Desiring to be an intentional, invested and involved mom in the lives of my children... I share a glimpse of my triumphs and failures on my quest to capture their hearts ♥♥♥
by Tini Tadeo-Castillo
In the pursuit of trying to understand what makes my kids tick, how to raise them as responsible and godly adults, to get inspiration on how to become a better and godly wife and mother and to be encouraged through God’s words and promises, I download Christian books. Tons of them! Christian book hoarding is my game. Voraciously reading, highlighting, bookmarking and rewriting important notes on my journal just so I could learn it by heart. As I immersed myself in those books and counter-checking them with Scripture, I found myself checking my moral inventory and assessing my own spiritual health. After all, you cannot give what you do not have, right?
One of the topics covered in the marriage retreat we attended a couple of summers ago, was leaving a Godly legacy to our children. In my journey of faith in the last months, I had a slow awakening to the magnitude of my responsibility as a parent to the future of my children. Several Sunday worship sermons of different pastors, watching the Counterflow and Dr Ravi’s talk during the Unshakable event some three years ago--all helped me come to terms with this. I have been a mother for almost 18 years and in all those years I really thought that feeding them, raising them to be decent and respectful kids and sending them to good schools was all it took to be called a good parent. How wrong was I! I never realized how much accountability I had to the Lord as a mother/parent when it came to raising my children. I found myself lacking for the most part during their growing years and it hit me really hard realizing all these. Was it too late? Had I unwittingly damaged my kids? Did I stunt their spiritual growth? Do I have the heart of Jam? Am I in the heart of Cicc? All these questions hovered around my head and as a neurotic mother and a control-freak, this drove me crazy big time. I found myself weeping many days as I retraced my steps and recognized all of what I did wrong.
In one of my quiet times sometime ago, I realized that what I had been doing—obsessing about the past and the mistakes I made—I was looking at the rearview mirror, when I should be focusing on the windshield, the here and now and the thereafter. My eyes ought to be fixed on the road ahead, hands firmly gripped on the steering wheel to avoid a collision course. There is a purpose for the rearview mirror and that is for glancing at it just to check what’s behind me and help me get where I was going. It is the past. I was supposed to just glance, to just look for a second to make sure I will make better decisions. I am not supposed to obsess and live in it or I will never make it forward.
Having thought of this, I promised myself that I would focus on the current situation and keep in mind that it is through my example that my kids will learn the most. This much I know, because I see my kids and watch how they act, think and speak. Truth be told, sometimes I don’t like what I see. Why? I see myself. So, to be a better influence to them, I vowed to educate myself and take a stab at anything to nourish myself from a spiritual standpoint. As my children see me and their Dad grow in the knowledge and confidence in Christ, how we overcome battles and triumph over life’s challenges with the Lord as a source of strength, I know they will be empowered and encouraged to be spiritually intimate with the Lord and with Jesus Christ, too. I know I am a fledgling in the faith so I must intentionally soak in His words, immerse myself in more reading materials, and grow in relationship among godly mentors and friends and more importantly to with the Lord and with Jesus Christ. In the words of Barney Stinson, Paul and I must “SUIT UP!” I cannot help our children put on the armor of God unless I am wearing the same armor myself.
As I came across one reading material, my eyes were opened to the reality of a Spiritual Warfare. As a parent, it shook my nerves to know that Satan—the one who seeks to steal, kill and destroy—is at work in my children. I did not realize that the conflict between parents and children is one of the tactics of this ruthless foe. I look back at the spats between me and Jam, the disputes I had with Cicc and our daily clashes about small and big things—they were all attacks. Ingraining doubts, disbelief and discouragement, guilt shame and rebellion are also among the schemes of the evil one. Having learned this, I knew right away how imperative it was that my husband and I recognize it each time it happens. The urgency to teach my children to know how to battle these attacks is now pressing more than ever.
