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.”

DO WE HELP OR HINDER?

After our series in church entitled “Blueprint,” I was once again reminded of the biblical design of God for man and woman: he was designed to lead and she was designed to help.

Unfortunately, whether it’s the influence of the media, or because of one’s personal experience, a lot of men have not stepped up to the plate and have taken on a life of passivity. But this blog is not to address men, but all of you women who are reading this, including me.

We are called to be man’s helpmate or helper. Do we help or do we hinder? Often times, we are the first to criticize the men in our lives… our husbands, our fathers, our brothers, our sons, our male friends. We discourage instead of encourage, we put down instead of build up. We don’t trust them enough to make the right decisions and we rob them of opportunities for maturity. They will make mistakes, that’s for sure, and they will fail at times, but mistakes and failure can build their character.

We clearly see that a lot of men have fallen short of God’s calling for them to lead, but could it be possible that we women have failed in our calling to be their helper too?

So my challenge to us is this: Let’s start with the important men in our lives. Let us start appreciating them for their efforts to lead and protect and provide and allow them to make important decisions. Let us do our best to build them up with our words and prayer and help them become who God has called them to be.

I’M THE MOMMY DEVIL

Yes, that’s me. I’m the mommy devil! I’ve been called many things before. But this one tops them all! When most of you might think that I am this great and wonderful mom, sometimes my very own child thinks otherwise.

I know my kids love me and appreciate me and i love all the ‘YOU’RE THE BEST MOM IN THE WORLD!” notes that I get. But there are days when they don’t get their way or when they get disciplined and they think that i’m the worst mom ever.

This note was drawn by my anonymous child several years ago after I grounded this child for doing something this child wasn’t supposed to do (this child wants to remain anonymous.)

My initial reaction when I saw it was “Ouch!” which soon turned into amusement. I realized that as moms we have to be ready to be misunderstood to do what we know is for the best of our children. There will really be times when our kids will not like what we do but we just know that we gotta do it anyway, for their own good. Sometimes the easiest thing is to just give in to our kids and avoid the emotional stress that often comes with discipline. But that is only a short-term solution.

Our kids may not completely understand us now when we discipline them, but I know someday they will thank us for it! So this mommy devil is not throwing her pitchfork just yet. 😀

IN YOU BEFORE IN THEM

Coming home from a Parenting Seminar that we conducted last night, I was reminded of this one important biblical principle:

Deut 6:9 MSG
“Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children.”

Can I just say that again? Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. I wish there was an easier way. I wish there was a shortcut. I wish that we could just read them the Word and they get it right away. But unfortunately, before teaching it to our kids, it has to be in us first.

We cannot teach our kids to love their neighbor if they don’t see it in us. We cannot expect them to exercise gentleness, patience and self-control if we ourselves are not gentle, patient and self-controlled.

If we do not love the Lord and are completely devoted to Him, the chances are very high that neither will our children.

Our children are imitators. They just tend to walk the life we model for them. I remember one time when we were driving along EDSA, and upon seeing the face of this guy on a really big billboard, I thoughtlessly blurted out “I hate that guy!” A few days after, driving on the same road again, I heard exactly the same phrase but this time it was coming out from my daughter’s mouth. I immediately told her I knew she was just copying me and apologized for saying such an unloving thing.

Charles Swindoll tells the story of four scholars who were arguing over Bible translations. One said he preferred the KJV because of its eloquent old English, another preferred the ASV because of its literalism and the third preferred the way the Moffatt translation captured the reader’s attention. After giving the issue considerable thought, the fourth scholar admitted, “I have personally preferred my mother’s translation.” The other scholars chuckled but as he explained “Yes, she translated it. She translated each page of the Bible into life. It is the most convincing translation I ever saw.”

And that makes me assess myself. How am I translating the Bible into life?

PARENTAL CONTROLS

It happens to a lot of parents… they come home from work, check the history of their computer, and see dozens of websites listed that were not supposed to be visited. But their kids checked them out nonetheless, mainly because they were curious.

It is not unusual for our kids to hear a joke or a word from school or from TV and wonder what that means, so they go straight to the laptop and google it, then one website leads to another, and before they know it, they’re in sites that even adults shouldn’t be going to. Even innocent, unsuspecting kids who are not even searching for these websites can be misled or misdirected to p0rn sites.

In this internet age, everything is accessible to our kids. That’s why we need to be proactive and do what we can to protect them from dangers of the world wide web. If your child has unrestricted internet access, he can accidentally or deliberately view dirty websites. I once read that 7 out of 10 teenagers accidentally come across p0rn sites on the web.

Thankfully, there are parental controls, filtering or monitoring technology which block access to dangerous sites. If you are using a Mac, parental control is available in the System Preferences. Even iPads give you the option to limit your children’s access to the movies, music and applications they download. You can also opt to use an internet safe browswer, which I did, like BSecure, which automatically blocks prn sites. (PC’s might have something like this too like K9 Web Protection.) There are also softwares that can track the websites your computer visits and it alerts you if a p0rn site has been visited (x3watch.com).

Aside from teaching your child the boundaries of internet use, let us make use of the filtering and monitoring software available to help us protect our kids from internet dangers.

STEPPING OUT OF THE WAY

Sometimes it seems the easiest thing to do is to give our child what he wants and make him happy. It is such a temptation to be the answer to our child’s wants and needs rather than teaching him to believe God for it or to work for it.

When our daughter, Janina, got her new puppy, Briggie, it wasn’t without faith, hardwork and tears.  When she first brought up the idea of getting a Maltese, we told her that she will have to use her own savings. Not only that, we wanted her to be the one to look for one that is affordably priced. Paolo and I thought that this would be good training for her. We would pray with her for the puppy but we expected her to do all the legwork necessary.

We saw Janina spending hours online and on the phone looking for a Maltese and comparing prices.  She learned what questions to ask the sellers and how to haggle for a lower price. There were nice, accommodating people and rude to very rude people, and she learned to deal with all kinds. One night, after weeks of doing that, she was in tears because she couldn’t find one that fit her budget. It was at this point when Paolo and I almost gave in, and thought of just raising the money ourselves to help out our little girl. But somehow a voice inside us told us to step out of the way and teach Janina to wait on God and believe Him for His provision. Janina was already getting impatient and desperate, yet God commanded us to stay away from the situation. That is not always easy for us parents especially when we see our child distraught and discouraged.  We realized that this was as much a lesson for us as parents as it was for Janina.

A few days after that incident, Janina auditioned for the musical “Sound of Music.” Thank God for His favor, Janina made it! With the money that she will earn, she could finally buy the Maltese she’s been wanting and be able to pay even for the dog’s food for life :D. No wonder God told us to step out of the way–He has already set His plan in motion!

I think about that and wonder what would have happened if we took matters into our hands and made things happen for Janina. Then Janina would have missed out on experiencing first hand the faithfulness of her Heavenly Father as her provider. And we as parents would have missed God’s assurance for us that He will take care of our children.

I realize that sometimes our goal for our children is so short-term. They want something, we give it to them. They’re happy. End of story. But God is not just concerned about our children getting what they want and making them happy.  He wants our children to get to know Him better and to grow in their faith as they wait upon Him. He wants a relationship with our children.

“Oh how great is the love the Father has lavished on us!”