Stone Throwing: The Ugly Sport of Married People

My father used to tell me that Christians often err in two ways — on the side of legalism and on the side of licentiousness. Both extremes turn people off to Jesus. The first is grace-less living and the second is grace-abuse.

But oh, is it ever so hard to find that middle ground — to be grace-filled. A grace-filled person understands that she is a sinner saved by grace but still prone to sin, yet able to have victory by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the grace which God supplies.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10 NASB)

A grace-filled person is also a dispenser of grace to others – one who chooses to love others, unconditionally accepts them (flaws and all), and commits to seek their highest good.

Through the years of discipling other women, I have, on several occasions, erred on the side of legalism. I have been a judge dispensing hypocrite. There have been instances when someone will open up to me about a sin they are struggling with or the same problem they keep repeating and I will think to myself, Really? Why haven’t you graduated from this error?

But so very often, God uses marriage and parenting to remove the Pharisee in me. My husband corrects me and my childen correct me. And my daily dealings with them remind me that I don’t have any right to cast the first stone at anyone. When I found out that a woman I am discipling is pregnant for the second time with the same boyfriend who got her pregnant the first time, I was tempted to lecture her and give her a sermon on purity and obedience. But God told me to hug her instead and tell her that we should get together one-on-one. She cried when I hugged her. She knew she made a mistake. She did not need me to humiliate her. When people are in sin, they need God’s grace, and we need to dispense that grace to bring them back to the Lord. This is different than saying that sin is okay. It is saying, “hey, we are all sinners and we all need Jesus to change and transform us.”

The bible tells us…

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 NASB)

But I will tell you what my bigger struggle is. It is judging my husband. I can be judgmental towards Edric. With others, I have learned to be careful about what I say and understand where they are coming from. Yet, with Edric, there are instances when that scornful, judgmental me resurrects and sticks out it’s ugly head. I bring out the stones. I start hurling them (most of the time in my head, but still…)

Just last night I was irritated because Edric asked me to get him food when I was about to sleep. What? Argh! How can he be so insensitive and so helpless?! Doesn’t he care that I am about to hit REM?! I would not ask him to be so inconvenienced for me!

He was probably expecting a nice sandwich, but it was 10:30 pm, and I did not have the energy to make something. So we went to the refrigerator together and I let him pick out what he wanted from the visible options. He said he wanted yoghurt and pineapple. He took the yoghurt and went back to the bedroom, and I brought him the pineapple and a fork. I settled back into bed beside him, and he jokingly said something like, “Wow, I didn’t know you could eat yoghurt with a fork.” He was kidding around but the translation was, “I also need a spoon. Please go get me one.”

I dramatically threw the covers off and went back into the kitchen. Grumble, grumble, grumble. I think I even said, “You treat me like a slave.” I was partially kidding, but I wanted to say it aloud so I did. The spoons were twenty inches away from him when he got his yoghurt and he didn’t bother to take one! Come on!

In the meantime, Edric was still on our bed waiting for me. I chucked the spoon onto the pillow beside him and jumped back in bed, turning to the other side.

Lord, what are you teaching me? Am I under spiritual attack because we are giving a talk about marriage this weekend? Why do I get so irritated when Edric asks me to serve him? Why don’t I delight to be a helpmate to him in this way?

The answer was simple. When I am reactive towards his requests for service, I JUDGE HIM. I think he is being insensitive, unkind, selfish, and unloving when he asks me to do things that are inconvenient…like massages when I am really tired, or water when I am about to go to bed, or last minute help on ministry activities or errands which become my burden because they were not handled ahead of time…

Last night, after I served him with such a bad attitude, he was so sweet and tender towards me. He hugged me. I did not deserve a hug for all the vile thoughts that I had been thinking. And I realized that he really likes my attention and company, and he really likes to be served by me. It makes him feel loved and respected.

So what is my problem? What is the “log in my own eye”? I am a selfish hypocrite. I don’t like to be inconvenienced by him. I like him to take care of me but I don’t like it when he asks me to take care of him when it requires effort.

This morning, I started to think of all the ways that Edric is inconvenienced to take care of me and the kids. He works hard everyday, he tires himself out, he deals with the stress of financial provision, trouble-shooting business problems, and leading the family. And these are responsibilities he chooses to bear with faithfulness and commitment. He has never complained about having to do these things.

