When Life Gives You Lemons

I was not in the best of moods as we began homeschooling today. With puffy eyes and a heavy heart, the kids started their Bible reading and Math drills. I was catching up with them as I started to map out the day’s agenda. Strangely, everything in the agenda that I was trying to plan and cover for was all non-homeschooling related. Unlike teachers in regular schools who can at times shut out for a couple of hours, it’s very difficult for homeschooling mothers to shut the rest of the world as we tackle the lessons for the day. It is much tougher to shut out the whirlwind of emotions that flood ones heart and mind amidst all sorts of trials. I have missed many days of school for one reason or another so I knew that the teaching and learning must go on, I guess. Like most occupations, you can’t say, I don’t feel like working today.

Then my daughter hummed a line, “When life gives you lemons…” (I really don’t know where she picked this up or if she composed it)…. then I answered, trying to sound as if I knew her song, “You make lemonade.” Then she sang, “Lemon pie!” to the top of her lungs, and we just couldn’t stop laughing as we kept adding to the list.. Lemon Chicken, Lemon meringue….

 Photo Credit: http://doyourhw.org/2013/10/01/a-lemon-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away/
Photo Credit: http://doyourhw.org/2013/10/01/a-lemon-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away/

 

In a very innocent yet charming way, my daughter drove a very important point that shook my heart. God was using her to tell me that I will have my rainbow, not after, but during the rain. God was reassuring me that He will see us through and help us see the silver linings, the half full glass, the light inside the tunnel and not at the end of it, and yes, experience the peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7) My daughter at that very moment was “homeschooling” me.

For our Read A Loud, we have been reading the story of a Christian missionary named, George Muller in the book series, Christian Heroes, Then & Now. George was a man of God who ached for the poorest children in England and set out his life mission to be a “light to those around me, and help me find a way to reach the orphans before it’s too late.”

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And then it struck me that even today’s chapter was a direct message to me.

If God is in this, He will supply. ‘“ Three-fourths into George Muller’s story, a truly striking and remarkable virtue seen in this man’s life is his faith in God and his “waiting in faith”. And these were rooted in knowing His loving Creator. Oh how I need to know God more so I can always look up when, “Life indeed gives you lemons.” And then, I remembered what I read this morning in my devotional, Abiding in Christ by Cynthia Heald and I quote,” …. He is our Father, who is continually working all things together for good. And so He tells us to rest—to be calm and peaceful; and to wait –to anticipate , to count upon, to watch for Him. …”

Our Sovereign God has set me where I am now. This is my portion, my lot. He is with me and so I am assured that He will supply what is needed, in His time. What a wonderful promise of hope!

Homeschooling proceeded with a more upbeat, fun mode. I began asking probing questions that made my children think deeper, as they pondered on the events in Mr. Muller’s life. “If God wills it, will it necessarily be easy ?” Or, “Will it be tough because you are being tested?” “If it isn’t His will, will you encounter problems? “How will we then know?” Wow, who would have thought tween kids can actually think about these this early. I am grateful that we have so many examples and stories in the Bible, even in our very own lives and yes, of George Muller’s and the remaining chapters in our homeschool Read-A-Loud to shed light on this.

So, the song still echoes in my mind now and I am now smiling… “When life gives you lemons…”

 

“It is our duty and our privilege to wait upon the Lord in service, in worship, in expectancy, in trust all the days of our live. Our faith will be a tried faith, and if it be of the true kind, it will bear continued trial without yielding. We shall not grow weary of waiting upon God if we remember how long and how graciously He once waited for us.”

Charles Spurgeon        

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If God leads, He enables (Confessions from a HomesCooler of 13 years) !

I truly believe “homeschooling” is a tried and tested form of alternative education. I have seen it as I’ve found myself immersed in many homeschooling communities in the past decade. I need not look far. My niece, homeschooled until grade school, recently completed her Interior Design course and garnered a perfect grade of UNO in her thesis. Congratulations to the Buizon Family, most especially to teacher Felichi and my niece, Tahnee!

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This is my goddaughter, my inaanak, Tahnee:)
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Hats off to Tahnee for this excellent and most compassionate thesis ever.

Being BFF to Ate Felichi, I was in the front seat to witness her homeschooling journey with Tahnee. God blessed me with a homeschooling mentor through her.

The Buizon family’s experience played a major role in our decision to homeschool. I wanted my own children to experience a lot of what they were able to do. So my sister said, “You will only know if this is for you if you try (and preschool years were the best time to test it). And the commitment is only one school year at a time. Don’t make the mistake of looking too far ahead and getting overwhelmed.” From her, I also learned that homeschooling is a learning and maturing journey for the entire family that pushes us to seek and draw from God. God is also going to homeschool the main teacher, usually the mother.

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Tahnee just graduated from UP. Josh is in his 2nd year as Communications Major in Ateneo. Kaila and Ryan are still homeschooled.

 

All the members of our 6-family homeschooling support group called “Tuesday Gang” who have gone to regular schools (both college and high school) are all doing well.

"Tuesday Gang" 7 years ago
“Tuesday Gang” 7 years ago

 

"Tuesday Gang'" 2014 reunion:)
“Tuesday Gang'” 2014 reunion:)

If God leads, He will surely enable. That was my battle cry. He was calling us to homeschool therefore I knew He was going to enable us!

I wasn’t drawn to homeschooling as a way to create academically advanced students. Homeschool can become a dangerous ground if that is the motivation. I just wanted to bond with the children, instill the love for learning and to deliberately “train and disciple” them as Christ’s followers.

