The recent visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines has affirmed our decision and chosen lifestyle to homeschool our girls.  What a grace to hear and be touched by the words of our Holy Father!  He gave a number of homilies and memorable quotes during his 5-day visit here, but what I’ll remember most and keep in my heart are these:

  1. “It is important to dream in the family.  All mothers and fathers dream of their sons and daughters in the womb for 9 months.  They dream of how they will be.  It isn’t possible to have a family without such dreams.”
  2. “We too need to protect, guide, and encourage our young people, helping them to build a society worthy of their great spiritual and cultural heritage.”
  3. “Protect your families!  See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments.  Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them!”
  4. “When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world.”

 

Just this week, we started to look deeper into Arielle’s college options and realistically identified which schools would help her pursue her dream to be an animator.  I’ve sent a request for assistance from our homeschool provider, given the fact that she will be taking a gap year this 2015 after she graduates in April and will concentrate on preparing herself for college in 2016.  This headstart of preparations is actually giving me anxiety attacks and making me nervous! For instance, one requirement for international school application given to me by our academic consultant is to list down all the books Arielle used in high school with their ISBNs, in order for WCFS (Walkersville Christian Family Schools) to prepare and process the document we would need for international application.  I panicked upon receiving the email last Thursday and immediately went through our library of books and listed them all down!  In a matter of hours, I had completed most of the books Arielle used from 1st year to present, but my state of panic would not go away until I’ve gone home to Batangas where the rest of the books were.  Now that I’m here in Batangas, I’m just glad and thankful that I’ve kept 99% of the books and materials of Arielle with the intention of passing them to Kayla, more than anything.

This DREAM of Arielle to become an animator, a Disney animator, has been a childhood dream.  Mike, Kayla and I are together with Arielle in praying for this dream to come true!  As a family, like what Pope Francis said, we have always been together in dreaming!

Amidst the fear and stress, a Bible verse timely spoke to me this week, which left me humbled and speechless.  It was only two days after that I was able to write down my reflection on it.  So, I’d like to share with you an honest-to-goodness prayer of a homeschool mom.

JEREMIAH 17:7 (NLT) – BUT BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO TRUST IN THE LORD AND HAVE MADE THE LORD THEIR HOPE AND CONFIDENCE.

Lord, the reality that Arielle will be graduating from high school AND homeschooling soon is beginning to scare me!  Choosing colleges, preparing for entrance exams and applications, and praying that we are doing the RIGHT thing every step of the way and not missing any detail, info, and deadline are stressing me out!  I honestly feel that this is MY measure of success or failure as a homeschool mom.  I need You now more than ever!  You were with us from the beginning.  I TRUST, HOPE, and am CONFIDENT that You will see us through.  AMEN.

 

Can I ask you to pray for and with us, please?  Your prayers would mean so, so much!  Thank you!

 


 

We are on our last quarter of the schoolyear and it’s another homestretch!  And I do mean H-O-M-E-S-T-R-E-T-C-H because Arielle will be graduating from high school and it IS her last quarter of being homeschooled.  I am now facing the more daunting task of releasing Arielle to the real world.  I feel like I myself will be moving up from homeschooling to world schooling. I’m now not sure if I should be relieved or even more scared!  Just being totally honest here. TOTALLY.

As for Kayla, she’s been playing golf on and off since she was about 8 years old and this year, after much prodding, she’s giving it another try.  Mike and I, and those into this sport, see her potential in this field and so, we are encouraging her to play again.  Being a kinesthetic learner, I know that her seriously getting into a sport would work out with her homeschooling.  It’s just a matter of managing her time and being disciplined, which is consequentially a very good life skill to learn.  She started training again this January which means waking up at 6 am every Monday and Wednesday, adjusting her schedule with golf in the morning and schoolwork in the afternoon, and still going to the driving range to practice her swings or play 9 or 18 holes with her Papa during the weekend.  I think she’s beginning to understand that golf is not just P.E. or a sport.  We told her the fact that it can be her ticket to big opportunities like college scholarships, especially in schools abroad. I really hope that this means Kayla has finally found what she really wants to get involved in, the same way that her Ate Arielle has found her passion in art and animation, the very thing that she wants to do in life!

Speaking of passion and the future, I came across this blog post on how to direct your child to his or her future. It’s a simple 5-step guideline to help you clearly identify your child’s natural gifts and ultimately, his or her unique purpose and design.  It’s been easy for us with Arielle because as young as probably 2 or 3 years old, she was already showing strong signs of being inclined towards arts, visual and performing.  It was very consistent with her.  That wasn’t the case for Kayla.  Although the signs she showed were all physical and kinesthetic, we still couldn’t pin down on what she really likes doing. We let her try theatre (which she did very well), culinary (she still likes to cook and bake in the kitchen), swimming, and golf, but her interest in any of these didn’t last very long.  That’s why I am really hoping that this time, she will like golf more and will be persistent about it.

