Pulling Down Strongholds

After morning prayer, I laid my back against the pillow and closed my eyes to rest awhile. I thought, “I don’t think I can resume today my Bible Study with the kids in the early evenings. I still don’t have enough strength to discuss and stress the lessons.” An inner voice answered me, “It’s important that you resume and that’s beginning today. Just open the Bible and the strength will be supplied.” I still didn’t know. And I didn’t have any clue what lay ahead of the rest of the day.

At sundown, I heard scuffling and screaming from upstairs. I knew the kids were in disagreement and were fighting again. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t run, couldn’t climb up the stairs, although in these instances, I always want so much to be able to do all those things. I sent  a maid to tell them to come down. There would be explanations, and in the end, always a showing of humility from both sides (with my urging and insistence), apologies, and reconciliation. The little one came without hesitation, face sullen.

I had to ask a maid twice to fetch the older. I was beginning to feel irked and frustrated. The older, she’s developing an independent disposition that is not always honoring as she’s entering puberty. Sadly, there had been many instances of her showing a rebellious heart which had caused me grief and drove me to more gruelling prayers. There are not so many things that puzzle me about life, but motherhood remains to be one of them. And I’m feeling it’s getting harder as my daughter and I are entering into her adolescence.

She came and I tackled first the problem at hand: Why couldn’t she come down at once? Why always the resistance? The exchange became more difficult and frustrating when I learned that the things she needed to do and had been daily reminded of for days remained unaccomplished. But that same afternoon, before the uproar, when she came to me for something she needed at the bookstore, I listened at once and did what she requested, as always.

There is no willing obedience without having learned honor first. As a mother, I do my best to model humility and honor. I sincerely ask for forgiveness from my children when I am wrong and have hurt their feelings. I tell them that I listen to their needs and act on them because I honor and care for them. We teach them to honor us, their parents, and one another, and in so doing, they are honoring God in their lives.

At dinnertime, when the daddy arrived from mid-week service, I hoped to unite the family around the table and, yes, resume our evening devotion reading the Bible. No, she wouldn’t come and didn’t want to eat. How much longer and more painful this “rebellion” would be! Rebellion dishonors the rest of the family and, ultimately, God. Rebellion must be rooted out. 

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)

More furor. How can you turn ugly into beauty? I wept, I begged, I expressed my love. This love of a mother, I realized, is as durable as a diamond though the heart is many times broken. More efforts, yes. Parenting is like Jacob wrestling with God until you have obtained victory. My ailing and weak body was begging for rest, but when all had quieted and settled down, we found ourselves around our table, the daddy opening our NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible to chapter 2 which is Genesis 3, after his opening prayer. We listened to him reading how Adam and Eve challenged God by rebelling and disobeying Him. And how they lacked humility by not acknowledging and repenting of their sin, but instead, blamed another.

What Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden could still be occurring in our homes over and over:

Rebellion

Disobedience

Lack of humility (repentance)

Dishonor

With hearts pried open by aches, love, and the words of the Lord, these lessons were talked about, instilled, and hopefully digested to the inmost being. I saw bowed heads, faint nods. I saw a cold heart thawing. We prayed in closing. Around our dinner table, I saw the beauty of the Lord once again shining.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Cor. 10:4-6)

If you have been blessed by your visit here, please like Our Healing Moments on Facebook and connect with me there. Thank you!

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

Wonderfully Made

The kids and I begin to read and discuss NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible, reading through Genesis chapters 1 to 2. Hannah reads and we listen, although Tim does his best to keep his eyes open (we start quite late). Hannah keeps her eyes on the page and continues to read,  Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Tim yawns. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them … (Tim yawns for the nth time). I tell him to go to bed while Hannah and I finish our reading and discussion, but no, he wants to stay.

Young Hannah and baby Tim.

Hannah finishes reading, puts down the book and I ask, “What are the things that you learned here about the truth of God?”

She thinks deeply, then gives her answer, “That what God says comes to be.”

I am surprised by her answer. I have my own thoughts about what we have read and it doesn’t include that. “Great! Yes! That is so true! What God says comes to be. His word is very powerful. He is the Word.”

This truth about God is what makes us, His creation, fear Him. For we must fear God. I tell the kids this.

And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, And to depart from evil is understanding.’ (Job 28:28)

I continue to discuss with the kids. Tim blinks his eyes trying to stay awake. He likes our Bible Studies but he’s often distracted.

