Motherhood Redefined

The holidays last December was an eye opener for me about what it means to actually take care of my family, all by myself. Our househelp, who has been with us for just 6 months, left us for good. What was supposed to be a short vacation turned out to be permanent goodbye. I thought a post must be dedicated for this story alone, but I feel like it’s just a waste of my precious time, so, I did not bother anymore.

I have always been a hands on Mom to Matilda, even before Mileina was born. Losing the househelp did not paralyze us in that area very much. Although, the difference now is that, we have another baby to take care of. For one, I am exclusively breastfeeding, and it takes so much time in a day for feeding sessions. However, this is still good, because it takes away washing and sterilizing bottles as additional chores everyday if we were formula feeding. Another is that, I make sure we have freshly prepared, homecooked meals daily. This is quite meticulous to prepare, considering I do have meat and vegetables each meal. Preparing the ingredients alone is already time-consuming. 

As a wife to Joey on the other hand, it is a whole other set of responsibilities. Joey likes to have food prepared for him to bring to the office for breakfast, snack and lunch. He also wants his clothes ironed really well, shoes regularly shined and scrubbed, and his gym clothes washed right after use. Well, this is apart from the usual night massage requests he asks for as his love language (Hey, I’m not complaining ha? Haha!).

Honestly, during the first few days, I was grumbling and irritated that Joey expects that much from me knowing that I still have to look after the two kids. After praying about it though, I realized that it is my repsonsibility, and I have to own up to it. It is my role, first, as a wife, to take care of him, before our children. Yes, babies are demanding of time and attention, but it is a good training for them to learn how to wait and understand the right order of priorities. It is a really good thing so that they do not grow up feeling entitled. It is also a wake-up call for me, because I have depended so much on our househelp in doing these things for us. I would just usually instruct and observe. Now, I am able to do so much more for Joey compared to how it was when I just delegated the chores to our househelp.

On my part though, adjustments had to me made before it came to that. I am now waking up earlier that usual, around 6 to 6:30am to prepare Joey’s packed food and our own breakfast at home, which is usually whatever leftover food we have the day before. And then I go on preparing ingredients for our lunch and dinner. After which, I load the laundry in the washer and come back for it when I have spare time. We eat breakfast, keep Matilda preoccupied with activities while I cook, and then breastfeed and wash soiled cloth diapers in between. I wash the dishes when I can, too! And then we take a bath, have lunch and put the kids to sleep for an afternoon nap. This is the time I get to rest and read my Bible. When they are deep asleep already, this is when I clean the house, wash the remaining dishes, refill water bottles, fold clean clothes and get the clothes from the washer. Whew! Talking about it makes me catch my breath! It is tiring physically, really, most of the time, but relfecting on how I am sustained by God day by day is the most rewarding feeling of all. Seeing that I get to personally take care of my family too, all by myself, is a true gift from God, and for this, I am blessed! 

And because Joey saw how well I am coping with the situation, we have decided to stop looking for a househelp. We just have a stay-out help, who comes in once or twice a week, to handwash delicate clothes, including the kids’ clothes, and to iron them as well. If for whatever reason she would decide to stop coming, we will still manage. 

This is a lot better for all of us. Matilda has become even more independent, and she has learned to be more considerate. She is now more careful with her toys and does not make a mess anymore. She even helps me take care of her little sister. 

Joey on the other hand takes care of the dishes when he is around. He cooks too, when he has the time. And for myself, I have mastered the art of multitasking and time-management at its finest! It is indeed humbling and we are grateful for this change in our household. For what I used to call motherhood was redefined, ultimately for God’s glory alone. 

Colossians 3:17

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

Colossioans 3:23-24

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 

These verses are great reminders to me on how I should view my daily tasks. I do not only do it for my family, but I must remember that I do it for God. They will see, especially my kids if what I am doing is from my heart, and if I am serving them with joy and delight. I represent my faith to them that is why it is important that I set a good example of what it means to be a follower of Christ, a wife, and a mother. My goal is to accomplish the purpose God has set before me, as I wait on the Lord. My rewards will not be from the earth, but is found in heaven when I meet my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

So mothers, do not rely on help from anyone. Do what you can, so that if ever they decide to suddenly leave, (well, they usually do!) you won’t have a hard time adjusting. Like many mothers all over the world, with the right amount of prayer, patience commitment, and most of all, grace from God, you can do it too! Let’s be supermoms for our families one day at a time. 

