“We Have Seen Amazing Things Today”

Amazing – (adjective) – Defined by Merriam-Webster as:

  1. Causing great surprise or wonder; astonishing.
  2. Startlingly impressive.

My husband is an NBA fan. I do watch with him occasionally when the iconic Lakers are playing. To NBA fans, we know NBA owns that tagline “where amazing things happen” but little do we know that amazing things also happened some thousand years ago, not in a basketball arena but in Galilee and Judea.

The story goes that wherever Jesus of Nazareth went, preaching the Good News and healing the sick, everyone who watched were awestruck by such power and authority (read all accounts in the Gospels). In fact, “they praised God, saying over and over again, “We have seen amazing things today.” (Luke 5:26b)

Fast forward to modern times, here’s my encouragement for all of us. Let it be that not a day passes us by without us seeing the power of the Living God in our lives. It can be provision for school’s allowance for our children this week, a cab to bring us to our important meeting because the car broke down in the middle of the road, healing and provision for medical expenses for a sick family member, or simply a conversation with a friend to lift up one’s weary soul. Amazing things can be found in the grandest or the most mundane of things.

Tonight, I pray as we go to sleep, we can look back at what happened and we can say ,

“We have seen amazing things today!”

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photo via wordpress

Productivity, Fruitfulness and Faithfulness

In my Facebook post, I mentioned that I have prayed to be more fruitful these past 2 weeks. Fruitful in a sense that I will see results from what I routinely do in homeschooling and home-managing. In a way, I was actually praying to be more productive! What difference does it make? The choice of words may spell a whole lot. Strictly speaking (although I am not an expert on this, but I based it on my degree learning), “Productivity”is an economic measure of output per unit of input. It is that measurable result ,  what the world views as being “successful” for being able to accomplish something at a certain period of time with the certain amount of resources and effort. Now this is where most of us fall into an easy trap. We sacrifice our families, relationships into the altar of success. We become slaves to time and whole bunch of “to-do” lists so that we can be successful.  Don’t get me wrong. I am a person who likes to map out things for the week and ticks off anything that’s in my checklist. Funny as i prayed about being more fruitful, our local church is on a preaching series entitled “Proof”. Last Sunday, the topic was about Extreme Productivity.  Indeed, our work is a reflection of God’s grace in our lives.  Our bodies are designed to work. Adam was placed in the garden of Eden to work it and to take care of it. Work is a wonderful blessing given by God for man to be able to accomplish His greater purpose.  As I write, I think about how I measured my week in terms of productivity, and everything was accomplished as I saw fit. Not because I do it on my own, but because of the grace of God that has enabled me. Truly, productive work is a proof of His grace! But wonders of wonders, God has blessed me with even more. He has opened up doors of opportunities. He has added more friends in my circle (living in a new place these 2 months).  What’s more, He has taught me that beyond productivity, I should be “fruitful” in a way that as I do things and have that resolve to accomplish them, the fruit of the Holy Spirit should be evident in my life and in my work.

What’s the fruit? Galatians 5:22-23 says,

  ” But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

When I tried hard to finish something on schedule for my kids in their lesson tracks, am I being manipulative? Am I being patient when I see that my younger son needs more time to understand the lesson than what I thought I could spend for a single subject? Am I saying the right words to my children when I get them to work on a household chore or am I nagging? When I left the workplace to be a full time home-manager (I’d like to call it this way. God makes my home, I am His steward. I am in effect, managing it, along with my husband!) , I prayed that His peace will consume me. And true enough, each day He tells me that what I do or do not do does not define me. My security does not come from a title or position, or the perks that come along with it, nor from the business that we tried to build, but my security is from Him alone – He who has held me at the palm of His hand – where I am most secure. Or when my husband irritates me on some petty things that I shouldn’t sweat about, am I keeping my temper in check, controlling my tongue so I may not fire away those hurtful words? Each moment, I am constantly checked – what does productivity mean when I have neglected the more important things?  What’s with all the checking off the list when I hurt the people  whom I love because of my selfish goals?

