Amen!

It’s encouraging to know that the world is beginning to understand just how beneficial home schooling is. This article in Newsweek,Why Urban, Educated Parents Are Turning to DIY Education, featured on thedailybeast.com, positively explains why parents are now more open to a “DIY Education” for their children. It does not contain religious or moral reasons, which are more often credited as reasons of stereotypical Christian families who have chosen to homeschool. And while I still believe that ultimately this is the highest motivation a parent should have for educating their children on their own, this article made me smile. It’s one thing to try and convince people that homeschool ought to be a first option for a family, but I couldn’t do a better job than Newsweek to present a pretty convincing case in favor of it. Author, Linda Perlstein, a mom herself, favored the way that children are allowed to be children, parents are prioritizing family, children do excel academically, and that opportunities abound for home educated kids. She had little to say about the cons of homeschooling.

How refreshing to know that parents are thoughtfully considering how the mass-market approach to education for their children is no longer the only recourse. Even though I still herald homeschooling as a matter of obedience to God’s mandate in Deuteronomy 6:4-7 and this is my moral conviction, I read this article with the lenses of someone who might not share my same perspective, and I was convinced that it truly is a better education. Amen to Newsweek for making homeschooling look so attractive!

 

Active Fun in Global City

My kids don’t ever get tired of Active Fun. There is a new branch which opened in Bonifacio Global City last November 2011 that is just walking distance from where we live. I took the kids to it on Monday with my sister-in-law, Denise, and her kids. Elijah, my eldest, was assigned to watch his younger brothers. Because I didn’t have a yaya with me, I stayed with my one year old, Tiana, and brought her all around the indoor playground. I had to maneuver inside tunnels, jump on the trampoline, climb up to the highest point just to slide down, rescue her out of the plastic ball pen, lift her, push her and pull her in, out, up, down, and through obstacles. Whew. It was tiring! But seeing the delight on my kids faces made all the exercise worth it!

Here is a tip if you plan to take your kids to Active Fun. Bring your own water bottle! The last time I had to pay P80 for a medium sized bottle of water. I didn’t want to but I found out that my eldest son, Elijah, had already ordered and drank the water. He took the initiative to approach the vendors without any money and say, “My mom will pay.” Nice one, son. It hurt my wallet, but I was proud of him for being resourceful enough to fend for himself. :)

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The Wooden Plane of Love

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Lately, Titus, my three year old has been trying to get my attention in a variety of ways. “Mom, look at this!” “Mom, look at what I made!” “Mom, I made this for you!” Or, he will just boink me with his head for no reason except to let me know that he is around. Sometimes, he actually head butts me pretty hard on the stomach or leg. But I know what he is trying to do. It’s his way of saying “pay attention to me.”

Sometimes, I feel that Titus gets the scraps of my time. Unlike his older brothers, who monopolize my morning schedule because I teach them, Titus preoccupies himself with open-ended play. We have some activities that we do together, but since he is just three, I don’t force him to do too much formal learning. So we don’t interact as much as I would like to. It seems that he is beginning to notice the disparity in the amount of attention I give to him versus his other siblings. And I don’t want him to ever think that he is less important.

His actions of late have gotten me thinking about how I need to connect with him emotionally, everyday. I want all of my kids to know that they are individually loved. No favorites. No one more special than the other.

So, a couple days ago, Titus and I had a morning to ourselves. I helped him paint a wooden plane we had made together with yellow, red and blue paint. We were uninterrupted while my older boys were out with Edric and my daughter was napping. He was the happiest boy. Afterwards, he paraded his plane for his brothers to see and was very proud of it. It was our wooden plane of love!

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I may not be able to give this kind of time to each of my kids every single day, but I am learning that small deposits in their emotional bank accounts are just as important as big ones. I need to at least tank up on random hugs, kisses, and I love yous. Sometimes all they need is fifteen minutes of reading a book or two, a walk to the nearest 7/11, or a spontaneous, “I appreciate you so much! I am so blessed to be your mom.”

Ark Avilon Again

Every Friday is playgroup day! This means we get together with other homeschool families so our kids can socialize with one another, moms and dads can talk, and we can all take learning out of the home. The kids and I have been to Ark Avilon in Tiendesitas several times but the kids always love it. It’s an interactive mini-zoo where the kids get to hold the animals and feed them, too. A highlight is feeding the Arapaimas with raw chicken heads. The boys always love this part of the experience.

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ZOO SCHEDULE
Weekdays – 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Weekends and Holidays – 10:00 am to 7:30 pm

ENTRANCE FEES
Php300.00/Adult
Php200.00/Children less than 3.5 feet
FREE/Children younger than a year old

20% Discount on Senior Citizen Card Holders

Contact Details

Avilon Zoo
Bo. San Isidro, Rodriguez, (Montalban) Rizal, Philippines
(632) 948-9866, (632) 941-8393, (632) 941-8530
teenagaw@avilonzoo.com.ph

Ark Avilon
Frontera Verde, Ortigas Avenue Corner C-5, Pasig City, Philippines
(632) 706-2992, (632) 706-2483, (632)706-2993
arkavilon@yahoo.com.ph

Sticks and stones…

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“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” WRONG. Words do hurt! I hurt one of my sons yesterday when I judged him.