  

Homeschooling Part 2: Getting Started

As a continuation of my first post, today I will talk about our other activities. It gets quite challenging as a baby grows, to get their focus and to keep their attention. A lot of creativity and patience is needed to make sure your baby will love the idea of learning.

One must understand that Homeschooling is not limited to the confines of the home, just like learning. Books and materials are all good supplements for learning, but the more the child is exposed to the reality of the world, the better they become at understanding concepts. With Matilda, we make it a point to communicate with her, in every opportunity. We never get tired of explaining the reasons why a certain thing needs to be done, the consequence for each and every action, and the hard, but reality of the truth. No matter how complicated something might be for her to grasp, we never lie to her, we just patiently explain and ask for her respect and obedience. When a child is brought up knowing you have only pure interests at heart and their welfare is all you think about, it wouldn’t be very hard to instruct and teach your child. They will instantly develop love for learning, and this will become your lifestyle.
Whenever we are at home, we always try to make certain activities to be able to spend our time wisely. One of the things we started with, apart from those that I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, is coloring books.

Crayons and Coloring Books/Sketch Pads – this is an activity I personally loved while growing up. Because I have seen Matilda’s interest in writing through copying me by holding my pens, it was then I realized, she is ready. We started to introduce crayons and pencils just a few months after she turned a year old. After I showed her how these were used, I just allowed her to doodle, color however way she wanted, and just observed. There were times I’d sit beside her and color with her. She would watch and copy what I was doing and sometimes would ask for my help, I’d remind her how it is done and she’ll go back to doing it on her own.

I also used crayons to teach her colors by writing the alphabet and numbers on a sketch pad. I would also draw certain objects and would name them one by one. This helped in building her imagination as well as her vocabulary. Indeed, a lot of things can be taught through this activity. You just have to learn to be creative. 🙂

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Another thing we love to do is build things with play-doh.

Play-Doh – this is a good exercise for fine motor skills. The molding process is a good means for them to gain control and make their own shapes. Also a good way for them to develop in the area of art and crafts. To make it more fun, we sometimes use her toys and include some pretend-play, like a tea-party for her dolls. She enjoys this activity a lot and it pays really, as she gets to be imaginative in her play. Just be careful not to leave your child unattended with this as this is a choking hazard.

Educational Posters – I think this is a must in every home. These posters are what your child will get to see everyday and that is one of the best ways for them to memorize different things such as the alphabet, numbers, shapes, parts of the body, animals, opposites (big and small, short and tall, open and close, long and short etc.) It is really cheap and readily available at any local bookstores.

Another approach for learning is through Montessori-Inspired Materials. Because I came from a Monterssori school, I am familiar with the type of materials used when we were still in CASA (Nursery level). I incorporated these materials in our play-based learning in order to cover certain areas that are quite difficult for a small child to understand.

Ring Stacker – this would teach them colors and the concept of size recognition and differentiation. This is also a good activity for hand and eye coordination as they stack the rings to the rod.

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Nesting and Stacking Blocks – this teaches them the importance of balance and it’s relation to various sizes. Also a great activity for building whatever they like.

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Spindle Box – this is quite hard to find, if there is any. I made my own by using an illustration board with printed numbers and number words and bought a set of wooden sticks. This is a great material in teaching a child how to count and associate the numbers with actual counting objects, such as the wooden sticks. I would just show her how it is used and she watched me until she was able to get it. She now knows how to properly count because of this.

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Basic Skills Toy -this toy is for practical life skills. This will help your child in teaching them independence when it comes to tying their shoe lace, buttoning their shirt, snapping and unsnapping probably their clothes as well, opening and closing zippers, and fastening or buckling belts. You can also make your own and all you will need is an old shirt, a frame (optional-as this is Montessori-inspired ), and add whatever activity you’d like for them to master.

