When A Simple Shot Reveals So Much More

FullSizeRenderI couldn’t resist snapping this picture of my youngest, Anna Joy, at her desk.

The seven year-old is usually the first to get up each day. And without fail, like clockwork, she washes up, dresses up and starts her homeschool schedule. Yes, all by herself.

Serene and I have been asked many times how homeschooling is like. Is it all about freedom, being able to do what we want, when we want? Well, to a certain extent, we do enjoy that latitude. However, school is still school. And all learning, in whatever form, requires discipline.

Anna Joy has grown up in this environment of homeschooling all her life. Having watched her older siblings go about their routines, she began to establish one of her own too. Each day, in the Lim Tribe household, that’s pretty much the scene. Every child knows what he or she needs to accomplish, and each can be found at their own workstations, diligently completing what has been assigned. That doesn’t mean everything runs perfectly. Once in a while, you will still hear Serene’s voice ring out, “[insert name], you still owe me lesson number …!”

As I observed Anna Joy that morning, I couldn’t help but beam a little as a proud daddy. Yet, more than just a father who is pleased with the development of his children, my heart was filled with gratitude for a very hardworking wife and mother in Serene. To be sure, there has been much pain and sacrifice along this journey of homeschooling. Many tears too. And you can also add frustration and anxiety to the list. No one sees these at all. At times (and there have been many), even I miss the tremendous load that Serene carries, neglecting to be there with and for her, causing the journey to be a lot more difficult than it already is.

This picture of Anna Joy brings a smile to my face. In a while, the other workstations would fill up, one by one. Yes, it’s a lovely sight to behold. No, it didn’t happen by chance, or that we were somehow blessed with perfect, sinless, super-obedient children. It took diligence and discipline, a lot of hard work with consistency over the years. And a whole lot of GOD as we experienced His strength and grace over and over again.

An award-winning shot this is not. But it has caused me to pause, to reflect and to give thanks. I am so proud of Serene. I am so proud of each of our seven children. Thank you, dear Lord, for these awesome blessings You have allowed in my life!

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Pedophilia Officially Classified as Sexual Orientation by American Psychology Association

Pedophilia Officially Classified as Sexual Orientation by American Psychology Association.

Hands up, those who agree that this it is utterly, totally, absolutely, shockingly, horrendously, deplorably ridiculous! And yet, the time has arrived where insanity and foolishness are the order of the day 😦

The headline of this Charisma Magazine article says it all, doesn’t it? You don’t even need to read the full article to be sickened by such an announcement.

Without doubt, we are living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Phil 2:15) where people call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness for light, and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20).

Indeed, every parent needs to pray like never before — but make sure it is done with eyes wide open; don’t let your children out of your sight.

NOTE: Since posting this yesterday, some astute readers have checked the American Psychology Association website with attempts to verify the report. Also, Charisma News has added this paragraph to the above article: “UPDATE: The AFA cannot substantiate its research on this issue, though many agree with its interpretation. Please click here for an updated story with new facts. The AFA is a trusted source in Christian media, but some are disputing its claim. We reached out to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) for an official statement and have not yet received clarification. We will update the story if the APA responds.” Regardless, this does not alter the fact that we do live in challenging and interesting times, one that calls for Christian parents to be very aware of the present environment our families are exposed to.

Can We Stay Silent On Such Issues Any Longer?

City of Venice to ban ‘mother’ and ‘father’ terms on official forms | LifeSiteNews.com.

This article left me speechless and at a total loss for words. And yet, deep in my spirit, this is not the time to stay silent on such issues and matters.

This may be taking place in a city quite a distance from Singapore; but in today’s globalised context, it is not at all unthinkable to expect a similar attempt or move here.

The LGBT Agenda is a global phenomenon. It is gaining momentum and it will do anything and everything it can to convert all spheres of society.

The question is, “Do I read and sit idly by?” Or will I take a stand by speaking for what is right in the eyes of God?

10 Reminders for My Parenting Journey

9G7A6561Hands up, all who agree that parenting is not for the faint-hearted.

We’ve all been told that we have an awesome responsibility to train and raise our children in the ways of the Lord. We may start out with zest and enthusiasm, but it doesn’t take very long to realise the challenges and distractions that come against us every day; and sometimes, every moment! We determine to take these in our stride. And then we discover that the battles are not necessarily always against the external influences but some of the toughest ones are found right at home, in the hearts of our children and in the issues we each personally grapple with.

Like the winds and waves that come against a seemingly solid rocky cliff, our resolve to be great parents can be slowly eroded as fatigue and discouragement set in, slowly but surely. If you have been there, you know what I’m talking about. You know the feeling, and it’s not a nice one. All you have are questions but no answers. And worse still, the loudest questions are those that taunt, accuse and condemn your ability and credibility as a parent.