My two older boys were at their dad’s office on Thursday. I assigned them to finish a couple of pages for math and language. But when I checked my five year old’s work the next day, it looked like he didn’t do the language work I asked him to. (But it was I who forgot what I assigned to him.)

Thinking that he had not done it, I said with a disappointed and accusatory tone, “Why didn’t you do your work?”

“I did, mom.” he replied.

“I don’t think so, it doesn’t look like it. You must have done something else.”

He tried to defend himself again, but I kind of dismissed it and said something like, “It’s fine, just do these pages,” pointing to some spelling and writing exercises. My older son, who had heard our dialogue, commented, “Mom, he did his work. I saw him.”

I turned back to pay attention to my five year old who was hunched over his book. He was writing something on the top page of his spelling list that read, “Mommy did not b…”

“What are you writing?” I asked him, looking over his shoulder. And then I figured it out…MOMMY DID NOT BELEVE ME.

He looked up at me and burst into tears! I was not expecting that. Uh oh, I thought, I messed up. I have to fix this.

“Did you get hurt by what I said?” He nodded with tears coming down his cheeks. I hugged him and asked for his forgiveness. “I am sorry, hon. I should have believed you.”

When we got to talk more about it he explained to me that he wanted me to believe him and when I didn’t, he felt very hurt. He thought I didn’t trust him and that was a big deal to him.

Later on in the day, I called him into my room, propped him up on my bed and said, “I just want you to know that I love you so much! I am sorry for hurting your feelings this morning.” And I gave him a big kiss and hug. He left the room smiling and our relationship was restored.

I learned a good lesson as a mom. Words can easily wound my children. I need to be careful about the negative messages I convey when I talk to my kids. They are sensitive. My trust and approval is precious to them.

My children may still be young but I can imagine that years from now, my trust will still matter to them. When I was a young adult in college going out with friends, my parents were not controlling and overly protective. They would often tell me things like, “We trust you.” Sure, I had a curfew but they did not spy on me, complain about my friends, or meddle in my social life. They didn’t even stay up to wait for me at night.

Knowing that I was a steward of this trust made a big difference. I didn’t want to abuse it. It made me feel more responsible. In fact, when I tried drinking and experimented with it, I was open with them. I told them about it and didn’t want to hide what I was doing. When I struggled with purity in my relationships, I also shared what was going on with them. (It took me a while with this one because I was embarrassed.)

My parents did not freak out or go ballistic. They did not lock me up in a tower. Instead, they reminded me that I am accountable to God. They walked along side me, prayed for me and mentored me, not treating me like a child, but giving the Lord room to work in my heart. And he did. Eventually, I asked myself, what am I doing? Is my life really pleasing to God?

If I could have replayed the scenario over with my five year old, I would have said, “If you say that you did your work, I believe you. I trust you. I know that you will speak the truth.” And if he happened to be lying, then I would let God be the one to convict his heart.

We are not all-knowing as parents, but God is. He knows the secrets that lie in the hearts of our children. He can stir their hearts when they are going astray. And we can trust that he is committed to bring them to maturity. Our part is to raise our children to love God and know him, and to pray earnestly for them. He promises to complete the work.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NASB)

The Three “M’s”

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“Someday, I want to be a bird trainer!”

From being 100% sure that he was going to be an artist, Edan came up to me a few weeks ago and said he wanted to be a bird trainer. Ah, the fickleness of a young mind. I replied, “If you do your best to learn everything you can when you are young, you will be able to choose what you want to be. And you should be whatever God wants you to be.” This was my reply to his statement.

After all, it is not for me to dictate what he will be in the future. But it is my duty, as it is Edric’s, to prepare him and our three other kids for the future God will call them to.

Tonight, when I asked Edan if he still wanted to be a bird trainer, he said, “Not anymore…I want to be an artist.”

Who knows what he will say a month from now? He may change his mind next week, next month, and even many years forward. But that’s okay.

Artist, entrepreneur, pastor, doctor, lawyer, politician, missionary, architect, professional athlete, teacher, performer? I just want him and all my other kids to get three decisions right and in this order…MASTER, MISSION, MATE.

My dad used to tell us, “These are the three most important decisions you will ever make.” They will impact everything you do and everything you are.

Whom will your MASTER be?
What will your MISSION be?
Whom will your MATE or life-partner be?

Many times we jumble up the order or invert it. Or we make the first “M” self, money, possessions, fame, or other people. Once we get the first “M” wrong, we mess up the other two.

While my kids are young, Edric and I can’t predict what they will become. But we can help them solve the first and most important “M.”

Will their master be God? Will it be their selves, or the world?

If God is exalted in their lives, and their lives are in subjection to him, then it only makes sense that they will ask him what their mission ought to be. “God, what do you want my MISSION to be? What do you want me to be and do?

And after they answer that, they can answer, “What person or MATE will help me best fulfill that mission?

As parents, we are often preoccupied with providing a good monetary future for our children, the best education we can afford, opportunities for them to excel and develop their giftedness. We imagine that they will pursue a career, profession or business that will provide well for their needs. We want them to marry the right person, someone we approve of, that meets our “standards.” But our primary job is not to help our children solve question number 2 or 3 before question number 1. Let our children first know whom they will live for and then they will know how to live and love.

