As 2011’s end is still not too far back into distant memory, I would like to think back on some of the good and bad that happened over the course of last year. It was quite an eventful year for me, as you will see. Despite everything, I cannot help but think back with thanksgiving in my heart and enter 2012 with praise for what He has done in my life.
Remember what i said in my first blog post of the year: ""Christmas is still merry, and the New Year is still happy, not because of circumstances, but because of our joy in the Lord.""
2011 in review...including reflections
1. The storm that was Sendong. I can't help but start this reflection off with typhoon Sendong. For the first time in the memory of just about everyone living in this great city, a typhoon hit Cagayan de Oro and Illigan with such deadly force that over a thousand Cagayanons perished while scores more are missing. Homes have been destroyed, its residents losing everything they valued and worked hard for. Never before has CDO experienced so much death and damage. (If you have not donated yet, click here so that you can do so…people still are in dire need)
Next Monday, the school I work for will open its doors to receive students again. Some, like my family, got through the storm relatively unscathed. Others were not so lucky, yet, thankfully, there was no loss of life. We are encouraged by my boss that during morning devotions, we try to help them deal with this tragedy through spiritual eyes.
I’m still thinking about how I’m going to do that. But I’m going to go along these lines (and therefore, my reflection about Sendong):
• The climate has been rapidly changing, much of it is due to our excesses and irresponsibility: you can’t blame God for that.
• A huge factor in the floods was rampant illegal logging and unchecked open mining: you can’t blame God for that either.
• This goes to show why sin is such a big deal in God’s eyes: not only because it violates His commands; but, equally as important, it hurts and even destroys others, even those who had no part in the sin in the first place. And using up our natural resources irresponsibly, especially in the name of greed IS sin…and boy did people get hurt.
• Sendong very dramatically showed us what really mattered. All the toys, gadgets, trinkets, and the shallow security of the present were lost in one dark night. All thoughts and actions were towards family and friends. Let’s not wait till the next time we have to desperately fight for our lives (or to save theirs) to realize this very important truth.
• God is still faithful and sovereign, even if things look exactly the opposite. Many times in the history of His people things were totally messed up, only to come back to blessing later on. If we trust in His faithfulness and sovereignty (repentance being a part of that), the same thing will happen to CDO and Illigan.
2. Opportunity lost, opportunity gained. My wife started the year as the owner of a small salon near our place; and I was hoping to start my business of tutoring ESL, for which I started working only half day in my job as a high school teacher. The ESL tutorial was very short lived (it definitely wasn’t my thing) and my wife lost the salon mid-year. Things didn’t look so well for a short while.
For me it was easy enough, I just got my full time job back. Working part time allowed me to rest a bit (was big-time suffering from burnout), and I was good and ready to go back to what I know now is what God wants me to do…with vigor that I have not felt in a long time.
For Jhean, well, blessings of blessings, she was hired to train under my mom in NKAC, which includes the beautiful Mountain Pines Place. It’s a job she has grown to love, and we’re happy that she’s happy. I’m also happy for her because it plays to her strengths: her social skills, her great attention to detail, and her love for the decorative side of things.
She seems to be doing a helluva job, because she just got promoted recently. Yippie!
Reflection for opportunity lost, opportunity gained:
• You know what we believers say: “when God closes a door, it means He’s about to open a better one” (or something like that). It was very true in our case. Have faith that in could be true in yours.
• I remember Jhean felt greatly at peace in closing the salon. Sure, there were circumstances that made her angry and sad, but I am proud of her spiritual maturity and her trust in the Lord that things would be fine. And they were beyond fine. It was Going Through Trials With Supernatural Grace 101. Jhean 10 years ago would’ve reacted differently.
• I was very touched by the students’ elation when I came back (and my supervising co-worker, too). It dawned on me that there’s a great need for male role models/father figures/big-brother figures in high school teachers. Many of the ones who were happiest with my return were boys.
3. Several of my good friends went through tremendous trials this year, yet things are well. There was family strife because of relatives stealing money, loss of jobs, death in the extended family, even an ongoing and ugly legal battle that had close friends of ours thrown in jail for baseless accusations.
But you know what, they got through it all; and they got through it all with such grace that it would make your jaw drop. Do you know what they say? It’s because of what they learned through our small group, our church, the GLC program of our church, and stuff like that.
It’s pretty amazing what ministry can do, and 2011 was quite a fruitful year of ministry for Jhean and I. The 40 Days of Love, Parenting That Makes A Difference, and all our church-related activities really paid off handsomely for many people close to me. I’ve seen the transformation: the quickness and peacefulness in my friend forgiving his relative who stole, the parenting lessons transforming their crazy household into one of peace, and many more. And I hope it will continue more in 2012. In fact, I know it will.
Oh yes, I was also able to minister to a handful of online friends who were going through dark days as well. Of the said handful, one was a childhood friend living across the globe, and another was in the Philippines but living in another island…so I thank good ol’ Facebook for allowing me to touch base with far-away friends and to help them with their problems, even if it’s just words of encouragement.
Reflection for a year in ministry:
• I have my moments where I don’t feel like being part of ministry, thinking dark thoughts that there’s no monetary gain for this struggling provider and blah, blah, blah. But indeed, what happened in 2011 showed that money can’t even hope to buy what serving the Lord provides. Ministry provides encouragement and life-changing influence that can last forever!
