the “joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10b).

We’re now in the middle of 2013 and my eyes brightened up then welled when I read the exact verses from above. “But in the third year sow and reap,    plant vineyards and eat their fruit. “ Truly, we are now in the season of replanting, rebuilding the ruins and restoring what was lost. The Year of the Lord’s favor! I will patiently give time for the growth while I wait for the harvest.  And just like the farmer, I know God does much pruning in the process. It will take time, but I do not lose hope. It will create discomfort but He is my comfort.

I pray it will be the same to you today. When faced with tough times, remember what He has spoken to you in the past, not the enemy who is telling lies to you today. Better yet, revisit your journals (if you keep just even one), and be amazed by God’s goodness and faithfulness that see you through all the days of your life.

replanting (tr.v):  To plant (something) again or in a new place

replanting (tr.v): To plant (something) again or in a new place

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“Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass…” (Isaiah 37:26a)

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A Key and a Tent Stake

A key and a tent stake. The 2 powerful leadership “tools” God used in Isaiah 22:15-25.

A constant reminder that it is God who appoints and sets leaders on thrones, administrators in high offices, as He pleases .  Along with it is also a constant reminder that the “kingly entitlements” , i.e, the privileges that come along with power , can make us puffed up which is a sure recipe for destruction.

Take the case of Shebna, the palace administrator who was confronted by Isaiah. He gets puffed up, and “made a beautiful tomb for himself—  a monument high up in the rock (v. 16)”. Familiar, isn’t it? In Philippines’ context, this is the height of ‘ka-epalan’ (a Filipino lingo used to describe someone who tries to get attention)! Even if we are not elected officials, we be careful that we don’t get into this trap that so easily entangles us! Pride puffs us up!  If we take on a big assignment for personal agenda, we only feed our ego, hence, making ourselves vulnerable to a “Shebna moment”. God forbid we will be hurled away, crumpled, tossed into a barren land –  a disgrace to our Master! (v. 17-18)

On the other hand, humility sets us up to greater heights for His purpose.  Eliakim’s installment as the new administrator is a beautiful picture of how God can use anybody and make him great to accomplish His greater purpose. Picture this – Eliakim takes on Shebna’s royal robes, title and authority (v. 21) and is given the 2 leadership tools that I have been talking about :

  1. THE KEY ( to the house of David) – “When he opens doors, no one will be able to close them; when he closes doors, no one will be able to open them.” (v. 22b)

When God uses you, there’s no stopping you! In our family, there are times when we cannot understand how He makes things happen but whenever He gives a vision, He always has the provision! Recently, my husband took on a ministry assignment for an international organization. Left to ourselves and to our limited human understanding, we couldn’t understand why, but when God made it clear that He will use my husband in this area and at this time, that open door was never shut. In the same manner that there were business deals that were closed, only to find out later that those were meant to protect us and spare us from a greater adversity.

2. THE TENT STAKE –  “He will bring honor to his family name, for I will drive him firmly in place like a tent stake.   He will be loaded down with responsibility, and he will bring honor to even the lowliest members of his family.” (V.23,24) .

I remember my husband and son looking for sturdy stones to drive stakes securely whenever they set up our tent in the yard so they can just have their “MAN time” , spending the night outside, sleeping inside the tent like it is the manliest thing to do to secure the ladies inside the house! Without the stakes, the tent will not be put securely in place. And driving them harder still to the ground doubles it up. This is exactly what God does when he puts us in a place worthy of His honor.  Wherever He places us, we may even be overwhelmed by the responsibility, know that He is our security. Like that strongly-driven tent stake!

But in all these,  true leaders acknowledge that just as God has put them in that high place, He can also uproot them there (v.25).  He can drive the stake so firmly and He can also pull it away  –  at His command! He does this so no one can boast out of his own effort, skills and knowledge and He will do so only to accomplish His greater purpose.  He points us to our source of security, Jesus Christ, the one who unlocks all closed doors and opens new ones. Who took all our burdens and made it His own, conquering death so we may live with Him in eternity!

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace    will never end.He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!” – Isaiah 9:6-7

 

Start of a Homeschool Journey

Homeschool – n.  A school operated outside established educational institutions, especially in a home (The Free Dictionary). Use it as a verb, and I call it the art of homeschooling. Teaching the children outside of regular schools – could be done best at home, or wherever you may be!  It affords you the flexibility of time and venue while keeping a good balance with discipline and time management.

