Making Hard Decisions

After much prayers and discussions, we have finally decided to let our daughter stop attending ballet classes. It was a difficult decision to make since she has been taking ballet classes for the past 6 years now with Acts Manila. We’ve seen her grow, not just in dance but moreso in her character. She showed determination – even when it was hard to go to classes, she wouldn’t absent herself from class if possible. She showed perseverance – even when the routine was hard, she kept at it until she got it. She showed care and love to everyone in her ballet class.

This was definitely a hard decision to make but I knew that we had to make it. Financial, logistical and lifestyle issues are our main concerns. We couldn’t afford any longer to keep sending her to classes because ballet is truly an expensive art. From shoes, tights, costumes, exams, recitals and competitions – we just couldn’t keep up anymore. Of course my daughter was sad, but after discussing it together, we knew this was the best decision. The season has come for us to leave ballet.

We also realized that she is truly gifted in visual arts. We wanted her to explore that side as well so that she can fully bloom with the gifts that God has given her.

Before we made this decision, these blog articles  helped me through this decision: “Because when Jesus asks us to do something hard, he walks the difficult road with us” from the post When Jesus Asks You To Do Something Hard from We Are That Family. Another encouragement was from Concerning Change and Bacon Gouda Sandwiches.

I took this time as a way of teaching my child to make hard decisions in life. There will be days when we need to make changes in our life. It may not “feel right” but we prayed together, we considered circumstances and consulted our family members. I believe that through this change in our life, we had a lot of “teachable moments” as we discussed what God wanted us to do and what we are doing next.

I believe that  God will have something else for her. As we wait for new opportunities and new friends that God will bring to her life, we are praying and keeping our eyes open.

Choices in Life

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Life is all about choices. What to eat when you wake up, what to wear for the day, what to read, what to spend your money on, what to pursue, who to hang out with, what to do and it goes on and on. Our choices are based on what we deem is important in our life. So to make wise choices, we need to understand what is our priorities in life. To figure out what should be our priority or what is important, we need to understand our values and our identity. Just as the sail sets the ship’s course, our identity will anchor us and set our course in life.

How we see ourselves – our identity – is of utmost importance. While we were children, we often believe who we are based on what our parents or loved ones tell us and made us feel. As we grow through our teenage years, we believe we are who are peers say we are. As young adults, we see ourselves through the experiences we’ve had during our childhood and what the world sees in us.

But these can all be subjective – meaning, it varies on our family background, childhood experiences and life situations. As we grow though, we learn that our life on earth is not smooth sailing and people around us are not perfect. They can be unreliable or unjust so if we base our identity on them, we will have a very distorted view of ourselves.

Knowing this, we must reach out to the one who created us and loved us since the beginning of time. The Lord Jesus Christ has always loved us, no matter how bad or how good we were. He first loved us and that is enough to anchor our lives on Him. He is the first and the last. He is all powerful, ever faithful, just and loving. If we look at ourselves through His loving eyes, we are sinners who were saved by His blood. Therefore, we are His.

Whatever is important to Him, it will be important to me. Whatever is valuable to Him, it will be my priority in life. My choices will now align with His will.

I can think of no better way to live this life. By making wise choices, through the wisdom that the Lord has given me. I pray that you will also make wise choices so that your everyday matters in the perspective of our eternity.

Missed Opportunity of Extending Kindness

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Yesterday morning, I was in a coffee shop. While I was there, a mom with 2 kids came in as well. Her younger child kept crying and at first, it was just fine but eventually, it irritated me. I was thinking how when my 2 kids were younger, we didn’t stay in coffee shops because I knew they would cause noise and we often stayed outdoors. Anyway, they eventually left the coffee shop later on and I had my peace and quiet.

This morning, I suddenly remembered the young mom on the coffee shop and I asked for forgiveness from the Lord. I knew how hard it is to take care of a baby and another child and instead of being understanding and helpful to the mom, I was being self-righteous. I felt ashamed of what I did (or didn’t do) and asked the Lord for forgiveness and prayed for the young mom.

I have often read blog posts about being kind to other moms, especially those with young children because I personally know how hard it is during those times. If I could have been more caring and sensitive, I would have asked her if there is anything I could do or maybe even bought her food to eat or coffee to drink. But I was selfish and I missed my chance.

I openly shared this experience to my children. Hopefully, we all learned from that missed opportunity. When the Lord brings another opportunity for me, I hope I will be ready to extend kindness, especially to young moms.