We have released our two older boys to regular schooling. Vince and Marco are incoming Grades 8 and 10 respectively. And I am in awe of God’s faithfulness as we witnessed our children’s transition and growth in their schools. Both of them, during their first year won the school’s New Student Award, given to students who exemplify both excellence in academics and character, manifesting the IB learner qualities. But there was more! Marco, our 2nd son, co-shared this award with another homeschooler, my BFF Candy’s daughter, Sophia Ochoa. Candy’s homeschooling journey is another story in itself but one thing ties our stories together, God’s faithfulness. I still remember that day when she was caught in her quandary and I gently suggested, “ Why not homeschool even for just a year?“

As new students in the same school, I knew that getting the new student award would be tough because Sophia always exceled in everything she set out to do. She also had higher grades over-all. Oh, why limit God? Why didn’t I think that He was more than capable to move the school officials to decide for the first time ever to award two (not just one!) formerly homeschooled, carpool mates!!! It was truly heartwarming to hear the Middle School coordinator say, “Is there some kind of magic in that carpool?” I could only look up and silently answer, “That was your magic, God!”

Two former homeschooled students share the award! How HomesCool is that?
Two former homeschooled students share the award! How HomesCool is that?

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Our eldest Vince as a homeschooler began receiving sports award as early as 8 years old. He even got the “Player with the Heart” medal in one season of Coach E in San Beda Alabang. As he moved to high school basketball, he was awarded the Coach’s Choice Award due to his professionalism, diligence and obedience as a player. As he graduated middle school, Vince also garnered citations for excellence in several subjects.

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As all of these were unfolding, God was showing us that indeed good character and academic excellence are developed at home. God was encouraging us to press on as he allowed us to taste the first fruits through our sons’ experiences. I still have a lot of character “wishes” among my children (just as I feel that I have much to improve and learn as a wife and mother) but deep inside, I know that the promise of Jesus in John 15:4-5 is so true and therefore can be trusted, “ Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We will bear fruit as teachers, and our children will bear fruit as students if we all REMAIN and ABIDE in Him. If as Christ’s followers, we do our part as instructed in Deuteronomy 6:6-9,“ These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

….then God will follow through with His promises, Deuteronomy 6: 17 Be sure to keep the commands of the Lord your God and the stipulations and decrees he has given you. 18 Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you and you may go in and take over the good land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors,

6:24 The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.

However, how will our children know what to obey if they don’t know WHO they are obeying and if they are not aware of the commandments that need to be followed?   That is then the core of a homeschooler who desires to follow Christ. We teach our children about WHO GOD is and what it means to live to a godly life.

God has indeed been steadfast in showing us pockets of blessing, “prosperity” and “bearing fruit” as we trod the radical path of homeschooling. I get so thrilled hearing positive feedback  about their character from the children’s  coaches, teachers, titos and titas,  and grandparents.  And that my dear homeschoolers, is far greater than a report card with many high marks. But again, why limit God? He can bless even more. Remember the Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us? “ Remember God’s blessing to Solomon who asked for wisdom over riches in 1 Kings 3:13 “Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for–both wealth and honor–so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.”

So when I began to wait for the school’s assessment of our sons’ first few months of school, I couldn’t help but have some form of anxious anticipation. All their lives up to that point, they were being graded by their “obviously biased” mother, tutors or coaches (paid by the parents!). I was immensely blessed and walked on Cloud 9 for several days when we first attended Parent-Teacher conferences, saw their report cards and heard good reviews from their teachers

God is gracious and faithful. Despite our little faith and tendency to worry, despite all the learning gaps, the missed days of homeschool because of other pressing matters,  and our own sinfulness as mothers/teachers, He will follow through, He will be true to His promises.

Our teen boys are still young and we continue to try to do our part in discipling them as we have entrusted their education to their schools. We pray, hope and believe by faith that we will all be faithful till the end. We know there will be lots more bumps and hurdles to face, the kids will face tougher challenges that may bring out unwise decisions and their corresponding consequences. But we as parents must hold on to God and trust His sovereignty. We have done (and still doing) our part and we will wait in faith as God fulfills His part.

A week before regular school ended this May, we received more “bearing fruit” medals as our sons were both honored in their schools. Marco won as he ran for their school’s House Captain (some form of student council). How in the world can homeschooled student beat a classmate who has been in the school since his preschool days? How can a homeschooled student for 11 years who is often criticized as “sorely lacking in socialization“ win a student council election as a new student?   My eldest son also got an Excellence in Academics award as he wrapped up 9th grade. God is honoring our family, honoring the homeschooling community, honoring His children. Reaping1

 

This was Captain Marco's campaign poster. He did it all by himself.
This was Captain Marco’s campaign poster. He did it all by himself.

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That week, my youngest son completed a basketball tournament for 8-11 y.o and received one of the “Mythical Seven Award”. Raya, our artist-daughter also began writing in this blog and each time she posts, our number of views skyrocket! Her artworks posted in my FB account receive the most likes!

Raya sells two Art works in her first official Art Exhibit with L'Arc en Ciel under Teacher Elaine Herbosa.
Raya sells two Art works in her first official Art Exhibit with L’Arc en Ciel under Teacher Elaine Herbosa.
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The GREY TEAM under Coach Bernard Barcenilla of the Filipino Basketball Academy

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Though this verse was referring to tithing, I really felt a similar principle occurring. “Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. “ We are in awe and so we boast, only boast in the Lord in all this. For apart from Him, we are nothing.

I would  like to solely honor God with this post.  It took me weeks to put this together for I was wary (always checking my heart)  of becoming one proud homeschooler seeking praise from people.  But then Matthew  5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

It is my desire that through this testimony, we have given Glory to God, our Maker, the Author of our homeschooling journey. It is also my wish that more HomesCoolers will take up my battle cry after reading this post, “If God leads, He will enable!”

2 Corinthians 10:17 As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”