Filled With Joy

How do you expect this coming week to play out? What are the things you’re looking forward to? What are the things you’re dreading?

As you go through the next few days, I’m sure that things won’t always go as you expected them to be. When our circumstances are disappointing, the first thing we can lose is our joy. As we start this week, let me pray Romans 15:13 for you all of us:

13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NLT)

Let us commit this week to God and trust Him for every meeting, every commute, every payable, every decision, every task, every relationship  and everything else in between. He is our only source of hope and let us allow Him to fill our hearts with joy and peace however our week will turn out to be.

Let Him Do His Job

It was many years ago when Ryan, our 3rd child, requested to celebrate his 10th birthday ice skating with his friends. At that time, our youngest, Joaquin was only three years old but he was so insistent to join his siblings on the ice skating rink.

Being the protective mom that I was, I wasn’t ready to allow him to do it yet. I could think of 101 ways how he could get hurt on the ice. My husband, Paolo, offered to skate with him but I wasn’t sure about the idea.  But Joaquin was so persistent, not wanting to miss out on the fun with his siblings. So I let him.

As they headed inside, I called Paolo on his cellphone to give him reminders and he told me “Jenn, it’s ok. I have done this with our 3 other kids before” and hung up. He was right.

In the first thirty minutes or so, Joaquin just clung on to Paolo’s legs and just allowed himself to drag wherever his dad went. But I also saw how, with Paolo’s prodding, he gradually gained confidence to let go and take a few strides all on his own. I wish I could describe the happiness on Joaquin’s face!

This brought back pictures in my mind of Paolo doing exactly the same thing with each of our three older kids several years back and he did know what to do.

Often times I am overcome by worry, afraid to relinquish control to my husband. I fear that he will not be able to do as good a job as I expect him to. But time and time again, I have been proven wrong.

If there is one thing I have realized over the years it’s that my husband is good at so many things I am not good at. But I need to step out of the way and let him do his job.

Start Your Week with Worship

Acts 16: 25-26  About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.  Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Filipinos naturally love to sing. That’s why singing worship songs is usually a part of our day. But did you know that something more happens whenever we worship God? When Paul and Silas were worshipping God in prison, the prison doors flew open and their chains came lose. Something powerful happens whenever we worship. When we magnify God in our hearts, as we enter into His presence, He steps into our situations.

Obviously, we are not in prison. But some of us are probably in situations where our hands are tied, or we’re at a dead end and  we can’t do anything more to change our circumstances. You could be facing a relationship problem or a financial crisis at the moment. In times like these, worship is not usually the first thing in our minds. Sometimes we question God, or we doubt His works. Oftentimes we take matters into our hands and end up with a much bigger problem. But sister, let me encourage, the first course of action should be worship. Worship is an act of bowing down to the only one true God and allowing Him to act powerfully on our behalf. Worship is an act of faith, affirming our trust in God, that He is willing and able to deliver us from whatever battle is in front of us.

If you are going through something right now, before you do anything else, take time to pause and worship God. And watch and see what He will do…

From Heart to Mouth

I was watching a video of a woman talking about her experiences from her previous marriage. She was saying a lot of not so pleasant things about her ex-husband. Now, I know that I am hearing only one side of the story and I shouldn’t be quick to judge. But watching her speak in such a negative way reminded me of a verse I read a few days ago:

Matthew 12: 34-45 For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. NLT

The words that come out of our mouths say a lot about the condition of our hearts. During times I consciously or unconsciously blurt out something critical or judgement, I should pause and do a heart check. What’s in my heart that’s causing me to say these things? Is there pride, envy or bitterness? When I start talking about my worries and anxieties and allow them to take over me, it’s most probably that i’ve allowed fear to creep into my heart. When I become harsh and hurtful in my words, maybe there’s anger in my heart.

Every now and then, it’s good to do a words check. What kind of words have been coming out of my mouth lately? Have they been kind, encouraging, humble or positive? Or have they been harsh, negative, arrogant or fearful? And then do a heart check. My prayer is that God will uproot every sin and negative emotion in my heart and replace it with a treasury of humility, faith, goodness and forgiveness.

3 WAYS TO REFRESH YOUR SOUL

Don’t we do a lot to take care of our bodies?

We eat right (or maybe it’s more apt to say that we “attempt” to do so). We try to exercise regularly. We do our nightly skincare routine to slow down aging, and spend countless minutes every morning to do our makeup. 

It’s good to take care of our bodies. But it’s also of equal importance to take care of another part of us—one that’s not visible, but truly intrinsic to who we are as women. I’m talking about our soul.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV)

This verse tells us that we have a body, spirit, and soul. Our spirit is that part of us that lives for all of eternity. Our soul refers to our intellect, will, and emotion.

Like our bodies, our souls need rest, and can only find rest in God (see Psalm 62:1). Our souls can be downcast, unsteady, and drawn to sin at times, but the Bible says that God restores it (see Psalm 42:11 and 2 Peter 2:14). On the bright side, Scripture also tells us that our souls have the ability to praise God, and choose to remember all the benefits we have in Him (see Psalm 103:1-2).

Have you ever had those days when you’re upset at something, and you end up snapping at everyone who crosses your path? This is because the condition of our souls greatly affects our disposition. It affects our behavior and the decisions we make. It affects how we relate with our spouse, children, and people in general. That’s why it’s so important that we take care of it.

Here are three ways we can refresh our souls:

1. Spend time with God 

“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.”

Psalm 63:1 (NLT)

With the daily challenges we face as women, it is important to spend time with God because He alone is our true source of joy, peace, and strength. Spending time with God by reading His Word will feed our soul with the nourishment it needs. Spending time with God through prayer allows us to lift up our worries to Him, and surrender everything that makes us anxious.