Image courtesy of Apolonia at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7 Realities of Homeschooling

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We’ve been homeschooling for the past 6 years now and about to start our 7th year soon. It has been a hard but joyful journey. There has been days that I have felt like giving up but through the grace of the Lord, we’re still continuing our homeschool journey and about to embark on a new season soon. To mark the start of our 7th year in a few months, I’m sharing 7 lessons I’ve learned through the years…

Children are not wired the same way. They learn differently and have different personalities. As homeschool parents, we need to know each of our children and communicate with them and teach them via their learning styles. They also progress differently, some have a natural gift for the arts while others think more logically.

Learning takes place even outside a curriculum. We don’t need to be slaves to the curriculum we are using. We don’t need to do the lessons cover to cover – as homeschooling parent, we have the freedom to tweak our curriculum and make it work for our children. If not fit, then try something else. We need to become flexible.

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Learning is a lifestyle. Once you embark on the homeschooling journey, you will realize that homeschooling is actually a lifestyle. We become more intentional in everything we do. Learning to appreciate life and being grateful to God for all that He has done for us becomes more important that memorizing historical information.

As teacher-parents, we become students as well. We need to have a teachable heart and humble spirit because the Lord will definitely use our children to teach us about life and what truly matters.

Expect hard days. When you did you best and your child still can’t understand that math concept, when your patience is running out because of all the chores that needs to be finished while your kids don’t want to “do” school work and you have a deadline to beat, when you think your children will be better off if they are in school, when you feel inadequate and when no one wants to cooperate. These days will come and it is important to remember why you wanted to homeschool your children. Have a mission statement for your homeschooling or better yet, have a vision for your children.

There are different seasons in homeschooling. Because homeschooling is synonymous with life and our children grow, we need to embrace each season. Enjoy playing with them, laughing with them and reading with them. As they move to the next season, converse with them about life issues, know their interests and their hearts. As they pursue their dreams in life, support them and guide them.

Praying for our children and your homeschooling is an important part of preparation for homeschooling. When we realize that homeschooling can only be done through the grace of God, then can we actually become better parent-teachers. We are equipped by the Lord to handle our children and we grow as we serve and love our family.

6 Years of Homeschooling

In a few weeks, we will finally be finished with 6th grade and 3rd grade  with my daughter and my son respectively. I am overwhelmed with joy and appreciation as my daughter finishes her elementary grades. We’ve homeschooled since first grade and I’ve seen how she has blossomed and developed her skills and her character all these years. But more than that, I’ve also experienced the providence and the faithfulness of the Lord in our life.

When we started in 1st grade, my daughter was quite shy and doesn’t really enjoy the company of others aside from us. It was one of my concerns then that our decision to homeschool her might actually make her  anti-social but instead of being afraid of that, we prayed and took that step of faith as we began our journey of homeschooling.
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Living in the far South from Metro Manila, we couldn’t afford attending all the activities that TMA Homeschool provided but we diligently worked on the curriculum that we had. We prayed that we’d meet other homeschooling families in the area and the Lord did send a few. But those few families were all that we needed for support. We also prayed that we’d find a PE class that will suit my daughter’s interest and the Lord provided. She is now into her 6th year of ballet.

We also realized that she has a special talent in visual arts. She produces artworks that are beyond what I can do myself! She won a scholarship from Global Art Philippines when she was 8 years old. She gave her own art workshop to young children when she was 10 years old. We just gave her materials and the time to draw and develop her interest and we were really amazed at how she developed her skills.

As required by TMA Homeschool, she presents her portfolio every quarter. She started out shy and not really talkative but eventually, she now presents with confidence and speaks with details. Of course she still needs to improve further in this skill, but she has definitely outgrown her shyness.

She also has friends from church and from her ballet class. I see her engaging in conversations and extending herself to others. She also writes letters to her friend who has now moved to Canada.

When we talk, I try to ask her what she thinks about the realities of life and how God has been faithful all these years. I can also genuinely say that she enjoys the company of our family and dreams of doing her best for the Lord.

The tears that we both shed, the prayers that kept us sane, the perseverance that was developed in us and the hard work has all been worth it.

All these developments are far more than I’ve imagined when we started out 6 years ago. The Lord has graciously used homeschooling to change not only my daughter, but also me, through the years.

Let us continue and be faithful to what the Lord has called us to do. When you feel like giving up, or unsure if you’ve made the right decisions, cling to the Lord because He will see you through. He is doing His work in you and through you as you surrender your life to Him.