Circle Maker Series: Dream Big

Think of this series as a book club. As I learn from the Circle Maker book, I would like to share my insights with all of you. There will be no specific outline but just random ideas that I am gathering as I read along. Before you proceed, i encourage you to read the legend of the circle maker first.
The first time I heard the story of Honi several years ago, it did not appeal to me so much. I thought Honi was discontented and kind of rude to demand from the Lord. And this was my recent revelation. 

“God is not offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less."
Don’t we often limit God? We analyze too much and reason that what we want is logically impossible. So we adjust our grandest dreams and make them mediocre.  We do away with the bigger dream and settle for a small dream that we know can be accomplished without divine intervention.  But you know what? God is robbed of the glory when we limit our dreams!  God is honored by big dreams. Why? Because once the dream is fulfilled, there is no way we can take credit for it! Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. Big dreams bring us to our knees, praying and depending on the Lord. And as we pray, we grow closer to the Lord and know His heart. In fact, you may even start to change your dream as your personal will aligns with His will. 
Remember when the Israelites prayed for meat as they journeyed to the promised land?
Numbers 11:31
"Now the Lord sent a wind that brought quail from the sea and let them fall all around the camp. For miles in every direction there were quails flying about three feet above the ground."

When quail started to fall from the sky, imagine how the Israelites felt. I am sure they were in awe. Each Israelite gathered no less than 10 homers of quail. With 600,000 men, there would be a total of 6 million homers of quail that fell. And if one homer is roughly 200 liters, then we can statistically figure that it rained 105 million quails that day. Imagine that. When God answers, He does not only provide in a dramatic fashion, He can provide in dramatic proportions.
I challenge you to spend time with the Lord in prayer and wait on Him.  As you spend time with the Lord, write down promises that He will reveal to you.  Maybe the promises will come through Bible verses or words from your devotional book. Or it may be an impression that the Lord places in your heart.  Whatever it is, write them down and pray for the Lord to reveal more of Himself to you. And i guarantee that as you get the know His heart, you will see Him for the loving Father that He truly is.
I will close this post with a phrase from the book that i love.

If you keep circling your dream in prayer, God will get bigger and bigger until you see your impossible prayer for what it really is: An easy answer for an almighty God.


The Legend of Honi, the Circle Maker
I have been reading one of the most inspiring books i have ever read. I learned so much about prayer and investing in my relationship with the Lord.  Join me in the next few weeks as i share my insights with you. To jump start this series, please read the story that founded this book.

The Legend

It was the first century BC and a devastating drought threatened to destroy a generation, the generation before Jesus. The last of the Jewish prophets had died off nearly four centuries before. Miracles were such a distant memory that they seemed like a false memory. And God was nowhere to be heard. But there was one man, an eccentric sage who lived outside the walls of Jerusalem, who dared to pray anyway. His name was Honi.1 And even if the people could no longer hear God, he believed that God could still hear them.

When rain is plentiful, it’s an afterthought. During a drought, it’s the only thought. And Honi was their only hope. Famous for his ability to pray for rain, it was on this day—the day—that Honi would earn his moniker.

With a six-foot staff in his hand, Honi began to turn like a math compass. His circular movement was rhythmical and methodical. Ninety degrees. One hundred and eighty degrees. Two hundred and seventy degrees. Three hundred and sixty degrees. He never looked up as the crowd looked on. After what seemed like hours, but had only been seconds, Honi stood inside the circle he had drawn. Then he dropped to his knees and raised his hands to heaven. With the authority of the prophet Elijah who called down fire from heaven, Honi called down rain.

“Lord of the Universe, I swear before your great name that I will not move from this circle until you have shown mercy upon your children.”

The words sent a shudder down the spine of all who were within earshot that day. It wasn’t just the volume of his voice. It was the authority of his tone. Not a hint of doubt. This prayer didn’t originate in the vocal chords. Like water from an artesian well, the words flowed from the depth of his soul. His prayer was resolute yet humble; confident yet meek; expectant yet unassuming.

Then it happened.

As his prayer ascended to the heavens, raindrops descended to the earth. An audible gasp swept across the thousands of congregants who had encircled Honi. Every head turned heavenward as the first raindrops parachuted from the sky, but Honi’s head remained bowed. The people rejoiced over each drop, but Honi wasn’t satisfied with a sprinkle. Still kneeling within the circle, Honi lifted his voice over the sounds of celebration.

“Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill cisterns, pits, and caverns.”

The sprinkle turned into such a torrential downpour that eyewitnesses said no raindrop was smaller than an egg in size. It rained so heavily and so steadily that the people fled to the Temple Mount to escape the flash floods. Honi stayed and prayed inside his protracted circle. Once more he refined his bold request.

“Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of Thy favor, blessing, and graciousness.”

Then, like a well-proportioned sun shower on a hot and humid August afternoon, it began to rain calmly, peacefully. Each raindrop was a tangible token of God’s grace. And they didn’t just soak the skin; they soaked the spirit with faith. It would be forever remembered as the day. The day thunderclaps applauded the Almighty. The day puddle jumping became an act of praise. The day the legend of the circle maker was born. It had been difficult to believe the day before the day. The day after the day, it was impossible not to believe.

Honi was celebrated like a hometown hero by the people whose lives he had saved. But some within the Sanhedrin called the Circle Maker into question. A faction believed that drawing a circle and demanding rain dishonored God. Maybe it was those same members of the Sanhedrin who would criticize Jesus for healing a man’s withered arm on the Sabbath a generation later. They threatened Honi with excommunication, but because the miracle could not be repudiated, Honi was ultimately honored for his act of prayerful bravado.

The prayer that saved a generation was deemed one of the most significant prayers in the history of Israel. The circle he drew in the sand became a sacred symbol. And the legend of Honi the circle maker stands forever as a testament to the power of a single prayer to change the course of history.


Authority and Influence

This morning as i was driving to work, i stumbled upon a Parenting Podcast and decided to listen to it. The speaker was a minister named Paul. He has two teenage boys and he talked about discipline and instilling better communication with our children. Among all the insightful things that he shared, one illustration stayed with me. Based on his explanation, i have drawn the image below.
The purple rectangular box represents your discipline style. The numbers below represents your child's age from 1 to 18. The blue line starting from the bottom-right corner going up represents your level of influence over your child. While the line that starts from the upper-right hand side going down represents your level of authority over your child. Now with those information on hand, look at the diagram again. What does that tell you?
As our children get older, there is an autonomy that naturally grows within them.  That means that they would start to make their own decisions more and more, and depend on us less and less. It is very important to understand that the effectiveness of our parenting style should also be shifting as our child grows older.  When they are young, we can still use our authority over them to get them to listen.  But as they mature, we must gradually shift to molding them through our influence. So referring to the chart, my daughter at four years old is still largely dependent on my authority over her. For my son, who is already seven, is now at a stage when he wants to exercise a certain level of autonomy and make his own decisions. While I can still effectively teach him through my authority, I must also understand that he is now at a stage where my influence is also just as important. The problem with parents who do not understand this shift in parenting style is that they continue to impose their authority over their teenage children which causes the child to rebel against them.
So our question now is how do we build our influence over our children? The key here is to instill good communication while they are young. Face to face time is very important for young children. This can happen over meals or while you are playing toys with them. Just talk to them and have them build a habit of sharing their lives with you.  Dens and I are still working on getting more FaceToFace Time with the kids these days so it's still a work-in-progress.  We do this by playing a game before we go to sleep. Each one of us gets to ask a general question such as 'What is your favorite animal?' or 'What is your favorite family activity?' then we go around guessing each others' answers. That way we learn more about each other in a fun way. Notice how i say we "learn about each other" and not that we "learn more about our children"? As much as we want to know more about the kids through communication, it is also very important that we share about ourselves and allow them to get to know us, their parents, too. It builds trust and openness that will hopefully translate to better communication during their teenage years.
Another way to make yourself an effective influencer is, of course, through modelling. I have spoken about how effective this method is in a previous post (Click here to read about it). And honestly, this should be the easiest parenting tool for us. We just become the kind of people we want our children to be and that's it. Easier said that done, I know. But we cannot expect them to do things we cannot do ourselves. Similar to putting on oxygen masks in an airplane emergency, we need to help ourselves first before we can effectively help our children.
How old is your child now? Is authority still an effective parenting tool? Or should you already start gravitating towards influence? Think about it. Maybe it's time to reconsider our parenting style. At the end of the day, we should always seek God's guidance when setting controls for authority in our home. And when it comes to being a good role model to our kids, let us all be the hero that we already are in our children's eyes. And let us become the person that they would like to be when they grow up.
Psalm 19:7 "The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple"



10a Alabama Arts & Crafts Fair

Yesterday i found myself in an old house somewhere in Quezon City meeting local artists and appreciating art. Now i will be the first to tell you that I am not a fan of art galleries and museums. What i am a fan of is shopping. So this arts and crafts fair was a just perfect for me.
The place is a basically a bazaar for all kinds of artists. Check out the ceiling drop lights in the following pictures made from old electric fans.
For most of the booths, the creators themselves are the ones selling the items. It's fun to interview these artists and find out what inspired them to start their crafts. Some are also doing the actual craft on the spot. It's a good way to inspire or revive the inner artist in you.

