Monthly Archives: December 2013

Crazy Christmas

There are three very specific days my family celebrates Christmas all together. The Sunday before Christmas is always spent with my mom’s whole side of the family, including her uncles and their kids. I spend Christmas Eve with my dad’s family and Christmas day is spent with my mom’s family. Needless to say celebrating Christmas with my family gets a little crazy! Kids are running around playing hide and go seek inside. Some silly aunt gives all the kids silly string to shoot at each other. There are nerf gun wars. Someone gets a new board game that has to be played. Desserts are the rave of the meal. Bets are made on who will jump in the pool. There is laughter exceeding laughter everywhere you look around.
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And I LOVE it all!

I assumed not celebrating Christmas at home would mean all of those crazy things would be taken away and Christmas would be super calm.

Boy was I wrong!

In the Philippines, Christmas is welcomed in at midnight on Christmas Eve by celebrating with family and shooting fireworks. Right before midnight on Christmas Eve we drove to Divisoria in search of fireworks. As we walked up to an empty Divisoria expecting a brightly lit up sky, we were greeted instead by shouts of “Merry Christmas” and the best hugs from our kids.

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On a typical night in Divisoria there are hundreds of people just hanging out. On Christmas Eve all of those people were in their homes celebrating with their families, while our kids were the only ones around, celebrating Christmas with the only family they know-each other.

After hugs and shouts were exchanged the talk began of shooting fireworks. So for the next little bit we all stood in Divisoria playing with fireworks and welcoming in Christmas together.

Some of my fondest firework memories are standing in my yard on New Year’s Eve watching fireworks with friends gathered around as one or two people shoot fireworks at a time.

This was NOTHING like that!

Each kid was holding the weirdest assortment of fireworks. Snakes, fountains, sparklers, airplanes, roman candles, firecrackers all just waiting to be lit. But the fireworks didn’t stay in their hands for long. Before I knew it everything was being lit at once. Things flying in the air. Things crawling on the ground. Sparks all around. Everyone was laughing while at the same time looking around to make sure nothing was flying towards them. It was wonderful!

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As we finished shooting fireworks and telling the kids goodnight I couldn’t help but laugh at the whole night. All around the world kids were tucked in bed early at night by their parents in expectation for morning when they would wake up to Santas goodies all around from his visit the night before. Our kids were standing in the middle of the road shooting fireworks and being completely silly until early hours of the morning. As we talked about it on the way home my heart became more and more excited for the Christmases to come when our kids will have those parents to tuck them into bed, not just on Christmas Eve, but every night!

As if Christmas couldn’t get any crazier we planned a Christmas celebration with just us and the kids at the center on Christmas day. All week long I was the most excited for these few hours on Christmas day! We planned a traditional Filipino meal complete with noodles, hotdogs with marshmallows and fruit salad. We picked out a new outfit for each kid. We made sure each kid had a Santa hat (our version of a stocking) full of goodies.

While driving over to the center I was full of excitement. I couldn’t wait to just spend Christmas with our kids. I wanted to give them their new outfits right away. I wanted to sit and play with the play dough that was in their Santa hats.
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But all of that would have been way to boring. Instead we laughed and danced and sang. Spontaneously and ridiculously. Without any cares in the world. We belted out Christmas songs at the top of our lungs. There was laughter. There was smiling. There was craziness.

But above all there was love.

It didn’t matter that their only gifts all Christmas were a new outfit and a Santa hat full of goodies. It didn’t matter that for dinner we only had noodles instead of lechon (rotisserie pig).
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It just mattered that we were together. We were there to love each other, to hug each other, to laugh with each other. We were celebrating Christmas together. We were a family!

Merry Christmas from my new family to yours! May all of your days be as crazy as my Christmas celebrations!

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NOT Home for the Holidays

I really enjoy holidays and the activities that come along with them. Especially the Christmas holiday season.
                                                                                                                                                                                       Making gingerbread houses

Driving around looking at Christmas lights                                                                                                                                                                         Tacky Christmas sweater parties                                                                                                                                                                                              Dirty Santa                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Spending lots of time with family & friends                                                                                                                                                                                  Baking Christmas goodies & treats                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Decorating the house and putting up the Christmas tree
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Even as I sit here making this list I can’t help but smile at the fun memories I have made doing these Christmas activities in the past. But as I think about how fun the Christmas season can be it makes me sad to not be sharing in these activities with my friends & family this year.

It makes me miss being home to grocery shop & bake sweets with my mom. It makes me miss planning the best outfit of the year for a tacky Christmas party with friends. It makes me miss not picking out matching pajamas for my family to wear on Christmas Eve.

I would be lying if I said missing out on my family Christmas didn’t make me sad.

But at the same time as sad as I am about being away from home for Christmas, I think about the reason I am not there. I think about the things I get to do instead. I think about the new traditions I get to start.
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I picture the face of every single one of our sixteen kids. I picture the smiles on their faces when they get to sit down and color before school. I think about how clean & sharp they look showered and dressed for church. I think about the laughter I hear as kids are able to just be kids. I think about the loving hugs I get and give every day.

I think about the countless number of times Beboy has joked with me about stealing shampoo and we both just laugh. I think about the afternoon Neil John was mad at many of us yet let me sit and talk with him and told me he would come back to school the next day. I picture the way Angie comes walking up to me crying and falling into my arms, followed by her looking up at me and saying, “joking!”
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I imagine the incredible futures that await each and every one of these kids. I imagine the day these kids realize just how much Jesus loves them and they decide to begin that relationship with Him.

And this, all of this makes being away from home for the Christmas season worth it!

Merry Christmas from my family to yours! 
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Consistency in Parenting

Disciplining children is not an easy task. Ask any mom around!

And disciplining street children is definitely not any easier. In fact, most days it feels like an almost impossible task. It’s what my days consist so much of right now though. I find myself saying multiple times a day wash your plate, time to brush your teeth, hand me your rugby, stop fighting, only one person shower at a time.

From the outside looking in disciplining the kids seems easy when I’m asking someone to brush their teeth or even wash their plate after eating.
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The hard one however, is when I see the bag full of rugby held up to their nose as they inhale a horrible substance into their body. That’s the discipline that gets me every time. No matter how much I see it happen I still don’t know exactly how to react. Do I get angry because they promised they wouldn’t do it anymore but here we are yet again? Do I let it break my heart because they are truly addicted to a drug at 12 years old? Do I force them to give it to me knowing they will just find more as soon as I leave? Do I walk away and ignore it so they won’t get mad at me? Do I try and explain AGAIN how it is bad for their body?

I don’t have the answer.
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But here’s what I always remember…growing up I always heard people asking my mom for parenting advise.

How do I get my child to behave?
How do I let my child know when I mean business?
How do I keep my kid from breaking our house rules?

And with every parenting question I heard I always heard the same answer from my mom…consistency!

Most days I keep consistency in the forefront of my mind. I remember breaking an addiction isn’t going to happen for all of these kids overnight but I just need to be consist with disciplining them for their rugby. Most days it’s sufficient. But some days I wonder when the consistency will pay off. When they will decide for themselves they want to quit using this drug. When the discipline will be worth it.

And that I really don’t know…
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But it’s bringing me to a new dependence on God. A place in my life where I know I don’t have the answers. A time when I don’t have the appropriate response. BUT a spot where I can admit to Jesus I have no clue what I’m doing. A time when I can say I need help and wisdom and answers I have never needed before.

I never expected through disciplining our kids God would discipline me.
I did not anticipate him disciplining me in my prayer life this way.
But that is exactly what is happening every day. And it’s exactly what I need!

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