Well, it was humbling to realize this, and I felt stupid. He came home from an incredibly tiring day hoping to hang out and possibly get a 10:30 pm meal. All I offered him was yoghurt and some pineapple slices, and without a spoon, too!

I sent my husband a message to ask for forgiveness. “I am sorry for being so difficult about serving you last night. I had a bad attitude and I was being selfish and judgmental. Will you forgive me? Thanks for being such a wonderful husband and sacrificing so much to take care of me. Please forgive me for not being appreciative enough.”

My prayer is that I will be a grace-filled wife, a true helpmate to my husband who desires to meet his needs with joy. Marriage should be a happy place without room for the hurtfulness of judgmentalism. I’ve got to put my stones away. My mom always says, “lower expectation, and raise appreciation” toward your spouse. I have to keep remembering that and applying it because I am prone to think negatively of my husband when I hold him to a set of expectations. Appreciation of him, on the other hand, compels and motivates me to be a better wife. And that’s what I want to be. :)

As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:3-11 NLT)

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Just Mom and Four Kids

I am no parenting martyr. I love having househelp and “yayas.” But there are occasions when I intentionally leave all the yayas behind and take all the kids with me. A trip to the grocery or bookstore would be examples of such occasions. Today was the grocery.

It’s a little bit crazy when I have all four kids with me, but there are some great benefits to alone time with them.

First, the kids have to help out. There is just no way for me to manage four kids while going up and down the aisles of a grocery. I am bound to lose one or two of them if the older kids don’t assist me. The kids learn to be responsible for one another and get affirmed for their helpfulness. This morning, I put Tiana and Titus in one cart and let Elijah push them. Edan stayed beside me and read off the items on my list. And I pushed a separate cart for all the groceries. There’s a great sense of satisfaction from living the do-it-yourself lifestyle and teaching your kids do the same. (Okay, I sound like such a phony since most of the time I do have help. hee hee.)

The second reason why I leave all the help behind is because I want them to know that they aren’t indispensable. This sounds mean, but let me clarify. I do appreciate them and I encourage them often in their work, but I also want them to know that I can live without them. Edric and I can manage without househelp if we really wanted to but they are a great plus. And I would like them to understand that the Mendozas will not fall apart without househelp. This keeps them on their “toes” because they do live in our home, and they become part of our family, but we still have an employer-employee relationship.

My third reason is I like giving my househelp a break. I respect the hard work and effort they put into their jobs. But I know they also need their own space and down time…away from the kids. They deserve some peace and quiet. I have four children. They are all noisy. Enough said.

Fourth, being alone with the kids allows me to see the character “holes” in their personalities – the areas that they need to be trained in. For example, at the grocery, the kids all wanted snacks. As a treat, after they endured nearly two hours of going up and down the aisles, I said they could all pick out something. Everyone had their own snacks that they brought to the check-out. (By this time, Titus and Tiana were taken out of the cart and allowed to look at the snacks that were beside the check-out counter.) Titus and Tiana opened up their snack right away and started eating. Titus finished his, Tiana left hers half-eaten, but Edan and Elijah waited. After Titus finished his snack, he wanted to eat something else. I told him he had to wait. Five minutes later, he asked me again. And I said, “Wait.” Then five minutes after that he asked me again.

He is a persistent person — a great trait — but he obviously needs to be taught patience and self-denial. We are going to work on that.

Elijah, on the other hand, needs to work on appropriate behavior. He is a very energetic person and took off with the cart after I had paid for the groceries like he was riding a racecar. He zoomed towards the exit and nearly hit a couple of shoppers.

Fifth reason, I get to see their character strengths. Elijah and Edan very dependably and ably assisted me. Elijah was great at following me everywhere with the two young munchkins contained in his cart. Edan, who was in charge of the list was great at making sure that nothing was forgotten. (And it was my little homeschooling tactic to get him to practice reading by looking at the list and identifying the items we had to find in the aisles, which he did great at!)

Somewhere near the dairy section, Elijah saw a man’s cart lose its wheel and he wanted very much to help him. He came over to me to tell me and I said, “go ahead and ask him if he needs help.” So he tried looking for the man to help him but he had disappeared down another aisle. I appreciated seeing Elijah’s heroism (hmmm…sounds like something his dad would do…) Titus and Tiana stayed in their seats, until the cereal section, and then got back in the cart without complaining or fussing. They even started singing nursery rhymes together while we were going to the fruit section. It was such a delight to hear them.

