Not A Halloween Story

Every night, of late, we read this book , WWJD “What Would Jesus Do? for kidz” . It is a 3 -year old book in our household but my kids still love reading it .

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(photo via google books)

Last night was a fitting story for this season. “Is it a Ghost?” was the title of the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. To sidetrack a bit, if you look around and over time, the market has cashed in on pagan halloween festivities that you can see malls luring kids (and parents alike!) with all sorts of tricks ( because you end up spending) and well, some treats. This is their big sale event before Christmas!  As my kids grow up, they understand the meaning of all these, why all the marketing strategies, and why we don’t celebrate it at all.  We remember our loved ones who have gone ahead of us, which gave us a great time of telling stories about their good deeds and the legacy that they left to their children and the generations to come.

Going back, this is not a story of the dead but of the living.  In our Christian walk,  we lay down our graveclothes as we put on a new one when we celebrate a new life in Jesus.   Jesus declared, ” Unwrap him and let him go.” (John 11:44).  Spooky as it seemed to be, (just like a ‘Thriller’ event), it was realized because Jesus loved Lazarus ( it was recorded that He even wept!) and so that the spectators, (including us!) may see the glory of God and a picture of what it means to be have a new life in Him. (You may read the story here.)  We break away from what binds us, putting away the filthiness of those graveclothes. If there are still things that keep us from completely surrendering our life to Him, a new wardrobe is required! (Oh how women love this!)  Graveclothes belong to the dead, not the living!

There is a great offer, never so cheap, not a one big sale that we can pay it on our own.  Jesus offered his life , our new wardrobe, so that we can be wrapped in Him for eternity.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;” – John 11:25

 

My 1st Homeschool Parent Training

Recently my days are filled with catching up lessons for the first quarter of our homeschool (add to that, the recent Typhoons Labuyo and Maring that hit our country and a minor head injury of our youngest, 8yr-old Boj). With our home transfer, we were delayed for a good 3 weeks. Being a first-time homeschooling mom, I was panicky at first when the cut-off for the 1Q was announced a few days ago! I now realized I must have worn out my 7th and 3rd grader kids who expect mom to be kinder than their teachers when they were enrolled in regular school. Sigh… But that of course, was the other part of the story. Homeschool allowed them to have a “more” relaxed schedule – meaning – they can wake up as late as 9am( yes, their body clocks were timed differently the moment we transferred !), master a subject (like Math) or do experiments in a day, and swim and/or attend MAPE (Music, Arts ,PE ) and HELE (Home Economics and Livelihood Education) once a week. As we progress, I am also learning and so is my character being tested. One time I asked my husband, “Tell me again,why did we decide to homeschool our kids?” in exasperation. I felt short of knowledge and patience. Good thing that he reminded me not of the why’s but of what God can do as I entrust my limited skills and knowledge to Him. And of course, that ” You’re doing a great job, Mom!” always works!

Today, I attended my 1st Parent Training organized by our provider, ENLI Homeschool. To be surrounded with parents who homeschool their children for the past 3, 10 or 14 years, is AMAZING! I realized I was never alone in my struggles – from waking up the kids (yes, even at 8 or 9am!), completing the worksheets, planning lessons, and doing house chores and/or part-time work alongside, rising tempers, etc .. – everything I am going through are normal occurrences! The topic was as timely ” Development Goals for High School Students”. Goals that are backed with biblical truths and are useful not only for homeschooling parents. Let me share a few.