Another truth about God that we can learn from creation is this: that He blesses. He is a God who blesses. Remember from the days of creation, He blessed the sea and everything in it, and blessed the first man and woman? We need not fear nor worry when we need something. We need not look elsewhere to find answer to our needs, great and small, nor doubt that our needs will ever be met.  We need only to remember that God is a giver of blessings and when we call upon Him, our Father in heaven, He will hear us and will bless us.

This truth about Him tells us about His great love for us. Though we rightly fear Him for He is God Almighty, we know also that His love for us never fails. It’s everlasting. Whether therefore He disciplines us or blesses us, it is all an act of love by a Father who loves His children.

The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (Jer. 31:3)

I ask Hannah again of more of her inputs about the truth of God from The Creation, and we almost say simultaneously, that God created us and we did not evolve from monkeys as scientists claim. The Bible says we were created in His own image and likeness.

And today, I remember this, as I thank and honor God for making me and fashioning me inside my mother’s womb 46 years ago today.

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. ((Ps. 139:14, emphasis mine).

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

More Than My Hands Can Handle

My beloved husband had just left for the overnight worship service and I was already running late for my viewing of the live webcast of it, so I asked my daughter Hannah to bring the vaio and all its attachments (speaker, charger, mouse, HDMI cable). Then I leaned on my propped-up pillows because I felt weak and quite exhausted (I have been feeling these and other difficulties the past week).

One of the maids was in and out of the room fixing for the night and Tim also was there drawing, so I didn’t notice when Hannah dumped the vaio on a corner table far from me and hurriedly left. When I saw it I asked one of the maids where she was (I was hoping she went to get the speaker but I doubted it; I knew how negligent she was). I called for her three times. I waited patiently. I wasn’t feeling well and already an hour late for the live webcast.

When she finally came into the room, I asked her calmly and quietly, “Hannah, is this the way you serve? You just dump everything on a corner table which I can’t even reach?” There was sadness and resignation in my voice. Maybe even before she came into the room she already had that sullen look, but at my words, I noticed it. Instead of saying sorry, she displayed a silent resentment as she went about fixing the attachments of the vaio. My heart sank.

Just a few days before, she came to me requesting for a new sporty shirt and matching skirt as costume for their batch dinner in school. Right away, I arranged for someone to buy them in Mega Mall.

I felt so deeply hurt and disappointed to see that she was becoming disrespectful and ungrateful. And lacking in love. Her Dad and I have been observing her behavior for a long time now. We often remind her and teach her. We read and study the Bible. I pray with her. We meet and discuss about loving and caring for and respecting others. I urge (no, plead) her and Tim to fervently love and be kind to one another. With love and tears, prayers and persistence, I teach them.

After I rebuked her now for her attitude, she walked out of the room, but I called her again. Even though my breath was coming in gasps and my left chest was tightening, I wanted to fix this. I needed to. I was —- desperate.

I cried uncontrollably because I was sick and felt weak and inadequate.

I cried because I wanted to spend all my days and weeks and months and years (as the Lord would have mercy upon me) only loving and being gentle and kind. I cried because I never wanted to blow it all up.

I cried because I didn’t want to displease the Lord but to be always pleasing in His sight to obtain His favor.

I cried because I was losing my Hannah to bad attitudes, to typical teenage problems perhaps (I don’t know, I don’t have a clue!), to peer pressure and influence outside of our family and Church…

I cried because I didn’t want to lose our closeness, our good friendship. I cried because I always wished I would always be her best friend, my company she would always seek. I cried because she was changing and slowly going farther away.

I cried because I didn’t want her to be hardly reachable. I cried because I long for her.

After I was left alone in the room and had recovered from my difficulties, I sat up. And prayed. I prayed for myself, for strength in all aspects, for wisdom, and for love that can cover all.

And I prayed for my daughter, laying her down at the Savior’s feet. I prayed and asked for help until there was no more tears left. Then His peace that passes all understanding enveloped me. The Lord made me know that I needed not shoulder all the burdens of motherhood. My hands are not enough to handle them. He gave me the ministry of motherhood, not to carry it out on my own strength and wisdom, but always with His strength and wisdom and constant help. It is a partnership with Him.

So I will stand by my daughter (even though sometimes she makes me feel like she doesn’t want me there, hovering over her) as my Lord stands by me. By the abundant grace of God, I will be a very present exemplary figure in her life (and my son’s) as my Lord is my very present help and guide. There is no quitting this.

 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. (Psalm 127:3).

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

Our Unique Life Part 2

Just as I was getting ready for my evening private worship, they texted me – Hannah and Dad. They said they just got off the ferris wheel. I could feel their exhilaration in the text.

