Prayer and Patience

Recently we had our friend’s bridal shower and it was as sweet as it gets! Weddings are truly lovely and displays a picture of Christ and His bride, the Church.

With marriage of course comes character formation.

The message I wanted to send across to our bride-to-be is the importance of prayer and patience.

Sabi pa sa Filipino class, “Ang pag-aasawa ay hindi biro, ‘di tulad ng kanin, iluluwa kung mapaso.” Marriage is difficult, its not like food that you can spit out if it burns.

So therein lies the message of prayer and patience. Prayer can bring you patience even.

As we pray, persevere, we can be patient and surrender the results to God.

What do we pray for?

We can pray for our own character flaws, we can pray for his character flaws.

We can ask God for grace and perseverance to overcome and rise above challenges, as a tagteam.

I’m afraid no one has “arrived” in this. I’m talking to myself even as I’m talking to you dear reader.

Provision financially is a common grace and its a means to an end. A heart check here seems in order.

What is your end in what you’re believing God to provide for you?

Will it be used to honor him? Will it be used to live your life in such a way that advances the Kingdom? Does it glorify you, your skills and capabilities, or God?

Having a husband is quite an all encompassing word, the wife has him as best friend, forever teammate, workmate toward goals, intimacy partner, safe zone, co-parent, counselor, leader, and so much more: what a pleasure. What a joy it is to have that!

Cultivating a godly marriage and raising up kids in Christ, arguably, could be the two most difficult things we could do in life. Yet they are the most fulfilling, and sanctifying.

Marriage is such a challenging but beautiful mystery that portrays Christ and the Church, His bride, to partake in it is such a joyful honor.

Its greatly refreshing to celebrate with a friend who’s getting married! JD and I are blessed to be part of this couple’s lives!

Marriage is such a challenging but beautiful mystery that portrays Christ and the Church, His bride, to partake in it is such a joyful honor.

"My love is mine and I am his.."
Song of Songs 2:16A

Morning Dedication

One of my favorite prayer books is the considerably archaic and difficult to read Valley of Vision.

Granted, its that, but the thing I like about it the most is that it contains prayers that I couldn’t even think of.

Its easy to pray, its pouring out my heart to God. But my heart is also considerably deceptive, it doesn’t think to pray of what the collective prayers if some Puritans gathered thought of, and written, to pray. Its almost like poetic prayers.

After all, who says/does/thinks these to pray?

Today, I read and prayed the Morning Dedication.

“As I cross the threshold of this day, I commit myself, soul, body, affairs, friends, to your care, incline my heart to your ways, mold me wholly into the image of Jesus, as a potter forms clay..”

I sincerely need prayers like these: “May my lips be a well tuned harp to the sound of your praise.” Surely the Lord knows that in a homeschooling mom’s day, or any mom’s day for that matter, many events would push us to not be a blessing to our husband and kids!

“May my lips be a well tuned harp to the sound of your praise..”

Seemingly insignificant details in everyday life or the daily grind can be viewed with the lens of the gospel and eternity.

Random beach trip last week

“May I view all things in the mirror of eternity, waiting for the coming of our Lord, listening for the last trumpet call, hastening unto the new heaven and earth.”

And finally, most sobering in the time of sickness and an all around season of pandemic:

“May I speak each word as if my last word, and walk each step as my final one. If my life should end today, let this be my best day.”

Always One Foot Out the Door: the Case of the Flaky Pastry

I absolutely love flaky pastries! Otap and croissants are treats for us. The former has even recently become one of our kids’ favorite snacks. Sugary, sweet, beautiful in texture, easy to devour.

As we continue to eat otap on a daily basis, sometimes I am reminded of how I later took a bad turn as a young Christian, new in the faith.

I can honestly say that, by God’s saving grace, Christ was all I wanted when I began my walk with Him. I wanted Christ for Christ’s sake even if it meant leaving a lot of things, including the possibility of marriage, behind.