• One of my greatest highs was, when my small group was in charge of the children’s ministry for that month, hearing about a little girl, an invited cousin of a church goer, begging her parents to come to our church on the Sundays after her visit, because she enjoyed the children’s ministry so much. That made me giddy for weeks (words of affirmation is my love language, remember).
• Another high: during The Story Of Us couples retreat, a couple said that they liked it so much that they will sponsor six couples for the next time. How awesome is that? By popular demand, they will get their chance as there will be The Story Of Us 3rd batch come March.
• I see 2012 to be an even greater harvest, I’ve seen the growth, and I can’t wait to see what God will do. It’s gonna be exciting.
• In 2012, my eldest daughter will be a bona-fide CCF J-Zone youth. She had a little sample of youth in 2011, and I can tell her enthusiasm for it will make her ever bit a great influence for Christ as I was, likely even more so.
4. Watch out for the bite of the traveler’s bug! There was a lot of travel in 2011. In the beginning of the year, my wife was able to stay in the US with her sister’s family for 5 months. Prior to this, the only place outside the Philippines that she has been able to visit was Hong Kong. To say that she enjoyed it was a huge understatement…yet she said she wouldn’t want to do it again unless we were around, because being away from us saddened her.
Furthermore, she helped take care of her new nephew while she was there. I was hopeful that she’d use her experience as a mom of 3 and the parenting stuff that she learned from CCF to good use and even become a good example (nobody’s perfect, of course; but wifey is surely a great mom). True enough, my sister in law told me what a great blessing Jhean was to her house. She was so proud of the woman my wife has become.
At the end of the year, it was my mom’s turn to visit the US of A, and she also had a great experience there. Reuniting with great friends was one thing. But what took the cake was the people she ministered to are now so serious about God and his word. She gushed that the students have exceeded the teacher, and as you know, there could be no prouder moment for a teacher than that.
In September, the whole Alado family travelled to Roxas City for my cousin’s wedding. It was such a wonderful trip for me, because the last time I was in that place was when I was six! I also (re)discovered why my relatives are on the big side. Man, I ate a whole month’s worth of food in just that one week’s vacation!
Reflections regarding the Alado trips:
• While Jhean enjoyed her trip to the states, it was bittersweet for her because she missed home so much. She missed some important events like Mother’s Day where my our eldest daughter was among the singers for a tribute to moms, and the school play based on Les Miserables where our younger daughter was little Cosette. Now I understand how being an OFW feels. And…
• …I know how if feels to be a single parent. It’s no joke.
• My sister in law’s reaction to Jhean and my mom’s reaction to the people she ministered to is a testament on how important it is to invest in people. Other than eternal salvation, there’s no greater investment than the legacy you leave in other people’s lives.
• In my last visit to Roxas, when I was 6 years old, I was the ring bearer (or was it Bible bearer) for my uncle’s wedding, who now is the father of my cousin being wed this time around. Speaking of this time around, now, my 6 year old son took the very same role that I did so many years ago. Cool, right? Probably in the very same chapel, too. If you compare the pics of me and him, we look almost exactly alike.
5. Of course, I cannot look back at 2011 without mentioning the creation of this blog. Lessons Of A Dad was my pet project of the year, and my goal was to bless and challenge people to become better parents (especially the dads), while making a little cha-ching while I’m at it.
I haven’t earned yet, but what a blessing this site has been for me. One, it gave me a venue to express myself through writing, and I love to write. Not everyone is able to express what they’re passionate about to the whole world, and blessing people with it in the process.
Two, it allowed me to get to know some great people. There are new online friends who I thank God for (special thanks to Roger Blazic, whose series of articles finally goaded me to start this thing last June). There are also the great guys at the CDO Bloggers community. They’re a bunch of wonderful people and I look forward to seeing more of them this year.
Third, who would ever thought that people would think that this little pet project of mine would be not only good, but good enough to win the Philippine Blog Awards Best Lifestyle Blog for Mindanao? I was also a finalist for the Best Home and Parenting Blog Nationwide. Very, very cool.
Hopefully, in 2012 I’ll be able to add a fourth, that Lessons Of A Dad will be a new source of income for me. That would be incredible.
Reflections of the creation of Lessons of a Dad
• Creating this blog site in June 2011 was one of the highlights of last year, no doubt about it. However, ironically, when I started to put this blog together, I ended up becoming a bad parent for a while. I was just so into the start-up of this thing. It consumed me. Not good.
• I’ve been incredibly blessed by the good that this blog has done. One young couple attended The Story Of Us because they read my blog. A US-based high school classmate of my mom’s was able to solicit hundreds of dollars from his Rotary Club for Sendong’s relief efforts by having them read photocopies of my blog post…he’s the only Filipino in the said club.
• I’m just a bit worried that I’ve started to talk less and less about parenting as time goes by…is that normal? Maybe it’s just the natural evolution of this blogger finding out what works and what doesn’t.
• But parenting is what this world needs, especially parenting from dads. Must not stray (or stray too much). More parenting material has to be put. 2012 will be more focused, I hope.
• Any suggestions on my blog? I’d love to hear some.
Anyway, that’s all for my 2011 year in review reflections. I hope you enjoyed the article. May 2012 be a blessed year for you!