Making S’more Memories with the Family

Our family has this tradition where we celebrate birthdays in the middle of the night. But, when it comes to celebrating the birthdays of our two dogs, we usually do it over dinner. Two days ago, I sent a message to my siblings and invited them to join me after dinner to have a mini-bonfire and s’mores birthday party for Clue (our schnauzer) at the clubhouse. Originally, my two sisters and I wanted to start early so that we wouldn’t sleep late, but since my older sister and I suddenly needed to work overtime, we had to postpone the party.

Roasting marshmallows for s'mores
Roasting marshmallows for s’mores

I got out of the office at 8 pm and rushed to the nearest grocery store to buy a portable and affordable grilling pot and charcoal. However, it was only until an hour later that I was able to buy the ingredients and materials I needed. Before leaving the grocery store, I sent a message to my siblings and informed that the mini-bonfire will push through and will start at 9:30 pm. I honestly didn’t think that they would make it because we were already three hours late. But, some of them replied and confirmed that they would be joining me, so I hurried home.

with my sisters and our two dogs
with my sisters and our two dogs
with our schnauzer, Clue. :)
with our schnauzer, Clue. :)

As soon as I got to our house, we prepared the ingredients and things we needed for our midnight “bonfire” party and we left a note (“Bonfire near the pool”) on our front door for my dad and older brother who were still out for a meeting/work. We then went to the clubhouse and started our attempt to make fire. It wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. We tried to burn coals for an hour, but most of our methods didn’t work. Haha. Thankfully, dad arrived and joined us in our next few attempts and after ten to fifteen minutes, more coals were burning.

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While some of my siblings continued to help dad with the fire, my older sister and I played with our two dogs, Copper and Clue, on the grass. Our fluffy dogs really enjoyed their night out with us and we had fun hanging out with the family too! We took turns fanning the burning coals, playing with the dogs, and stargazing while enjoying the cool breeze. When the burning coals were ready, we started arranging the graham crackers and chocolate chips on a plate and roasted our own marshmallows on the sticks. After a while, I heard my dad shout “Hey, kuya!” (referring to my older brother). I think it was already past 12 midnight at that time and my older brother just arrived from work. Woohoo! We were finally complete!

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Dad helping us out with the fire.
Dad helping us out with the fire.

While my dad and younger brother were helping us with the fire, I remember them giving us a tip: “We have to start with one coal first. Once that coal is burning, that’s when we add more coals beside it to help spread the heat.” I’ve only tried to make fire with coals twice or thrice in my life. So, it was really interesting for me to try it again and learn from the experience with my family. The tip my dad and brother gave us reminded me of the similarity it has with developing the relationships we have in the family. Just like heating up the coals, we don’t always have to start big, we don’t always have to come up with extravagant plans or spend time together only when there are birthdays or special events. Sometimes, all it takes to maintain good relationships within the family is to heat up one coal at a time, to regularly do small things with and for the family.

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“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:3-4

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Doing small things like, sharing what’s in our hearts after a long day at work or giving each other a hug or a pat on the back every now and then or planting more vegetables in the garden with your mom or discovering how to make origami schnauzers with your older brother or picking mangoes with the siblings while walking the dogs or sending encouraging words to each other via SMS or patiently listening to and sharing with the joy of your sister who can’t get enough of her favorite band and music (HAHA. Thank you, dear family. You know I love you.), etc. Sometimes, the smallest things we do with and for the family make the biggest impact.

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During Clue’s birthday, I knew that my dad already had a previous commitment for dinner that night and that my older brother would be working late at the office, so I didn’t really expect them to make it to our family’s mini-bonfire party. However, it was encouraging to see God use certain delays that evening (e.g. when I experienced delays in the grocery store, when my older sister and I suddenly worked overtime, when we struggled with starting the fire) to allow our family to be complete at the party. If there weren’t delays, we would have started and finished the bonfire party earlier, without the company of my older brother and our dad.

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That mini-bonfire party was a reminder for me to always find joy and have hope in Him who loves families, who desires for families to stay together. Sometimes, it can be quite disheartening to feel hurt or witness unresolved issues within the family. Sometimes, there may also be delays in extending forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love towards each other. But, God is able to help us burn one coal at a time. He is able to encourage families to spend time together. And more importantly, He is able to change hearts and help families become more like Christ.