2. Spend time with other women

not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” 

Hebrews 10:25 (NIV)  

There are great benefits to spending time with other women who can relate to what we’re going through. Whether we’re laughing, crying or even just shopping together, knowing that we are not alone already does a lot. Even more so, when another friend gives us a word of encouragement or prays for us. Take time to celebrate your small and big victories with your family and friends, whether through a simple meal or a road trip. 

3. Spend quality time alone

While it’s great to spend time with others, it is equally refreshing and satisfying to spend some quality time alone. Have you ever took yourself out on a table-for-one kind of date without the need to check your phone every two minutes? Nowadays a lot of people feel uncomfortable being alone. But I found that the best time to reflect on the different aspects of yourself—your soul, body, heart, and mind—is when you’re alone, free from distractions and social media. Try inserting some quality alone time in your weekly schedule. Go for a walk or a run. Visit the spa (if your budget permits!). Read a book. Start a hobby. Who knows, you might just discover new things about yourself during that time.

Our souls greatly affect our disposition and relationships, and that is why we need to care for them regularly. If you feel that you’re inconsistent in some of the ways I’ve listed, start a gradual soul-care regimen for it. Your soul and yourself will thank you!

1 Kings 15: 25 Nadab son of Jeroboam began to rule over Israel in the second year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Israel two years. 26 But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his father, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

CRITICAL THINKING

True or False. Animals cannot create things.

This was one question on Ryan’s science quiz on which we had a discussion. The teacher’s guide said that it was TRUE, but Ryan insisted that it was FALSE.

I gave Ryan the chance to explain why he said the statement was FALSE. He said that birds make their own nests and beavers build their own dams, so in that sense, animals can create things. He did have a point, so for that, I marked his answer correct. (One of the reasons why I love homeschooling 🙂 )

As his homeschool teacher, it is easy to mark his mistakes wrong because the answer key says so. But I want more for him than just accepting what the books say. I want him to think and process every information that he comes across with. I need to be secure when my kids challenge me, not out of disrespect, but out of determination to learn.

As the school year is drawing to a close, I want to look back on the past 10 months and know that I didn’t just spoonfeed information to my children and they blindly memorized everything. That is not how I want my children to grow up. They can remember the names of all of the Philippine presidents but do they know what makes a good president? ” Critical thinking, is a skill that elevates thinking beyond memorization into the realm of analysis and logic. ”

My goal for educating my kids is to equip and empower them for life. More than memorizing facts, which can be easily googled anyway, I want them to know how to think, how to reason out, how to challenge statements, how to weigh information, how to solve problems and make decisions.

WHEN IT’S OKAY TO IGNORE

“Mom, Ryan’s baseball friend told me that I’m small and that I can’t play baseball,” our three-year old Joaquin said.

Over the years, even my older kids have come up to me at one time or another to report that a classmate or a friend told them they were not good enough.

It’s inevitable that our kids will hear put-downs from others about their looks, their potential, their achievements and just about any trivial thing that concerns them.

As parents, we can react in different ways. We can go and confront that boy who put down our child and warn him to stop bullying our son “or else…” Or we can pull out our child from that school and look for a more friendly environment for him. Or we can constantly hover around our child and make sure no one comes near him who has bad intentions. Or we can teach our kids to attack with meaner words like “Yes I’m small but I’ll grow bigger but you, you’ll stay ugly forever!” (Believe me, there were times in the past, I was so tempted to attack!)

Or we can simply tell our kids to ignore the comment. We can teach our child to listen to the right voices and reject the wrong ones.

When Joaquin told me about the incident, I reminded him of the video we just watched entitled “Dave and the Giant Pickle.” (Talk about timing…) This was VeggieTales version of the biblical account of David and Goliath. I reminded Joaquin that even if David was small, he was able to kill Goliath because God was with him. So even if other kids tell him he’s small, he can still do great things because God will help him. “So Joaquin, you are big because God is with you!”  I saw how his face lit up as he received affirmation from me.

Of course, your response will depend on the gravity of the situation. If your child is constantly being bullied by his classmates and he is starting to hate school because of that, by all means move him to another school. But if it is a simple case of immature teasing, teach your child to ignore those comments, and feed his mind with the right ones. When others say discouraging things to our children, let our words of praise and affirmation speak even louder!

DO YOU KNOW HOW TO DOUGIE?

All moms would agree with me that motherhood is a serious business. But there are days when mothers should just set aside their tough and resolute front and be crazy for the sake of fun! If you ask my kids, I think they will tell you that they have the weirdest mom ever, but hey, if weird means fun, then I’m okay with that. I don’t want to be boring. I want my kids to have lots of fun memories with me. That’s what made me decide to learn how to dougie with them.

Now, if you clicked on the link, you’re probably wondering if I got the dougie. Well, that’s not the point 🙂 The point is, we need to stay relevant to our kids, learn to connect with them and simply just have fun with them. And boy, did we have lots of laughs as we danced together. We kept laughing at ourselves until we were out of breath.

A friend just recently told me that her kids preferred to be with their dad more than with her. I asked her why she thought they did, and she said it’s probably because all she did with them was to make sure they obeyed the rules. “Do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that…” Those words basically summed up her everyday encounter with her kids. Moms, as much as rules are important, there should be a good balance between rules and relationship. One way to develop that relationship is to do things with your kids that they consider fun. Find out what they are into and join them!

At times,  I’ve had to force myself to learn certain games just so I can enjoy them with my kids. And I would usually find myself having more fun than I expected! So go ahead, even if you look funny, do the dougie!