WITH YOU ALWAYS

Since I’ve become a dad, I’ve endeavored to teach my children about God. We will not always be with our kids but giving them an awareness that God is with them is a good start.

The other night, Joaquin, our 3 year old, was watching a video in our room while we were all out in the dining room. Here’s a conversation that went on…

JOAQUIN: “Mom, can you stay with me in the room? I’m a bit scared.”

JENN: “Joaquin, it’s ok. Jesus is with you all the time. He is with you in the room.”

Long pause …

JOAQUIN: “But mom, Jesus told me that you have to be with me in the room.”

Haha!

How do you respond to that? :)

“THE BEST THING THAT’S HAPPENED TO ME…”

One of the surprises I had last Father’s Day was to see one of my ‘students’ in Kids Church from years ago.  I was a Kids Pastor for about 11 years and had the pleasure of teaching young kids. Many of them came from families with a complete set parents. A few had come from solo parent homes.

Darlene was one of them. I met her when she was about 6 years old.

She’s now 18 and when she approached me last Sunday, I was blown away by how she’s matured through the years.

I asked her to email me her thoughts about growing up with God as our Heavenly Father.

Read her thoughts and be blessed…

I honestly am not sure where to start. This topic is so complex, because I have so much testimonies …how God shaped me.

The best thing that happened my entire life- being raised by my single mom. Why, because I grew up feeling God directly had my back. That unlike almost all the kids I knew, I may not have a physical dad, (but because I was raised in church), I knew I had God as my dad. He has been the Father I never had, but at the same time, the Father I have always had.

I grew up feeling like nothing was impossible. Having God as your dad can make you feel that way versus having a limited human dad.

Don’t get me wrong, having a dad would be great. In fact, I wondered often what it’s like. I really have no idea at all. Just curious. But I don’t see it as a need, having a dad. Maybe I have grown so used to not having a father around that I just couldn’t tell the difference. I don’t have anybody I can compare to God.

Growing up in a single parent home, and being raised in church, worked this way for me:

When we didn’t know what to do as family, we’d go to God. Him being our decision-maker. Our guide.

When we needed protection as a family, we’d go to God. Pray for protection, and be protected. Just like how a father protects his family from harm. To this day, we have been given supernatural protection by God. Now that I’m 18 years of age, I can say that, all my life, specially during the trying times we’ve had, God has protected us. We have seen the best and worst our side of town has to offer. And no matter where we go, we never really get scared. We have always been protected. We just say a prayer. And everything is alright. We ride planes, we say a prayer of protection. When something doesn’t feel right, we say a prayer of protection. No human being father can protect a mother and daughter so supernaturally the way God does.

When we need provision as a family, we’d go to God. We have nobody else to go to but God. And God always worked in mysterious ways. He would provide vehicles he would use to provide for us, or he’d directly just provide for us through random people. God worked so mysteriously YET, he worked through everyone and everywhere. His provision was limitless.

Even though I grew up in a single home, I felt God was able to father me more directly. It has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. I was able to focus on him more. I knew nobody else but God.

Best thing that ever happened. Even though I grew up in a single parent home. Being in church, I did not have a hard time at all. In fact I feel it has been the best thing that happened to me. It has shaped me to be who I am.

I learned many things.

Most of the time, I don’t right away understand God’s will. But as time comes, I see how my Father is molding me.

I also learned that, things always got better sooner than I thought. God steps in, acts as my father and fixes problems sooner than I think.

He guides me and gives me advice. The principles he teaches through His Word, guides me through my everyday life. Just like how a real father would guide his daughter or son.

I’m an only child, and it has always been me, my mom and God. And it has been amazing. God has been able to  directly step in my family and take charge. Be the father of our family.

Having God as your father brings a certain calm. A calm no human being can give. It makes you feel you have a superhero as your dad. Him being everywhere. Unchanging in all his plans and promises.

FATHER’S DAY

Father’s Day this year was quite special. Here are a few reasons why.

1. My family.

I simply adore my family. God has blessed me with crazy fun kids.

 

2. Me and My Dad Camp memories.

Chloe grew up in a single parent home. But as I’ve served as a kids pastor for many years, I have had the privilege to help, share, assist a few of the kids who didn’t grow up with a father. Here’s what Chloe’s mom sent me today.

 

3. Chocolate chip cookies.

Mica and Rapha Pineda came up after service and gave this to me.

The card actually came with a container full of chocolate chip cookies but I didn’t even get to try one because my kids finished it. Actually, Nathan did. Argh.

4. Power Truth.

Darlene also grew up in a single parent home. The reason why it was such an encouragement when she came up after the service was she reminded me of a lesson I taught (that I don’t actually remember anymore).  In Kids Church, we have what we call as the “Power Truth.”  The message is usually a one point message so kids can easily remember.  One particular Sunday, the Power Truth was…

Grace is something your absolutely need but definitely don’t deserve.

It was just so encouraging to hear that God’s word, as we speak it, will take root and bear fruit in people’s hearts.