Our resource speaker , Ms. Catherine “Cathy” Borja, a homeschooling mom of 3 boys, outlined the Focus Points based on Luke 2:52 ( Developmental Model Verse):

” And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”

Key words/ phrases are : Wisdom, Stature, in Favor with God, in Favor with Men

I. Wisdom

  • we teach them to be wise according to the Word of God – to make them more Christlike
  • Character – “heart change” over “behavior modification”
  • Life skills – stewardship, house chores , safety & first aid, driving/ commuting
  • Academics and Arts  – excellence vs. mediocrity , appreciation of God’s creation, discover / develop God-given skills and talents ( yes even at age 10 or 13)

II. Stature

  • Health and physical development  – regarding our bodies as temples of the Holy Spririt, not as our own . ; engage into sports, eat a balanced diet, routine check-ups ( I just learned that check-ups with the Pediatrician or Family Doctor is recommended until they reach 19yrs. old , and also a visit to an eye doctor is commendable, especially for homeschooled kids who are engaged with books on their own and are in a one-on-one setting most of the time), enough rest and sleep , discussion of addiction to vices/ excesses
  • personal hygiene
  • Biblical sex education – who are the first teachers? parents or school or media? who should be teaching them? what are the truths about it?  This includes explaining God’s purpose of sex, the sanctity of marriage, personal holiness ( being set apart from the world), purity in mind and body, vigilance in exposure to media, internet and other influences ( practical examples like not having FB accounts at a certain age, using the K9 web protection or allowing the children to use the computer/internet at a limited time and with monitors easily seen by parent or guardian ; not being hidden from us). “Innocence lost is lost forever.” Only by the grace of God can we all be redeemed, so do our children.

III. In Favor with God

  • Intentional Discipleship – we are the first teachers. we do not delegate discipleship of our children to the youth pastor!
  • making it a lifestyle/an attitude of worship 
  • leading by example – example in the matter of obedience vs. willfulness, even as adults we still at times wrestle with God in obeying His will for us. Or in the area of forgiveness, as parents, we can model to our children how we are able to handle conflicts and resolutions in our family or relationships

IV. In Favor with Men

Why (gain the favor with men)?

  • to point everything back to God. Our children’s glorious moments are for God’s glory. They will shine bright so that others will see and glorify our Father in heaven. ( I will elaborate on this in a future post).
  • to have an entry point for the Gospel! The good news is ought to be shared! When our children are “puffed up” with all the praises in the world, it is our responsibility as parents to “bring them back to earth” and to let them acknowledge that God is behind all the big production and glory

How (to gain favor with men)?

  • build/ value personal relationships
  • understand other cultures/ ethnicity – maybe expose them to travels even in our own country
  • practice good manners & proper etiquette – example, if the budget allows, bring them to fancy restaurants where they can dress up and behave properly.

Other Practical Points:

  • start exploring / discussing undergraduate courses
  • take exams that will show  strengths & aptitude
  • find out requirements of Colleges / Universities (scholarships, etc.)
  • proper documentation of files , report cards, transcripts , for easy reference

In the end, I am reminded with the following truths:

1. Our children are not ours, they are the Lord’s.

2. Our children are a gift, a reward, blessing. They are never a curse nor a burden!

3. Our standard for success is by feeding our children (and us!) with the Word of God.

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” – Joshua 1:8

True enough, I went home refreshed, inspired and empowered.
I thank the Lord for this beautiful Tuesday!

Press On!

Meeting old friends of 10 years meant a lot of catching up. Our daughter Dana’s just 2 years old and the only kid then, while yesterday, five more kids were added in the bunch (we have 1 more, one family has 3, the other one has 1, plus a cute 2 yr old from an extended family)! What used to be “weekday” dinner meetings are now Sunday lunch dates/meetings. Good thing we had it at the friends’ family restaurant , Tiyo’s Cuisine by Chef and Brewer where the food’s not only great and where the one peso coffee, yes Php1, is being served all-day long, but most especially where the waiters are apparently trained to be extra patient with children (just imagine 5 kids ages 2-9 years old!)  and the other customers were pretty much tolerant of the kids’ making the place a one big playground. ( They didn’t look annoyed, in fact I think they enjoyed the scene:-)) Thank God it’s Sunday! Isn’t it that family lunches are like this? Adults talk endlessly while kids are given a break and just – well- be just kids. Look at what 10 years can do!