Reading and having great knowledge about the word of God is important during such times. I am reminded how Jesus fought Satan in the wilderness through God’s word. The Scripture admonishes us to stand and fight the works of the evil one on our children. When you stand on the word of God, you stand on a rock solid foundation. I intend to be equipped on this battle therefore, I read the Bible. In this light, I now assume responsibility to teach them the word of God. It is indeed powerful but without knowledge of it and how to use it, it is useless. I pray that I along with my husband and children may thirst and hunger always for His word.
On the note of prayer, I do my utmost to intentionally teach and encourage my children to pray. I learned that it opens a channel of communication between the Lord and His children. In this case between God, me, Paul, Jam and Cicc. Soldiers must stay in constant communication with their commanders during battles and as we pray as a family, I am assured that we as God’s warriors are getting the direction and encouragement straight from the one true Commander.
I am a work in progress and sometimes falter in my walk. I still find myself at a loss when it came to understanding the wiring of my children’s head and heart. I get frustrated when it happens and feel discouraged many times. The difference however, is this time I am in the same page with my husband. I now have full comprehension of my accountability. I am surrounded by friends in Christ who I turn to when I lose my grip. I have people who pray with and for me when the going gets tough. And I am assured that I serve a faithful, sovereign, powerful, loving, forgiving and ageless God. Oh and I am saved and redeemed by His Son, Jesus Christ. In this journey as a mother, I am truly in good hands :)
~~ Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. - Proverbs 22:6
by Tini Tadeo-Castillo
If I could name just one thing I realized about Facebook memories that is of utmost importance to me as a mother/parent now, it's the awareness that my posts/words are indeed a reflection/window to my heart. I have seen a couple of my old posts, thanks to FB On this Day. They seemed like a the writings of a discontent and angry stranger. Thus, I found myself in deep contemplation.
There are realizations and lessons therein that I feel I must share so please indulge me:
1) As a mother, I am responsible and accountable about what I put out there. Knowing that I have the strongest influence in my child's life, would I want my children spewing out ugly words/profanity (like I used to do) just to get a point across? Do I really want my children to model the cursing, foul-mouthed parent that I am? It's so easy to type away those expletives when you are upset or feel the need to be heard. Until those words come out of the mouth of your 3 y/o kid, until your teen daughter begins swearing, until your adult son becomes a verbal abuser. Only then, does it become NOT OKAY.
2) What am I really doing as a responsible parent with my fiery speech? Knowing that my words have power (especially over my children) am I training my own tongue to speak gently? Am I speaking respectfully to others especially authorities and about the government? Am I reacting with foolishness brazenly attacking others who we think are incompetent? Am I choosing my words carefully so that what comes out of my mouth are pleasant?
3) In this day and age, people are so rash to spew out nasty words, online bashing and bullying is rampant and everyone seems to have a thing or two to share about their anger. People have become sadly too cruel and I grieve as a mother. At the same time, I get furious. My children see and read those! Then I realize what a hypocrite I have become, so quickly judging a decaying society without
realizing or asking myself what I am doing to keep this from happening. I am guilty contributing to its collapse in my own way just as every parent is. It is a sobering thought that decay isn't limited to what happens outside my home but all the more with what happens within. So what if my social media posts are all gentle and kind, if my words at home are rude and undiplomatic, it is still an exercise in futility, I say. Thus I find myself asking: How have my words (in and out of the house and on my social media) influenced my Jam and Cicc? How will this affect who they are when they grow up? For when they go out there in the world? How will they contribute to its strengthening and improvement?
4) Forgive me if I sound a tad bit too preachy with this, I assure you this is the last thing I want to sound like. But if I do, forgive me anyway. Admittedly, I fail at this even to this day. But what makes a difference )and boy am I glad about this!), is this time when angry and ugly words come out or threaten to spew out of my mouth, I confess it as sin and seek forgiveness. I make myself accountable to my sisters in Christ. When my emotions get the best of me, I stay away from social media lest the vehemence are unleashed for the entire FB/IG/Twitter universe to see/read. Instead, I fall on my knees, asking the only One who has power over my emotions. By His grace, I am able to respond calmly to many things life hurls at me.
