Close In.

Last Sunday we closed in on a week full of fun ministry opportunities, it seemed like one of our busiest since the pandemic, still, I recall how much pleasure we derive from ministry and how blessed we are to get to do what we do.

Being part of building the church here on earth is a small picture of an eternity with the Lord, and right around the corner is an eternity of unhindered fellowship with Him!

Obedience to God’s call may have a cost, but in it is an unspeakable reward that none in this world can compare.

On one of our women’s leadership group meetings, we talked about John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, chapter 5 and 6. It’s comforting to have conversations with them that all of us need God’s grace, all of us battle the sinful nature, all of us lie at the foot of the cross.

Cross by Neal E. Johnson

As Christians, we are all in a spiritual battle, and we “haven’t yet resisted up to the point of death,” as Evangelist would say to Christian and Faithful before they cross Vanity Fair.

The road to the Celestial City passes through Vanity Fair.

Three things that stand out for me as Christian and Faithful walk across the severely evil Vanity Fair (and many evils offered to them) is that:

  1. They have a different raiment – they are wearing the armor of God, which is certainly unrecognizable to the Fair’s residents.
  2. They have different speech – they speak the words of the Lord.
  3. They will “only buy Truth” – they will purchase and have interest on nothing of the lusts offered in the Fair.

We certainly had a great discussion on this, us Christians could definitely be considered an “oddity” in this world. When others would tell you to seek revenge, we would forgive; others would succumb to worry and panic, we do have a lasting and unshakeable peace; when others would be stingy in trying times, we would be generous.

In my short military career, one of the cooler options (for me atleast) would be a close in security or medical team of the president.

I was too junior of an officer to get into that, but now, I have a better close in, I have Jesus in me, His presence is always felt and keeps me safe. He would envelope me in his embrace.

With that I take comfort in all challenges, specifically now, as I prepare myself mentally, physically, and emotionally for another homeschool year.

Recently, we’ve deemed it productive and soul-satisfying for us to go to Alona beach once a week or so, to spend about an hour or two just walking and playing. It’s cleaner, less crowded, and swimmable now, certainly one of the blessings of a halt in mass tourism.

Jd and I thought that it can be good exercise for all 4 of us too! We certainly hit our 5000 steps goal and more!

I’m reminded of the differences of the beach each week, one day its sunny & perfect, one day its super windy and almost stormy, on another, its closed for water testing by the Department of Natural Resources.

Just when I let them wear swimsuits, they don’t swim, but just run around and build sand art instead. Just when I let them wear casual clothes for “only” feet dipping, they end up swimming and frolicking their hearts out! What unexpected joy & adventure parenting brings.

All in all I’m grateful, and my heart is full. Praise God!

School at home or homeschool?

I am surely much blessed with a husband who loves to be hands-on with the kids. He loves to teach, disciple, joke around, and just plain be with them. He’s gentle, but firm, the way a discipler ought to be.

This day was about going to the Maribojoc watch tower, a historical landmark and park, and get to some observing rocks, creatures, and basically any flora and fauna we could find there, basing on a rock quarrying instructional for kids that he’s found and printed.

This watch tower carries even more astounding significance because it’s a place that used to be underwater just 9 years ago. The Bohol-wide magnitude 7.2 earthquake in 2013 wreaked havoc across the island.

This particular watch tower is a Spanish colonial era National Cultural Treasure, noted for its perfect isosceles triangle figure.

It was practically pushed 50 meters (backward?), new land was created due to the earthquake! It totally stunned me, as I was here in 2010 as a backpacking traveler and waves were crashing and splashing on me as I stood on the edge of the watchtower!

Visiting it again with my family was just sort of “O what a breath of fresh air this sea air is!,” and “I’m astounded they can run around and expend their energy!,” but for my husband it’s all these learning opportunities here and there. He’s plain so good with kids, no wonder he wants more! That’s another story right there.

Homeschooling for us was a conscious decision and a worthwhile endeavor, though it definitely is more than school brought home, and this and many other trips attest to that.

A countryside drive looking for birds, even a 2-minute drive to the Rizal park to feed doves, a beach trip scrounging around for tiny crabs and and sea cucumbers and lessons on buoyancy, a cuddle-filled read aloud(we’ve wonderfully had tons of those during these lockdowns!), racing around the CPG park counting our steps, glamping in the glamping park beside the Chocolate hills, in all of these, numerous opportunities abound and we are much blessed to homeschool and enjoy it at the same time!

Granted, not many have nearby places like these to go to, but careful planning and creativity does come in handy! All these trips are short trips and we do follow health and safety protocol. (We have a wonderful chance to remove our masks when its just us!)

Our city’s main source of trade income is tourism, with that industry practically closed, we could now enjoy these places alone, whereas normally it would’ve been packed to capacity, pre-pandemic.

We even went to that glamping park with reservations, but they we’re utterly shocked someone came to check in! Since the lockdowns began, they have been receiving dine-in clients only. Thankfully we were still graciously accommodated, and even had a wonderful bonfire experience.

So, this pandemic has forced practically everybody to do school at home, and we can really attest that one look around us with fresh eyes can really do a lot to rejuvenate us, thus affirming one of God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will, in, and despite seemingly dreary global circumstances .

So, this pandemic has forced practically everybody to do school at home, and we can really attest that one look around us with fresh eyes can really do a lot to rejuvenate us, thus affirming one of God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will, in, and despite seemingly dreary global circumstances .

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.