“What comes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” — The Knowledge of the Holy — A.W. Tozer

What to Do When It Gets Ugly

There comes a stage or age in every child’s life when they will use whining and fussiness to get their way. After having four children, I have come to realize that no matter how cute they are as little babies, they eventually exhibit their self-centered perspective and it gets ugly. This perspective makes them believe that everything and everyone must cater to their whims and demands. Some are less vocal and demonstrative, or may not show it till later, but be sure that they will definitely act like the world revolves around them – their feelings, their wants and desires. It is at this point of exhibition that parents must cooperatively decide to make a stand against their child’s will, for their greater good.

I’ve had three boys go through this ugly period sometime between 10 months to 3 years. Each one responded to our correction, training, and discipline differently. And each one had their own way of expressing self-centeredness. They would do things like sit on the floor and get angry, sulk their way around the house, whine and cry, run to their yaya or nanny, or use force to get their way. Edric and I knew that these behaviors were not acceptable, but more so the mindset behind them. If we allowed any one of our children to remain this way, it would be to their own detriment. So we did our best to train them and weed out the ugly.

Here are some ideas that were beneficially applied in our household that I hope might help you, too:

1. Be clear about the “no fussing” rule. When a child doesn’t get his way and starts to whine, sulk, pout, cry, yell, or get physical, take him aside (carry him, if necessary, to a place where you can talk to him privately), look him square in the eye (go to their eye-level) and say in a calm but stern voice, “You are being fussy. Fussiness is not allowed in our family. You cannot act that way. If you do that again, I will spank you. You need to obey.”

As miraculous as it may seem, children are able to control their emotions, especially the wrong ones. I’ve seen my kids go from crying and wailing to absolute silence when they know they are in trouble. One of the keys is to make sure that children understand that there is a rule about having a bad attitude.

John Rosemond, America’s most widely read parenting expert, says, “The fewer words a parent uses when giving instructions or conveying expectations, the more likely it is that the child will obey.” He calls it the “Alpha Speech,” explaining that “the fewer words a parent uses, the more authoritative the parent sounds. The fewer words a parent uses, the more clear the instruction.”[1]

Alot of times, when we are instructing our children, we add “Okay” at the end of our sentence. “I want you to obey, okay?” This gives our children the impression that they have the option not to. I’m guilty of this at times. But as much as possible, Edric and I make it very clear to our children that obedience is imperative.

2. If you have explained your rule about no fussing and your child does it again, follow through with disciplinary action. Don’t say, “Okay, if you do it again, I really will spank you.” But remember to spank with the following guidelines:

  • You have a good relationship with your child, you’ve spent alot of quality time with him so that his emotional tank is full and he feels confidently loved by you.
  • Both you and your spouse are like-minded about spanking. There is no “good cop, bad cop” dynamic going on with your kids.   
  • You explained the rule clearly to begin with. Your child acknowledged you when you were explaining the boundary to him.
  • You will not spank in anger or irritation.
  • You will take him to a private place (We use the toilet or study room) so that he is not humiliated in public.
  • You explain what he did wrong and let him recognize what he did wrong.
  • You will use a flat wooden rod or belt that will not break the skin.
  • You give one to two significantly hard and painful swats on the rear end and not other parts of the body where you could break bones or cut skin. (We usually give one very hard one unless they fight back and we increase the number if they do.) If it is not painful, it will not be an effective consequence.
  • You hug him immediately after and tell him that you love him, that you only spank him when he disobeys because you are teaching him to obey.
  • You give him the opportunity to say sorry for what he did.
  • You repeat the rule again looking at him in the eye.
  • Your spouse reinforces the same rule as consistently as you do.

I need to add that we spank our children for only a few important things, mostly connected to disobedience and disrespect. For example, with Elijah, our eldest who is turning 9, we can count the number of times he was spanked on two hands.  By the age of 6 he didn’t really need spankings anymore. We use other forms of discipline, like withdrawal of privileges or natural logical consequences. Our second son, Edan, who is almost 6 had his share of spankings but seldom receives them now. Our third son, Titus, was spanked the most number of times and still gets spanked from time to time, but because he has learned to obey, spankings are also rare for him. The point is that Edric and I don’t carry a spanking rod around with us everywhere we go or have to use it all the time. But, we have very clear rules that we teach our children to obey and if they break them, they are disciplined for doing so.

Some people argue that spanking is abusive. It can be when it is for punishment purposes only, if it is done in anger, if rules are unclear, if a parent does not have a loving relationship with their child, if it is done in public to humiliate the child, or if it is done too often and randomly.  We avoid all of the above.

3. Everyone in the house must reinforce the rule and support it. Tell your househelp to report to you when your child does not obey the rule. They are not allowed to spank your children, but they can inform you when your child does not listen to them or acts up. This prevents your househelp from feeling helpless and frustrated. And it prevents children from manipulating them. Believe me, children will try to get their way with anyone who they perceive to be a weak link! This is why it is very important to be in agreement with your spouse — that both of you will have a consistent stand about rules in the home.

