Christmas Thoughts from Our Home, My Heart

It’s December 21 and I am done wrapping  and sending out 95 % gifts that need to be delivered. So here I am, taking a break and writing.  9 days to go till we “wrap up 2016″… and it is not easy looking back.  It is actually painful .

The year was just about to roll in when we lost my Daddy Dony. It is actually going to be the first Christmas without him. Actually, he celebrated his last Christmas here on earth in the ICU on his 10th week in the hospital.  “Daddy Dony and Christmas” was always special because he loved special occasions to gather his loved ones. He thought of all ways to spice up the event and we’ve had the most “all out” gatherings because of his ideas.

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The only photo I unearthed from my file that showed our family ( half of our size now) in Filipino Christmas motif! There was also a Christmas gathering that we were to come as members of the Nativity Scene, and yes someone came as Baby Jesus in the manger!
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,,,,,one Christmas, the grandkids decided to have a family super selfie dance! If you want another one,  here.  We are a CRAZY bunch, and that’s partly due to Daddy Dony!

Please remember to pray for my Mommy Emma.  It was difficult  for her to live without her boyfriend and husband of 64 years this year.img_4074

But sadly, so many other precious lives left us this year: a  homeschooler  friend who had 4 children, a dear sister of  one my BFFs, my eldest brother in law,  my neighbor’s father,   several of our helper’s dearest relatives and several parents of other friends.

Our own family had one relationship problem after another,   and  so I think 2016 was my most “crying-ext” year.  I love how the Psalms in the New Living Translation says it ever so clearly in Psalm 56:8 “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”  I also soar in the assurance in  Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”  So when you really think about it, the Lord is near and so I must rest  and rejoice in that.  And truly this season is the best time to rejoice knowing, “Emmanuel, God is with us!”  So, instead of wallowing and yes, staring at my tears in my own “memory” bottle and reliving the hurts again in my thoughts and heart,   I have made a choice to rejoice.  God is with us. He is near us.  What an amazing , awesome, mind-blowing truth!!!!

So as I greet you all a truly MERRY “because God is indeed with us” Christmas, let  me do this using some of the Christmas sights here at home.

Let me take the simple messages from our tree this year.  (Set up by all our kids!)

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  1.  Be Merry, God is with us.    Take time to think of that. Close your eyes and say. “Thank You, Jesus.” “God with us” paved the way for  the redemption of  every believer in Christ. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

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2.  Life’s circumstances may cloud the way, dim our thoughts but as one follower encountered Jesus, he called out and said, “I do believe; Lord, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)  Even Mary had her own doubts, “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34 ) So my dearest one, Merry Believing!

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3. May you have Joy and Freedom.   God, through Jesus, has already provided this with the greatest sacrifice at Calvary.  With Jesus, we have eternal joy and freedom from the burden and weight of our sins and failures. Again, take time to think and ponder on these. Indeed, we can really sing, “Joy to the World!”

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4.  Amidst the troubles at home, in our families and in our society, and yes in our world,  may you have  inner peace in believing in faith, that God is sovereign.  I weep as I think of children in  Aleppo, as I think of those killed in this “all out drug” war.   We know  that the  worsening  “darkness” has been foretold but alongside that, there is  the call to press on to be salt and light in this earth. I cannot let the darkness , whether in my own family life or in this word,  make me cynical, cripple me or paralyze me. ” You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3. “For the peace of God that transcends all understanding shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

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5. In faith, I have chosen to draw near to God and  believe. James 4:8 says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. ” May then your faith in Him  be strengthened as you look back at 2016 and look forward to 2017.  God is faithful and He seeks those who will believe Him in faith.

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So there. Simple truths but truly profound and wondrous.  Let us, like Mary,  take time to celebrate as we meditate on these thoughts.  “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) As you do this, listen to traditional Bible based Christmas carols and be blessed with these 5 simple truths I drew out from our CHRISTmas tree this year.

Merry CHRISTMAS!!!!

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Tandem Teaching on Homeschooling Basics with My Sister: This Friday, December 9, 2016!

I was away for an immersion trip as Board of Director  of Visions of Hope Foundation to visit Potter’s House Association in Guatemala. Visions of Hope and Potter’s House are aligned in a common goal of reaching  and empowering  poor families, teaching them about the love of Jesus and educating the children.  It was truly a refreshing yet eye opening and challenging trip! I will share more stories about that through a future post but for now, Homescool.ph would like to  invite you to join my mentor-sister, co-homeschooler  Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon and me as we “tandem teach” in  The Master’s Light House Foundation and Sunlife Financial’s Building Blocks of Homeschooling .


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I am so excited to be able to do this with Felichi and of course, with Master’s Lighthouse Foundation’s Kuya Anthony and his lovely wife, another sister,  Ms. Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan.  One can actually call this “Sisters’ Act with special participation of one brother!” By God’s grace and  with the help of the Sun Life Financial Team and Master’s Lighthouse Staff,  we hope to have a very dynamic, and fun seminar on  the basics of homeschooling:  homeschooling as tried and tested form of education, laying a strong foundation , starting one’s journey, and staying at it with practical tips and techniques.   A bonus feature in this seminar is a portion presented by Sunlife dedicated to Financial Planning and Management for Homeschoolers.  Sunlife will seek to give basic principles for families who are into homeschooling and how finances come into play when one opts to homeschool.

The seminar will handle the following:

  • Homeschooling as a Form of Education for Your Children: Why Not?
  • Creating Your Homeschooling Vision and Mission
  • Best Practices in Starting (and yes even maintaining) Your Homeschool Journey
  • Financial Planning/ Management for Homeschooling Families

Ate Felichi and I have been roommates since we were assigned our on own room in the early to mid 70s.

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I was even able to google our wall paper in that room in 11 Mahusay St. UP Village, Quezon City.  Yes, this Holly Hobbie wall paper witnessed our days of  pretend play in that small room, and how we were also ” homeschooled” in some way,  as we spent so many hours of our growing years playing with our siblings.

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Ate Felichi and I were part of the ‘3 babies” of the 9 children of Dony and Emma Pangilinan.  The 9 children were known to many in 3 batches: 3 girls, 3 boys and the 3 babies.  So there from left to right, Number 9, me,  number 8, kuya John-John and number 7, Ate Felichi:)

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I “don’t” spy my neck. I think I was the chubbiest among all the children. Don’t you agree??

So apart from sharing with you  from our combined homeschooling experience of close to 30 years, we will also share from our own experiences as we grew up and bonded (and played) together!

Ate Felichi and I shared a room for a total 18 years in 3 different homes!

Ate Felichi is my go to person for prayer, wisdom and guidance.  She has truly helped mold and shape the person that I am today.   She has taught me the value of waiting on God, of prayer and of being intimate with Him.  She was the one who introduced homeschooling into my own family.  Her wholehearted commitment in raising. loving and  homeschooling her children have compelled me to homeschool as well, and we’ve been at it for 14 years now! The impact she had made in my life, I firmly believe, is also multiplying as I have gotten involved in bigger communities and groups that seek to encourage other homeschoolers! Recently, we have began some groundwork in creating a “homeschool-like” curriculum for a community our foundation is working with in the Saranggani province, where preschool and elementary children are housed in a dorm-like school  since their homes are 2-3 hours walk away from their homes!!!!  Thank you Ate Felichi and Kuya Jojo Buizon for paving the way indeed!

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Again, join us this Friday and let’s all  learn from each other and celebrate homeschooling together! To reserve a slot, please text Gen Mercardo 0916-711-0509 !