Friday, September 22, 2017

Simple Pleasures

     I happened to be opening some older photos the other day when I came upon these from two years ago.  I was immediately reminded of the importance of family relationships and the importance of grasping every moment as it comes.  As I viewed these photos of my boys, I was struck with their growth across the last 27 months.  They are no longer little boys; the eldest will be a teen by the end of October while the younger just turned eleven.  I was also reminded of how important family is to Philipinos.  In this post, one can see three sisters and a close family friend, and their close attachment is easy to distinguish.  My boys can be seen playing football with their cousin and uncle in our backyard.  As always, food is very important when Philipino gather, especially Philippine foods.
I have come to realize that these are times to cherish and to revisit as the pressures of a busy life seek to bury us beneath a load of care.  Simple pleasures like feasting with family, playing football outdoors and just enjoying each other so outweigh the material wealth for which we sometimes strive.  A verse from I Timothy comes to mind, For contentment with godliness is great gain.  Not always easy to follow, but definitely worth the struggle!

Starting Fresh

It has been a long time since I last posted to this blog, and I am committed to renewing what I had been doing previously although I will be going back in time to hit some high points in our lives which have not made it into this blog. In the summer of 2016, our family took a trip to Niagara Falls.  That was a great experience for the boys who had never seen the falls before.  They marveled at the majesty of the falls as we stood near the thundering waters.  When viewing Niagara Falls, the trip is never complete without an excursion on the Maid of the Mist.  We enjoyed our trip up close to the falls even if we did get soaked.  I was reminded of the passage in Psalms where the Psalmist had this to say.
     In the roar of Your waterfalls,
    ancient depths surge, calling out to the deep.
All Your waves break over me;
    am I drowning?
Yet in the light of day, the Eternal shows me His love.
    When night settles in and all is dark, He keeps me company—
    His soothing song, a prayerful melody to the True God of my life.
Experiencing extreme difficulties in life may cause us to feel as though we are drowning, yet we are reminded once again of the power and love of a God who cares for us. As a family we were fortunate enough to see another result of an all powerful and loving God's great acts of creation.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Time of Thanksgiving

      This Thanksgiving has been a very special day for us.  always have so much for which to thank the Lord, but this year has been special in many different ways.  As I reminisced over the last eleven months, I realized that we as a family have seen God at work in so many different ways.  We saw our boys take the next step in their faith by asking to be baptized.We thank the Lord and praise him for his work in their lives.  Then we saw him at work again as he turned a seeming disaster into good when our car needed major repairs.  We were able to purchase a new Honda CRV which has been better on gas and should give us a reliable car for years to come.  Then we were struck again by  major expenses to fix a large section of the back of our house which I felt we could not afford.  The Lord provided the funds and the person to complete the repairs.  Again we saw God's hand at work in Tess's schooling as she continues to work towards her degree in nursing.  We have seen God's hand at work in our family as he has allowed us another year of safety and health.  Finally, God has brought our family together this fall providing an opportunity for our boys to meet their grandparents from the Philippines for the first time in many years, in Matthew's case the first time ever.  These are just a few of the many things for which I am thankful.  To make a comprehensive list would be virtually impossible, but for all these blessings and many more, I say "Thank you, Lord!"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Turning Our Words Back on Us!

     Sometimes kids come up with little pearls that can be both true and extremely humorous.  My wife has been studying nursing which is a rigorous program with basic requirements that are being raised almost every semester, probably due to a glut in the profession right now.  A passing grade right now is an 80%.  For someone who wants and has had a 3.7 average through her prerequisites, getting a B is now a struggle, so we hear quite a bit at home about her struggles.  The other day my sons' grades at school when we noticed a significant drop in my younger son's grades due to negligence in regards to his homework.  On the other hand, my older son had noticeably improved his grades.  My wife, in an attempt to encourage our younger son, said,  "Everett, you can do so much better.  You need to get your grades up like Matthew has his." Matthew very seriously joined in and said, "Yes, and Mommy, you should too." My wife and I looked at each other and could not help it.  We both burst into laughter, enjoying the moment.  Had he not been so serious when he said that, it would not have been so funny.  Sometimes our children can turn our words against us without really meaning to do that.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Birthday Party Highs and Lows

     For my son, Matthew, on his eleventh birthday the uppermost photo reveals one of the highs of his birthday party.  He received the book, Fuzzy Mud, which he desperately wanted after reading Holes, a book written by the same author, Louis Sachar.  He has really gotten into reading lately, a development which has both Mom and Dad thrilled.  A high and a low came shortly thereafter during a birthday game concocted by his uncle.  Starting with a full-sized brown paper shopping bag, each contestant had to bend over with one leg and both arms in the air and pick up the bag between his/her teeth.  After each round, a layer of approximately two inches was cut off.  Not realizing his limitations at the age of 35, Matthew's uncle bravely attempted to pick the bag up from about three inches off the floor, resulting in the low point of the party when he tumbled awkwardly to the floor just after the second photo was snapped.  For Matthew and one of his close friends, a high point was reached when they subsequently tied in the contest by managing to pick the bag up from the floor in the final round as seen in the third photo, giving them both a prize of $1.00.  This game proposed by his creative Uncle John added a whole new layer of entertainment and fun to his party.  I am sure Matthew will not soon forget his eleventh birthday party!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Forgiveness to the Extreme!

     At the age of ten, children tend to be very tender spiritually and open to spiritual insights.  The other night I was tucking my older son in after our evening devotions which dealt with forgiveness and we touched on some events which had transpired in his life recently involving forms of bullying. Matthew looked up at me and said very seriously, "Daddy, it would really be difficult to forgive someone who murdered me.  But I would have to forgive him because if I didn't, I would have to  live with it forever."  I did not bother to explain the obvious that if someone murdered him, he would not have a chance to forgive him.  Sometimes it is better to allow the child to internalize the idea that forgiveness is important, and when I refuse to forgive, I am actually hurting myself.  I am a firm believer in the power of forgiveness to cleanse hurts and repair relationships.   However, after I left his bedroom, my wife and I still had a good laugh.
      I just allowed my son to read this blog and asked him if he knew why Daddy got a good laugh out of that.  He was puzzled and replied "No."  I explained to him that if he had been murdered, then he would be dead, thus unable to forgive.  He looked at me and with no change of expression answered, "No, I was talking about you getting murdered." I was certain he said "me" when he mentioned getting murdered. Guess Daddy has to sharpen his hearing!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Out of the Mouth of a Child

     My youngest son just turned nine years of age last month.  This was his birthday cake which he thoroughly enjoyed.  At nine years old, he comes up with some really humorous comments without really meaning to be funny.  One evening at the dinner table, he was relating a story told to his class by the teacher that day at school.  In an attempt to impress upon her students the importance of compassion, she told them of an event that occurred in her life that week.  She had been out shopping and had stopped by a coffee shop when she noticed a woman who seemed very distraught.  Approaching the lady, she asked if she could be of any help.  This woman proceeded to tell her that her young daughter was afflicted by cancer.  His teacher  told the class how she prayed for the lady and her daughter in an attempt to comfort her.  As my son was narrating the story, he had a really funny blooper when he stated very seriously, "This lady's daughter had...I think it was...bra cancer." I chuckled, and my other son immediately spoke up and said "No, you mean breast cancer." Everett just brushed it off and completed his story, and to his teacher's credit, I know he internalized a lesson about compassion that day even if he did make a mistake while recounting the story.

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