Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Manny Pacquiao Can Teach My Child

No, it’s not boxing (because my heart probably won’t be able to take it haha!), but something else that has been increasingly imminent in this man’s character. While the nation was in mourning at his latest, and most heart-wrenching loss, I too was dumbfounded at the way it happened. I mean, c’mon, Manny Pacquiao KO’d?! When I heard the news, I opted not to watch anymore because I know I’d probably weep like a baby. Pacquiao is as dear to me as he is to millions of Filipinos. Pinoys from all walks of life have been united in cheering for this man. Some even went so far as to declare him to be our national hero. That being said, his loss was taken not-so-lightly by his countrymen—some were deeply saddened as I was, some were sympathetic and encouraging, some were angry, and some chose to blame—from his Bible studies, his not hearing his usual mass the day before, his being over-generous (huh?), to Freddie Roach’s losing streak.

Amidst all the talk and the throwing of blame, one might wonder, how is Manny taking this all in? One statement that came from him answered it all,

“...Pwede ka bang pumunta sa larangan ng isang paligsahan na walang matatalo, puro panalo? Dumarating yung panahon na natalo ka, dumarating din yung panahon na nananalo ka. Kailangan pagdumating yung panahon na talo ka, buong puso mo ring tanggapin dahil pinasok mo yang trabaho na yan eh.” Karamihan kasi sa mga tao yung faith nila sa Panginoon ay pang good times lang. Peo pag bad times katulad ng nangyari sa akin yung faith nila nababawasan, at nawawala pa minsan.” Pero ako, lalong nadagdagan."

(Can you enter the world of competition and expect that you’d never lose and always win? Time will come when you would lose some, and you would win some. And when that time of loss arrives, you accept that wholeheartedly because you chose to enter that. A lot of people put their faith on God only in good times. But when bad times come like in my case, their faith diminishes, and sometimes wavers. But with me, my faith has just increased.)


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And immediately I was comforted by his words. I no longer felt pity for this man because he got knocked out in the ring. I felt joy for him because no matter what, he has God. And what can compare to that?

God in Manny Pacquiao’s life means boundless grace, peace and joy, as I can only imagine. And on the outside, God in his life has meant the return of a blissful marriage, freedom from the bondages of alcohol, gambling, and immense graciousness that is forming his character.

He lost the match but was quick to thank God that He has kept both he and Marquez safe inside the ring, offer his congratulatory greetings to the winner, and moved on with his life. No vents of anger, vows of revenge, cries of cheating, or traces of self-pity. This was a man who took it all like a man.

Manny’s legacy may always be as a great boxer, but in my mind, it’s increasingly becoming to be a man who completely surrendered himself to God. As the years pass and his experience adds up, what he may be able to teach the younger generation are far beyond what happens in the ring, rather, what a great God can do to an ordinary man like him.

What I admire most about Pacquiao ever since was his humility. He was not one to hide his vulnerabilities in the ring—kneeling down in prayer before a match as if putting it all in God’s hands. And isn’t that what we all need to do, whoever we may be, no matter what we have accomplished—to kneel down before a God infinitely higher and mightier than we are, acknowledge our limitations, and to rise up in faith as we put all of that, and our heart’s desires, all in His hands? When we do, I believe that God will also bless us with “long-sightedness”, or the ability to believe beyond what is in front of us (may that be loss, illness, or afflictions). Manny certainly seems to be looking way past that KO, so perhaps we should all take the cue from him J

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Personally, I’m just happy for the Pacman because he’s become so much more than just a boxer. He’s running the race marked out for him, and it’s showing in his character. And with his stature and influence, his life can be used by God to teach many. As Abraham was known for his faith, I believe Manny will also be the same. I know I’m eager to share stories about him to my son as Gabbie sure can learn or two about faith by his example. Perhaps even the whole country can, too J

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Love Knows No Fear

As a new parent, I am aware of the incredible outpouring of emotions towards my son. The love that flows in my heart for him is constant and surging, free-flowing and seemingly boundless. When he was a small infant, soft, fragile, sweet, and in need of me, the love was just gushing out of me. Now at a year old, and a bit more feisty, playful and interactive, the love takes shape in various, more active forms—-through constant talking and communicating, through affectionate touch and embraces, and through discipline. At night when I put him to bed, I sing to him that I love him and that I always will, forever. And deep in my heart, I know that to be true, even when the time that he will go his own way will come, or even if he will disobey me, question my authority, or even dishonor me. I know that my love for him will never change. But I will admit to the fact that the thought of him hurting me, while possibly inevitable (I believe a person will go his own way and sometimes hurting others can’t be helped; I just pray that he will always be led by the Spirit in all that he chooses to fight for), is a bit stressful for me to think about right now haha! But never did it occur to me to give up the fight, to give up mothering, to give up on my family. Even if I knew for sure that Gabbie will give me a headache and heartache at some point, I will still choose to have him and take care of him and love him. Knowing this in my heart certainly puts things in perspective for me about my God. If I, imperfect to the core, can find such enduring love for my son, how much more our Creator who has given us Himself and had us call him, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). And this IS, indeed, what His grace has given us.