I’ve been there too — many times. God may have blessed and graced me to be a father to my seven children, and indeed, I know my roles and responsibilities as a steward of these blessings. That said, how I view parenting and what I expect of myself may not always be accurate, even though I strive to be as biblical as I possibly can. And that’s why I need to be reminded of the following over and over again.

1. I am not a perfect parent. This sounds like a no-brainer, but I desperately need to remember this and not beat myself over the head each time I fail. But my perfectionist streak gets the better of me, time and time again, and I feel really lousy when I mess up or am told that I have overlooked something again. But perfect I am not, and the truth is, I will make mistakes. I can be aware and learn from them, or I can wallow, be condemned, and give up.

2. I do not have perfect children. Another obvious point, but don’t we all wish that they are perfect? I know that my children all struggle with their sinful natures, and yet, my idealistic streak keeps hoping that I will wake up one day and suddenly discover children who are always cheerful, polite and obedient. (Interestingly, as I am writing this, there is a whining and crying child in the background.) Oh, how my countenance falls each time my expectations of them are not met! But they are not perfect, and it is utterly foolish and unreasonable of me to consider otherwise. Remembering this enables me to understand their struggles, as I do mine, that I may be patient and compassionate in my dealings with each of them.

3. I cannot monitor every activity my children engages in. I will be as involved in the lives and activities of my children as I possibly can. But to be present physically 24/7 and to know every detail is simply not practical. The biggest irony is that often, children break the rules right under the parents’ nose, right in the home where boundaries are clearest! What about when parents are not around? You can set up an entire tracking system but there will come a time when their own schedules will take them out of the house and they will have to make decisions on their own. Admittedly, this is toughest as we watch our children grow. We know there is a need to let go. We just don’t know if we are doing it too soon or too late. My prayer is for knowledge not just to be lodged in their heads, but that godly wisdom would rise and rule in their hearts.

4. I am not responsible for my children’s sins. As parents, it grieves us when our children sin. When they are little, it may be lying or throwing a tantrum. But as they grow, they may read books, listen to songs, watch movies that are just not right. We tell them, they know and yet there is a curiosity in them that needs to be satisfied. We pray they wouldn’t sin, and yet they do. And we feel as if we have failed miserably in our instruction and training. I am reminding myself that my part is to teach and impart. But if they choose to disobey, to sin, it would totally break my heart, but the responsibility remains theirs — and the consequences too.

5. I am not the one to meet my children’s every need. Today, just being dad is not enough anymore. You must also be friend, coach, mentor and teacher (did I mention pastor and counsellor too?). And every parenting talk and sermon adds another descriptor to the already endless list of who you are to be and what you should be doing. In short, we are never doing enough and we are the one to blame for any dysfunction our child may display. Hey, I will watch out for my children’s needs. Yes, I will be dad, the best that I can be. But if they hope to have one that never fails them, man, will they be disappointed. My prayer is that they will quickly learn and find sufficiency only in Christ, and Christ alone.

6. I do not have all the answers. By now, this statement should not be a surprise at all. Yes, it’s ok to say “I don’t know.” I don’t know why things are happening this way. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know when the children will love the Lord passionately and serve Him wholeheartedly. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. What I do know is that God is faithful and His Word is true. That is who and what I will cling to, regardless how my children are behaving or responding, and especially when I don’t know what I know anymore!

7. I am not the one who provides for my children. At some point, every parent struggles with needs and wants of our children. With seven children, this is a very real point! Just this week alone, I have been advised (warned) that certain expenses have increased and that I should not faint when the next statement arrives. Sure, as dad and head of the household, it is my responsibility to provide for the family. That could be a huge burden for me if I do not first understand and then remember that it is the Lord who provides as we serve Him and Kingdom faithfully.

8. I do not have to worry nor be anxious. I am not joking. I know that you think this is totally impossible. After all, we love our children and that is why we will always worry for and about them. That said, let us be reminded that there is an extremely fine line between loving concern and anxious worry. I am concerned for my children, and rightly, I should be. However, when I dwell on that and all the unknowns, it begins to eat me up from the inside out! My focus on the Lord shifts to my own inability to comprehend nor resolve the issue. It turns to worry and before long, I am taking it out on myself and my children. This reminder is for me to always trust the Lord, regardless. He has great plans for each child and only He can bring it to pass in His time.

9. I do not have to journey alone. Sometimes, parenting can seem like a very lonely journey on a very long road. Allow this to stick in your mind and you will soon be having the biggest pity-party ever. Unless you are a single parent, always remember the partnership of your spouse. Discuss and pray with one another often. And don’t forget the extended family through the Body of Christ. At times, the same point I have been making, when made by another may bring conviction in the hearts of my children. Ouch! That just dented my pride. Precisely, for often, it is our pride that restricts us from sharing our challenges with others, or learning from them. This only leaves us stranded and alone.