I thank Jesus that the strange angry discontent woman I used to be is no more. I still read her words from time to time but with His grace alone, there will be no more of those. No more angry posts, no more ugly words, no more bitterness for the social media universe to read and feast on. Hopefully, only words seasoned with salt.
I remember that time I broke the news to you some fifteen years ago. You were calm and collected. For such a life-altering news to be handed to you at age 22, you were notably unruffled. I can't say you were the type to go ballistic but you were just so composed that it was unbelievably surprising albeit absolutely comforting. I can only imagine what went through your head as I told you that you were going to be a father. Like a good soldier, you took the news of a battle undaunted. If you were freaking-out inside, you did such a fine job pretending you were unfazed. You'd give Sean Penn a run for his money lol! But the truth is, it was one of your FINEST and most BRILLANT moments as a man.
For some guys, fatherhood posed as a threat rather than a promise--of stifled life plan and abandoned dreams. To some extent, it brings out the coward in them, a buzzer prematurely ending the wild days, men seeing it as throwing away one's life. But you! You weren't like any of those. You were so ready to marry me, give a name to our child and throw cautions to the wind. We were probably too high on each other that we took the song “Love Will Keep us Alive” quite literally. You were unafraid.
In all seventeen years since that fateful day, I don’t know whether I have thanked you for being the courageous boy that you were then. If I haven’t, let me thank you today that you were and I thank you again that today as a MAN, you remain fearless in your pursuit of the best life for me, Jam and Cicc. Thank you for being undeterred in sharing a life with (the difficult) me; unflinching in trying to be a good father and husband despite many lapses in all fifteen years; for not seeing us as an encumbrance but as a sense of purpose in your life.
And I praise the Lord even more because I know that more than being duty-bound to us, you being duty-bound to the LORD is the one driving force in your life right now. So for all the reasons I said in the last seven days and the future I LOVE YOU! And I kneel before the Lord, thank Him for you and pray.
Lord, pour out Your immense blessings to all fathers in the world that they may be inspired to be like You. I especially lift up to you my husband, Paul. I pray that you may continue to let him grow in love with You, for him to know You profusely and that You may reveal Your purpose and love for him. I claim blessings for him to excel in his job as a husband, father, son, brother or friend...a provider, protector and pastor; in his profession, among friends and relatives, use him mightily to be the salt and light for others to know You. Mold and knead him to be the man You called him to be. I pray that you will use me and mold me to bless him further with a supportive heart, loving him extravagantly, understanding him generously and encouraging him daily. Most of all, I pray that you bless him divinely and equip him profusely to be a godly father from this day forth, through all his days for your glory and honor. Amen.
Every morning I wake up and see,
The most handsome man lying next to me.
He's the one I cherish and love,
A blessing sent from Heaven above.
I will love him as a faithful wife should,
And do everything for him I could.
I would let him know every day,
That I love him more than words can say.
For the two children we have together,
And the love for God in each other.
It will keep our love for each other strong,
And the Lord will guide us away from all wrong.
© Jessica L. Newsome
~~ For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. -- 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12
by Tini Tadeo-Castillo
We both are imperfect parents. We have had our share of blunders in the past and even until now, we slip. But I praise God for second chances. As we commit to become more involved and intentional this time around, I look back at our hits and misses as a father and a mother. We had misses and boy they were a lot. But despite these, I really thank the Lord for the hits that made lasting, significant and good impacts on Jam and Cicc. One of those hits was your presence. You were there in most of the milestones and made efforts not to miss out on the important things. You were there to teach them how to tie their shoelaces, you laughed and wrestled with them, sang with them, taught them how to play the guitar, played jokes on and with them, and made sure you were there beaming with pride as they receive awards. You did not let your authority and position in the hierarchy of our family keep you from being a primary parent and caregiver. Though you did not really have full understanding then of the effect it would have on our children’s emotional security, your presence have created an impermeable bond with them and have given them reason to feel safe. Your presence is leaving them with a deep wisdom as a father.