As I continue to immerse myself with my one-word and be focused this 2015, I came to this realization that this year is going to be about MORE SERIOUSLY shaping the lives of Arielle and Kayla. What a BIGGER responsibility!  Yes, 2015 will be a much MORE INTENSE and INTENTIONAL kind of parenting for these two girls as they gear up for their gap year and golfing!

That’s a lot of G in there…GEAR up, GAP year, GOLF  And all I can say is GO for it!  And may GOD’s blessing be upon us!


 

Photo taken from globalination.inquirer.net

 

 

I really had no plans of writing about Pope Francis’s arrival in the Philippines.  I didn’t think we’d be able to catch the media coverage because we were on our way home to Batangas from Manila when he was expected to arrive at NAIA.  Since it was declared a holiday in the metro, we got home in a jiffy just a few minutes before his plane landed at the airport, was able to immediately turn on the t.v. and follow the coverage of this much-awaited event.    I can’t help but join the Filipino Catholics with so much eagerness, anticipation, excitement, and joy as we welcomed him from afar!

Arielle and Kayla love Pope Francis!  Like many, they find him joyful, humble, simple, lovable, non-discriminating, and with a charisma which sets him apart from the past popes and other church leaders.  And maybe because they know that Pope Francis takes selfies with teens like them! 🙂  Arielle cried just watching him on t.v.  I’m just glad that our girls are able to have Pope Francis during their youth in the same way that I had Pope John Paul II in my early adult years.

Pope Francis has shown himself to be non-traditional which I personally think is the reason why he has attracted Christians and non-Christians alike to the church community, and why he has won back the hearts of non-practicing Catholics, those who have turned away and have been discriminated from the church.   I also think that his love, mercy, and compassion for the poor and the outcast are pure reasons why we Filipinos love him all the more.  And who doesn’t love his cute and genuine smile? 🙂

Meantime, I found these quotes by Pope Francis which our government and church leaders should seriously take note of.  Here also are 10 things we should know about our beloved Pope Francis.

I’m excited to follow the Pope’s 5-day stay here in the Philippines.  I can’t wait to hear what his message is for the Filipino people, and I really mean his personal message for us as a nation.  We are one nation that needs to be healed, to be prayed for, to be blessed.  I honestly and fervently pray that Pope Francis will be able to touch the majority of us, especially our leaders, and that he be the instrument we need to be united as a people and heal us from our brokenness. This is not the time to put one’s political agenda and selfish motives first.  PLEASE!

I join our country in prayer for the safety of the Holy Father in the Philippines.  May his stay here be an unforgettable one for him and for us Fiipinos as well.  More importantly, may he be able to fulfill his intended mission while here in our country and continue to ALWAYS keep us in his prayers.


 

It was the unusual rainy day of January 1st, New Year’s Day, the warm coffee Mike and I ordered at Starbucks and the milk tea drinks that Kayla and Arielle were enjoying that pulled us all together to think of our one-word for 2015.  I’ve been thinking of mine since the last week of December 2014, but the words that came to mind didn’t feel “the one”.  I thought of SHARPEN. HONE.  FAMILY. EMBRACE.  Each had a special ring to it but they didn’t totally capture what I was feeling in my heart.

After we had all sat down around our table, I threw the question again, “So, what’s your one-word?”  Then, just like that, one by one, they said it.

Arielle:  Since it’s going to be my gap year, my one-word is ADVENTURE!

Kayla:  Sports and Art…SPARTS!

Mike:  Opportunities

I said to myself that maybe, my one-word should be EMBRACE.  To embrace Mike’s opportunities, Kayla’s interest in sparts, and Arielle’s adventure in her gap year.  But a better and more apt word came to mind.  It’s OPEN!  That’s it!  This 2015, I will be OPEN to opportunities that will come our way in terms of business ideas and means of living.  I will be OPEN to Kayla’s rekindling interest in sports, particularly golf, and her developing skills in art.  I will be OPEN to Arielle’s adventures while she’s on her gap year…her new discoveries and new experiences to prepare her for college!  Lastly, I will be OPEN to new connections that I will be making as I go through my 2015 journey.

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Since 2013, thinking of my one-word every start of the new year has been a yearly tradition for me and it’s been a powerful motivator.  It has helped me to stay focused when I get distracted or discouraged. 2013 was GROW, and 2014 was FAITH.  Last year, I also declared my INTENTION which was another great inspiration to have side by side with my one-word.

It just feels GREAT to have that one-word to guide me this year.  That one-word to remind me to be optimistic and keep the positivity. But a greater reminder for me would be the unchanging TRUTH that God has a plan for me and that whatever happens, I should live each day of the year trusting that all is part of God’s great plan and unique purpose for me.  Ultimately, I should be OPEN to God’s mysterious ways and handiwork in everything!

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As I end this, here is a perfect prayer with my one-word for 2015:

God, I’m excited to see what You have planned for me this year. Whatever I face, I will not be intimidated. I will begin this year by seeing myself as You do — happy, healthy, and prosperous. Thank you for the gift of another year. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
— Joel & Victoria Osteen

Happy New Year, Happy New Beginning, everyone!  I would love to know what your one-word is for 2015 and why!