I loved knowing Christ more and more in discovering the basics of the faith (salvation, Lordship, repentance, etc.). I was like, so this is what it is to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

As time went by, in differing seasons, cities, and circumstances, I discovered a certain flakiness in me—not the good kind, but the kind that the devil seems to love munching on.

In His wisdom, the Lord used the ever-increasing challenges marriage and parenting, of “adulting,” to teach me how my shallow understanding of Christ and Christianity just couldn’t cut it. Whenever a challenging trial would be served on the table, I would easily fall off of it. Nevertheless, I am still grateful, for those years created in me a deeper longing, a deeper desire to dig deeply into the Word.

God’s grace in those moments has taught me that I needed sound teaching and doctrine everyday to keep me from crumbling, falling off, and being eaten by a clean-up crew of hungry ants! Those moments taught me that if I am to live out God’s purpose for me, I need to get my bible right.

John Piper would say, “Do not settle for wimpy theology. It is beneath you. God is too great. Christ is too glorious.”

A decade ago, I had falsely believed that if I just believed Jesus enough, prayed hard for this and that enough, fasted long enough, then I would have everything I needed, as Jesus would be pleased enough to give them to me. Then I would be free from hardships and see no trouble afterwards.

Unfortunately, that’s not the Jesus from Scriptures—that’s a genie. So, yes, somewhere along the way, in the busyness of life, I actually had lost sight of the true Jesus. The fact is, I have everything I needed in Christ, and I totally missed Him.

Nevertheless, God was still at work, birthing something in me.

You see, what we believe inevitably shapes us—truth (or half-truths and lies) always flows, first, into our heads, then, down to our hearts, then out of our hands.

Those false notions were why I was constantly reconsidering, flippantly and easily giving up in my pursuit of holiness, and why I lacked the willingness to fully obey, and obey persistently.

I had Jesus in me, and I could have communed with and enjoy Him deeper everyday, but I settled for being that modern-day snowflake Christian, “a mile wide and an inch deep”, as the late great JI Packer described it.

It nowhere says in Scripture that life would be breezy, easy-peasy. In fact, Jesus Himself said:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

And His victory over this world also means Truth’s victory over error, He is Truth Himself.

Apostle Paul pounds on the importance of “sound doctrine,” and it simply means truthful teaching.

In almost all of his letters, we see the pattern to be “Here’s Who God Is and what He has done. Then here’s who you are in light of Who God Is and what you are to do in response.”

I had to unearth what wrong beliefs I had ignorantly embraced and gotten lazily off the internet and heard from people around me. I needed to always check if what they say coincided with what the Bible says.

Sound doctrine is radically transformational. Lived out, it changes everything about us.

Nancy Wolgemuth

I honestly have fallen of the cliff of error. But the good news is, the Lord is a Great Shepherd who pursues sheep prone to wander.

He always finishes the good work He begins, being in the business of daily sanctification, (what?!) that wondrous gift of salvation which the New City Catechism calls our “gradual, growing righteousness”.

And so, praise God for His sanctifying grace!—instead of the usual taking in of chapters and verses, I began to read the Bible from left to right, to see its whole story, the metanarrative. I began to appreciate, understand and embrace its whole counsel (Acts 20:27).

All of us believers are works in progress in having sound doctrine, and today’s easy and instant everything culture is not really helping the progress at all. Reading, studying, meditating, praying, and applying God’s Word takes much time and intentionality.

May we use our time during this pandemic to deliberately dig deep into Scriptures for an increasingly sound and solid footing for our walk, that “we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Eph 4:14).

Why homeschool?

People around us would usually say a myriad different things about homeschooling.

“What will you teach the child?”

“How about socialization?”

“Have you gone insane?”

“Do you still have money?”

“Won’t they turn into aliens?”

My personal favorite is:

“Is that legal? When will you put them back to normal school?

Totally legitimate concerns, I just find them all cool, and totally appreciate our loved ones’ genuine concern. Homeschooling in the Philippines is pretty new, only gaining traction in the year 2000s, give or take a decade or two(shall I say?). That’s totally debatable.