Here are some of the items that caught my eye during my visit.
Aside from the novelty items, they also sell some interesting food stuff. Drink the perfect blend of local Cordillera coffee matched with Sesame Wasabe macarons. Then cap off your hot afternoon with the wild Muscovado + Bacon ice cream. A trip to 10a Alabama can be such a foodie adventure.
Here are more resurrected items. See if you can identify the former lives of the following items.
Interesting, isn't it? Watch out for the next Arts & Crafts fair by following their facebook page I was told they they hold these fairs for two days every quarter. So based on the current timeline, maybe we can expect the next fair sometime in October. Just in time for your pre-Christmas shopping.
10a Alabama St., New Manila
Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines and
Finally, i leave you with this very important thought.



Hawaiian Adventure Series: Shark-Cage Diving

Weeks before our family's vacation to Hawaii, my sister sent an email to our some of us containing a link to a Shark-Cage Diving Encounter. I know she sent it as a semi-joke and i also just laughed it off. I really did not take it seriously. When my dad saw the link, he was immediately interested. This surprised us but also made us rethink this 'joke' and inquire more seriously.

After a lot of back and forth, we decided to push through with it. We booked online through a promo with Groupon and prepared ourselves for an adventure of a lifetime.

We got there 30 minutes ahead of schedule and waited by the pier for the boat to arrive.  We then got in a speed boat that can sit around 12  to 14 passengers. Since there were already 8 of us (including 2 kids) plus three crew, only two other guests were accomodated to join us. It felt pretty exclusive to our family. We rode a high-speed boat on bumpy seas for a good 15 minutes before reaching the shark infested water. The cage was already docked, waiting for us.

The two kids did not go down but they were able to also see the sharks from the boat. There were a good 12 to 14 sharks swimming around us. Ironically, around the same number as the passengers of the boat. Eeps. They were about 13 feet long each and were Galapagos sharks.
I know the pictures look intimidating but it actually felt very safe. I would have even asked my kids to join us if they dared to. The only reason why it may not be ideal for small children is the rough seas. The waves were hitting hard and we had to hold on to the rails of the cage to avoid getting whipped around. Although once we were under water, it felt very calm.

Amidst the rough seas, it was an experience I will never forget. Definitely one for the books. As i looked at the sharks swimming around us, I was just in awe of how peaceful they moved around their habitat. I was just so amazed and cannot believe I was actually doing it. Such a National Geographic experience.

When you find yourselves in Hawaii, I would highly encourage you to give this activity a shot. To those of you asking who took our pictures, the captain of the boat had a GoPro on a stick and took our videos and photos for an additional fee. You only get to do it once, I'd say the additional $$ is priceless.

Visit Hawaii Shark Encounters to learn more about this wonderful experience.



How My Daughter Stopped to Thumbuck. A Continuation...

A lot of you have been asking me questions on my post regarding How My Daughter Stopped to Thumbsuck last May. If you have not read that post, please do so before you proceed to read the rest of this story.

On my second to the last paragraph, i mentioned how my daughter was already 99% thumbsuck-free. While 99% is good, it's still not 100%. Now let me tell you what I discovered about that elusive 1% the past two months.

During our recent trip to Hawaii, i noticed that my daughter was starting to degress in her non-thumbsucking habit. Or to put it clearly, my 99% success rate slowly turned to 90% then maybe 80% successful. You're probably wondering the same thing as I did. What happened?

I was reading Mark Batterson's book entitled The Circle Maker the past month. One chapter talked about how the Israelites were asked to walk around the city of Jericho for seven days. This was the Lord's instruction before they can conquer the promised land.

Joshua 6: 3-4
March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams' horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets.

If you have not heard about this story, let me be a spoiler and tell you what happened in the end. The walls of Jericho came tumbling down on the seventh day and the Israelites were able to conquer the city that God has promised them.

Now let's go back a few days and put ourselves in the shoes of the Israelites. After one round or two, our faith may be intact. But imagine going around on the 5th day...then the 6th day...maybe some of us will already be wondering when the promise will come. I remember our Pastor mentioned during his preaching a few months ago that 'Faith is easy in 5 minutes. But walking in faith continously again and again and again is difficult'. How true is that? If you are praying for something and the answer comes immediately, then it does not require much faith, does it? But if the answer takes days, weeks, months or even years later, our faith may start to dwindle.

But here's the good news. Our God is a promise keeper. Miracles happen when we do not give up. Imagine if the Israelties decided to stop circling the wall of Jericho on the 6th day. They would have forfeited the miracle and promise of God.

And that's where my realization came in with Dawn's thumbsucking habit. I stopped praying on the 6th round. When i thought my prayer was already 99% answered, i was too happy and forgot to contiously pray for it. I did not fully reach God's promise for me. This is why the complete breakthrough did not happen. I quit praying just before the miracle was scheduled to happen.

