OUR LOPSIDED CHRISTMAS TREE

It wasn’t after most of our ornaments were hanging on the tree when we noticed how our tree looked. Joaquin, our 3-year old, wanted to join in the fun of decorating our tree so I gave him all our stuffed ornaments to hang. Naturally, because of his height, all the stuffed ornaments ended at the bottom of our tree. That was not how I imagined our tree to look like.

Sometimes, it is really much easier to do things without the help of our kids. I say “help”, but it feels like they’re really not helping at all. We just end up undoing what they did and cleaning up their mess. Last night, Joaquin broke one of our ornaments and another child broke a candle holder. I was tempted to send everyone to their rooms so I can do everything peacefully, casualty-free, and exactly the way I wanted it.

But more than having a nicely decorated home for Christmas, our goal as parents is really to build memories with our children. Sure our Christmas tree might not look perfect, but our kids will remember how much fun they had putting it up. Sure they broke an ornament or two, but those are easily replaceable, but memories stay with them.

As Christmas draws near, let us not forget to build memories with our children. If you’re like me, your December calendar is filling up fast with parties here and there, and we don’t want to leave our children out. Schedule fun activities with your children like make your own ornaments, sing Christmas carols, bake sugar cookies, visit an orphanage or bless another family with a meal. Your activities don’t have to cost a lot. It can be as simple as watching a Christmas video at home with popcorn and brownies.

And most importantly, take time to reflect on what this season is all about… that Jesus was born to give us life!

DON’T YOU JUST LOVE BEING A MOM?

Two nights ago, Ryan came to our room asking if he could sleep with us. Occasionally, one of our kids will knock on our bedroom door in the middle of the night, pillow and comforter in tow, saying he had a bad dream and just wanted to be with us. It is for this reason that I have a spare mattress in our room. I love it that we are able to give them the comfort they need.

Joaquin, who has been clingly the past days, told me yesterday “Mom, don’t leave me ok? You’re mine, ok?” That just melted my heart.

Last night, after we had a family group hug, Janina asked us “Don’t you just love having 4 kids?!” And I exclaimed, “It’s the best!”

Tonight, Nathan said that he wants a Kindle for his birthday and Janina gladly volunteered to pay for half of it. It gave me joy to see that my kids actually love each other. 🙂

It’s not always easy. In fact, let me be honest and say that it has been a lot of hard work. It’s never perfect. But I can’t imagine my life any other way.
Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

CAN WE CHOOSE OUR CHILD’S FRIENDS?

One of a mom’s nightmares is to discover her son or daughter in the company of the wrong crowd, doing the things that the wrong crowd normally does like drinking, sex and drugs. Is there a full-proof way to make sure this doesn’t happen? Can we tell our children who to hang out with? Can we approve their friends first?

While our children are young, we mostly make their choices for them. We choose the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the movies they watch, the time they sleep. And yes, we actually choose their friends. We organize playgroups with our other mommy friends, and invite kids we like for sleep-overs and parties. In that sense, we choose their friends for them. But as they get older, their circle grows bigger, as they start school and get to know other kids, we gradually lose control. And ultimately, we just have to trust that our kids make the right choices in their friends.

There are things that my husband and I do to help our kids in this area. As it has always been said “Bad company corrupts good character.” This is not just a saying, but a biblical principle that has proven itself true in too many an occasion. Knowing this, we do our best as parents to steer our children away from bad company.

Though we really cannot choose the kids our children will get along with, we can set them up to choose the right ones.

We need to be deliberate. Toddler playgroups are not just a break for me. It is a deliberate effort on my part for my children to develop friendships early with the kids of my friends, whom I know have the same values as I do. Come to think of it, the closest friends of my older kids are the ones whom they have been playing with since they were little. We plan out of town trips with different families to give our children the opportunity to bond with each other. We look for various ways to get our children with other kids who are the “right” company for them and hope that they hit it off with one or more of them.

We need to educate our children. We need to give them guidelines on what a real friend is… one who encourages, who builds up, who influences us to do good and to be better, who draws us to Jesus and not away from Him.

And lastly, we need to pray for our children. We need to pray that they will have godly wisdom and discernment to always make the right choices.

Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to piecesProv13.20.MSG

TURNING 40

After a string of surprise parties and dinners given by family and friends, I am now back to reality and face the fact that I am 40. It seemed just like yesterday when I turned 30 and I told myself “Oh I still have a long way to go ’til I turn 40.” Well, that time has come. I was hoping I could be in my 30’s a little while longer but time couldn’t be stalled.

As with everyone else turning 40, I was asked the question “How does it feel to be 40?”

Well, first, let me tell you how I don’t feel. I don’t feel old. When I was a lot younger, I thought that women in their 40’s were really old. But now that i’m there, aside from the laugh lines and the occasional body aches here and there :D, I feel as youthful as ever. I think that youthfulness is majorly an attitude of the mind, than the condition of the body. I don’t feel like I’ve wasted the first half of my life. I didn’t wake up and say “Where did all the time go?” The last 40 years was packed with memories, opportunities and bitter and sweet experiences that God, in His love and sovereignty, worked out for my good. I don’t feel anxious about the future. Yes there are uncertainties but my confidence is in my God. I know that my lot is secure.

How do I feel at 40?

I FEEL GRATEFUL. Grateful that God found me. Grateful for my husband and four children. Grateful for my family. Grateful for my church. Grateful for my friends. I am grateful for the unconditional love these people have shown me. Thank you for all the laughter and tears we’ve shared together! It’s been quite a journey going through life with all of you! I am grateful for how God has used me to impart what I have learned from my own experiences to equip and empower women, single or married. Really, I don’t deserve anything I have now. Everything I have is grace and favor from God.

I FEEL EXCITED. I am looking forward to the next four or five more decades of experiencing the goodness of God in my life! I am excited about growing old with my husband and seeing my children grow up in the will of God! I am excited to grow old with my friends and see how each one will move from one season to the next. I am excited for all the doors God will open for me and my family! I am excited to see the fulfillment of God’s promises in my life! I am excited to walk this life with my God!

Psalm 92: 12-15
12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, “The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”