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Pizza Party – this toy or any other toy that has a similar concept will be a great tool in teaching them how to count as well as the concept of same and different. The different toppings on the pizza is useful in identifying which go together (alike) and which do not (different). This toy is also a great way to introduce fractions later on. It is a really good investment and even I enjoy playing with it!

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Puzzles – this helps in introducing the alphabet sounds or phonics. Getting them acquainted with the pictures and their corresponding names will enable them to identify which letter they begin with. A good activity you can practice to prepare them for reading.

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Practical Life Skills – I cannot thank my parents enough for exposing me to household chores at such an early age. They allowed me to play at the laundry area and wash hankies and socks, at the kitchen to wash the dishes (with help of course!), sweep the floor, polish shoes, wipe the tables to remove dust, and a lot more. These helped me in being responsible for my own room as I grew older, and eventually in our own house as a wife. These are activities which your child will surely enjoy as I did when I was younger.

There are really so many ways to make these materials and lot others are available as well. You don’t have to spend much to achieve the same kind of concepts. All you need is a bit of creativity using ordinary art supplies with your own recyclable things at home, and the internet to get ideas, with that, you are good to go. Try searching for toddler or preschool activities at home and you will be surprised at how much information there is on the web. Some examples are lacing beads for fine motor skills, using buttons or same colored objects to teach colors, painting for art, sorting same and different items, and a whole lot more depending on which area your child needs to improve on or develop.

There is something you have to keep in mind though, in whatever instance, do not pressure your child to sit down and do these activities if he/she is not ready. You don’t want a child getting traumatized with the idea of learning just because you are too eager to teach them or just because you think your child is far behind with what he/she knows. Remember that they develop at their own pace. Some kids develop early and some at a later time, and this doesn’t make them any better nor less smarter than others. As kids, they still love to play and are still very curious about other things. They easily get bored too, and you really have to find ways to motivate them to learn something new each day.

One of the things I noticed with Matilda is, words of affirmation gets her going. Whenever she hears me compliment her for something right she has done, or whenever she accomplished an activity, this gives her a boost to continue on. It really pays to know your child and in this case, it would be great to use that certain characteristic to your advantage when it comes to teaching.

Have you got other suggestions? Leave it in the comment box, so we can try them too! Also, would you happen to be interested in what activities we are up to now? These are more advanced and already include textbooks and workbooks. Just let me know so I can share them to you and make a Part 3 of this series. 🙂

Bullying and Homeschooling

As a child, I knew going to school was necessary for me to learn and to be able to “work” someday. It was clearly explained to me while I was growing up, mostly by my father. Being a child, however, doesn’t quite give you a wide understanding of the things that you will have to go through to get there.

I started pre-school a little bit late. I was 6 years old then and even though I passed the assessment test for the “prep” level, my parents insisted that I must go through the “kinder” level first to lessen the pressure of learning on my part. They wanted me to be able adjust first with the idea of school and they thought I wasn’t ready yet for the higher level. As it turned out, no amount of preparation could actually get you to that state anyway.

That entire first year in school went by smoothly. I wasn’t excited about the fact I’ll be left in school alone as my parents recalled. Because I was really young then, my memories of school were bits and pieces of both good and bad. One particular thing I clearly remember though, was that right from the start, I was always the target of the bullies in school.

If you don’t know me personally, my mother is Filipina and my father is Indian. I don’t actually look like an Indian except for the fact that when I was young, my everyday hairdo was a simple braid for my long and curly hair. My complexion is fair, I got that from my mom. The height, being tallest in the class is from my dad. At around 6-9 years old, my teeth looked terrible and to top it all off, I was very chubby. Yeah, I wasn’t as appealing compared to the other girls in school. And that was the reason I was the bully’s favorite.

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Fast forward to 2nd grade, I grew older and so somehow, everything I was going through already took its toll on me. I started showing signs that I disliked school. I didn’t show any excitement about it and that made every morning difficult, for my mother.

