Savouring the Seasons

Our sons Z and E turned 7 and 5 during the last two weeks. It has been a wonderful time for all of us as we celebrated for a whole week and more, with numerous birthday parties and other festivities. And the boys chose what to do on their special days, with the 5-year-old electing to go MacDonald's for dinner as he only wanted to eat chicken nuggets and French fries. As for the 7-year-old, all he wanted to do was to stay at home to play card games and to enjoy his favourite dish of spaghetti bolognese. 
Our little sweethearts on their special day. It brings us such joy to see how much
they love each other. Yes they fight often; but they are also inseparable!
Outside of the home, it has been a crazy time for me. When someone asks how I have been, I show them my July schedule, which indicates that I have not had a single day of not doing anything; each day in my calendar has been filled either with adjunct teaching or a training workshop or a school consultation or a postgraduate class. And this has been the case before our vacation in June, and it will continue to be so for another couple of weeks until the end of August.

At a recent workshop to help students to learn about the importance of peer support and how they
can serve as the first line of defence for friends who encounter difficult issues.

"Busy is good", says everyone I talk to. And it is true from the perspective of an entrepreneur running his own company. I cannot emphasise how much I have been blessed with the many business contracts I have won during the past few months; not only with the offers that I had bid for and won, but also from other private sources which have sought out my company with the intention of engaging us for their various purposes.

The financial gains from my various work commitments have allowed me the flexibility of spending more time with the family - like how we spend more time enjoying outdoor pursuits such as daytime park visits and late night mangrove walks, as well as indoor activities such as visiting libraries and playing card games. And I do get longer holiday breaks with the family, with a regular vacation lasting at least two to three weeks or more. A recent media report highlighted some of the benefits that we have gained since I first left my full-time job three years ago. Although the article is incomplete in that it does not emphasise enough on the sacrifices that my wife had had to make in order for the current arrangement to be possible. 

As I shared in a previous post, life has not been easy since I ventured away from the beaten path. But I also know that I would not exchange the precious time I have with my family for anything else in the world.

A wise man was believed to have said many many years ago that "for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." This man, King Solomon, was the wisest person in the world. According to tradition, he wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes that there is a time to plant and a time to harvest. I know that it is planting season for me. 

Sowing is not an easy process, as any agriculturalist would tell you. There is first the work needed to plough the soil, loosening it and creating a nurturing environment for the seeds to grow. Then there is the actual sowing itself. You scatter many seeds, and only a few grow into seedlings. But these seedlings do not always grow into mature plants, with some of them being snuffed out by weeds or others being snapped up by hungry herbivores. But when the seedlings finally achieve their full potential, it is a joy to behold and a privilege to harvest!

I have found the sowing analogy to be very true with my company. Out of the numerous contracts that I have bid for, only a few have actualised into reality. But these are the few that have brought much joy, and when the time comes to harvest, it has indeed been a beautiful and bountiful harvest.
This is one of the most meaningful programmes which we run, a workshop to help parents manage
their children's social-emotional needs. 

Not that I have arrived yet (and I never ever want to be presumptuous about this); but just that I have been able to accomplish a small degree of success. And I am thankful!

The sowing analogy can definitely also be applied to my sons. Since they were young, Sue and I have read up on many books on parenting (or should I say that my dear wife would read the books and I would then ask her to give me a summary). We have also read up on numerous curricula to prepare us for homeschooling our kids (I kid you not when I say that we have bought a plethora of materials that would help us teach many more kids than only just 2)! This was the action of ploughing the soil, and when the time came for us to teach them, we did sow many seeds. Looking back I wonder how we could have had the time to do the things that we did - but we did them anyway, and I believe my sons have been blessed in the process. 

Taking stock of our kids at the age of 7 and 5, it is easy to focus on the things that they have not done or the things that they have not learnt. But when I look at the persons they have become, I cannot help but be in awe at how much God has nurtured and grown them; and while they are definitely far from mature, they exhibit traits which cause me to break out in joy.

My older son, Z, is fearless and brave. When I look at how he thrives in water playgrounds, I cannot help but give thanks and how much this young boy has grown - there was a time when Z expressed a deep fear of slides and other high adventure elements; but today he scrambles down these instruments without a care in the world. 

7yo Z is happiest in the outdoors. He thrives when exploring adventure playgrounds and when he
 goes for long walks in nature.

Z is also creative and he has an aesthetic flair that fills me with astonishment. Since as far back as I can remember, our little son has wanted to become an architect, and the Lego blocks that he builds these days have an intricacy and sophistication which I believe to be well beyond his years. He even uses words such as "bannisters" when he describes his structures - words which I have no idea where he had learnt them from. 

But what makes me the most proud of Z is his heart for the poor. He has expressed on numerous occasions that he wants the homeless children to come to our house. He would then cook for them and house them, and provide them with a sense of security and comfort.
Z is kind and gentle; and he has a big heart for all those around him.  He is the responsible
elder brother, often taking care of his younger brother. We are so very proud of him! 
Our younger son, E, is a passionate soul. He is highly intense in all that he does (perhaps a little too much like me in that respect)! E would hang on to an argument, and ensure that he gets the last word - and that has been the case even at a young age, when he scolded a taxi driver for falsely accusing him of jumping on the back seat and dirtying the vehicle. His passion extends to animals, and our little one delights in every single creature he sees on the beach, often taking the time to study and talk to each and every one of them. I would not be surprised at all if E becomes a marine biologist one day in the future!
5yo E is most at home in nature; playing with the sea creatures and examining every
animal he can find. It is almost as though he was born to be a marine biologist!
E also has the most loving heart. He never fails to hug us deeply and provide humour to our day through his cheeky words and warm touches. And just as his brother has a desire to help the poor and the homeless, E has a deep sense of justice. He cannot understand why some parents can choose to be mean to their children; and I know that if he had his way, he would be an advocate for the downtrodden and the lost!
E lives life with a passion. Woe to the person who gets to the wrong side of him!
This also makes him fiercely loyal, and he will protect his family whatever the cost!
Solomon truly was the wisest man in the world. Often we worry about our kids, hoping that they would grow up quickly, and become independent children who can take care of themselves and give us less stress. Solomon thought otherwise, believing it best for us parents to enjoy every season under heaven. 

It is after all about savouring each season of our lives; for there is a time to sow and a time to reap. And this is the season to sow deep into the lives of our children, for one day I know we can expect a most bountiful and joyous harvest!
At the end of the day, the only things that matter are those closest to you. We sow; we plant; and we
know that the harvest will be abundant and bountiful!

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