THEN AND NOW: A Letter to my Children About Grace and Gratitude

Columnist Seneca with her children, Callie and Yohan

Dear Callie and Yohan,

Let me tell you the story of my childhood.

Two Barbie dolls and a clay pot set, these were the only toys I had. When I didn’t play with them, I would be outside playing with my classmates and friends.

The streets were our playground, things from nature were our toys. After playing hours under the sun, we sure were sweaty and smelly but each day was so much fun.

Celebrations were simple, too. Eating in Jollibee and McDonalds were for Sundays. Shakey’s pizza was reserved for special occasions. A burger meal would suffice to put a big smile on our faces.

Long-distance travels were reserved for summer and Christmas vacations. Our only mode of transportation was the bus. In fact, I was already 23 when I rode an airplane and got out of the country for the first time.

My Mama and Papa didn’t have much money to spend on things beyond our daily needs, but we were well fed and provided for. Life was fun but it sure was difficult.

Living on the Baguio mountains of the Philippines where storms would come ravaging year after year, we had a roof on our heads, but it wasn’t made well enough to protect us from leaks.

Rain would get inside our house that we had to scatter buckets to catch droplets and put tarpaulin on top of our blankets. On dry days, we would fetch water from a nearby spring to fill our drums so we could have water for bathing, washing dishes and clothes, and flushing the toilet.

Water didn’t flow freely from our faucet. We had to boil water in a pot so we could have hot water to fight cold morning baths.

My childhood was an adventure: challenging yet beautiful. This was my life then. It was good.

Look around you, you have so many colorful toys, books and clothes to choose from. You can ride your scooter or bicycle whenever you feel like it. You have gadgets to entertain you. We could go to restaurants and satisfy our cravings at any day we want.

Remember the very first time you travelled? You got the chance to ride an airplane and see other countries and continents even before you both turned one.

I am grateful that your daddy has a job here in South Korea that enables us to see and visit far places. You even have a comfortable place to protect you from the intense winter cold and summer heat. When it rains, you are kept dry. You live in a home where water flows freely, and you have access to hot and cold water at your command.

Living in South Korea has given us privileges and opportunities beyond my imagination. The beauty of experiencing four seasons, the confidence of being in a relatively safe environment, the freedom from worry of having catastrophies. You get to experience the beauty of falling autumn leaves and magnificent snow flurries when temperature drops below zero.This is your life now. And it is better.

You have everything you need, and more. Your daddy and I are not wealthy according to the world’s standards, but we have the capability to provide for both of you. And this, I believe, is all by grace.

If only I can bring you to our time so you would see how blessed you are.

My parents may not have given us everything we wanted but we definitely had everything we needed. Our home was filled with love. It taught me to be content in every situation and be grateful for the times of plenty and provision.

I hope that you don’t get to experience the discomfort and the hardships of my childhood. It is my prayer that you will learn to be resourceful and creative when life gives you a hard time.

I wish you both get to receive the best things that life has to offer, but it is my desire that you understand life is not about material things nor comfort nor convenience, the things that really matter are those that money can’t buy– joy, peace and love.

As you experience these things, may you always find contentment and give gratitude in every situation – whether in lack or plenty, whether in having nothing or having everything.

As I reflect at my life back then and look at the life you have now, I couldn’t help but be humbled and amazed.

My heart bursts in praise to the God who has been so good, gracious and faithful for turning my life around. My soul sings in gratitude for allowing you, my children, to enjoy the fruit of the land where God has called us to be in at this time. Truly, He is the God who provides and He holds every season.

When you both grow up, you will have your own childhood stories to tell your future children. I pray that as you learned from mine, they will learn from you. Enjoy your childhood, my dear ones, as I enjoyed mine.

May your life be filled with wonderful stories of miracles and grace; and your heart overflow with hope and gratitude!

Your mommy with a heart like a child,
Seneca



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