I texted back, “Wow, baby, you’re brave! That’s high!” It’s high. We saw the pictures in their website: it dwarfs the trees and other edifices in the place.

I pressed “send” then muted my cell phone and began to sing praises.

They left after lunch – husband and the kids – for Enchanted Kingdom at Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Enchanted Kingdom is the closest one can experience Disneyland this side of the planet, and it’s their first time. I haven’t been there, too. I had planned this outing, as always. Just because I’m unable to travel doesn’t mean the kids will be deprived of some summer fun, too.

So, in the morning of their trip, I helped pack their extra clothes and small towels. They were going to need them when they ride the Jungle Log Jam or  the Rio Grande Rapids. I told Dad, who just came from the office and cut short his work, to buy the kids a souvenir shirt each and a souvenir toy each of their own choice. “The price upon my approval,” he said. And I answered, “Yes, of course!”, as I slipped 300 pesos (~$7) to Hannah for her pocket money. She was jubilant to receive it.

This has been the arrangement since last year. It’s a bittersweet lesson in selfless love. I needed to learn to let go, to understand that the kids’ lives are different from mine and should not be dependent on my “disability”. I needed to think about their being able to experience normal childhood and enjoy kids’ stuff and not focus on my own feelings, like my sadness for being absent in this kind of family outings.

After they left, I rested awhile then washed my hair. Then, I watched a free movie on YouTube. It’s great ’cause I connect the laptop to the wide, flat TV via HDMI and connect the speakers. I watched The Christmas Bride by Hallmark. Christmas in April. It didn’t really matter.

I opened my worship with thanksgiving to the Lord, thanking Him for protecting my family while they’re out. And I thanked Him for the peace in my heart, yes, even with our unique life. As I riffled through my song book (days ago, I had started singing songs by following the pages), the first song that I was going to sing was Reuben Morgan’s You are My Strength.

Oh, I think this is very suitable. The thought had fleeted in my mind.

You are my strength
Strength like no other
Strength like no other
Reaches to me.

When I sang the second stanza, my eyes were wet. It would have been wonderful to be with them, walking, riding, laughing with them. I tried to bury myself in the lyrics and not to be forlorn.

Unfailing love
Stronger than mountains
Deeper than oceans
Reaches to me.

I put my hand on my bosom and relished the thought about the Lord’s unfailing love. I know about that. And I’m grateful. His unfailing love is stronger and more powerful than any sorrow, or any other human emotion that may try to engulf us.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. (Ps. 13:5 NIV)

When I sang the third song, Miriam Webster’s You are Faithful, I was sobbing softly.

You are faithful
You are faihful
You are faithful —
Your joy is my strength!

Your joy is my strength. Was the Lord talking to me through the song? It didn’t escape my notice. Had I brought Him joy by not thinking about my own feelings, but laying them down at His feet instead? Surely, His joy is my strength!

I think about other outings that the husband and the kids maybe going to in the future, and maybe I’m still unable to join them then, and this thought could bring sorrow to my heart. Or hope. Hope that the miracle-working God will remember me and He will soon make me walk and able to travel again. I sang some more, faith and hope filling my soul.

My fervent prayer is to be able to go to different outreach stations of our Church here and abroad, and to wherever the Lord will lead me, to testify and win souls. May my prayer be granted in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Did you know that I write everyday at Live Joy-Fully!? I do. I’m trying to chronicle the everyday – at times special, at other times, just plain mundane. But I discovered that if you pluck out just one story of the tapestry of your day, write about it with the testimony of photos, and share it to the world, the ordinariness is shed off and you will realize that everyday has its own blessings. There is always something that we can thank the Lord for!

Related: Our Unique Life

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

A Day in the Life of a Mother {and the Virtue of Persistent Faith}

I went back under the sheets after I had given instructions for Hannah’s dressmaker (she’s making Hannah’s dress for her piano recital pictorial). Early in the morning, our driver was waiting for the instructions and fabric to bring to the dressmaker, so my husband had to wake me up because he didn’t want him being idle. But now, it’s quarter before ten and I’m quite satisfied with my sleep.

I reach out for my Bible. I continue with Revelation, reading a whole chapter, then, two of my favorite devotional books. I return them in the stack and I see my journal exclusively used for the kids’ daily Bible reading and discussion and something pinches at my heart. Guilt. It’s been over a week since we last used it, which means, we haven’t been meeting lately. Ugh!

Singing praises. I choose songs of thanksgiving to the Lord, earnestly remembering His love and mercy. My chronic back pain and dizziness try to steal my concentration, but, I raise my hands and continue to sing and honor the Lord. Short prayer. I can’t pray long now, too dizzy.