I had been asked by a friend once, “If God is omniscient, then He must have known that we, His creation, would eventually sin and fall. Why, then, did He still choose to create us?” I believe it is because God wanted us to have a relationship with Him. He wanted us to know His love. He wanted us to know Him. (When we truly know Him, we will surely stand in faith, bringing Him glory as He had intended) But the price of that love was very high, yet God still chose to pay for it. Don’t you see? God has, and always will be, led by love. Love for you and I that endures the test of time, of trials and backsliding. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b]neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38)”

By His grace, our sins have been removed from us and we have been given right standing with the Lord. The Lord Jesus Christ has given His own life so that we may have ours to the full (John 10:10). I remember how my life was without Him—full of darkness, lies, and fearful relationships. I did not know Him as my Father then. Then, He saved me. He brought me out to the light and gave me new hope. Everyday, He paints a fresh layer of my destiny. He gave me, a hopeless sinner, a brand new start. And by His grace, I am now able to claim the life and purpose He had intended for me. A glimpse of that are my wonderful husband and sweet baby boy. They are beautiful, glorious, and completely undeserved, much like my God, much like His love.

So, when I look at Gabbie now, and thoughts of future disobedience, insolence, stubbornness and other possible heartaches enter my mind, I lift up my head to God. I will not be fearful of having this relationship with my son or of loving him, for my Lord has shown me that love will indeed conquer all.

I love you, Gabbie.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Strong-Willed Child

Many who know me, and my husband, know Gabbie already. In fact, he has amassed quite a “following” of his own among our family and friends, with all the smiling photos I’ve posted on him on Facebook. Now, at one year and three weeks,
our little one is so much more than just a smiling face (though that’s a pretty cute one!). It’s time to get to know our Little Mister Sunshine deeper. He’s not just smiley, and happy, and a people-person (he’s exhibited these qualities since he was about five or six months). I’ve discovered in just the last month that our baby has a strong-willed personality. He knows what he wants, and is fiercely determined at getting it. He goes towards his goal without hesitation and has now become fearless in doing so. When restrained for whatever reason, he gets angry and shows his displeasure by crying, wailing, kicking, shaking his head and even babbling very loudly.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post (, we have begun disciplining Gabbie already as he has shown quite an aptitude for throwing tantrums. I admit that the constant saying of “no” and “talking” to Gabbie when he’s having a fit sometimes takes its toll on me. I don’t know if I’m just not patient enough or if this is just a natural reaction of parents when their child is showing signs of insolence. But, in the one year that I’ve taken care of my son, only now have I felt fear. Fear at the upcoming challenge and headache of teaching a child discipline, and of possibly failing at it. At the heart of it, I don’t want my son to grow up nurturing a rebellious spirit for that will surely get him into trouble (my husband and I both know from experience). And even deeper, I don’t want him turning his back on his purpose as God had intended. I know, I know. I’m over-thinking this. Which is why I am grateful for one truth: It is God who has mapped out my son’s destiny, and it is He who will equip him, and us as his parents, to help ensure that he will claim his life’s purpose. And one more truth I am especially thankful for: Disciplining our son is within His will, and we will be able to do that all by His grace, which is fresh and brand-new every single day. In fact, by His grace, I have already learned better ways to communicate with Gabbie to minimize frustration and thus, tantrums, and to enable us both to enjoy our time together. I’m looking forward to learning more and more, and to really just take this experience all in, while enjoying our son to the hilt!

We may not have parenting schools to attend and we may not have prior experiences to learn from but thank You, Lord that we are not in this alone. May Your guiding hand be upon us, and all parents of strong-willed children, always.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A (Birth)Day of Thanksgiving

Last October 20, we celebrated our baby boy Gabbie’s first birthday party and dedication (which may be likened to a baptism, except that we leave that “decision” to be baptized to him when he gets older; dedication is simply a ceremony of sorts dedicating him to God and praying over him). 

Gabbie's family and godparents pray over him
The party was of a picnic-inspired theme which means, relaxed and very informal. We were blessed with spectacular weather—sunny but cool—which went very well with our venue, UP Bonsai Garden (Tel. no. 925-6996). Practically everything was DIY or “labors of love” by the entire family:

Invitation was designed by my uber-talented sister-in-law, pasta, salad and empanadas were by my mom-in-law, brother-in-law and aunt, barbeque were homemade too by my family, giveaways were handled by my mom, and hubby and I took care of printing of invites and Gabbie’s photos. 