Which brings me lastly to faithfulness. In our marriage, I am becoming more sensitive to the seasons that God has marked in our lives. There is a time for everything .  We have cried a lot in separate times,  in the most difficult of trials, together. We laughed at simple joys like not having money to spend for a Sunday treat for the kids and so we hied off to the nearest school’s soccerfield where they get to play for free. Priceless! Got down together on our knees to pray and ask God that we endure through the sufferings and rejoice for the things that He has allowed to happen even if we do not like it. God is faithful. In this new season in our lives, He teaches me to be faithful still. No longer as an employee or a business manager, but as the steward of my home and my children – on a full time basis. It is a daily reminder of what comes first – a priority check.  That is why when that new door opened, I cannot afford to jump into it right away. Although admittedly it was tempting at first! I have the ‘Cross filter’ in making a decision. I want to be faithful with the new responsibility that He has given me in the area of homeschooling.  I am not to please my husband nor win the approval of men. I pray to hear the applause from heaven.

***

“Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:15

 

A Day in Homeschool

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Just a typical day, you might say.   But a single photo speaks a thousand more than what it seems to be.  Another day offered to the Lord and a prayer that He will direct it as He wanted it to be.  Along with it is a prayer that I be more understanding, patient and knowledgeable as their Teacher Mom; and they too, become wiser (and a whole lot nicer!) each day.  That they be like Daniel and his friends who were blessed with greater understanding and knowledge of all kinds of literature and learning (Daniel 1:17) and that of  the young Jesus who has grown both in wisdom and stature and has found favor in God and man (Luke 2:52).

I just want to thank you Lord, for today!

P.S.

1. My eldest daughter , a seventh grader, took the photo above while I was explaining Math (using Singapore Math  (Marshall Cavendish) , a bonus to an open curriculum!)  to my third grader.

2. WordPress has an auto-ads display that might occasionally be advertised here. I learned that I can only make my site ads-free for a certain amount. If there are some images or ads that are not appropriate, please send me a message or report to support@wordpress.com.  Thank you!

The Three L’s to Encourage Dads (who are homeschooling or not!)

Although I am the primary teacher in our homeschool setting, I am blessed to end each day (well, if he’s not traveling)  with the presence of my #1fan and encourager – my husband! I am glad I read this post (which you can, below) from a homeschooling mom    , one that shares a dad’s views on homeschooling . Reminds me of what it means to have One Body with many parts.  Each part is useful and vital for the proper functioning of the body!

I found this photo of a shirt via twitter and I know this statement is a big one to fit in to for dads. But the grace of God enables them to be teachers too!

homeschool_dad

Enjoy reading!

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Over the last 8 years that our family has been actively homeschooling, I’ve seen more and more fathers show their willingness to share in what was stereotypically (and incorrectly assumed as) solely  the moms’ role as home educators. We are thankful for the thousands of moms that have worked to make homeschooling work in our families, but as we guys like to say about sports – “It’s a team effort.”

Thankfully, my experience as a homeschool dad has always involved total cooperation with my wife. I was considered my children’s ‘primary teacher’ for a number of years as my job allowed me more flexibility to stay home. However, I know that many homeschool dads aren’t as fortunate as I am to be a consistent part of the daily homeschool experience. Whether the man of your home is a stay at home dad, or the primary breadwinner, we all appreciate encouragement as we strive to take an active part in our children’s education. So moms, on behalf of homeschool dads, here are some ways to encourage us. I call them the three “L’s” = Learn Together, Let Him Lead, and Love and Laugh.

1. Learn Together: Most dads are not scared to learn along with their kids, but they are scared of ‘messing up the flow” of the homeschool. We feel that if something is working, i.e., the way the moms are managing the homeschool, that interfering can somehow be detrimental.  Moms, don’t let us stay on the fringe. If you find something interesting to study or a subject that you need help with, consult with Dad first – even if it’s not his strongest subject or skill. Encourage your kids to reach out to us as well for help with their studies. If there is a subject Dad is strong at, by all means let him teach it whenever he can. By doing this, you encourage us dads to model life-long learning. A man often enjoys solving a problem, and we’ll go to great lengths to learn something if we feel it makes us – and the family – more effective.

2. Let Him Lead : Even though many moms choose curriculum and are more knowledgeable about homeschool methods, always support the dad of your family by giving him time to consider the long-range goals of your homeschool.  Talk about what he feels is the vision for your kids, even if he’s not active in the day-to-day activities. We as men are charged with giving our kids the God – given vision of what they are to become, but parents must work as a team to make that vision come to pass in our children. Ephesians 6:4 (KJV) states:

Ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

If we are to bring our children up in the Lord’s chosen pathways, we must agree on what God is trying to achieve through our homeschooling , and only clear and regular parental communication can accomplish that. All the dads I’ve spoken to recently have voiced their desire to be more involved in their respective homeschools. So give us the opportunity. Have ‘faculty meetings’ early and often throughout the year and always respect the opinion of the father in your home as you work together to set the course of your homeschool.