I don’t know why I didn’t tell my parents sooner what I was experiencing in school. Until one day when a group of boys from my class intentionally threw my lunch and tore my lunch box apart. In my attempt to stop them, I got hurt when one of them kicked me. A lot of students saw what happened and immediately called the attention of the teacher who wasn’t in the room when it happened. The teacher called my mom and informed her of the incident and it was just then when I told them the truth.

Everyday as I went to school, my classmates (boys) would call me names, trip me while walking, pull my braid, steal my things, and a lot more. Being a child at that time, who had been treated the same way for a while, I honestly thought what they were doing to me was normal. If not for that incident, my parents would not have known the truth about my experiences in school.

One more incident took place months after that. A boy from my class brought a pellet gun and he shot me right at my chin with it. Thank God he did not hit me in the eye and though it hurt so bad, it did not leave any permanent damage. And this was the first time I personally told my mom about a particular bullying incident.

As a mother now to my baby girl, thinking about what happened to me breaks my heart twice harder. I couldn’t for the life of me ever imagine for her to be treated that way. I now understand what my mom could have felt at that time and why she did all that she could to protect me and my memories of childhood.

After months of probation and deliberation, two of these bullies eventually got expelled from school because of other numerous incidents that involved them. But even though they weren’t in school anymore, it did not lessen my anxiety about the idea of going to school in any way.

Because of all the bullying, I developed an intense feeling of insecurity. I avoided playing with other kids except for some of my closest girl friends. I also had anxiety attacks wherein my tummy would get so upset on the way to school and sometimes I’d develop a fever out of nowhere. This was a serious concern for my parents and so whenever I showed signs that I wasn’t well, they wouldn’t force me to go to school anymore.

You see, communication is very important. It’s very common among children not to inform parents about certain things when they think that it is normal. Always make sure you talk to your child about what specifically happens in school. Ask them questions in detail to be able to know how they are doing. You also have to watch out for signs. If your child isn’t showing any interest in school, ask them and investigate why.

These simple things may make or break your child’s character. And honestly, it is one of the main reasons why we are leaning towards homeschooling our Matilda. I’m very thankful that no matter how rough those circumstances were to me, at least I somehow ended up to be a normal, happy person. But even though I turned out fine, that doesn’t mean it left no emotional scar in my childhood. Of course, it did! I can still remember the hate I felt towards every one of those bullies. In my mind, I wished bad things to happen to them and I grew up holding grudges against them. It was only when I came to know the Lord, through his mercy and grace, that I was able to forgive all of them.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31, 32 NLT)

Knowing the formative years are very crucial, I cannot depend on the school or a teacher for that matter, to lead my child into Christlikeness. That responsibility is mine and I have to own it. As her mother, she was entrusted to me by God for a reason. A reason that only a Christian parent will understand. This involves leading her to follow Christ and for her to do the same when she’s already of age. We want her character molded in a place where circumstances are within our control. And we (Joey and I) consider the home to be a safe place where I can monitor what she learns, how she does things, and everything else in between. I want to be able to personally guide her in the process of building her own personality, and not to be dictated by how other children perceive who she is. I want myself to set a good example for her and not for her to copy someone who doesn’t have any set of values – just like the bullies present in school.

I may be paranoid and my reasons may be invalid but if you were bullied like me, I’m sure you wouldn’t want your child to experience the same. And one way for me to prevent that is to home school her instead. Yes, I know, bullying is inevitable and it can happen absolutely anywhere, even in play areas and the like. All I want is to lessen the possibility since the school is a place wherein children interact with one another on a daily basis, and the chances of it happening there, are far greater. Plus, the effects based on their interaction without you around, are much more critical too.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying sending your child to a regular school is wrong. Of course it’s absolutely okay. It’s just that, you, as the parent should be responsible enough to make sure your child goes to a school which gives importance to your child’s inward orientation. Sure, they will learn well in this particular school knowing all the students who have graduated turned out successful. But, think about their heart. Where is Jesus in their lives? Was the school able to instill important life lessons such as having a personal relationship with God? Is the school as aggressive in building the child’s character and not just feeding them with curriculum lessons? Evaluate the school, the teachers and the students. You have to know where they stand. After all, you’ll leave your child with these people who will greatly influence their life. Wouldn’t you want to know who they will learn from and what they will contribute to the development of their character?