5. Radio Guesting.

I was invited by Chinkee Tan to guest in his radio show “Chink Positive.” I was interviewed regarding my experience on how I coped up growing up without a father and how I am able to live by grace now as a father myself.  I am thankful for God who is able to cause all things to work together for our good (Romans 8:28). What the enemy meant for evil, God is able to turn it around for our good. (Genesis 50:20)

6. Ferrero

My absolute favorite!

My lovely wife had this on my side table as I got home from church last night.


AWESOME DAD (guest blog by Diane Gabriel)

Can a father who grew up without one be a good dad? Absolutely. Here’s a testimony of a young mom who honors her husband for being an awesome husband and dad.

—–

At the time I first met my husband Gabe, he had not seen nor heard from his father in over 14 years. He didn’t have many great father-son stories, just little pockets of memorable moments, like playing remote-controlled cars, watching his dad perform, or hanging out at his recording studio. He once said that he felt he could never be a good father because for many years he grew up without one.

Fast forward a few years later, that morning after Christmas day I watched him cradle our new son in his arms for the first time, so full of emotion. To say that Gabe was a hands-on dad is quite an understatement — shortly after our first son was born I got hospitalized for hypocalcemia. I couldn’t walk, stand, sit, or even sneeze without feeling excruciating pain. In the following weeks as I slowly recovered, Gabe took on his role as a new and practically full-time dad with so much love and patience. Whatever challenge we faced as new parents was more than we expected or could have prepared for, but with God’s grace we pulled through. And now, with the birth of our second son, his excitement and joy on being a dad is all but diminished.

To my husband, on his second year of being a GREAT father — for fully embracing your role as daddy, for hugging and kissing them multiple times each day, for changing their diapers without hesitation, for playing with them, giving them baths and tucking them to bed each night, for always praying for them, for asking God’s wisdom on how to raise them, and for showing them how much you love their mommy — happy father’s day. :)

The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children who follow them – Proverbs 20:7 (NLT)

WHEN A FATHER IS HARD TO HONOR

When my dad and mom split up, I didn’t see my dad for 15 years. They broke up before my first birthday. I had no idea then but looking through the pictures years later, I figured it out. Something was missing. Actually, someone was missing.

Fast forward to age 23, a year before I got married. I was sitting in a small group Bible study. The leader, Steve Murrell, had a simple point. The Bible says ‘honor your father and your mother, period.’

The Bible tells us to honor your father not because they’re honorable or perfect, but honor him, period.

It doesn’t say honor them if they are right but honor them for this is right.

In obedience to His word, I went for it.  I asked for prayer from my friends and then I called my dad to set up a lunch appointment.

It was my first time to actually sit with him one on one. Since the first time I met him when I was 16, I would see him twice or three times a year but that would always be in a group context. This time, it was just me and him.

Since he was a broadcaster, he filled in the first hour of our conversation with the current headlines of the broadsheets that time. After an hour, I cut him short and told him why I asked for an appointment.

“Papa, the reason I wanted to meet with you is that I wanted to tell you that I honor you as my father.  I know that things with you and Mama didn’t work out, but I just wanted to let you know that there’s forgiveness in my heart for you.”

By this time, my eyes were sweaty (Men don’t cry. Their eyes just sweat.)

“I just want you to know that all that is in the past. And given another chance to choose another last name, I’d choose Punzalan all over again.”

“I’d like to rebuild my relationship with you and make up for lost time.”

He was silent. Not an awkward silence but a ‘brick-wall-has-been-broken-down’ silence.

You see, forgiveness is more than just a feeling. Forgiveness is actually a decision. A tough yet necessary one.

I needed to decide not for his sake but for mine. Someone said that “unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.”  I didn’t want that and I knew something had to be done.

With the grace of God, as years went by, God began to restore that relationship. Will tell you more in the next blogs.

But my point? I believe as God gave me the grace to obey His word to honor, His grace overwhelmed me to make the right decision to forgive.

The result? There was a turning.

Malachi 4:6 says, “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers…”

That was what He did.

God is a God of restoration.

He was for me and He can be for you as well.

 

ANOTHER DADDY

Growing up without my dad was a tough one.

Especially because I went to an all boys school. Father and Son days were the toughest. Activities like father and son 2 on 2 basketball was horrific for me.

I remember a time when I asked my friend Joel if I could “borrow” his dad so that I could play in the school event. I appreciate my teachers who let me play with my “borrowed” father just so I can play.

This left a gaping hole growing up that caused a lot of insecurity.

When I met Christ and gave my life to Him, it was not easy. God was introduced to me as my Heavenly Father. I had no concept of what it was to have one because Mama and Papa split up before I turned 1.

But when I did, God proved Himself faithful through the years. He showed me what it meant for Him to be my Heavenly Father.

His promise to me? “I will be a Father to those who don’t have one.” (Psalm 68:5)

Later on, God restored my relationship with my Papa which didn’t happen until 22 years after.
But that’s another blog. That one is a miracle all on a league of its own.

But to those who are growing up without a dad, it really sounds cliche-ish, but there’s no other father that will love you unconditionally and self sacrificially as your Heavenly Father.

He is here to stay. He will never leave nor forsake.