Breakfast is over and I’m just setting down to work. Mondays are devoted to our company, Actichem: blogging and other special assignments (like now are matters about its 15th anniversary celebration). I had listed about 10 things to do today and by the time my five-year-old Tim arrives from school (that’s half-hour before noon), I have not checked a single item.

I am onto the second item on my list when he comes to me requesting me to draw a train. I barely glance at him. I cannot be disturbed. But Tim is a persistent kid. Unrelenting. He will not stop until I give him all my attention. I explain to him that I am busy and have a lot of things to finish. It’s Monday! I continue working. But his appeals become more demanding, more irritating. He is not giving up.

I look at the drawing of the train he wants me to draw: an earnest attempt of one of the maids to copy the one in his sticker. His irritating persistence is now more than I can bear.

“I will not draw that ugly train! I am not drawing any train because I’m busy!” My voice is rising. It annoys me just to think that I must completely take my mind off from what I’m doing and concentrate on drawing a complicated train. And I am not about to do it!

He will not accept it and he comes near telling me again to draw the train. I tell him with veiled patience, “Learn to draw the train. Just look closely and do your best to draw it. You must learn to draw on your own and not demand others to do it for you! When I was a kid your age, I drew the things I wanted to draw on.my.own.”

“My drawing is ugly!” He answers back.

“It’s okay if it comes out ugly. At least you made it yourself. How can you learn to draw if you don’t practice?” I believe I’m right in this one.

But he doesn’t want to do it. He wants me to do it and he will not stop. “Will you stop bugging me, Tim? I told you I’m too busy to draw that train!” Now I’m shouting. And on the verge of weeping. Mondays are one of my bath days and I don’t want to be stressed to the limit because bathing (with assistance) takes a lot of my strength.

I’m in front of my laptop, feeling miserable that I just shouted at my son because of his simple request (didn’t I just pray for God’s light and guidance earlier?); I look at my to-do list and note that there is only one item checked out of ten; I can feel my muscles starting to weaken and throb. I am frustrated with this partially-healed body and my lack of love and patience. Why don’t you just give your time to your precious son and draw? Okay. But I’m not drawing that ugly train. And I remember the numerous times the Lord had taught me through my children. They were precious lessons that I hold close to my bosom and I am not about to bungle this moment yet again.

“Tim, go get your book with the drawing of a train and I will draw it.” But he has started ignoring me. He even gives me that very hostile look. I continue working. Then I notice him hovering near me. That is a sign he wants to make peace.

“Are we friends now?” I ask sweetly, smiling with my arms open for a hug. He smiles back sweetly and asks me, “Mom, will you please draw flowers in a vase just like yours?”

“I will draw potted flowers in a cart with a girl selling them, how would you like that?”