When you look at schooling this way, it is only then you will understand its gravity. Whatever your decision might be, it is best to consider what will work for your family. What works for us might not work for you and vice versa. Just make sure you have prayed and asked God for guidance in making the right decisions such as choosing the right school for you child.

In the event however, that your child is already being bullied, here are some tips I thought to share with you:

1. Try your best to keep your cool and go to the school immediately and talk to the proper authorities about it. Never, ever confront the bully or his parents. Note: “Anti-Bullying Act of 2012”
2. Request a guidance counselor to monitor your child’s behavior at school. A weekly meeting may help your child gain his/her self-esteem back.
3. Enroll your child in a sport that would enhance his skill in self-defense like Taekwondo or Muay Thai. (Note: Teach them to defend themselves and NOT to fight back!)
4. Encourage your child to communicate with you about his daily activities in school.
5. Explain the importance of forgiveness and that it is God’s command for him to do so. Pray with your child that God will grant you wisdom in understanding the heart of the bully. Doing this will allow him/her to be able to have peace in his heart.

  • Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13 NIV)

6. Set a good example to your child by showing proper attitude against people who mistreat you. How your child responds is usually how they see it from their parents. Make sure you are being a role-model at all times, even when things don’t go your way.

  • “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. (Matthew 5:38, 39 NLT)

7. Consider the benefits of homeschooling, both for you and your child.

My parents wanted the best for me that’s why they sent me to that particular school. The only mistake they made was that they trusted the school too much and they forgot to scrutinize how they value the formation of their student’s character.

The bullying was a depressing chapter of my life but I learned a lot from it. One is to extend my patience further and another is to have an understanding and forgiving heart towards difficult people. Part of who I am now is because of all the experiences I encountered in the past and I will be forever grateful for it.

Were you bullied as a child? Or do you have a child who is being bullied in school? What actions did you take? How did it affect your child? Let’s talk about it and let me know how I can pray for you!

 

 

 

Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom

Whoever thinks this job is fairly easy, is borderline crazy. Have you ever tried staying home with a baby to take care of? Not for an hour, but 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Without monetary compensation, no breaks and no leaves. Is there even a work like it? Well, I don’t think so.

When I was still single, I never thought of myself to be a career woman. I felt it wasn’t my calling and because I am close to my Mom, I wanted to raise my own child, just as she did. We did have helpers around, but my mom was the one personally taking care of me. Joey grew up the same way and I think that greatly influenced our decision to get to this point.

Even before marrying Joey, we have already agreed that I won’t be working afterwards. I’ll be that domesticated housewife who would prepare his meals, do the laundry, iron his clothes, clean the house, do the grocery, take care of our children, and so on and so forth. In my head, I was excited for most of it except for the ironing part – Joey is very particular about this that even though I knew how to iron, I had to unlearn it and relearn the way he wants it done. He was just used to it that way, and I was okay with it. All these things we chose to do were also in preparation for the time when I hopefully get pregnant. After all, our goal was that I’ll be the one to take care of our child. Anything else that concerned the household, he made me the one responsible for it.

During the early months, we didn’t hire a helper. I knew I could do it, so I did it all on my own. Even did the laundry by hand because I was used to it while I was growing up. I’m not a big fan of the washing machine, by the way, except for jeans and other hard to wash stuff. It was also a way to save myself from the headache of having a helper. You all know how hard it is nowadays to get a reliable and trustworthy person to work for you. At least, I’ll be able to do things exactly the way we want it. We saved a bit this way too, and we used that money to slowly buy our furnitures. When I got pregnant with Matilda though, we had to hire one already since I won’t be able to do all those things by myself anymore. And most importantly, to keep me company when Joey is out-of-town for work. Note that we were still in Davao then, as I mentioned in my other post.

So what is it actually like to be a Stay-at-Home Mom? I prepared a short list for you and here it goes:

1. It’s fun! You get to be with your child day and night.
2. You’ll be there to witness their every single milestone.
3. You won’t have to miss them.
4. Your child will get to know you and you will get to know them. You’ll build a different level of bond for each other.
5. You will personally build their character. During the formative years, this is very important.

