During a recent conversation with a mummy friend, we were sharing our thoughts on how the world today is a pretty scary place to bring up our kids in. Stories of kidnapping, child abuse, pedophilia and school bullying abound, not to mention the very real threat of terrorism that is always closer to home than we think. And on a more personal level, the fact that our kids are now at the age when they spend close to half of their waking hours in school, and that is a huge chunk of time when we parents have no control whatsoever over who they will meet, what they will talk about, what they will see and how they will choose.
“It feels like he isn’t just growing up – he’s growing away,” I said to my friend. And it’s true – he makes so many little decisions on his own now – what to eat at recess, for example, and whether to play ball with A or watch fishes with B – and sometimes, just sometimes, he pulls his hand out of mine when we are reaching the school gate.
“I can walk by myself, mummy,” he says. Cue mummy heart break.
Unlike our Tokyo vacation of 2016, our itinerary for our Taiwan trip was rather vague and open-to-change. We figured that, since the boys were not coming along, we had more freedom to flex and make up plans along the way. I had gotten some recommendations from friends on places to visit, since it was my first time to Taiwan, and hubby had only ever been there on business trips before. Thanks to their suggestions, and the invaluable GoogleMaps, we managed to navigate ourselves around the city pretty smoothly for first-timers. 😉
A couple of years ago, the hubs proposed the idea that we would take an us-only trip for a change and leave the boys behind. Back then, the boys were both quite young, and the mere thought of leaving them on their own – granted with loving grandparents to care for them – made me tearful. The idea was swiftly passed on by… but earlier this year, as we reconsidered the option, we both felt that perhaps it was time to try, with the boys a bit older and our parents willing and able to help us look after them. This year, we celebrate 10 years of marriage too, so we thought it would be a fitting milestone trip to make as a couple – kind of like a “second honeymoon”!
Ten years ago, a group of us were invited to attend and lead worship at an international missions conference in the region. As I was serving in a music ministry at the time, it wasn’t an unusual request or the first time that I was part of such an event, but it is only years later that I am beginning to understand what a truly watershed experience it was for me.
If you didn’t already know, we have two dinosaur-crazy boys in the family, so I was thrilled to discover the Museum of Nature and Science when researching for our trip to Tokyo! However, obviously I didn’t do my homework properly, as you shall see from today’s post.
It has been a wonderful few days of just spending time as a family, meeting up with family and friends over delicious meals, and so much laughter and fun moments to remember! Oh, for sure, there were the usual fights to break up and grouchy kiddos who skipped naps, but I think we’re getting a lil better at rolling with the punches when it comes to festive seasons like this. 😉
Just the other day, smack in the middle of reading a parenting book, it occurred to me that relationships are really very fascinating things. Friend, foe or lover, no two people are exactly alike – in fact, often it is our differences that draw us together, and it is those same differences that split us apart.
On Christmas Eve, the hubs and I were rummaging among our disorganised boxes of CDs for some nice music to play (Frozen/Pentatonix/Budak has been on repeat mode at our house these holidays), and we found this. A blast from the past! But that wasn’t the big surprise…
At first, I thought it was MY old CD, the one I’d bought at a ForeRunner concert back in 1994. I was in Sec 1, and it was my first Christmas in youth. Coincidentally, it was also my first Christmas after becoming a Christian, since I had personally received Christ at the youth camp earlier that December.
Then I noticed the name on the inside CD cover. The CD was autographed to Melvyn, aka my hubs.
I yelled for him to come, and asked him if this was his CD.
“Ya, they came to our church that year. Why?” was his usual laid-back reply.
Ok my hubs is not one to get very excited about things like this, haha, but man, I was speechless.
Back in 1994, he would have been 19, and I was 13. So, we BOTH watched a ForeRunner Christmas concert “The Real Gift” that December – on different nights for sure, but in the same month – and we BOTH liked them enough to buy a CD and queue up to get it autographed.
We didn’t meet until exactly 10 years later, through (surprise surprise) a ForeRunner concert where we BOTH performed in the same band. It’s a long story, which I think I will definitely share here sometime. But basically, I was working in ForeRunner by then, a music ministry of Cru, and he volunteered with us for that particular gig which was at his church. Now, my church.
Oh, the goosebumps just thinking about it!
Truly the best Christmas gift I have received this year. A gift of the assurance that He has been so much a part of our lives all these years, the amazement that He has woven the fabric of our lives so beautifully together, and we only see it now. The gratitude for all the years that ForeRunner (and Cru) has been a vital part of our lives.
The Real Gift for me this Christmas didn’t come packaged in a pretty box under the Christmas tree (although there was that too!), but in a filling of my heart with love, joy, peace and hope.