“Yes! Yes!” He answers, nodding vigorously.

~~~~~~

When I was very ill and suffering much everyday, I wanted so much to be relieved. I believed I had done everything in my capacity just to receive God’s miraculous healing: praying agonizingly and unceasingly, soaking in the Word daily, being prayed over and laid hands on regularly, attending worship services three-times-a-week, and trusting, trusting, trusting! But my healing and recovery were a long time coming, and I was becoming faint spiritually.

One evening, I opened my new NKJV Bible and it brought me to Luke 11:5-13. I had read the passage many times before but this time, it spoke to me in a clear and powerful way. The word that stood out was persistence. Persistence. …Because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs (v. 8), the Lord Jesus tells His disciples. This one word renewed and strengthened my faith. It taught me that the Lord expects us to be persistent in our prayers and petitions and in the end, we will receive what we ask of Him according to His will. We “ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1).

So, keep asking, seeking, and knocking!

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread[a] from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:9-13)

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

Discipling Our Children

No, that’s not a typo. As Christian parents, there is a need for us to disciple our children first before we do the world. We cannot find “disciple” as a verb in any of the dictionaries, but it could be used powerfully as a verb. I found this definition from wordfortoday.net: “To teach; to train, or bring up. To make disciples of; to convert to doctrines or principles. (Referring to the Lord Jesus Christ) This authority He employed in sending missionaries to disciple all nations.”

To disciple is to teach people the words of the Lord, that is, the Gospel, so that they, too, will believe and follow Him. But in this work, we do not only teach through words, we also teach through the examples we set. That is, by the lives we live. So then, shall we exert all efforts to disciple people to the ends of the earth but neglect those in our own homes? I ask this because of an unpleasant incident that happened in our home on Christmas Day.

Before Christmas, our family agreed that we would not make any plans to go out of our home (except to attend worship services) until New Year’s Day. The reason for that is this: For years since the Lord brought us to our Church, workers and other brethren would visit us during the days after Christmas Eve, sometimes even until after New Year. Until last year, our family would go out after Christmas, not minding if workers or brethren would visit us while we were gone (for most of them did not inform us that they were coming). If they found us home, we received them, served them food, and gave them some cash blessings.

But as I’ve mentioned above, last year, we decided that we would yield ourselves to our visitors who are brethren in Christ. That we would intentionally not go anywhere after Christmas until New Year so that we would be home ready to welcome them. We prepared  envelops with cash, food, and loot bags (sweets and cash) for the kids. So, we wanted to offer ourselves this way – not only the little gifts but also our presence.

 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”[a]Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Pet. 4:8-11, emphasis added)

On Christmas Day, some workers, including a family of 8, arrived in our house late in the evening. As we had already planned in advance, we were glad to receive them. The four kids played exuberantly in the garden and gobbled up the sweets from their loot bags, as we adults talked.

Then, it was mentioned that they still had two children in the van, teenage girls. The parents proudly told us that they were mimers in Church. Upon learning this, I got so excited to meet them, so I asked the mother to let them in, and at the same time, to have snacks and get their loot bags we had prepared. It took a long time (really long time!) before two teenage girls slowly and reluctantly walked into the garden. They were definitely morose! They both threw an angry look at their parents. To redeem the scene, I called out their names and invited them to join us, but I, too, received a hostile look.

When one of their brothers gave them their loot bags, they did not want to receive them and just left without a word! I was greatly disappointed and I thought, “These are very rude girls!” Though the parents did not apologize, they said that the girls were tired and lacked sleep from performing in Church occasions. But that’s NOT an excuse.

Now, please do not think that that is the standard of our Church. Not at all! That is definitely the exception! We all know the life of our beloved spiritual parents, our beloved Honorable Pastor Wilde E. Almeda and Assistant Pastor Lina C. Almeda. They prayed, taught, loved, and lived out the Gospel with all their souls. And the same could be said of their beloved children.

Those girls are children of workers in the vineyard of the Lord. Their parents serve the Lord daily, but why have they become like that?

It is because of this incident that my desire to disciple our children with all love, strength, and wisdom was multiplied. How can we effectively disciple our children, teaching and training them up in the way and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4)?

Set up a daily Bible reading and discussion with them

Praise and pray together, read selected verses in the Bible, and discuss. Let them speak also what’s in their heart. Listen to what they have to say. As much as possible, pry open their hearts. Be mindful to the way they think and behave. This year, by God’s grace, I’m stepping up this endeavor by planning out in advance the topics to be discussed daily. I have set aside a special journal for this where I could write the topics and record the discussions, so that we could also review what we have studied.

Prayer with fasting

Offer regular prayers with fasting for them and lay our hands on them.

It is imperative that we, as Christian parents, must be consistent and diligent in discipling our children according to Deuteronomy 6:7:

 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