4. Have a loving relationship with your child, but don’t be too “buddy-buddy” with him. There is a difference between developing a close relationship with your child and relating to them like a friend. The friend to friend relationship will naturally happen if you have good communication with your children. However, when they are still young, they must see you as their authority. A loving, authoritative parent gives their children a sense of security. I like how one of my friends put it. “When you give limits to your child, it’s like putting your arms around them and embracing them.”

My parents were strict when my siblings and I were growing up. They were not unreasonable or exasperatingly strict, but they made us very cognizant about our boundaries. We knew what lines not to cross in terms of obedience and respect. Because of this we had a healthy fear of them. And since they were always affirming about how much they loved us in word and actions, we had no doubt that they made rules and enforced them for our ultimate good.

5. Don’t be overprotective of your kids emotions, especially the boys! This used to be an issue between Edric and I because I always wanted to baby the boys when they would get hurt. If they fell down, I wanted to run to them, pick them up and console them. Edric would tell me, “Don’t pick them up. Let them get up themselves and don’t pay too much attention to them.”  I didn’t agree with this at first, but it turned out to be great advice! Of course we would only do this if it wasn’t a MAJOR injury. Edric was right. The boys learned not to make a big deal about scrapes and cuts, which somehow toughened them up emotionally, too.

How does this relate to being fussy? Sometimes, we “massage” the emotions of our children too much and too often. We are sensitive to every cry and feeling they have, putting their emotions on some kind of pedestal. But, we forget to teach them emotional fortitude. They need to learn to master their emotions and respond to them appropriately versus becoming a slave to them.

6. Watch your child’s attitude and behaviour closely. I’m not talking about being a “helicopter parent” that hovers protectively over her children or micromanages everything they do. I’m talking about addressing heart issues immediately and not letting them fester or grow destructively. Fussiness in our home is a heart issue because it reeks of self-centeredness and pride, which is the root of sin. When a child’s fussiness, ill-temper, bad attitude, or poutiness is tolerated we allow him to develop these mentalities:  “I am more important than everyone else” or “I want what I want now!” or “I can act the way I want to even if it hurts others” or “Nobody can make me do what I don’t want to do” and so on…

7. Balance discipline with character instruction. How can we expect our children to mature spiritually and emotionally if we don’t prioritize the teaching of character in our homes? We cannot keep working on removing wrong attitudes and behaviour without pointing them in the right direction. When it comes to fussiness, we teach our children what it means to wait and to have the right attitude while doing so.  We would often tell them, “Change your attitude” or “Have a good attitude.”

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18

When our second son was 2 years old, my mom caught him chanting, “Good attitude” to himself when he was about to get upset about something. She also saw him change his frown into a smile when he said it. He used to be quite negative and moody but training him made a big difference. We have told our boys that when we say, “Change your attitude,” it means they need to turn their frown or pout into a smile. Have you ever tried smiling when you are angry or upset? It does wonders to change your mood!

8. Do not give in to your child’s demands until they stop having a bad attitude. I’ve seen my mom do this with all her grandchildren. If they whine about something, she will tell them, “Stop whining first.” Or, “Wait and I will give it to you later.”  This is a good option if spanking seems to be too harsh a consequence for fussiness (it may depend on the situation and circumstance).

9. Don’t give up. Don’t resign. Don’t abdicate. Just because your child seems difficult to train and you are getting tired of repeating and reinforcing the same set of instructions, don’t worry…God rewards faithfulness. I love this verse for parenting: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:9

10. Tell them about Jesus as soon as possible, so he can transform them from the inside-out. When I encountered the “force” of Titus, my third son, I was very discouraged. He was so strong-willed and stubborn, and I was mistakenly reactive with my impatience.  It seemed so hard to train him that I wanted to pass it on to Edric and let him be the only disciplinarian. And after dealing with two sons, I felt like slacking off with Titus. However, God reminded both Edric and I that the problem was a heart issue. We needed to share the gospel to Titus.

At 3 years old, Edric shared the gospel to him and he accepted Jesus into his heart and trusted in him as his Lord and Savior. After this, Titus changed in an amazing way. We did our part to instruct him and discipline him but it was really the Lord that made him a new person.

My mom recently told me how apparent the change was in Titus. She told me that one day she told Titus he couldn’t have something and she was pleasantly surprised by his response.  Expecting a negative reaction (which she had encountered many times before), he said instead, “Okay, grandma!” and smiled at her. I explained to her that it was the Lord’s doing and not mine or Edric’s!

As a homeschooling mom, 90% of the challenge is character training for my young children. It’s not the academics. God has given my children sound minds, but when they are not spirit-filled, getting them to learn is like pushing a big rock up a hill.In fact, getting them to do anything is like pushing a big rock up a hill! So a majority of what Edric and I focus on is instruction of the heart.

If you are a normal parent like me and get frustrated or discouraged when parenting gets tough, connect them to the Lord and let God get a hold of their hearts. God is in the business of changing lives by changing hearts. What may seem like an impossible two-year old to us is easy for God!