The list seems alright, then why did I say in the first part that whoever thinks this job is fairly easy, is borderline crazy? Here goes the Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom:

1. When your child starts crying, it can be a bit tricky, and sometimes frustrating to make them stop. (If you’re a parent, you’ll understand.)
2. Putting them to sleep is sometimes easy, and sometimes really difficult.
3. You’ll have to wash their bum a lot of times – daily! Until they are big enough to do this themselves. (Unless your child has a nanny to do this for you).
4. When they start exploring like crawling or walking, it can be very exhausting.
5. When they get sick, you’ll definitely shed some tears – okay, a lot, really.
6. Wait! Your work doesn’t stop there! You still have a husband!

After God, your spouse should be your next priority. – Wait, what? Why does he even have to be a priority? Isn’t he old enough to take care of himself? Let’s see the right order of priorities according to the scripture:

1. God
• Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV)

God commanded that we seek Him first, above all things.

2. Spouse
• Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:22-25 NIV)

Husbands will rule over the wife and the wife must submit to the husband. – This has been God’s design after the fall of man. (Note the verses from Genesis below).

3. Children
• Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 NASB)

As Parents, we were commanded to raise Godly children and since the husbands were instructed to work and provide for the family, (as seen on the following verses below) this duty will mainly fall under the hands of the wife.

These verses serve as a reminder to what my purpose in life is. I’m not only a mom but a wife too – and being a wife should be a priority. I must admit, I fail Joey sometimes in those areas that concern him. Matilda’s presence in our lives can be overwhelming that I tend to forget that her father has needs as well.

Marriage takes a lot of work for both husband and wife, and until you accept the fact that God created you for a specific purpose, you will often find yourselves tested with big challenges. Having a child will change your marriage drastically – it needs to be prayed for. It will change a mother’s body physically, her mind psychologically and her heart emotionally. It will surely change the daily routine you have established alone and together, it will somehow leave your social life cold and there will be times you will forget about your own self in taking care of the new addition to your family. Most of us (wives) sometimes do not notice all of these changes, but our husbands do. The only way for you to understand each other is through open and honest communication. If and when your husband feels neglected, make it up to him. Remind him of why you love him and back it up with acts of service. As I have said, in this area, I am a little guilty, but I really try my best to be the same person I was even before we had Matilda. I am thankful and really blessed that even though I forget about my responsibilities as a wife sometimes, Joey would patiently remind me and would be very understanding about it. What we also learned to do, to keep our own sanity amidst those trying times, is to turn to God’s word and constantly remind ourselves that God crafted marriage beautifully and that if you follow His design, you will be blessed abundantly.

Since this set up is quite uncommon nowadays, wherein most mothers usually work alongside their husbands, you might ask how we make it work. Is one income ever enough for a household? Of course, YES! Scripture tells us that husbands are to provide for the family.

• And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19 NLT)

• But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8 NASB)

To make it work, first of all, we choose to live a simple life – we have to, because we could never afford to live extravagantly with only one person in the house, working. So, we rarely eat out anymore unlike we used to when we were still dating. We don’t shop unless we NEED something and most of all, I am a breastfeeding and cloth diapering mom! How much we save on that alone must be dedicated to a separate blog post.

Going back, being a Stay at Home Mom works out for us because by God’s grace, we exert extra effort and strive to make it work. It isn’t easy, and we too struggle sometimes – mostly in our finances, but trusting God first and setting your priorities are key. Remember, the formative years will either make or break your child’s character. So setting an example at a young age will be substantial to the future of your child. This is why we chose this path. It might be difficult, but the end result will definitely be worth it.

Let me share my life verse:

• I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

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How about you? Are you a stay at home mom too? Or are you thinking of leaving work to personally take care of your child? Let’s talk about it!

Leaving Home

The decision to finally get married right after I passed the board exams was easy. Joey and I got engaged on my 21st birthday. What?! Oh yes, at 21. You would all think that’s too young. Well yes, okay, I was. Joey on the other hand was 29, 8 years older than I was, and for him, it was the right time to get married.