What a sad realization it was. I asked the Lord for forgiveness and committed to once again pray for Dawn. My God is a God of second chances. Remember my post on forgiveness post on forgiveness? I know my God will redeem me. 

And here's something else you  need to know. 

Joshua 6:2
Then the Lord said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its kings and its fighting men"
You know what is amazing with this verse? The word "Delivered" is spoken in the past tense.  The Lord said it even before the Israelites started  circling the wall. The battle was won even before the battle began.
I am now circling God's promise again to make Dawn completely stop this [thubmuscking] habit. I don't know if I am now on my 6th round or back to my 1st. Nevertheless I can pray believing that God's answer will come. In fact, given that God has already won the battle for me, I should already be praising God for it.
When the time comes that we are 100% thumbsuck-free, I will share the 3rd part of this journey with you and pray that you also be blessed by our story.
Philippians 4:6-7
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."




What Happened to You as a Child? #ChildhoodTrauma

Do you know that a lot of the negative emotions that you are feeling today are old emotions? This was the concept of the seminar Dens and I recently attended on Childhood Trauma by Christine Foong-Wong.
A lot of us think of trauma only as a result of a major event that happen in people's lives.  Near-death experiences, rape, surviving natural catastrophies, etc. But do you know that we (especially as children) can also be traumatized by something as simple as a word spoken to us, growing up with parents who were always busy, or even witnessing our parents fight.

I will use the last example to illustrate. When a child witnesses his parents argue, it can result in several emotions:
  • Feeling of Hopelessness - To a child, his parents are his world.  When the parents fight, the child will feel that his world is collapsing and there is nothing he can do about it.
  • Insecurity - A child's security is anchored upon a strong family foundation.  His future becomes uncertain even for that brief period of time when parents fight. A sense of insecurity becomes rooted into his DNA.
  • Feeling of Helplessness - Psychologists say that a child's natural instinct is to save his parents and they actually did several tests to prove this. When the parents fight, a child will feel that he cannot save his parents from hurting (verbal or physical) each other.
The child will then unconsciously grow up with these emotions. Christine explained that the effects of the trauma are like giant buttons within us, waiting to be pushed by people or events in our adult lives. This is why some husbands and wives argue over the tiniest things. You may think that the your husband or wife is the source of your anger, but the truth is, it may be linked to an underlying trauma that stems from your childhood.

So you see, as parents it is very important for us to know about these things. We need to know what words or actions can cause trauma to our children.  But before that, we must also identify areas where we were traumatized as a child in order to start our healing process and help our own children. This is where Christine and her team come in.

During the workshop last June 27, we were asked to write our Constellation of the Sentence of Intention (CoSI). In other words, what do you want to achieve or correct in your life? Given the limited time in the workshop, we were asked to write our most important intention - ideally the one that has been troubling us the most. It can be as deep as "I want to stop having anxiety attacks" to something as simple as "I want to get rid of all my pimples" so long as the statement has an "I", pertains to a goal and something you have not achieved.

You will then be partnered with a professional (trained) therapist who will help you identify the problem of your intention (i.e. why do you have anxiety attacks? why do you have pimples?). It is all very scientific and though psychology can sometimes feel like voodoo, we were assured that this is all science-based.

Allow me to share a little story about my own experience. During the workshop, I witnessed a lot of tears and realization with the other participants. When it was my turn, I felt that we were not able to fully uncover the root of my trauma. Christine's team from Singapore was kind enough to schedule me for another free 1:1 consultation two days later. Unfortunately, my schedule was full on their free day and they were set to fly back to Singapore the day after. The morning after the workshop, I started to pray and asked God to help reveal the underlying trauma to me. And guess what? He did! I had that 'tears and realization' moment while brushing my teeth.  It was such a great revelation to me.

The workshop was truly an eye opener for me. Learning about Trauma, identifying my CoSI and finding out what happened to me as a child are life-changing experiences. Though my realization came a day later through my conversation with the Lord, I also believe that God can use tools such as the workshop to help you uncover your past. This is just the same way God can either grant you healing through doctors and medicine, or He can heal you wherever you are - just like that.  Either way, acknowledging that the healing comes from the Lord is key for me.

Christine and her team will be back in Manila on August 21, 2015 for another workshop. You may register or inquire with Tin Dychiao at +63998 9711449. As parents, it would be great to bring your spouse to join you on this journey. 

I encourage you to check it out and discover for yourself. A lot of people have shared how the workshop has made them better husbands/wives and better parents. I can imagine why. Try it out and let me know how it turns out for you.

God bless!



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