My gratitude list ~ the things I’m thankful to the Lord for:

26. our family’s quiet New Year’s Day 1 & 2 atop the hills, cloistered nearer to nature amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

27. the sincerest tears of repentance after a moment of lack of self-control, the pleas for forgiveness, the acceptance, restoration, and God’s embrace – a proof of His enduring mercies, forgiveness, and His continuous healing of our brokenness and cleansing of our uglinesses.

28. the kindness shown to this wife-mother-blogger on wheelchair and to our family (which was beyond excited to be away!) by the hotel staff.

29. the light of Christ that continues to shine upon our lives that is never put out even through the fiercest storms and darkest nights. For, indeed, His love never fails.

Just a note: the winner of my New Year giveaway will be announced on next post.

Linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

The Practice of Love

The kids and I gather together this evening. I had been desiring for our family to have a gathering in the evenings to read the Bible, talk about what we have read, each give thanks for the day, then pray. But I know that my beloved husband can’t be easily invited to such. He sings praises, worships and prays every night for more or less two hours. Gathering with the family for the purposes I have mentioned is a thing he’d rather not join. This saddens me but I was determined to start with our two kids.

Hannah and I have been meeting to read the Bible and discuss, but this time, we include soon-to-be five-year-old Tim for he also needs a lot of teaching and praying over.

Lately, I have been thinking deeply on how to honour God more in my life. I felt that there must be something more to all the things that I do, something that is wrought by the Lord in and through me. I know that I lack and I err and I fail to follow through all that He wants me to  be and to do.

So the three of us gather together, forming a small circle (I don’t want any of the Lord’s words to fall to the ground). We talk about love. I point out to them that we are not loving the way the Lord Jesus wants us to. I tell them that sometimes we choose to be impatient, unkind, ungentle to one another. I point to myself. Why do I let myself speak harshly at times and snap rather than pay attention? Why can’t I completely rein in my temper and just be known for my gentleness? Why can’t I stop myself from answering back their dad when I am hurt? Why can’t I just take the pain and keep quiet? Most often, it’s my pride that gets hurt. So then, why can’t I just kill my pride? Didn’t the Lord tell us to pluck out our eye or cut off our hand if these make us sin? To have a meek and quiet spirit is still my earnest prayer.

“If I am not known for my gentleness, what am I known for? What are we known for?” I ask them, voice cracking. Why would you shove your brother to the side? I am looking intently at Hannah. Why can’t we love just like the Lord loves? Tears find their way out.

“We can’t stay like this”, I tell them. But I also tell them that I’m thankful I’m hurt and broken this way, for that means I’m not numb to God and His commandments. For if one has become numb and unmindful of God and what He thinks, one has become barren, spiritually dead. I am thankful for His tuggings at my heart for I know I am fully feeling, knowing, seeing. I am fully awake! The tears flow freely.

And I tell them more, like the Lord’s commandment (well, more like an urgent plea) to His disciples before He was taken to be crucified.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35, emphasis added)

We will be known as the Lord’s disciples by the way we love  one another.

“Can we begin to practise love, really, intentionally practise love everyday starting today? Just like how the Lord loves us?” I ask them. The Lord is not harsh nor unkind nor shoves nor shouts at us. Hannah nods sincerely.

I hold Tim’s face. His still-baby skin feels so soft in my hand. I tell him about loving by showing respect. I tell him what is love and what is not. I explain, I implore, and I am held in awe by how his beautiful eyes grow bigger and rounder. His eyes have opened and rounded to the full and I am amazed at the beauty of the faith of a child. If only we could easily open our eyes that big and round and fix them to Jesus, just like little children do. 

Maybe then we would not miss anything. Maybe then we could practise love everyday, even every moment.

We end with prayer. I pray and reach and cry out to God. I offer up our lives; we are His. For only in His light do our uglinesses vanish and we are changed. And we love Him so, with all our hearts, minds, and souls. Copious tears keep streaming down. We have been touched.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

Cause Your Face to Shine

Meditating on Psalm 80

I sit in front of my laptop, not really knowing what to write for Journey Through the Psalms Friday. I had planned to write about how the Lord Jesus had shown His marvellous light to the youth who had come to the Jesus Miracle Youth Crusade Freedom Concert with so much expectations in their hearts. They had heeded the call and humbly come, hundreds of them. And the Lord Jesus did not fail them. Yes, gloriously He shone forth to the hearts and souls of these young people and filled them with His love, forgiveness, and Spirit. He filled me, too.

I wanted to write about all that, but today, the Spirit seemed to be leading me to a different path. Just a few hours ago, I felt so weary and my spirit was down. Husband and kids had gone to the Planetarium and Robot Zoo, a trip which I planned, and as usual, I was home alone with the maid. I baked chocolate cookies but they didn’t come out as expected. I just wanted to cry, not just because I was left alone neither because the flourless cookies turned out to be one messy, sticky heap. I know it is something more.

Restore us, O God;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved! (Psalm 80:3)

I had thought the straying youth needed this – for God to shine on them so that they will be saved. But I realized that I needed Him to shine on me just as much as the youth did. I had been wanting and earnestly working to be freed from all personal desires and wants and dreams and plans – to die to all these – and just desire God and what He wants for my life. I need His love to complete what’s lacking in me, specifically my love. Without Him expanding, deepening, growing my love, I am just a miserable woman fighting her own daily battles and barely winning.

Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts;
Look down from heaven and see,
And visit this vine. (v. 14)

They arrive. The kids run to me saying, “Thank you, Mom”. Then I know what’s filling my soul with sadness: I just want to let my life be a pleasing offering to God who gave me everything I own. I just want to let go of all the thoughts about self – unrealized dreams, unwell body – and be an unwavering light to these young people; show and give them Christ by how I live Him.

Cause your face to shine on thine servant, O God! Strip me off of all that offend and clothe me with thine righteousness and kindness.

The tears fall. I hope that I have touched heaven’s throne of grace.

Journey with Jesus,

Our Unique Life

When the astrovan finally left, I got ready for my morning prayer. It should have come first but I had to supervise the preparations for the kids’ trip to Holy Carabao and Fun Farm – braid Hannah’s hair, check their bags, set camera, give instructions and reminders, etc. My mind wanted to imagine the pure enjoyment of traveling with my family to the countryside. Oh, I know that would be blissful but I didn’t want to let my mind wandering in that direction and lingering. It would be too painful.

I thought long and hard about my sharing with you our unique life. That is, the setup our family has learned to embrace in the midst of my frail health. I wanted to protect that part of our life and keep it hidden from public knowledge, but lately, something has been urging me to open it up and let you in. If in any way our life would become an inspiration to others, then I would have given glory and honor to Him who has mercy for us.

Since 2009, I haven’t been able to travel far from home due to my illness. My abdomen is weak and I get tired easily and when I do, my breathing becomes difficult and I get dizzy. But I don’t let this hinder my children to live their lives as they should. When they are invited to birthday parties, their daddy accompanies them. When he has commitments concerning our company, one of the maids or a cousin would accompany them. I haven’t gone to any school event. When Hannah had her piano recital at the Meralco Theater and it was a Sunday and her daddy must not skip church, her uncle and cousin were the ones who assisted her (her dad rushed to the show after church).

Those are events that our children need to participate in. But there are also things that children would love to do during summer or Christmas Holidays. So, I plan for those things then. I plan and prepare every detail that they would need, where they would go, what they would do, etc. I don’t forget to tell them to enjoy and not be sad for mommy. Then I wait at home while they and their dad go out.

When they arrive home, the kids would excitedly run to me, hug and kiss me like they had been gone for days! They would give me the camera and together, we would view their pictures, the kids rattling off about their day.

It was hard at first. After they had left, I would drown myself in praise music, letting my spirit be carried away by the glorious praise and strain to feel God’s comfort. I don’t know how I had survived those first lonely years, but miraculously I did, and I am now in a place where joy and thanksgiving weigh heavier than any self-pity or bitterness. God has brought me to where I am now. I still can’t travel, but my spirit soars higher than I had ever imagined and I have learned to live in contentment and pure gratitude. The words of the Apostle Paul have become true to me:

For I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (Phil. 4:11-12)

I’m not saying this is a perfect situation, and thus, I’m satisfied to stay this way. Not at all. I long to travel, foremost to testify, share the Gospel and win souls. I never gave up praying and dreaming to be able to travel again. But while I wait, the Lord taught me to live in the moment’s grace, to relish what I have right now, and to delight in Him no matter what. For most people, it’s easy to delight and rejoice in the Lord when they seem to have it all: good health, material blessings, and strong spiritual life. But for one who has not good health, yet delights in the Lord and rejoices in Him – that is satiating grace!

Lately, I took inventory of God’s blessings in my life and realized that I have all the beautiful, priceless things the world yearns for: love, joy, peace, faith, hope! And I reviewed my days and I found myself really delighting and rejoicing in the Lord not because I want Him to give me the desires of my heart but because He has given them already and more!

But what does this satiating grace consist of?

  1. Grace that teaches the heart to love God more than anything in the world. When hunger to travel and see the world visits me, I think about Anna. She was very young when she became a widow, but she didn’t use her freedom to take pleasure in the world, instead, she chose to stay to serve the Lord night and day. [Anna] was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day (Luke 2:37). She did it voluntarily and willingly. I want to remember the Lord Jesus’ words, that I am not of the world as He is not of the world, for He has chosen me out of the world (John 17:14, 15:19). And so I soak in this truth: I’m chosen, therefore, I’m blessed.
  2. Just as Anna was gifted with constant prayer and fasting, the Lord has made me worthy to be a vessel of His gift – the gift of writing. Writing, and sharing our testimonies and life lessons to the world, is for me like a journey – a journey wherein I continue to learn and grow in the process, and take pleasure in the experience. It doesn’t matter if I have only over a hundred blog followers, or receive just 1 0r 2 emails in a month from people who seek the truth, healing, and  the Savior’s love (and I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to serve). The Lord has called me to write and I am His willing vessel. He will achieve what He purposes.
  3. Grace to hunger for Him and seek Him daily. Just as the sun is sure to rise every morning, He sends His joy and inspiration to see me through the day. And the joy of the Lord is my strength. His presence goes before me, covering me with His love and comfort.