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

 



[1] John Rosemond, The Well-Behaved Child, Discipline that Really Works. (Thomas Nelson: Nashville, Tenessee, 2009), pg. 24 – 25.

Freeze!

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Over and over again I find that instilling obedience is important not just for my children’s future blessing but for their present safety and survival.

Edric and I took the kids biking yesterday afternoon. We reminded the boys that they needed to stop at every intersection, even if the pedestrian crossing light was green. I would see the boys go off on their own, but I didn’t feel nervous because they did as we had told them. They would bike to an intersection and wait for us to catch up to them so we could all walk across together. In contrast, there was little Tiana, who was walking beside me and would wander off at random moments. She had to be watched constantly.

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Two polar experiences were demonstrated by the boys and Tiana. I felt relaxed and at peace as the boys biked around, knowing that they would heed our guidelines. However, I was tense when Tiana would run off towards the edge of a sidewalk or towards the end of the street. Why? At any moment, Edric or I could call out “FREEZE!” to the boys and they would stop immediately. Tiana’s response, however, would be completely different. If we told her to stop, she would keep going. As a one year old, she has yet to internalize obedience.

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Our children may not realize that one of the blessings of obedience is their protection. Obedience has saved their lives many times! Ephesians 6:1 – 3 is indeed true when it 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 BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.”

I think of how God has set principles for us to follow, and if we don’t recognize how much he loves us, we see these guidelines as obstacles — rules that stand in the way of what we want for ourselves. But his desire is always for our greater good. When I became a parent I better understood this about the heart of God.

Obedience is the first frontier that parents need to conquer to make parenting easier. We started teaching our boys obedience as toddlers and now, it’s Tiana’s turn. In fact, she received her first spanking yesterday evening — one memorable swat on her buttocks for disobedience. Edric teared up when he gave it but it was necessary. He had told Tiana, “Do not open the bottle of cologne. Obey.”

Prior to this he had spent the week explaining the word obey to her. Both of us noticed that she was beginning to show signs of defiance and rebellion. But we wanted to make sure that she understood the word obey. After numerous dialogues and situational illustrations where we would tell her things like, “Tiana, you don’t do that. You obey,” we knew that her days of getting away with cuteness were numbered.

She was not supposed to open the cologne bottle because she was putting it to her mouth. So when Edric told her not to open it, she responded with “okay.” For a few moments, she did obey, but then she snuck off to a corner to open the bottle, looking at Edric while she did so. He picked her up, brought her to the bathroom and said, “Tiana, you did not obey. Daddy told you not to open the bottle, but you did. Daddy has to spank you.” Tiana knew she was in trouble and started to cry.

The Bible tells us, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” (Hebrews 12:11 NASB)

After spanking Tiana, Edric hugged her and reassured her that he loved her. Then, he carried her back to me. I held her tightly and said, “Daddy spanked you because you did not…” She finished the sentence on her own with the word, “Obey.”

It’s not easy to train an 18 month old child to obey. But with consistency in the implementation of rules and follow through of consequences for disobedience, I’m trusting that like our boys, Tiana will one day get it. After all, God promises that the fruit of discipline is the peaceful fruit of righteousness. And Edric and I certainly want that peace for all our children!

 

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OCCUPATION: Housewife?

87% of women in India are stressed out. Next is Mexico and then Russia. According to Time.com, the source of their stress is money and time. They worry about money and not having enough time to rest and relax. The report goes on to say that since these are emerging economies, women shoulder the burden of working and managing the children and home — they have to juggle both career and “traditional” roles. This story was published late last year. [1]

Hmm…I don’t disagree that both men and women can share roles at home. The reality is that not all families can afford a single-income household. In fact, in the U.S., statistics from “Women and the Economy 2010: 25 Years of Progress But Challenges Remain” (A Report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee) dated August 2010 showed that 66% of homes were dual income households for families with children under the age of 18.[2]

I understand how the American lifestyle (of no household help like we have here) would necessitate participation of both husband and wife to run a household. When I was in the U.S. visiting my sister, Candy, I saw how she shared housework and parenting responsibilities with Jeff, her husband. They had a good system going. But honestly, it made me ever so thankful for the conveniences we do enjoy in the Philippines!

And while I am not against women having careers and pursuing their passions, I do feel sad that it has taken many women out of the home. Boy, would Betty Friedan NOT like me. When she wrote, The Feminine Mystique and got it published back in February 19, 1963, she challenged the traditional roles of marriage, motherhood, and homemaking (everything that I enjoy doing and being). In chapter one of her book, she wrote, “We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: ‘I want something more than my husband and my children and my home’.” [3]

Friedan sparked the beginning of second-wave feminism in the United States which programmed women to believe that getting married, child-bearing, and being a homemaker were deterrents to true fulfilment. In her opinion, these definitions of “femininity” left women confused, dissatisfied and unhappy with their identity.