Most of all, I just enjoy being with the kids. I love watching them and their mannerisms and the interplay of their personalities. I find them incredibly entertaining. When I am fully in charge of them because I don’t have help with me, I really pay attention to the details.

Children are really such a joy. There is a deep sense of satisfaction and delight that I get from being with my kids. It’s not just about taking them to the grocery without househelp, it’s about being around as they grow up and all the moments that make up the years. I will miss this stage someday, So if it means a couple of hours of taking on the stress of managing four young children at the same time, bring it on! It’s a pleasure I won’t always have. I mean, I can’t imagine that teenage boys will want to hang out with mom in the grocery. That probably won’t be a “cool” thing for them to do. Now it’s still “cool.” ;)

Hacienda Isabella

Today was a blessed day spent in the company of beautiful women whose hearts are wholly devoted to the Lord. I was refreshed by our morning’s meditation on Psalm 103. The food overflowed. The conversation was delightful. Prayer time was comforting. And the kids went exploring. They played baseball in the field, went swimming, and ran around the place to their hearts’ content. What a day to escape and bring to remembrance the goodness of God!

Everyone needs a day like this…

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My ageless mother!

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They are all shouting at the same time

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Tiana’s “big sister”

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The accidental model pose, just ignore the belly!

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I ended with a photo of my mom because it was her idea to get a bunch of ladies out of the city to Hacienda Isabela for a day retreat. But more than that, I am incredibly grateful to the Lord for a mom who has been my spiritual mentor and example since I was a wee little thing. She is my benchmark for maximized womanhood — a woman who is defined by her love for Jesus and others, and beautiful inside and out because of it.

The 3 Realities

It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:2 NASB)

Of all tragedies in this life, the death of a loved one seems to be the deepest of all pains. I’ve seen friends and family lose a parent, a child, a spouse, and I’ve always felt stupidly silent for not knowing what to say. What can you really say anyway? Who can truly understand the futile longing of a person who aches for one more day to be with a husband, a wife, a mother, a father, a child?

But sometimes when I know the person who passed away and witnessed their devotion to Jesus, I know for sure that they have gone to be with the Lord. I’ve entered into the wakes of committed believers and felt the solemn ambiance overcome by a joyous hope.

—-

August 20, 2012. Tita Chua died because of unexpected heart failure. Bam, her daughter, was (is) a family friend. She worked for my dad for a number of years and she has served in the church faithfully.

My kids know Bam and her parents, too. They remember that Tita Chua would often hand them snacks at church or stop to chat with them. She was always smiling, kind, and radiant with the joy of the Lord. Everyone who knew her was certain that she was a woman with a personal relationship with Jesus.

When we found out that she passed away, we were all shocked. Just two weeks earlier, she looked healthy, well, and happy, as usual. There was nothing about her demeanor or countenance that indicated that she was not okay. We were all surprised to find out that she died so suddenly. Even our kids couldn’t believe it.

The boys felt badly for Bam. They knew that she was hurting and in pain. So Edric asked them to reach out to her by writing a little note. When Elijah handed me his letter to Bam, I opened it and read what he wrote.

He said…

Dear Tita Bam, Condolences. Thank you for taking care of me. I am sorry that your mother passed away and I know you must feel bad. I want to remind you that someday we will all be together again. I love you and again, condolences. I hope that God will comfort you. Love, Elijah.

I don’t know why I felt like crying. The letter wasn’t for me. Elijah just wanted me to proof read it. But when I read, “I want to remind you that someday we will all be together again,” I realized that he lives with the certainty of heaven. And in his simple understanding of faith, he was offering the one consolation he knew was true.

Jesus told us…“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you be also.” John 14:1-3

During the wake, my dad gave a short message on “The Three Realities.” And given the equally untimely passing of Secretary Jesse Robredo (a matter of national tragedy), it would do us an eternity of good to duly contemplate the truths that death makes us consider.

The first reality is that LIFE IS SHORT. We know this, but we often don’t live very conscious of this reality.

“Lord, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. ‘Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.’ Surely every man walks about as a phantom; surely they make an uproar for nothing; he amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.’ Psalm 39:4-6 NASB

At best, a mere breath…

If we understand the brevity of life then what are we living for? People who are about to die can answer this question with greater perspective. They don’t care about money fame, power. They care about relationships – with family, with God. My dad shared that he has met with, prayed with, and shared the gospel with people before they die, and they want to be right with others and with God.