  4. Grace to be a wife to my husband and mother to my children, nurturing the family with the wisdom and strength the Lord has blessed me with.

Related:

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

 

Reflections on the Family

We sat around the center table of our family room (which we made into a temporary dining table) to eat dinner the night we evacuated to our second floor. Earlier, when it was still day, though the flood water was already knee-deep in the streets, my beloved husband braved the rains and flood waters to buy us a single-burner gas stove. We realized that what we had upstairs was an electric stove and feared that the power might go out any time. I remembered we had given away our single-burner gas stove which we used during the great flood of 2009.

So we sat at dinner and I looked around our small table: our kids were excitedly getting their portions; my husband was silent in his seat, showing that calm he always has even during calamities; the heavy monsoon rains pounded our roof intermittently (it was hard not to feel uneasy), but as peace settled in my heart, I couldn’t help to say this, “I’m so thankful that our family is together. That we have each other, especially in times like this. It’s too hard to imagine going through calamities without the support of one another.”

I wouldn’t have known the vital importance of one’s own family had God not taken away everything that had made me self-sufficient. I grew up nurtured in a close-knit family but this hadn’t guaranteed my future choices in life. When my marriage didn’t work the way I had expected it to, I believed that there were options for me for a better life perhaps? Strength, wealth, and worldly wisdom could make one bold enough to re-dream and re-plan one’s future, that is, outside of the family God has given. Sacrificial love, such as love for the family and keeping it intact, could be easily forgotten.

The family is part of God’s perfect design of things with the presence of both the parents with their children together, dwelling in love and harmony with Christ as the cornerstone.

But we look around and we see that the family is more and more weakened, and there are broken homes everywhere we look. They could be very near us. That’s because more and more homes and families are not being built with Christ as the foundation. If not Christ, what could be these families’ foundations made of?

Self-centeredness

Whether one likes to admit it or not, the very core of one’s decision to let one’s family become undone is his or her desire to think about his or her welfare more than he or she does for the rest of the family. But of course there are special and extreme cases wherein restoration is no longer feasible or profitable for all involved. But still, there is hope in God. Nothing is impossible for Him. I will discuss more on this on next post, by the grace of God.

Career over family. I have heard many stories about families being sacrificed over one’s career. (I’m not talking about those who work abroad and sacrifice and endure the loneliness of being away from their families just to be able to provide for them. No. Actually, I salute these people for their sacrificial love).

But I tell you one story. The older sister of one of our maids went to Singapore to work as a domestic helper. When she left, her children were still small. Since she left eight years ago until now, she hasn’t returned. When their father died, she didn’t come home. When her children graduated from elementary and high school, she didn’t come home. When her husband was sick and needed to undergo surgery, she didn’t come home. But looking at her numerous photos, she is happy and enjoying her life in Singapore. I.Don’t.Understand. As a result of her absence, her daughter got pregnant out of wedlock at 16, barely out of high school.

Hurt feelings and unforgiveness. Would someone leave home and forget about family just because of hurt feelings and finding it hard to forgive? It happens. It happened to my beloved father’s family. My grandmother had a very young US Navy son who worked in the now defunct US Naval Base in Subic. This son helped his younger sister finish college with the clear instruction that after graduation, she also would work and help the younger sibling. But when this sister graduated from college, she got married at once and would not listen to her parents’ and older siblings’ admonitions. The US Navy son was so angry and hurt he left for the USA and never returned. Never. I was little and I watched as the family wrote him letters, putting a handful of earth in the envelop. I wondered then, why would they put dirt in the envelop?

My grandmother endured the pain of losing a son due to deep hurt and unforgiveness. Since the day her son left to the day she died, she never saw him again. When I was in grade school, we received a single letter from him with pictures of his family. He lived to old age but he never came back home.

Options. When one is faced with many options, like divorce or annulment, one could easily forsake one’s hope for reconciliation or restoration of marriage or family. I wrote about that in detail here.

I’m deeply grateful to the Lord for setting up the family. God places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6). And more so for mercifully restoring our family and opening my eyes and heart to its importance, its value, to one’s life. Not only mine, but also these lives whom He has entrusted to my love and care.

******

My gratitude list ~ the gifts I received from the hand of the Lord:

  • Watching Hannah and Tim sing in their respective choirs: Hannah in the Children’s Choir, Tim in the Cherubim’s Choir.
  • Reading Biblical Parenting with my beloved husband, digesting and discussing each teaching together.
  • This great opportunity to share the Gospel to friends and loved ones, even to people from around the world that I haven’t even met; the Lord continuously opening doors ~ glory to Him!
  • This well of wisdom that I can draw from any time. There’s really nothing to worry about on what to write because it is His Spirit that leads and guides.
  • The emails I receive and the opportunity to be of service to anyone whom the Lord leads to me ~ praise Him!

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.