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It is true that as time goes by, we “press on” to know each other more. Press on means we move forward, we progress.  Our talks were no longer limited to work and politics as we often discussed then, but also of families, our marriages, child-rearing and discipline , and yes , future engagements.  We have moved on from just knowing each other’s facts and bio. We pressed on to know more of each other in a personal  way.

Pretty much like discipleship, it is not enough to know the facts about Christianity. We should know Jesus more whom we follow in a personal, intimate way as we grow in our walk with Him. That is why we are called’ to “press on” to know Him!  Then He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring “.

Press on and grow!

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“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:14

Rebellious Children and God’s Everlasting Love

“When you were prosperous I warned you, but you replied. ‘Don’t bother me’. Since childhood you have been that way – you simply will not listen!”

I have heard this line from parents with rebellious children. Too often, they became hopeless, deeply grieved and exasperated. While others chose to give up, I know of some who chose to lift their wayward children to the Lord.  Others have gotten back on the right track, others are still in the “wilderness”.  Parents of rebellious children, take heart. Don’t give up your children to the world, If you have said that line before, God also spoke of that to his children in Jeremiah 22:21. The SAME words. Exactly.

If you are in that situation today, know that God is a promise-keeper. He loves you and your children with an everlasting love. With unfailing love He draws us all back to Him. Those tears today are not wasted. He has kept track of all your sorrows and collected ALL the tears in His bottle. Each one recorded in His book.

There is hope for rebellious children! And while you pray and patiently wait, praise Him for the restoration that God has promised you today.

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photo via web

“Love Notes”

Rummaging through my files while spring-cleaning, I came across these from my “Love Notes” envelope.

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Dana’s early morning Birthday letter (or sketch?!)  for me 3 yrs ago

..and 2 yrs ago…

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side note: their school’s Student Government is called Genuine Exemplary Model (GEM) students’ organization, hence the Genuine Exemplary Model Woman tag (heart went ka-boom! 🙂 )

Here’s what Boj’s made for me when he was 6Image

a “balloonful” card, indeed!

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and one of our “exchange notes”

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with his reply written at the back side of my note! hahaha, frugality tip there 🙂 ! plus another assignment for me! hahaha!

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Reading them all over again brings joy any moment of the day.  I thank God for my kids, every single day!

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“Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.”

 Psalm 127:3

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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Crafty Li’l Hands

I remember how I used to make pajamas, basic polo shirts and ruffled blouses, curtains and other home essentials when I had the luxury of time – which was about 12 yrs ago! Wow,  that’s a  d-e-c-a-d-e ++ long! I also remember how as a young child, I used to window-shop with my mom, checking out new designs then buying some cloth so she can sew us new matching dresses – which happens almost every weekend! I was a self-confessed “designer’s child”. I have fond memories of those with my mom. Sometimes when a cousin visits us, she’s my twin in the dresses.  But the grandest that she ever made was my wedding gown. To me, mom is the best ever couturier in the whole wide world!

Now married, and with a not-so-little girl at all, I yearn for those times when I can do what my mom used to do for me.  With Dana growing up so fast, I can see that she’s crafty with her little hands. She can sew bags and something else and sketches cool animation stuff.  She also has a keen musical sense that we would like for her to improve on especially in playing musical instruments like the organ. What I think I lack, she has or even if I do it, she does it even better.  And I thank God for that!

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her new crochet purse project . She’s currently making bands.. bags will be next! 🙂

one of her 1st anime sketches – Sasuke done in 5 minutes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For now, those crafty li’l hands need more than what this world can offer. They need to be clasped together in prayer so she becomes a good, faithful steward of the talents that her Maker has endowed her with…And while she does that, mom’s hands are clasped together, too , wondering how far those crafty li’l hands will go…

photocredit : nevergrowingold.blogspot.com

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ – Matthew 25:21