3. Love and Laugh: I feel dads should be able to schedule the breaks from school that the kids need every so often. If Dad is not part of the academic setting regularly, encourage him to be the leader of the recreational and social life of your family. Fathers can be the balance to the hectic lifestyle that can sometimes overtake the mothers as they juggle work, home, and homeschool (yes, they are all different categories) By taking the emphasis off curriculum and lessons every once in a while, a dad can lighten the load and remind the family of the most important part of homeschooling – the time you spend together. Share love and quality time as a couple and as a family, and you would be amazed how much easier it is to teach the academics in your homeschool when that core of love and laughter is established.

By following these three “L’s”, I trust your family will be more united than ever in learning, leading and loving together as God blesses your homeschool journey. Dads, jump in to the journey with both feet, and moms, don’t be surprised if we make a big ‘messy’ splash. We’ll clean up afterward, we promise.

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About the author: Allen Paul was a music teacher in Miami public schools for 8 years before resigning  and becoming a homeschool dad. He now works with Classical Conversations as a Challenge director and blogs about his homeschool experience at Homeschool Daddy. He lives in Miami with Lia, his wife of 16 years , and their three children – Chris, 21, Marcus, 16,  and Naomi, 15.

What ONE DAY Means

“One day, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and he was baptized by John in the Jordan River.”  – Mark 1:9

A momentous, single day that has been the deciding point of Jesus’ human life – to leave Nazareth inorder to fulfill the will of the Father and launch His ministry. The thirty years that has prepared him inorder to start his “real work” on Earth. I pause and think about the things that he let go in Nazareth – his family, friends, a trade maybe ( being a carpenter’s son) and everything else that are all-too- familiar with him. His comfort zone!  I can pretty well relate as we have been moving many times over. Leaving our own ” Nazareths” inorder to embrace the new places and new circumstances in our lives. As a growing child, we have moved thrice due to career decisions of my parents, sent to boarding schools in my high school and college years, and now as an adult, we have been moving  – following my husband because of new job locations.

Letting go is a learned art, I know. When I think about Jesus, how he let go of his own Nazareth, I know that everything else that I let go has an eternal reward.  That ONE , significant day that I let go of something in order to take a step into the unknown – the next step of God’s will in my life. Yes, there are inconveniences, we feel sad leaving friends and families  (or could be the other way around, friends and family, especially grown-up children,  leaving us!) , but I know that I have entrusted the unknown into the Maker’s hands.  Jesus is my Teacher in the art of letting go. He teaches me to open my hands (and my heart!) so I can hold on to something new and beautiful once again.

Grateful for that ONE DAY!

“But forget all that—
it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

  • – Isaiah 43: 18-19

The Boat is Sinking!

” The boat is sinking, group yourselves into 2..4…8..3..!” And so on it goes depending on the gamemaster until he declares the winners, most likely the last 2 left in the bunch of eager children playing in a parlor game. The game shows that when a boat is sinking, someone is in charge. In this case, the gamemaster. He can do as he pleases – call a number, 2, 4, or 8 – it really doesn’t matter even if he wants 10 in a boat, it will never sink! In the end, others are booted out, winners are declared.

This brings to mind the time when Jesus calmed the storm. (The disciple Matthew details it here). A sudden storm came up, the disciples were so afraid, thinking that Jesus was “sleeping on the job.”  Then Jesus rebuked them FIRST.  ‘Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!’  Then he stood up & rebuked the winds & waves and suddenly all was calm.  It is amazing that in the middle of the storm, Jesus rebukes them first, before He commands the winds and waves to stay still. Unlike the game, He is not a “gamemaster” who chooses who to boot out and who will stay on course to keep the boat from sinking. He wants us to stay on course. Stormy situations in life will rock us but He tells us to stay on course. Looking back, going through the “storms” in my life, He said the same to me. He rebuked me first!  He acts on me first, before He can even change the situation around me, or He may choose not to at all.  But He will act on me! He teaches me to act in faith rather than in fear!

“Why are you afraid, my daughter? You have so little faith!” And I realized, yes Lord, I shouldn’t be. You are in the boat all along, all this time. You are my Captain. You will not desert me. The “storms” may last for days, weeks, months or years,I don’t know…others may even see that You seem to be sleeping on the job, but You are not! I am confident You will ferry me safely to the other shore.

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God is not sleeping on the job!
(photo via wordpress)

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!