10. I do not have to take everything so seriously. If I can remember the above, it would be much easier to remember this. Then again, this might be the first and most important reminder to heed. Serene and I say this often, “If we don’t laugh about it, we will go crazy!” Most definitely, we could do with a lot more of that when we parent. In most cases, it is not the end of the world. Don’t let our uptightness, our pride, our need for control, our worry, our ‘face’ rob us of the joy of loving and walking with the children God has so graciously blessed us with. I know this is more easily said than done, hence, the need to be reminded over and over again. Not only will this be good for the parents, but also for the children. After all, who wants to live in an environment where there is only stress, anger and anxiety? Stop frowning. Smile more. Laugh.

Oh, how I need to revisit these points often in my parenting journey. You may have more to add but I would be happy if I can remember these for starters, consistently. And most importantly, that the Lord is enabling me by His Holy Spirit to achieve what He has called me to do as a father. May He enable you too!

42 Parents Turned Up For “Raising Christian Families in Today’s World”

I want to give God all the glory for what took place at Wesley Methodist Church today.

At the invitation of the Family Life Ministry, I had the opportunity to share about raising families for Jesus in today’s challenging and ever-changing landscape. A total of 42 parents turned up to attend this talk (from Wesley MC and also other churches).

The morning started a little tentatively with me experiencing some technical and connection problems – interestingly, this tends to happen at Wesley MC … perhaps, it’s time for a new computer (MacBook?) – haha! Anyway, one of the parent-participants, Jonathan, helped me troubleshoot and got everything set up. Truly, God-sent!

With so many things to share, the three hours zipped by so quickly. As far as I could observe, the crowd was attentive and everyone was duly engaged with the SEVEN key points presented, drawn from Nehemiah 4:1-20.

Another high point was that for the first time, my wife Serene was able to join me (albeit a little later). I’ve always felt that we should be doing this together as husband and wife, father and mother. And today, with the children able to stay home themselves, Serene could be present. During Q&A time, the women had a chance to ask questions, which in my opinion, are better answered by my dear wife 🙂

Feedback and responses after were positive, indicating that the participants were provoked to think further and more deeply. Is it all about surviving the rat race, education and academic grades? Or are they raising Christian families centred upon Jesus that these would be purposefully used for God in the advancement of His Kingdom?

I am praying that the Holy Spirit would have convicted the parents who attended, and continue to lead them as their cast their vision for their families and make choices that would glorify Jesus!

When Parents Don’t Want To Be The Bad Guys: Uncle Scold

I brought my children to the library yesterday.  It’s nice that we are able to go on a weekday – less crowded and quieter.  When we got there, there were two other children with their mothers.  One was a toddler and he was having good fun walking around, exploring the books and furniture.  The other boy (about 2 yrs old) was seated at the little table, presumably being read to by his either very-youthful-looking grandmother or rather-matured-looking mother 🙂  (We’ll consider her as the mother in this commentary.)

Soon, the boy began to make noise, getting louder each time.  Each outburst was matched with a “shhh” from his mother with little or no effect.  Then came a loud yelp from the kid which made me look up, catching the mother’s eye.  Perhaps it was the look on my face, for immediately, she told the boy, “Uncle scold!”  That silenced him for a little while and he started again.  And the mother threatened him again with the mean-monster-uncle-who-will-not-only-scold-you-but-eat-you-up trick … “Uncle scold!”  Not too long after, they left the library.

I guess I should feel good that I have assisted in someone’s child training programme … who cares if I had been portrayed as a grumpy old man 🙂  Yet, this little episode made me realise one thing in many parents.  Often, parents don’t want to be “the bad guy”.  They want to appear nice and loving.  As such, they readily pass the blame to others, sending the message to the child, “It’s ok with me if you mis-behave, but that mean, old man … now, he’s the troublemaker, the killjoy!”  This, by the way, is not a recent development.  I remember as a boy, the same trick (excuse) was used … “Stop this behaviour, or else the police will come and arrest you!”, or in Hokkien, mata lai loh mata diak.

I believe children must be taught to obey the voice of their parents first, that they will then learn to submit to other authorities with proper respect.  This means that parents must be willing to discipline and train even if it means being the bad guy sometimes.  This is tough love but also biblical and godly love.  God, as our Heavenly Father, loves and disciplines us in the same way.  When we go through tough times, He doesn’t say “Oh, it’s not me!  I’ll never do that to you!  It’s … it’s … it’s … the devil!  But me, NAHHHH, I wouldn’t let you suffer at all!”  Sure, tell that to Jesus when He hung upon the Cross.

Parents, let’s encourage one another to do what we need to do, that our children will be raised right for the Lord’s glory and  use.  Don’t make excuses, push blame or pass the buck.  And please, give the uncles (and aunties) a break.

Related Post: Why Would a Good God Allow Bad Things To Happen?