I met Joey when I was a freshman in college. We had a common friend I knew from church, and he was the one who introduced us. Right in the beginning, we already had a serious relationship. We both believed that once you are dating someone, you ought to be thinking about marriage already. If not, what is the point in wasting your time and energy in that relationship? So, we built our dreams together, shared hopes for one another, and most of all, sought God’s approval for the fulfillment of His plans for us. To cut the story short, we were engaged for a year and we eventually got married August 25, 2011.

I was so clueless I didn't even realized he pulled the ring out!

I was so clueless I didn’t even realize he pulled the ring out!

It was just like yesterday. I still feel the happiness I felt when he proposed. :)

It was just like yesterday. I still feel the happiness I felt then, when he proposed. 🙂

As I’ve said, the decision to marry Joey was easy. He had all the qualities I prayed for… well except for the height, but that’s absolutely fine since nobody is perfect, right? Kidding aside, Joey did help me learn a lot of things when we were still dating, and that’s one of the main reasons why I fell in love with him. Falling in love was easy, although, the hard part was about to come. As much as I enjoyed his company, I wasn’t emotionally prepared to leave home.

Leaving home meant leaving my family, the comfort of my own home, the room I grew up in, and most of all the bathroom that I am used to having all to myself. (I heard a lot of horror stories about men not being able to keep the bathroom dry and I hate it! Really, really hate wet floors!). And the catch was, I had to leave town as well – I had to move to Davao to be with him.

Joey, at that time, was in charge of two major areas, Visayas and Mindanao. He traveled a lot and I knew that once I moved in with him, I’ll be left alone most weekdays, away from my family and friends, in a city foreign to me – if he needed to travel by plane. Those were the things that made it difficult but, I relied on God’s word through these verses:

1. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31 NIV)

2. The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18 NIV)

I held on to these verses as I left home to be with him. In the early weeks, it was so much fun exploring a new city, waking up to a husband beside you, household chores and all. It was like playing house. We felt invincible and eventually forgot to put God in the center of our relationship as husband and wife. Time passed and the romantic stage slowly turned into reality. The reality that life now is no longer about ME and everything I do must be under the authority of my husband as God commanded in these verses: Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24 NIV)

Our Civil Wedding was held in Davao.

Our Civil Wedding was held in Davao.

To submit is hard, really hard. I struggled and questioned a lot even though I know I shouldn’t. Due to this, small disagreements became problems and it affected our marriage. We realized this at some point and we felt convicted. (Actually, I, myself felt more guilty about this). We knew God was putting our marriage to a test and the only way we could fix it is to have Him at the center of our marriage, where He should have been all along. And as soon as we came back to Him, and set our priorities straight, God blessed us with a baby – our Matilda.

The pregnancy helped restore our marriage, our frustrations toward each others shortcomings turned into love and understanding. We felt so blessed there was no more room for bitterness, only forgiveness and acceptance. Sure, there were times we’d fight, we still do sometimes, but love will overcome it all.

We did a maternity shoot  when I was 8 months pregnant with Matilda.

We did a maternity shoot when I was 8 months pregnant with Matilda.

Joey, Matilda and I are happily back now in Manila since April 2013. We miss Davao everyday and we always hope to come back for a vacation. After all, Matilda was born there! A Davaoeña Baby, as our friends call her. Now that we are back, we realized a number of things why God brought us there in the first place. Here are some of the things we learned:

1. God had to take us out of our comfort zone to teach us to be independent, individually, and to depend on each other as a married couple.
2. He taught us the value of money, and that our happiness should not depend on it, but on Him, alone.
3. Marriage is about a husband and a wife – families and friends are excluded. Whatever you go through in your marriage should be dealt with privately.
4. Trust that God will provide, in everything. Don’t worry, because when you do, you sin against Him. No matter how hard life might be, especially with finances, always hold on to His promises through these verses:
•But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:33, 34 NIV)
•Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. (Joshua 21:45 NIV)

Our family life is not perfect, it will never be, but it is a work in progress. Challenges will surely come and go, but we know only one thing is certain, that we will stick with each other, with God’s grace, no matter what. Let me end with the Love Chapter from the Bible:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-10, 13 NIV)

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