We ended up sleeping at 1:30 in the morning after the mini-bonfire, but the late night hangout with the family was definitely worth it. Here’s to making some more memories with the family. Happy birthday, dear Clue!:)

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Encourage yourself one treat at a time.

When God Says “Wait”

My parents and I ate dinner two nights ago and my dad randomly shared an observation he had over the past few months. He told me and my mom that he noticed how God has been answering my prayer requests and heart’s desires lately. He mentioned that when I prayed for a dog more than 4 years ago, God provided thru a family friend and we had our first dog: a fluffy, golden brown 4-year old Pomeranian named Copper. Also, he remembered how I prayed for certain gadgets before and by God’s grace, He again provided those a few months ago. It was interesting and ironic because by the time God gave our family the things that I prayed for, I wasn’t thinking about them anymore. After praying about them, somehow, God helped me surrender those things to Him and focus on Him instead. I am grateful for His grace.

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That random conversation with my parents was a timely encouragement for me because I’ve been praying about specific things lately. And somehow, I’ve felt like God wasn’t as “active” as He was in answering my prayers this time compared to my previous moments with Him. But, after talking to God that night, He reminded me of Kerrie Robert’s song “Seek Your Face” which talks about one’s desire to seek God (know who He is) and not focus on what He can give to us or what we ask from Him. It spoke to my heart because there would be times when I would feel unmotivated and discouraged to pray for specific things because of unanswered prayers or “delays”. However, by His grace, I am encouraged to see God for who He is in my life. He is my peace, my provider, and my Lord. Reminding myself of who He is helps me seek Him and His Word more, have faith in Him, and trust that He does want me to experience His best for me no matter what.

Manila Bay
Manila Bay

Despite the challenging moments that I have while I wait on the Lord, I really appreciate the fact that He uses those moments to help me get to know Him more. I remember commuting via MRT last week and while I was waiting for the next train to arrive (which took 20 minutes), God encouraged me to spend that time to talk to Him instead. Also, just this morning, I woke up at 3:30 am because of an intense dream that I had. It was about one of my prayer requests. I immediately got my journal and wrote to God. It was comforting to know that as I pray for and wait on God, I know that I can always count on Him to hear me out even in the wee hours of the morning. After praying, I closed the lights and went back to sleep with a hopeful heart. If it is God’s will and if He thinks it will be for the best, by His grace, He will provide for me. He will make a way.

From my journal
From my journal

The morning after the random conversation that I had with my parents, my sister and I walked our two dogs (Copper and Clue). While I was preparing their meals and fresh water, I remembered how we started training Clue to wait during their meal time. Clue, our 2-year old Schnauzer, was graciously given to us by a family friend as well. When we first had him, we noticed how quickly he eats his food. Before the food even touches his bowl, he would immediately eat the pellets, which was quite frustrating for us.

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So, for the past months, we’ve been doing our best to train Him to wait whenever we put food in his bowl. Sometimes, he does wait. Sometimes, he tries his best to. Haha. But, I have noticed some improvement in him lately. Whenever we put food in his bowl, we call his name and say the word “Wait.” Every time we do this, he always quickly looks at his food first and then looks at our eyes while drooling. It’s funny, really. It’s like we play a staring contest every meal time. And whenever he does wait, he waits for our go signal (the word “Okay!”) before gobbling up his food.

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Every time I give Clue a bowl of dog food, I am reminded of what I should do while I wait on the Lord. Clue continuously looks at his master while he drools and waits for his food. It just shows how Clue really desires to eat his food, but at the same time, knows that his master desires for him to learn how to wait too. Ever since Clue’s first day at home, the only thing he cared about during meal time was his precious bowl of dog food. But now, it’s encouraging to see him pause and take time to wait on his master before digging in.

 

God has been teaching me to wait on Him these past few weeks and although it has been a rollercoaster ride for me lately, I am grateful for the privilege of praying specifically, trusting completely, and waiting on Him who knows better than me.

“I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.”

-Psalm 27:13-14

Clue and Copper
Clue and Copper

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)