As I watch Jam and Cicc grow up to be confident and optimistic, and how they deal with stress and change positively-- I am relieved and beyond thankful. I know that when the chips are down, they will gravitate towards us, towards you. That even when things won’t always go their way and as they face trials, they will feel secure in knowing that you can shift things around and move mountains to be with them. Because you are around, I honor and thank you.
Your decision and dedication to become a better, intentional and godly leader of our family is by far the best gift you have given to me and to Jam and Cicc. Thank you for bearing with honor and delight, the responsibility of being our provider, protector and pastor. Through God's awesome grace and love, you have evolved in so many things and none could be more proud than I am. The Lord blessed me and our children to be witnesses to how He is moving your heart and in your life as He molds you to become the man He designed every husband, father, son and brother to be.
As I look around and see and hear stories of despair, loneliness, pain, rebellion, rage and dysfunctional relationships that stems from absent fathers and father-figures, I am truly thankful for your desire and heartfelt passion in being present in the lives of our son and daughter and in trying to be a better model of love, respect, integrity and forgiveness to them. Thank you for admitting your own mistakes and doing your best to veer away from such; for being forgiving of my mistakes as a mother and lovingly reminding me to steer away from these things; for trying your best and helping me do the same in accepting that Jam and Cicc are human and will certainly make mistakes too. Thank you for courageously stepping up, for doing all you can to win and know the hearts of our children, and for taking seriously your responsibility of molding the lives of our Jam and Cicc.
We are still works in progress but I am loving every bit of growth in you thus far and am immensely thankful for every breakthrough the Lord is causing in both our lives and in our life together as partners and as parents. I know you know now, that surrendering your life to the Lord and becoming a follower of Jesus is your greatest legacy to our son and daughter. We may not be rich materially but I know that this desire and determination to raise second-generation Christians with me shall be a legacy far more precious than any money or property we can leave and give them.
~~ I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged. I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God. I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will. I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. -- Courageous (Movie)
~~ These commandments that I give you today are to be upon 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 door frames of your houses and on your gates. -- Deuteronomy 6:6-9
~~Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance. -- Ruth E. Renkel
~~The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. -- Proverbs 23:24
by Tini Tadeo-Castillo
It has been stressed over and over again that the best thing a father can do for his children is to love and respect their mother. If this is the only criterion to measure how good a father is, you have done extremely well, maybe exceeded more than you ought to. Thank you that even as you had very little motivation, your love and respect for me transcended far beyond what I truly deserved. When I was such a torment to you as a wife and browbeating you, I realize how hard it was to maintain a loving, fun, and nurturing relationship with me in front of the kids. I don't know how you pulled it off, but somehow you did. You tried as best as you could to keep a good front even when we weren't on best terms. For pretending you enjoyed my very sour company to protect the kids from feeling the tension, thank you. Because of your respect for me, I know you earned the love and respect of Jam and Cicc. I know it's the reason why you are much more popular to them than I was. I used to resent that. I was a fool. Thank you from the bottom of my heart that our kids have learned a great, great deal of this lost art from you.
While our marriage was tested big time, the kids had no inkling of the strong current underneath the placid water. You were very careful that the hurt would only be contained within your heart and not be seen and imbibed by our children. I am certain it took every ounce of your strength and will to keep it to yourself, I would've failed if I was in your place. You tried your best to spare our kids the drama and tension. You made sure there was no trace of injury for the kids to see in the surface, though I knew the wounds run deep. You were the shield, our protector, a true hero.
~~ Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. -- Matthew 7:12
~~Blessed indeed is the man who hears many gentle voices call him father! --Lydia M. Child