Red checked table mantels with homemade food, with Gabbie's photos (from birth to present) hanging on the background

We had a catering service handle one dish, the bread, and all tables and chairs. One supplier I’m very, very happy with, however was our cake-maker, Sugarplum (contact Lovely Jiao 0917-5161411). They followed my sister-in-law’s design very well, did not scrimp on the ingredients, and charged us a very affordable price. From all the suppliers I’ve asked, this was the cheapest by far! Theirs is almost half the price of all others (I have quotations of about five other suppliers).

But amidst the busyness and logistical hullabaloo, this day was about something infinitely more significant. This was a day of thanksgiving to our God Almighty. October 20 is a special day not just for Gabbie, but for our family. This day commemorated the journey that God took us through one year later, and what a journey it has been! You all know that Gabbie was born prematurely, and all of our family and friends have bore witness just how gracefully Gabbie has grown to be a happy, healthy baby. And this we can only attribute to God, who has indeed given us a blessing without sorrow.

So, as we say thanks to the Lord, we pray that we may live gratefully as well, delighting in Him always, and finding joy in our hearts which He has graciously given. As we celebrated Gabbie’s birthday, we found our hearts welling up of love and thankfulness. We are grateful for having a God who is our Abba, our Father as well who loves us without question. For me, as Gabbie’s mom, I am grateful today, as I was years ago, that He has saved me, restored me, and has given me life to the full. I am grateful that He has given me my husband and my Gabbie boy. I am grateful that I find joy in them, and in my life with them. I am grateful that I am grateful. Thank you, Father. I pray for my son’s purpose to come to pass as he celebrates birthday after birthday in the years to come.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Growing Pains

My baby Gabbie is not so little anymore. He has grown one tooth, is sprouting another, and has gotten so much heavier that my back and my knees almost buckle at the weight. He can now go from a sleeping position to sitting up, and attempts straight away to pull himself up against the wall all in a matter of seconds. My little guy will be one year old in seven days. With all these changes, we have seen swollen gums, two booboos on the forehead from falling accidents, and a perennial aching back for Mommy.

My big boy proudly showing off his two front bottom teeth 

Apparently, 11 months has passed since I have given birth to my little baby. Seriously, it’s not funny when I realized how fast babies grow. Now, our issues are no longer frequent nursings or fear of crushing a tiny baby when we co-sleep. I now contend with constantly finding entertainment and stimulation for a learning baby, running after him in his walker, formulating healthy recipes for feeding, and…discipline. That last one is especially challenging for me and my husband, first-time parents that we are. While we now discern Gabbie’s different cries—we have tried to come to terms with the different emotions those illicit from us. I find that in certain instances where he would show anger (i.e. crying fitfully, kicking legs) for not getting his way, I would also feel indignation at the apparent insolence. I really had to pray for grace to be able to deal with the swell of emotions and the instinct to control things, being his mom and all. We would carry him, and talk to him firmly but gently and tell him “no”. Daddy has given him several “man-to-man” talks already and to some degree, Gabbie has shown some understanding. Sometimes though, his reaction to me telling him “no” was more anger and crying. It seemed easier, and was really tempting to just carry him and let it go. After all, he is just a baby. But something also tells me that discipline is love. And that it is my duty to set him in the right path…as early as possible. If he knows how to throw a tantrum, then he is ready for discipline.

My husband and I have long decided to use the rod as a tool to instill discipline to our children, along with loving communication. We know the wisdom behind “breaking the will” of a child, whose “heart is bound up in folly” (Proverbs 22:15). Sin is inborn, yet that is not what will lead Gabbie. Our God’s will for him is great; it is our duty as his parents to set him towards his real purpose, by God’s grace, and one way to do that is by instilling good habits and getting him comfortable with discipline. Discipline becomes more painful as we grow older, I know that now (I still get a big "ouwee!" when I experience discipline at my age). This is why setting rules and boundaries at an early age is critical. Past a certain age, disciplining a child successfully becomes virtually impossible.

And so, as early as now, we have begun using the rod. He threw his first tantrum at around nine months of age, and we talked to him then about how that's not allowed in our family. But we used the rod only only now on his 11th month as we believe that he can now understand better. We used the rod, and we offered restoration after, explaining why it happened and securing him in our love. His warm, quiet hug to me after ensured me that he understood.

There were times when we miss Gabbie as a little infant, but we are enjoying every bit of his growing process because while there are pains and challenges, there is also that gift of growth and progress. Our little baby is growing up fast, which only means that he is on the fast-track leading to his full potential! So while growing up has its pains, both for baby and mommy (and daddy, too!), the joy of it all is immense and all I can really do is enjoy every moment of it. 

Next up: Keeping up with an energetic toddler and toilet-training! :)