She wrote…“For over fifteen years there was no word of this yearning in the millions of words written about women, for women, in all the columns, books and articles by experts telling women their role was to seek fulfillment as wives and mothers. Over and over women heard in voices of tradition and of Freudian sophistication that they could desire–no greater destiny than to glory in their own femininity. Experts told them how to catch a man and keep him, how to breastfeed children and handle their toilet training, how to cope with sibling rivalry and adolescent rebellion; how to buy a dishwasher, bake bread, cook gourmet snails, and build a swimming pool with their own hands; how to dress, look, and act more feminine and make marriage more exciting; how to keep their husbands from dying young and their sons from growing into delinquents. They were taught to pity the neurotic, unfeminine, unhappy women who wanted to be poets or physicists or presidents. They learned that truly feminine women do not want careers, higher education, political rights–the independence and the opportunities that the old-fashioned feminists fought for. Some women, in their forties and fifties, still remembered painfully giving up those dreams, but most of the younger women no longer even thought about them. A thousand expert voices applauded their femininity, their adjustment, their new maturity. All they had to do was devote their lives from earliest girlhood to finding a husband and bearing children.”[4]

The last chapter of The Feminine Mystique makes these claims: “education as the ultimate method by which American women can avoid becoming trapped in the feminine mystique; it calls for a drastic rethinking of what it means to be feminine; and offers several educational and occupational suggestions.”[5]

I will give credit to Friedan for one realization that is absolutely correct. We cannot get true fulfillment from our marriage or relationships, children, homemaking or even our physical bodies. But, neither can we get it from any preoccupation we might have, whether it be educational attainment, career or profession.

The liberty to pursue personal happiness and freedom outside the seemingly constraining roles imposed by traditional thinking and society did not make women any happier. Nearly 40 years later and women are still seeking fulfillment in every place possible. Education, career, occupation has not been the answer. Sure, it has given women more spending power and decision-making power to effect change and progress, but it has not answered the greater need that we all have.

“Millions of Americans think progress requires women’s liberation—from men, from children, from society’s constructs, from just about anything that makes women feel morally obligated to someone or something other than themselves. The saddest part of this misguided view of human nature is that it hasn’t made women any happier. In fact, it has done just the opposite. According to a 2007 report from the National Bureau of Economic Research, “As women have gained more freedom, more education, and more power, they have become less happy.””[6]

This may sound like a sweeping statement and it was, for the most part, a U.S. statistic back in 2007. But, I think about the women I know today…Truthfully, I have yet to meet a successful career-oriented woman who does not live with an amount of dissatisfaction for her state in life. Either she wants to have more time for herself, her marriage, or her children. Or she wants to be married, settle down and have children. And some want to find another husband or relationship. Others just drown out the restlessness or discontent with materialism, hobbies, or vices. Those who recognize themselves to be spiritual beings, look for spiritual solutions. Some actually find the right answer.

I very much like the quote of Augustine, which explains why we continue to be wanting as women. “Thou has formed us for thyself and our hearts are restless till they find rest in thee.”

When I heard this shared by the pastor last Sunday it compelled me to rethink my ambitions, preoccupations, and desires. I am very much like the women that Friedan felt sorry for – the women who celebrate their role as wife, mother, and homemaker. Contrary to Friedan’s research back in the 60’s, I really do find a great amount of satisfaction in fulfilling these roles. My mistake, however, is that I have proudly thought that I was somehow more noble than others for getting my priorities “right.” In my mind, I was thinking, “I know what’s most important in life.” WOW. How totally self-righteous and self-centered of me! I was giving womanhood a definition based on my own finite understanding.

I got my rebuke yesterday, when, sitting on a bench in the American Cemetery to pray, God reminded me that the greatest priority is not to be this “Christian” ideal of wife, mother and homemaker. Rather it is to seek him first above all things. Everything else ought to be an outflow of seeking him.

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Colossians 1:16 tells us that “…all things were created through him and FOR HIM.” We were made for God. As Blaise Pascal put it, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

The problem is not that we pursue many things. The problem is we keep thinking that true happiness is just around the corner, one pursuit away from another, or perhaps that we have lost it by our own doing, or another’s, or even due to circumstance. True happiness, however, is to know God. It is the pleasure of God himself and not all the replacements we settle for.

C.S. Lewis got it right when he said, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”[7]

In other words…we settle for the good, when God offers us the best – himself!

This past week, I’ve really tried to meditate on what this all means to me as a wife, mom, homemaker, homeschooler…as a woman living in the 21st century. I can continue to subject myself to all sorts of definitions of what it means to be a woman, what it means to be truly feminine. After all, historically speaking, people have tried to define and redefine what it means to be a woman, to help us find greater fulfilment, meaning, and identity. They have all been well-meaning (and they accomplished some important things – the right to vote, better education, job opportunities, higher compensation for women, and the like). But historically speaking, once again, we have seen that trends of thought and progress lead to the same conclusion. We will always be wanting and never truly satisfied.

While we may think that we have progressed far beyond the capacities and opportunities that women had before, twenty years from now, women will still be looking for love, recognition, appreciation, life partners, worth, and fighting personal insecurities.

What then, is the answer?

Psalm 34:10 says it perfectly. “They who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.” Have we really taken God up on his offer?