My grandpa, Marvin Howard, who experienced World War II used to say, “There are no atheists in the foxholes.”

The second reality is that DEATH IS A CERTAINTY. That’s incredibly obvious, too. But we don’t like to think about it.

There’s a Jewish Proverb that says, “Everyman knows he will die but no one wants to believe it.”

Since we are prone to ignore the tolling bell of death, we don’t prepare in advance for it. We cram, or worse, we are simply caught of guard. The frightening thing about death’s certainty is what follows after. It’s not like a test that you can recover from. That is it — the final exam of life. There’s no second chance when you are at the death mark.

Hebrews 9:27 tells us it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.

God doesn’t desire the death of those who do now know him. He wants us to be prepared and ready. He says that the death of his godly ones is precious (Psalm 115:16) but “he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” (Ezekiel 33:11) Why? Because he knows what is in store for them. So the time to prepare for the end is not then, but now.

The third reality is that HEAVEN IS REAL. We exist in a time when humanism, the material world, and relativism have replaced truth. And we resist absolute truth because it makes us accountable for our actions and choices. If heaven is real, then hell is real and this means that we are destined to go to one of these places when we die. More sobering than death itself, is that it ushers us into an eternity in heaven or an eternity in hell.

Eternity is real. I remember a line from Gladiator (2000), where the main character played by Russell Crowe said, “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” In the story, we see consistency between this belief and his moral choices.

But that was just a story. Here is something we can really hold on to. God wants us to choose eternity with him. He desires to have a relationship with us. He has an incredible heaven prepared for those who love him.

1 Corinthians 2:9 But just as it is written, “things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him.”

During a family meal, I was having a conversation with my older sons, and Edan, my second, said, “Mom, there is something that God cannot do. He cannot let bad people into heaven.” And I recall that my eldest added, “Yes and the people in hell are those who chose to go there.” (Something like that…) This was theologically accurate.

God is a holy God. He hates sin. But he loves sinners. So he made a way for us to come to him through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bright us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit…”

Jesus took our place. One of my favorite passages of all time is Romans 5:6-9 “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man, though perhaps for the good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more than, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through him.”

No rational person would give his life for a wretch. Yet such is the love God demonstrated toward us.

There is a story of an Indian tribe that was trying to catch a thief who was stealing animal skins. The punishment for the thief was to receive lashings on the back. The chief asked the men to set up a trap in order to catch the thief. They hung the animal skin and waited to see who would take the animal skin. The first night, no one came. However, the second night, the thief was caught. Unfortunately, the thief happened to be the chief’s mom. What was the chief going to do? Justice had to be served but he loved his mom.

The morning of the flogging, the chief’s mom was tied to a post. Everyone watched the chief. He signaled for the flogging to begin, but first he went up to his mom, disrobed himself so that his back was exposed. He embraced his mom from behind and received the lashes for her. Love was demonstrated but not at the expense of justice.

In the same way, we see justice and love at the cross of Christ. Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God gave us his son. But just like any gift, we have to receive this gift. We can agree in the head but not take it. And to receive it invites the transforming power of Jesus Christ. It is like being born-again. He gives us a new desire and capacity to live for him.

Without Christ, we are born once to die twice — a physical and spiritual death. But if we are born twice, we die once to enter into eternal life.

My dad ended his talk by saying Tita’s death is a message to all of us. Be ready. Live ready.

Death to the Christian is the funeral of all his sorrows and evils and the resurrection of all his joys. – Aughey

While we are all sad that Tita Chua is gone and we grieve the loss her family feels, we know she is rejoicing in heaven with the Lord. She lived ready.

Raised to Lead

I used to think that it was the oldest child in a family that was leader of all other siblings. But, as I have observed my children interact with one another, I’ve noticed that each of them naturally becomes a leader to a younger sibling. There always seems to be an opportunity at home to practice and develop leadership skills in my kids. This has led me to conclude that it is very possible to raise each child to be a leader and influencer. It’s not just about being born with a kind of “take-charge” personality

Just this evening I saw Edan trying to do a 3-D origami swan. This is something he would not have been interested in before but seeing his older brother, Elijah, do origami has inspired him to try out origami, too. I don’t know if he can actually do the 3-D swan, but I think it’s great that he is copying his older brother. It’s a good hobby to get into.