This year, we have decided to homeschool our children , ages 12 and 8 , incoming Grades 7 and 3 ,respectively.  This was not an overnight decision, not even months, but years!  When our eldest Dana was just in her Kindergarten years in a Montessori school,  we were introduced to homeschooling by our former pastors in Cagayan de Oro , our home for  the past 7 ½  years.  We have seen the joys and  challenges of homeschool through this wonderful family and we were also blessed seeing how their 3 children have grown up in a godly way and exhibited excellence in their studies. Two are now in their internship years in prestigious universities pursuing college  (the other, with master’s )  degrees while the youngest in her high school years.   Even if my research points me to the likes of Albert Einstein,  Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Blaise Pascal, CS Lewis, and more recently, the game-changer , Tim Tebow, who were once homeschooled;  we need not  look that far for we have friends who homeschool their children, are still able to manage their household and do worthwhile jobs while their kids are doing very well in their studies, even excelling in sports and the arts!

It took us 8 years to be able to do it, which meant letting go of a state-funded scholarship for Dana as she enters Grade 7, having passed the rigid National Competitive Exam (NCE) of the Philippine Science High School System (PSHS).  ‘’Why now?”  The School Directress of the Every Nation Leadership Institute (ENLI) Homeschool  asked us when we were being interviewed as parents.  Members of our family and friends also asked the same. Or maybe if it’s your first time to know about it, this may also come as a surprise!  We believe that for the past 8 years, God has already planted a seed in our hearts and just allowed it to grow over time so that when we considered it as an option this year, it was an easy decision – well thought of and prayed about.  We also chose the ENLI Homeschool because we are part of the Every Nation spiritual family which makes us feel right at home. Not only that, we know they can also pray with us as we embark on this new journey.

Really, why now? As homeschooling advocates, never a school year passed by without considering it before enrollment season kicks in. God’s timing is always perfect. And the right time is now.  PSHS for Dana was very ideal (we are confident that she will be able to hurdle the challenges in a Science school) but a change in our family circumstance made us forgo that opportunity. Debating the pros and cons and praying over it, we believe that family, and our Christian faith values far outweigh the benefits of sending her to a Science/ boarding school at this point.  The decision also came at a time when our country fully implements the K – 12 Basic Education Program.  There have been a lot of orientations regarding “bridging programs” for the incoming students. It is our personal belief that we (most especially, the kids) will be spared from the ‘’institutional birth pains’’ that come along with its implementation.  To be clear, this is not to discount the capability of the school where our children were once enrolled.  In fact, we have been very vocal about our admiration of the school and its teachers.  Even the ones in the past ( Dana has been through  Progressive, Montessori and Traditional schools, while Boj from Progressive to Traditional) , we only have good words for each school and for each method of teaching.

What about our own “birth pains”? Surely, we will experience such. We won’t be considering homeschooling if we have not counted the cost. That means, we have to be updated with the subjects, do our own research as teachers (especially me as the Primary Teacher!),  be able to manage time fully well especially that we also attend to our jobs. But most importantly, be able to partner the Holy Spirit and welcome God’s amazing grace in every single day as we set our priorities straight!

If you have been considering homeschool, pray about it. Only God can tell you when the BEST time is. After all, He is the one who made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun that knows when to go down (Psalm 104:19). If we heed Him well, we learn to live contentedly in the seasons marked for us. Remember, 8 years was the perfect waiting time for us.  Do your homework. Research, scout for providers , or if your local church has a partner-provider (Victory Christian Fellowship  as part of  Every Nation has ENLI Homeschool ;  CCF has The Master’s Academy; Roman Catholics may also consider the Catholic Filipino Academy ; some schools adopt the School of Tomorrow, etc.  ), ask around.  Homeschool is legal in our country . Do not hesitate to ask even your tiniest concern.  The people behind these are far more willing to help you appreciate homeschool even more.

If this is your first time to hear about homeschool and it interests you, do the same that I have enumerated above. If you are living abroad, this might also work best for you.  Each family is unique, the demands are quite different from the other, but the universal truth is, as loving parents, we want the best for our children.  Know also that our Father in heaven has the best for us! “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”( Matthew 7:9-11)

I promise to write along as we progress with our own journey. I meant to inspire you in some way or another and share with you the joys and challenges that come along with it. Because I have allowed you to take a look into this part of our lives, can you do us a little favor?  Please pray for us as we start this wonderful journey.