Here’s a thought for well-meaning feminists and all the “independent” women out there…A truly feminine woman does not base her self-worth or identity on marriage, child-rearing, homemaking, career, external form and appearance, education, wealth or accomplishments. Her source of joy and peace is not dependent on people or circumstances; neither is her security a result of what she has or does. A truly feminine woman recognizes that she was designed by God and for the purposes of God – to be purely loved and unconditionally accepted by Him – not having to strive to prove her worth or fret about the future, but to rest in the knowledge that all her longings and desires find their complete satisfaction in seeking God and living to please him. Everything else is a bonus!

 

 

 

2011 Memorial Stones

He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ “For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”(Joshua 4:21-24 NASB)

Reading this passage in Joshua made me think of my own memorial stones for 2011.They may not be as dramatic as walking on dry land across the Jordan river, but I want to praise God for his faithfulness this past year.

Sometimes I forget to thank him for even the small miracles and circumstances. And it is the little things that remind me that God is a personal God, mindful of his children and intimately involved in their lives.

Memorial Stone # 1: God’s faithfulness in my marriage

Edric and I celebrated 10 years of marriage on July 22, 2011. I cannot thank the Lord enough for Edric, who is a godly, loving and committed husband and father. If I had to marry all over again, I would still want to share this life with him. When I found out that my good friend from college lost her husband just three weeks ago, it made me greater appreciate the fact that I still have Edric to grow old with and enjoy every day. We’ve been through highs and lows but as we continue to put God in the center of our marriage, he renews our love for one another each year.

One of the highlights for us was our 10-year anniversary “honeymoon” trip to the United States where we visited family, friends and attended the HSLDA conference. It was a nice three weeks off from parenting to re-kindle couple-hood!

Memorial Stone # 2: God’s faithfulness in the lives of my children

Eight year old Elijah started Taekwondo and violin and picked these up quite easily. He continued to indulge in his origami hobby and now labels himself as “intermediate-expert.” He also read almost everything with print on it and pretty much educated himself this way, which made it easier for me to homeschool him as a 2nd and 3rd grader. When we did some major cleaning during the last quarter of the year, he found the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and read all of them in just two weeks. (It took me six months to read them aloud to him when he was younger!)

Edan, my 5 year old, made great strides in his reading. By December, we were reading through a third children’s bible together. He did most of the reading and it was a joy to see him take on words that used to be foreign code to him.

Every time my kids hit that point where they can decode the English language is momentous for my homeschooling. It is God’s way of reminding me that parents can certainly equip their children to learn if they are committed and faithful to the task.

Edan also grew spiritually. He became even more prayerful, taking the initiative to talk to God about his every day  concerns. It was a delight to hear him make statements like, “I prayed for that!” or “God answered my prayer!”

Art continues to be one of his favorite past times and he excels at it.

One of the moments I was most grateful for was when 3 year old Titus accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior! His heart changed and I saw what a difference the Holy Spirit made in his life as he became more obedient and easier to teach.

This is truly the first order of business when it comes to parenting and homeschooling– connecting our children to Jesus Christ and letting Him transform them from the inside out.

His language development also surprised us all. From barely saying complete sentences at the beginning of the year, he learned to articulate his thoughts well.

Titus’ development is testament to the fact that all children bloom in time, that each stage of their process is to be treasured and enjoyed no matter how difficult it may seem. And while we must love our children equally, they must be parented individually with consideration for their strengths, bents, and areas of weakness. It is our responsibility to train our children until they get it. Specifically, I mean that they should get obedience and respect, the foundation upon which we should build all other instruction. I must admit that when Titus used to have attitude issues, I would sometimes lose my patience, but God taught me to focus on what is most important — the heart. After all, behavior follows the heart. It is futile to modify behavior without modifying the heart.

My daughter, Tiana, was weaned at 15 months, an emotional cessation for me, but it helped me to have a more predictable schedule. She also learned to walk and talk. Of course, she still has Edric wrapped around her little finger. (But, both of us have agreed that her charm will not exempt her from discipline when necessary!)

Edric was the first person she ever said “I love you” to (something he will continue to brag about.) Everyday, she delights us with her attempts to converse and describe her experiences. Our househelps are also teaching her some Filipino words – things like, “Bakit? Kasi…Ay Naku!”

Tiana may only be 18 months old, but she occupies a whole lot of space in our home. Having a little girl was a special change for everyone. Her brothers naturally developed a protective nature toward her. They learned to be accommodating and sensitive to her femininity. As a mother, it was sobering to realize that I was her reference for womanhood, and that I needed to watch my example more closely.

I think that both Edric and I began to pay more attention to how different boys and girls are, and how integral it is to have a father to mentor sons and a mother to mentor daughters.

Memorial Stone # 3: God’s faithfulness in my homeschooling

Our homeschooling journey continues as I spend most of my days teaching the kids and training them “in the way they should go.” Edric handles the weekly character lessons and family devotions which are so important to our children. It is still a challenge juggling time between four children, but I would not trade the amount of time I have with the kids for anything. God has given me the opportunity to be present during the most important years of their lives. Thankfully, God is also providing enough for our needs to make it possible for me to be at home.

