I am thankful to have recently attended the “Booked for Summer” event by OMF Literature. This is the third OMF Lit event that I have attended to. The first one was a writing workshop by Ms. Joy Tan Chi-Mendoza while the second one was the book launch of Isa Garcia’s “Found” and Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio’s “Better Than Jewels”.

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“Booked for Summer” had three different sessions. I attended “Journaling 101” by Ida Torres and “Parenting Heartbreaks and Breakthroughs” by Bettinna Carlos (with a bonus session about “Self-Directed Learning” by Joie Villarama). The latter was simultaneous with “Storytelling” by Yna Reyes.

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“Journaling 101” taught me how emotional patterns can be identified through journaling, how writing is not just practical but also functional, and why it is important to identify one’s motives behind journaling. I was also encouraged to not be bugged down by what I lack in terms of journaling or writing.

“Self-Directed Learning” was interesting as well since it was my first time to hear about it. I have a desire to homeschool my future children (if the Lord wills it) and so knowing that there are opportunities like this means a lot.

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“Parenting Heartbreaks and Breakthroughs” reminded me of how to love intentionally. Yes, I do not have kids yet. This is why I hesitated on whether I should attend this parenting talk or not. But I praise the Lord because attending it turned out to be so helpful to me.

I realize that Christ-centered parenting talks or even other resources like books are significant in discipleship or being a spiritual parent. Like what Bettinna said during the talk, “We are called to be parents.”  We are all called to love and to disciple like Jesus. Remember Paul’s letter to the people of Thessalonica?

Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well… For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” – 1 Thessalonians 2:8,11-12

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Here are my top three takeaways from the parenting talk:

  • Aim for character, not results.

In discipleship, it is easy to get carried away by the obedient works or external behaviors of the “children” entrusted to us. It is easy to acknowledge how they respond in action as Christians. This however may have implications on their walk with the Lord.

If we only acknowledge the times they go to fellowship or went out to share the gospel, or the number of people they are discipling, they may become tempted to just do it to show it and not to be it. I was reminded to dig into and pray about the conditions of their hearts more.

Are they only following the life and ministry of Jesus because they were told to or are they doing it because they were personally convicted by God to do so? Are they doing it with a grumbling heart or are they doing it out of faith in Christ? Are they doing it to compensate shortcomings or are they doing it because they understand God’s grace and mercy? Are they doing it out of works or out of love?

This led me to pray for the girls I am discipling. I prayed that they will not obey Jesus out of works but out of faith. I prayed that they will not obey Jesus for people to see but to honor God. I too prayed that I will no longer be blinded by superficial fruits but instead be more concerned of their roots and be more wise in discerning the fruit of the Holy Spirit that which will last.

  • “As my child is developing so should my parenting be.”

I am blessed to be in a ministry that uses a biblical guide in discipleship. We call it the “Jesus’ Ministry Pattern (JMP) Discipleship Pathway”. It details important factors in one’s Christian journey – from being a “baby” Christian until he or she reaches the “father” stage. This growth guide popped out of my head when Bettinna said, “As my child is developing so should my parenting be”.

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I realized how true that is. More than the things we teach to people as we disciple them, we too must grow as disciple-makers. Their specific needs and situations change thus it is important for me to have a more teachable heart; to realize that I am not always right, and that I have to listen and pray more in order to identify what is truly needed at the moment. Or else, spiritual pride may kick in.

  • If your child tells you that he or she needs to personally talk to you, that’s a magic moment. Do not forsake that.

It sometimes burdens me to listen to rants especially those that have already been discussed before. There were times when “Ate, I need to talk to you” turns my heart into grumbling rather than rejoicing. Why? Because I’d think that there are more important things to address at that time more than what she’s going through. That’s selfishness from my end.

I realized from the parenting talk that those moments do not always come. Those moments are to be cherished or else they might find someone else to share it to. Hopefully, that “someone else” is someone godly but what if it’s not?

This led me to value the moments when someone I care about calls me in the middle of night to talk about things that concern her. This also led me to be thankful of the moments when they would consult me about things and share to me things they find important. This also led me to be more thankful to God about them.

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