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A Mother’s Love

Mother’s Love

A Mother’s Love
is love without end
She’s the wisest teacher
the truest friend

A helpful hand
And discerning eyes
A dearest heart
As time goes by

A patient listener
Most loyal of fans
Sharing the future
Hopes and plans

Cherishing childhood memory
Building bright dreams for her family
We never outgrow her thoughts and care
A mother’s love

 

I remember this poem alongside ‘’All Things Bright and Beautiful” that I used to memorize by heart when i was young. And being a mother for 12 years now, I realized that truly, a mother’s love knows no end until one arrives at death’s door. My mom, now at 61, loves and cares for me and my forever li’l brothers (now 26 and 18!) still the same, or should I say even more deeply and endearingly so?  I have the fondest memories of my mother while growing up. She’s my single female Best-est Friend Forever ( I have some BFFs , but they rank up to the Best level only, haha!) .  She used to sew matching dresses for us, ate siopao and batchoy heartily, raved over the 80s boy-band Menudo, and enjoyed (or endured?)  a 4 hour- movie date (because the local cinemas used to feature 2 movies for a single ticket, how cool was that!)  on a weekend. I am smiling while I am recalling all of these and more and I knew I have been doing and enjoying some of those with my own children, especially with my daughter, who is a lot more like her dad than me. So while I can be the most affectionate mom to her, she can be the most frank, straightforward kid one can have. She says it when she wants a surprise or not, while I mostly do love surprises!

Anyway, this piece is for my mother, more than anything else because Mother’s Day is meant especially for mom. Every day is mother’s day but I am honoring my mom because she is an extraordinary woman. The Proverbial woman, she has sacrificed career and comfort for family and even if she’s a strong-willed one, she has submitted to my father’s leadership when they decided to leave fulfilling careers in the financial sector in favor of family. Being a wife now, there are so many tempting moments to get head-on with my husband, and even as I see my mom in those moments too, I know at the end of the day, my dad’s voice has to be heard.  And so she continues to inspire me in that way. That even if God created me to be strong-willed and full of convictions (sometimes the shamefully wrong ones) woman, I know I can choose to be spirit-filled and will submit to my husband’s authority.

In parenting, mom always has a way of making me feel so special. I know some kids don’t like it, but I love it whenever she’s there during school presentations and competitions. She was my most avid fan and cheerleader. I felt so secure whenever I see her around. I thank her for this as it constantly reminds me to be present, no matter what ( or at least , my husband will be there, if I have a very good reason not to be there)  in the kids’ activities. Just being there brings comfort like no other.

In heart / love relationships, mom knows better, even if I thought I knew it better because I live in a different generation. I made wrong decisions in the past but she was the first to correct me lovingly. She was never a “hovering” parent and even if she didn’t lack in good counsel, she has allowed me to decide on my own as she sees fit.  Having been sent to boarding schools in my high school years up to college, my mom seemingly knows when she’s best needed by my side or reminds me whenever she felt my “freedom” has already been abused to some extent. Ahh, the ideals and adventures of teenage years!  I remember we decided to go caving and trekking along renowned waterfalls and I told her that only after a week because I couldn’t bear it in my conscience to keep it a secret, she happily mused she ventured into that same cave without my grandma knowing it! So all of my fears were replaced with laughter and a candid recollection of the number of eels we have seen, how deep the underground water was, or how high and majestic the waterfalls were. Looking back, I can say that the adventure streaked-gene was from my mom 🙂

Until today, mommy makes time to greet me (and others , too) on special occasions. She has that gift of making you feel extraordinarily special on your special days because she keeps track of every person’s birthday , anniversary, etc. She may surprise me with a visit, or send an SMS that’s not too short at all, rings up and calls me up to this day, her ‘’everdearest darling daughter’’ which I love up to the last sound of it.

I am treasuring all of these in my heart because no one can ever replace a mother. I am glad I have spent some of the best moments with her even if I married quite early in my 20s. They say you will never know a mother’s love until you become a mother yourself. I say, you don’t have to wait ’til you become one,  go tell your mom how special she is, because she truly is!

I love you, my ever dearest mommy!

A year ago, to an island getaway.

A year ago, to an island getaway.

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her..” – Proverbs 31:28