Memorial Stone # 4: God’s faithfulness in his provisions for our family

Edric has got his hands full managing TMA Homeschool and handling our distributorship business. God’s provisions are always more than enough as he supplies our needs through Edric’s business ventures, speaking workshops, or sometimes, crazy things like renewing our ad contract for Revicon Max (a vitamin brand for men). This year they asked us to be their endorsers again, which was a nice surprise. We did it because the movers behind the brand created an advocacy for marriage. They wanted husbands to step up and be more loving towards their wives. I praise God that Edric really is a loving husband so there is no hypocrisy when he represents the brand.

Memorial Stone # 5: God’s faithfulness in my personal interests

When I began blogging back in February of this past year, I was thrilled. I always hoped that God would allow me to write and minister to people in this way. Blogging has made it possible to reach family, friends, and make new friends all around the world as I share life lessons, and the daily adventures (and misadventures) of parenting and homeschooling. The best thing about writing is that it fits into my full time job of homemaking and homeschooling!

Memorial Stone # 6: God’s faithfulness in ministry 

This year was difficult for me, from a ministry perspective. For a time, I was discouraged about ministry and wanted to exit. But God reminded me that I am utterly dependent on him to change the hearts of people. Only God can fix broken people. And we are all broken and need fixing!

One thing that did help alot was making a commitment to avoid speaking engagements during the second half of the year. It was probably one of the best decisions I made in favor of prioritizing my husband, kids and discipleship group (a group of ladies whom I disciple and love dearly).

My dad, whom I admire very much for his time-management skills, once told me, “I say no to things so I can say yes to what’s important.” That made a lot of sense to me. Instead of feeling guilty about turning down ministry opportunities, I was reminded that my family is my first ministry. Others can speak and teach, but only I can be a wife to Edric and mother to my kids. No one can seek God for me, I need to do this on my own. These things are my 5%. This concept is something I learned from speaker, Wayne Cordeiro. “95% of what you do can be done by somebody else, but only you can do your 5%.”

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I want to thank you for being a part of my life and my family’s by reading this blog, for enduring the lengthier entries in the hopes of finding something that can be of worth to you. I want to thank you for your feedback and encouragement. You are a blessing and I appreciate you.

When I grow tired of writing, I think of my motivation for doing this. At the end of the day, my prayer is that God will show you, through my failures and victories as a wife, mother, and homeschooler, that there is no more abundant life than the one he gives to those who follow him. You have come to know my many flaws and some of my more redeeming qualities (by God’s grace!), but I would be most pleased if my writing revealed me to be a woman who loves God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. This, by far, is the highest pursuit of my life. I want to remain faithful to this pursuit in 2012. As always, I am dependent on God’s faithfulness to help me do this.

May you have a New Year that abounds with God’s favor. And as you make it your highest pursuit to know and love God, may you discover the unending joys of parenting and homeschooling!

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first HIS kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added unto you”

I Am Not Cleaning Your Mess

As my boys began to grow bigger and their capacity to make a mess increased, I decided to have a strategy for cleaning up their toys. I was not going to do it and neither was the househelp. My kids would learn to be responsible for their own chaos.

It’s really quite a simple technique but it works. When they take out a toy or toys, they must put everything back. Wow! It is not rocket science, is it? Everybody does this, right? But surprisingly, most kids in the Philippines don’t clean up after themselves. They have an entourage of people who do. But, we can’t raise our children to be so handicapped by the privileges of househelp. Our children need to take responsibility for putting away their things, plain and simple. They also need to mop their spills, remedy their destructions, and learn to do things like bring their empty plates and cups to the kitchen.

The last thing I want to instill in my children is this notion that other people are responsible for their mess. Househelp is a privilege, not something meant to cripple our children and rob them of the opportunity to be helpful and contribute around the home.

When my boys play with their toys I don’t let them do anything else til they clean up. If they want to go with me somewhere but their room looks like an explosion, they all have to help. No matter who made the mess, they hold each other accountable so I don’t have to nag them. This encourages them to help one another and push each other to do their part. So far, this works.

For example, the other day when the kids wanted to go with me to the grocery, but their room was a mess, I told them they had to put everything back into their drawers. They teamed up to do this and after about fifteen minutes, everything was put away and we were on our way to the grocery. It was a peaceful and pleasant transition from messy room to clean room to the grocery.

When we are in other people’s homes, it is a little more challenging to remind them to pack away, but as much as possible we don’t let them leave a house without putting away the toys they played with. We have had guests over (who will remain unnamed because I love them no matter what), whose children have come in and out of our house like a tornado. And I don’t want my kids to be like that in other people’s houses. So we teach our kids to respect others and their belongings, and practice the principle, “do unto others as you would have them do to you.”

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They still need a lot of training and micro managing yet slowly but surely picking up after themselves is becoming a habit. Hopefully, for the sake of their future wives and families, they will internalize the discipline of putting away their belongings.

Lamination Delights

I bought myself a laminator for my birthday. It was my little treat to myself — something I always wanted.

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This probably sounds silly but as a homeschool mom these are the kinds of things that excite you! I wanted to get one to help me with crafts, manipulatives, flash cards, etc. So far, it’s been great! I got a Fellowes Home Laminator from Office Warehouse. It was about P3,000. Here are some of the homeschool materials I made for my baby girl and my 3 year old.

Phonics cards with pictures behind each letter

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Flash cards for opposites and direction

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