Edan also gets more inspired to practice piano and violin when he knows that Elijah is practicing. So sometimes I hear a cacophony of sounds coming from the living room – two violins playing different songs or one violin and one piano playing different songs. When Edan gets lazy, Elijah will remind him that he needs to practice. He won’t relent until Edan gets his practicing done.

Elijah has helped to exemplify a whole lot of positive character traits for his younger siblings and I have been blessed to have him partner with me when I teach the others. His obedience and attitude greatly impact Edan, Titus, and Tiana. When he is compliant and energetic, his brothers are encouraged to do the same. There is a domino-effect that happens.

While Elijah is older and plays a dominant role as leader to his younger siblings, Edan has also stepped up as a leader to Titus. Titus kind of tail-gates him often. And Edan will read books to him and teach him games. In fact, one time, Edan was reading to Titus and then he stopped mid-way through the story. “Do you want me to read some more?” He asked Titus. “Then you have to give me more honey stars.” Edan was bartering his reading services for cereal! I couldn’t believe it. I listened to their dialogue and laughed to myself because Titus was trying to ration each portion he shared with Edan, and Edan was not willing to keep reading until he got “paid” enough. (Edan is my little businessman.)

Very recently, I’ve seen how Titus likes to do the same things that Edan does. Yesterday afternoon, I asked Titus if he needed to use the toilet. We were in a public place and I wanted to make sure he had the opportunity to use it. He said he didn’t have to. But when Edan said he had to use the toilet, Titus was like, “Oh yah, I have to use it, too.” This evening when Edan went to brush his teeth, Titus said he had already brushed his teeth. But Edan reminded him, “No you didn’t. You brushed your teeth after lunch.” So Titus went with him. They were in the bathroom, brushing their teeth together.

Titus has his own wee person to look out for – Tiana. Every time it is Titus’ turn to pray for a meal, he says, “Dear Lord, thank you for this food. Please help it to nourish our bodies. Please help Tiana to grow bigger.” He always prays for Tiana to grow bigger. No one asks him to do this. He initiates it on his own. I suppose he compares her size to everyone else’s and thinks, She’s so tiny.

He also looks out for Tiana. When Tiana wakes up and is still in her crib, he will come running to me and say, “Mom, Tiana needs you. She’s awake.” And he will badger me until I get her or someone else rescues her.

When I’m teaching the older two, he also helps me out by preoccupying Tiana as they play together.

Tiana is the youngest of the lot so she doesn’t have any younger sibling to take care of or be leader to. But she plays with her dolls and holds them, sings to them, wraps them in blankets, and talks to them. She treats them like her “babies.” (It’s very interesting to witness this nurturing trait emerge in her personality because I don’t force her to play with dolls or stuffed animals but she gravitates towards these things.)

Observing my children’s behavior, as well as their interactions with one another, has given me greater understanding as to how leadership develops in children. When siblings spend a whole lot of time together, the older children become examples to the younger ones and develop a sense of responsibility to take care of or teach younger siblings. And leadership is affirmed because younger siblings look up to their older siblings. They like to copy their “Kuyas” and “Ates.”

It certainly makes my job easier as a homeschool mom. I invest heavily in the instruction of the older kids and it gets passed on to the younger kids. Of course, I still give the younger kids attention, but it doesn’t feel as difficult to teach the same things because I can refer to the example of older siblings or get them to be my assistants.

Many times when a younger child will say, “Mom, I don’t know how to do this, can you help me?”, I will ask them to go to whoever is older than they are as a first resource. “Why don’t you ask Elijah?” Or “Why don’t you ask Edan?” Or, I will call Elijah or Edan or Titus and say, “Can you help your brother?” “Can you help your sister?” I make them responsible so I don’t have to trouble shoot everything.

This is an advantage of homeschooling that we really need to capitalize on – developing the leader in each of our children by presenting them with opportunities to step up, take charge, and be held accountable. Some children may be born leaders but every child can also be taught to lead someone, especially a younger sibling. They don’t have to be able to lead a whole group of people to start honing the traits of a leader – traits like responsibility, honor, a positive and encouraging spirit, integrity, concern, and service. These can be developed right at home!