All that said we pressed on, as we have already decided long ago that we will homeschool as the Lord enables us to be faithful.

Nursery, and Kinder passed by, it was a thoroughly enjoyable roller coaster ride indeed, especially for me as the beginner homeschooling mom! Now where was that trending meme we have about the homeschooling moms being Amazonian warriors?!

I’m sure I’ve driven one or both of my kids crazy one time or another.

Biblically, there isn’t any direct recommendation to do modern homeschooling, with complete curriculum and all; especially since what we know as “traditional school” today vastly differed from back then.

There is no surefire formula that if you homeschool, your children will turn up as perfect believers with no trace of sinful or rebellious nature whatsoever. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The truth about this life is that sin abounds at every turn.

Only Jesus can thaw a frozen heart. Only Jesus can save, and turn that heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

It is in fact pretty disheartening, some biblical examples of parents messing up in parenting their children, think of Eli’s sons, and even David with Absalom; but that surely makes them a tad bit more relatable, isn’t it?

Only Jesus can save, and turn that heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

Here are a few of our personal reasons for choosing to homeschool:

It allows for customization.

We have already done tons of poetry, some basic chemistry and biology, will teach Shakespeare narratives by first grade, and will include Latin by second grade, all by going crazy everyday doing it. (Seriously! Nah just kidding, they love it!) God has given me 2 incredibly curious kids. (But aren’t they all?)

The oportunity to nurture that curiosity in ways interesting to their specific desires is such a pleasure and gift.

It is a fantastic way to mold the head, heart, and mind during the formative years.

We knew we wanted to be the primary influence to our children, instill in them biblical principles and by faith, model it to them too.

We wanted to instill in them the Christian worldview hands-on and not relegate it to others, taking care of them as little ships to send out, arrows in our quiver, so they can shoot at God’s purpose for them knowing we have equipped them well.

It allows for us to spend less time getting out, and more time enjoying their company at home (a pre-pandemic choice that proved pretty useful).

At home, we can definitely compose and sing as many silly songs as we can, make as many arts & crafts as their tiny hands can handle, and try as many explosive experiments as we can muster (to clean up later), all the while enjoying each other’s company.

Growing up in Manila traffic definitely made this an easy decision for me.

It brings much character molding for us parents.

Seriously, I haven’t met any homeschooling parent who go “I’ve completely got this!,” we do ask the Lord daily for patience, endurance, and loving discipline, and entrust to Him the results of our efforts.

It is ‘portable’.

Being in the ministry, we have fun opportunities to travel, we love homeschool’s portability. We bring some material, then it’s basically a school anywhere, as opposed to just the 4 walls of a classroom. We have surely taught anywhere we can, organized fun homeschoolers meetups (pre-pandemic), and teach life lessons everywhere during travel.

It has a small teacher-student ratio.

The smaller this ratio is, the higher the quality of instruction can be. For us, it’s 1 is to 2. I am able to focus on each of my children’s respective needs and unique interests more, as opposed to a traditional 1 is to 30 or 1 is to 40 classroom setting.

It helps a lot in the ultimate why of life.

Finally, beneath all our whys for homeschooling is what Scriptures teach as the chief end of mankind, including children: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

For me and my husband, given all its above-mentioned benefits, homeschooling simply offers the best avenue for parents to raise kids for and to that very end.

Looking forward

Surely when they go into puberty, we still would want to be their primary influence and guide as they navigate that season, as opposed to being in a traditional school all day.

The Bible does tell us to teach our children, to teach them the ways of the Lord. As He was taking Israel out of the wildrness, and preparing to make them a strong nation, conquering pagan nations and entering the land flowing with milk and honey, He encouraged them to obey His commandments and set them apart from other neighboring pagan nations.

Deuteronomy 6 does tell us parents to teach God’s commandments diligently to our children, and to talk of them when we sit in our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise.

That compels me to teach about the Lord practically anywhere.

It is very helpful to know our whys as it gets us back on track as the days get tough sometimes.