Being married and raising kids is hard work. Sometimes we get lost in the hustle and bustle of keeping up with our “to-do” list. Pradit and Niyom, who have four kids and a busy working life, remind us that taking a moment to be grateful helps us see all the ways that our lives are blessed.
“In our lives it feels like we are busy 24/7,” said Pradit. “Sometimes I think, ‘I don’t have money.’ But I have a car and a house. I thank God for giving me a beautiful wife and these four children. When I think about this, I am humble before God. I can’t even thank God enough for what I have accomplished. I have a billion things to thank God for. In that way, I am actually a billionaire.”
His wife, Niyom, chimed in, “God has really shown me that a husband is very special.”
She’s also real about the challenges of life. “Daily life is not easy. I myself try very hard to feel God but it’s not easy, like climbing a mountain every day.”
She reminds us of the intentional effort it takes to building personal relationships, with God and our family. As we climb these mountains, taking a moment to say, “Thank you,” allows us to appreciate the journey of the climb, and the blessings that surround us: family, friends, personal and the opportunities God presents to help us grow into stronger, more loving people.
It also helps us marvel at the view when we get when reach the top, which is almost always worth every step it took to get there.
“Actions speaks louder than words,” is an often heard adage that comes to life in the everyday life of parents. As we raise our children to become people of character, it is important to remember that we must first reflect qualities they can then aspire to make their own.
Kenshu and Karilee are parents of five children. One of the most important lessons they learned after becoming parents: lead by example, not just by words, a lesson that they recently reaffirmed during a weekly family study circle.
“Our children are going to inherit a lot of the habits we have, everything from what food we eat or what daily discipline we have. So when we tell kids they have to do this and that, we have to think, ‘Are we setting the example?’ So when we have a task, we do it together; everyone has a role. To educate our kids, we have to lead by example.”
Parents are leaders in their own homes. The best leaders know the importance of being a role model. By manifesting a healthy lifestyle both physically and spiritually, and not just talking about it, parents not only help kids better understand what to do, but it also fosters trust and respect between parents and their children.
What are values that you want to pass on to your children?
How would you rate your example of that value?
Bill may seem like just another rugged New Yorker at first glance, especially if you catch him in traffic. But, underneath the tough exterior, he is someone that many affectionately call, “Uncle Bill.”
He’s genuine and really takes the time to invest in others. Every day he feels blessed by his wife, children and other family in his life. For him, they make every day a celebration of God and family.
“Every day for me is God’s day,” he says. “I try to wake up every day and wonder what I’m doing right and how I can make an offering.”
His love stems from a conviction that all people are members of one family created by God.
“We have to remember when we talk 30-on-1, it’s no different than talking 1-on-1. We’re the same family; We’re the same people. If I were to speak from my heart, every day is God’s Day. I’m not always successful, especially when I’m on the freeway I get really selfish. But what I learned from our family is that every moment is precious and this is my family. You are my family.”
Uncle Bill treats people like family – the rough and the soft. His genuine heart is a key ingredient that he brings to building a community where people can foster trust and have a place to spiritually grow and mature.
Soon Il Higashino, received the Young Naturalist Award from the American Museum of Natural History when she was a high school student from Ossining, NY. The prize is given to only 2 out of 800 applicants across the nation. Her research on the redback salamanders is so ground-breaking that she may be given the chance to name the new species of bacteria that she discovered as a contributor of their population decline.
In addition to this achievement, Soon Il had a 4.0 grade point average, was active in heading school clubs, worked a part-time job and helped with her local Core Values Academy.
She and her father are the first to admit that great accomplishments don’t come easy. “This year (2015), I faced many challenges: in school, with friends, in my family, etc..,” Soon Il said. “Sometimes, it would get so difficult that I would ask myself, “Why am I doing this? Why should I do this when friends my age aren’t?”
But there is one thing that has carried Soon Il through the year – her love for God. “Whenever, I asked myself this question, which came up a lot, I always arrived at the same answer: because of God,” she reflected. “If I didn’t know who God was, I wouldn’t be doing all of the things I’m doing now; in other words, I wouldn’t have challenged myself in so many different areas/subjects. I could’ve easily given up, saying that I had too many things to do, but I didn’t.”
Where does she get that motivation? She continues, “I couldn’t have done any of it without God and everyone (family, community, friends, etc.) always supporting me.”
Her parents make it a point to let her know that they are there for her; that they support her; and that they are ready, whenever she needs, to listen to her. They regularly tell her, “We love you. We trust you. And we are proud of you.”
They are also realistic about the challenges in life. Soon Il’s father reminds his children, “There are always new challenges after you overcome this one. Let’s see them as opportunities to grow.” Advice that he finds his daughter repeating back to him when he is facing hard times.
“In every struggle I face, I only need to remind myself of why I go,” reflected Soon Il. “Why am I doing this? I’m doing this for God, and God has done sooo many many things for us, and I want to do at least something to make God happy through my investment.”
Soon Il’s salamanders remind us that accolades are the icing on the cake. The real return is our growth and conviction forged in the fires of life’s challenges. And what better support to have in those moments than from your family.