Saturday, December 15, 2012

On The Sandy Hook Shooting

A horrendous incident such that of the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary shook the nation and the world in wide scale proportion.  How can it not when it bereaved the basic core of our society which is the family. People testified how the outpouring of emotions were similar to that of 9/11's. This week has been laden with death done in the most heinous ways and worse it claimed the lives of innocent children.  Three days before the Sandy Hook shooting, Portland, Oregon had their own blow of a mall shooting that claimed three lives. 

As a parent, this is more than a wake up call.  This is so life changing that it moves us to reinforce and fortify our family structure and dynamics even in the stand point of a bystander or for most of us as television viewers witnessing all these unfold. The places deemed enriching for our children are now target points for people brooding evil intent.  The word safe and child-friendly takes on a different meaning now. It somehow puts us on a stand still that is physically and emotionally exhausting.  

A week ago, I received a call from my eldest son's school that they were in lockdown under code yellow.  The hardest part to it of course is one's inability to provide help on the most troubling time especially if the ones involved are your loved ones.  On that experience I have drawn out the most crucial levels of responses which my children can be involved in.

1.  The school's crisis response and intervention procedures.  It was all worth the time to know from my son and from the school what procedures were in place to protect the kids when a threat of this kind occurs.  Where there drills done to familiarize children? How were the kids handled? Are the teachers trained to effectively respond and lead the students? How does the school and our local police work together on such emergencies?  As to this experience, my son's school and all the other local law enforcing groups have commendably done their duties for the safety and interest of students, their families, and school personnel.  The chain of communication to parents was established so as to keep us informed of what's transpiring and are yet to be done.  

2.  Our children's preparedness on these incidents.  Our homes must not cease in becoming a place to educate our kids.  It is not enough that we ask them how their day was but every member in the family must be educated and involved on the affairs and safety issues we may encounter.  We do not hold our academic institutions solely responsible for the training of our kids.  They must learn "self-preservation" primarily in our own household with the parents constantly helping the children to process the events that will keep them uphold their values and safety. Show them the path they 
                                                                                   must not depart from (Prov. 22:6)

3. Our children's dependence on God.  I was comforted and moved by my pastor's blog about the need to hold family devotions. We get tangled with all of life's struggles and diversions that we fail to unite our families through intimate spiritual efforts.  Most if not all of us will say that we pray for our kids but should it end there?  Let us teach them to pray and to build their faith in God who may be unseen but is our unfaltering help in time of need. Pray for them and with them (1 Thes. 5:17)

Every new morning gives us another perspective to see our children lovingly.  Yes, hold our kids tight but ensure all measures to educate, be involved, and pray.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Burlap Christmas

As a kid, I remember falling in love with crafting specially when the materials to be used  give one a natural or organic feel. It just appeals to me that in its simplest form, I find the endless ways of transforming it into something rustic yet elegant. 

Burlap tree topiaries
A few months ago, I found this interesting utility fabric called "burlap" under DIY projects in Pinterest. Made from the jute, flax, or hemp plant, it is a fibrous and sturdy woven material that has reached its versatility from being a potato or apple bag to a decorative favorite made into curtains, table runners and other home or event accents. I tried finding them at my local JoAnn store with the consolation that it is priced cheap.  Though some may not like its rough texture and smell, burlap is gold to a shabby chic Momx4. It's modest beginnings have now been catapulted to sophistication by artisans whose creativity harmonized cost efficiency with art.  Since burlap gives me that childhood excitement, I tried doing this year's Christmas decors using the material.

I made a bubble textured wreath to accentuate the front door, topiaries seated on our dining area's mantle, and using the leftovers to wrap around a vase as table centerpiece .

Added some glittery Christmas balls and plaid bow.  
scrap burlap material wrapped around a vase

 Create or venture into something that will get you renewed and excited about life. Do it with all your imprints lavished on it. Give yourself some slack by ignoring criticisms because those people who throw such on you were not privileged enough  to be given the enthusiasm, time, and contentment which you have now.

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIV84)

bubble textured wreath

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Everyday Is Thanksgiving

It's been almost a month since I last had my entry.  It didn't feel that long because until now I'm still feeling feverish from the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving.  

A week before that my table was already brimming with the kids' Thanksgiving artwork from school.  From turkeys painted out of hand prints to their stories about how the first Thanksgiving of 1621 was celebrated by the pilgrims of Plymouth, Massachusetts for a bountiful harvest.  Times, people, and legislation have all played their influence on this celebration that made it America's great family tradition.  

Thanksgiving was wonderful! This was our first in our new home and the family celebrated the festivity with our friends in church. Both physical and spiritual appetites were fed in abundance.   With the help of my ever supportive and overly critical children, I made turkey for the first time.  I remember my dad preparing this most celebrated bird during New Year's Eve back in the Philippines.  I have never seen the relevance of the bird for another country or culture, if my dad hadn't made it on another similarly celebrated family gathering in the Philippines. All this nostalgia told me I can brave doing one because someone from this brown race of mine did it. The apprehensions slowly ebbed as the aroma of my country's very own lemon grass  diffused in harmony with Rosemary and lemons. Four hours are agonizingly long as you wait while smelling this. 

 We all have an endless list of things to be grateful for. As we continue to go on with life, the items in that list evolve and metamorphose depending on circumstances that we could control and those that could only be orchestrated by someone greater than us.  We have experienced that no matter how man strives to be the "master of his fate and the captain of his soul", tomorrow will be shrouded.  With this uncertainty, we need a balance point, a walking stick to aid us trek unfamiliar grounds.  In the book of Hebrews 11:1 it says, 

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (I Thes. 11:1)

This confidence called "faith" makes our thanksgiving a constant way of life regardless of bounty, success, loss, and suffering.  Apostle Paul saw it in this light,

"...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."
(1 Thes. 5:18)

Yes, give thanks in all things!  Not just during Thanksgiving but even on those days when the feasting ceases and all the noise and laughter of the festivities have faded. Though the future is unseen, thank God for the things that are yet to come and couple it with faith in His promises.  Thank God for a family who in it's imperfections are constantly in pursuit of building and growing things that are good and loving for each other's sake.  

Thank God for grateful kids who in their naive understanding of the world develop an eye for appreciation of what they have and the people who make an important role in their lives.  Nice turkey artwork, Marcus!