COUNTING THE COST

Ryan (8 yrs old): Mom, how much does it cost to take care of a baby?

Me: Just for milk and diapers alone, you’d probably need P5,000 a month. And then there are clothes, doctors visits, etc.

Ryan: (deep in thought) I don’t think I’m ready to have a baby.

DISCIPLINE IS PAINFUL

We were already geared up to go to Toys ‘R Us, as anonymous child had been wanting to go there for weeks. He was clutching his wallet in his hands, and was looking forward to finally get that toy he’d been saving up for weeks. You know the look on your child’s face when he is about to open a birthday present? I was happy to see that look on his face.

On our way, anonymous child said something that was disrespectful to me. It was hurtful to be spoken to by one of my children like that but I tried to convince myself that maybe i should just let this pass and not make a big deal out of it. I didn’t want to ruin our supposed “date” to the toy store.

But there was the nagging part of me that just didn’t want this to slide. I knew how important it is to God that children honor their parents. And if I didn’t do anything about this, I was communicating to my child that his behavior was acceptable.

So I did it. I explained that what he said didn’t show honor to me and he had to be disciplined for it. I knew it would break my son’s heart, and it broke mine more to see it, but I had to cancel our trip as a consequence of his disrespectful attitude. I reminded him of Ephesians 6:1-3 that says ‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’

When children honor their parents, God rewards THEM, not us. The promise of everything going well and enjoying a long life is given to children who honor their parents, not to the parents. And don’t we all want our children to receive that promise? That is why we need to teach our children to honor us. It is not so we will feel good about ourselves, or that others will see how well-behaved our children are, but so they honor God and receive His promise. It was this biblical principle that convinced me to just head back home instead of to the toy store.

When the Bible says “No discipline seems pleasant, but painful…” (Heb 12:11), I think it’s not only talking about the one who is being disciplined, but also about the person doing the disciplining. When I discipline my child and give him a consequence, it doesn’t give me a sense of happy satisfaction or enjoyment. It hurts me to see my child in pain. It hurt me to see the look on my child’s face when I told him that we were not going to the toy store anymore, knowing how excited he was to go. That’s why, often, the easier thing is to look the other way and not deal with misbehavior. But a parent who is serious about raising his child the right way should be tough enough to handle the “unpleasantness” of discipline.

It is not for our own good, but for our child’s.

A LATE NEW YEAR POST

2012. I wish I had a better start. After our 2011 year-end trip, most of us got sick. I was tired of being woken up at night by coughing kids and giving medicine round the clock. Added to that was the huge task of cleaning up the house of the left-over mess from the holidays. I was tired and grumpy (and hungry from our one week fast.) I didn’t realize the extent of my  temper until Joaquin told me the other day “Mom, can you not shout again? Please have a nice attitude.” My 3-year old couldn’t have said it better.

Haay… I am reminded once again of my inadequacy and incompetence. I really cannot do this parenting thing on my own. I need divine help. I need God’s grace. I desperately need His help.

A mental preview of 2012 is enough to make me feel excited and exhausted at the same time. I am anticipating a busy year as Nathan prepares to take his college entrance exams, while Janina prepares for highschool and pursues her new-found “career” in theater, and as I homeschool the kids and manage all their extra-curricular activities on top of our speaking engagements and ministry.  No complaints here. I love being fruitful. I just know that I cannot do this on my own.

As we go through another year, I acknowledge my complete dependence on God. I cannot even come close to being a good wife and mother without God’s help. I cannot be an effective speaker without God’s anointing. I cannot mentor and coach other women without His wisdom. I am nothing and cannot be anything without God.

Our 2011 DIY Ornament

Every Christmas, it’s become our tradition to make our own Christmas ornaments at home. Christmas in Manila is usually so busy and you can get up in so many parties while your kids are just left at home. Making your own ornaments is just one of the many things we schedule with the family to make sure that our kids are not left out in all the festivities. It’s a fun activity to do with the kids to help build up the excitement of Christmas plus it makes your tree more meaningful. Here’s some of the ornaments we came up with this year 🙂

ADVENT NIGHT

Advent night in our home is when we gather the kids to spend time singing Christmas songs, reading the Christmas story or other Christmas story books and reminding them about the true meaning of Christmas. It is always good to remind them, and ourselves too, that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, and not about wish lists and receiving presents.

CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN

The month of December is like a long road trip where kids can’t wait to reach their destination and are asking non-stop “Are we there yet? How much longer?” I love it that kids anticipate Christmas! It is always refreshing to see their eagerness and wide-eyed wonder about Christmas in contrast to the stress that adults normally go through as they deal with their Christmas to-do lists.

To make the time of waiting for my kids much more fun, we always do a Christmas Countdown. This year, the kids and I decided to make a craft out of it. With my old scrapbook papers, envelopes and clothespins, this is what we came up with:

Got this great idea here. Everyday, the kids open an envelope and read our activity for the day. Today, for December 1, the card reads “Check your stocking for a surprise!”

Here are more ideas for you from It’s Written on the Wall!

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!