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Star City – Surprisingly Fun

I never thought Star City could be a fun family place. My impression of it dated to way back when it seemed like a glorified local carnival which lacked the actual thrill factor of big amusement parks. But we were invited to spend the afternoon there for a birthday party and the kids couldn’t get enough of it! They especially loved the Snow World attraction which allowed them to experience icy cold weather and slide down an ice slide. (I recommend bringing your own coat and mittens to this one. I was in shorts and had to run out after about fifteen minutes even when they lent me a jacket.)

There were a couple of areas and rides that needed renovation to really make them world class, but for 350 pesos as an all-you-can-ride entrance fee, your kids will not be bored. And it’s a contained enough space that you won’t be dead tired walking around. If you are there during a weekday, like homeschoolers can afford to do, you will practically have the place all to yourselves! It’s open from Monday to Thursday, 4pm onwards. And Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 2 pm onwards. We went on Friday and it didn’t get crowded till about 5pm.

The 350 entrance fee gives you access to everything except Mid-way games, coin operated machines, Snow World, Lazer Blaster, 4D Theater, and Walk on Water. Check out their website for more details Star City

As a family bonding experience, I do recommend this place. It was very enjoyable for my kids and the kids in our playgroup. We were all so blessed. It was a great birthday celebration idea!

Just watch out for some of the rides which have visual experiences that may scare young children — like movable life-size people. Tiana and Edan didn’t like those. (Edan could not sleep very well afterwards). Also, we did not go into the rides like Dungeon, Gabi Ng Lagim, and Kilabot Ng Mummy.

One of the highlights for me was buying 3 wigs for 80 pesos each. I thought they were a steal. My kids like to do role playing games every now and then so I thought they would like having some wigs for their dramatics.

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Max on the Road – Courtship and Marriage 101

Two years ago, Edric and I became part of an advocacy campaign by Revicon Max vitamins. The tagline of the brand’s campaign was “I love my wife very Max! We did a commercial and we were featured on billboards. This was two weeks after giving birth to Tiana. I wasn’t feeling too hot. But we were excited about the advocacy because Edric and I have a burden for marriage and family.

For the last five years we have partnered with our bible study friends to speak at a bi-annual event called, “Before I Do.” When other opportunities open up to speak at retreats, at our church, or elsewhere we try our best to make ourselves available to be there, too. So when Revicon Max offered to organize this “Max on the Road” event, we said yes.

It is our privilege to be part of this advocacy and we pray that God can use us to bless and minister to soon-to-be-wed couples, newly married couples, and even singles who want “advance” preparation for marriage. We aren’t marriage experts but we would like to pass on to others the biblical truths about marriage that have been passed on to us. These truths have transformed our own marriage and the relationships of countless others.

So, if you feel that this event can be a blessing to someone you know or even to yourself, please check out the details on the flyer. (By the way, Edric and I don’t get paid to do this. The P101 fee is a donation to CCF Eastwood projects.) Hope to see you there!

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Edan’s Fork

Sometimes when my kids get together with their cousins, the two older boys will play with Caleb. And Titus, my third son, and Tiana will play with Alana and Ethan. Every now and then, they will play “house,” and Alana will assume the role of mommy and the other kids will be her “children.” This really would be okay except that for the last two years, Titus has wanted to play the role of “baby.” Now that he is four years old, I really want to move him away from that role. When he acts the part of baby, he reverts to cooing and snuggling under blankets while Alana “takes care of him.” I don’t know why he enjoys being the infant but I think he’s got to graduate from this and diversify his acting portfolio! I’ve told him he can play the role of brother but he doesn’t like that. And then he decided to be an animal but a BABY lion. So he was cooing and snuggling under blankets like a baby lion. What the?! At a certain point, I had to put my foot down. I called up my sister in law, Jenny, and we agreed that Alana could still play house but Titus was not allowed to play the role of a baby. I needed her help to get Alana to comply, too, because she liked having him play the role of baby. I understood where Alana was coming from. Except for our little Tiana, she is surrounded with brothers and boy cousins so getting Titus to play baby was a lot of fun for her. But for Edric and I, this wasn’t a pretend game we wanted Titus to get into. So we made a rule, “No more playing baby.” It was a very clear rule. I reinforced it just a couple days ago.

And then today…

We were sitting around the dinner table when Edan said, “I don’t want Titus to get hurt,” and he burst into tears. What in the world was going on? “What’s wrong? What happened?” I had no idea what this was all about. And then he said, “Titus was ACTING like a baby.” I looked over at Titus who had half a Cheeto in his mouth, totally oblivious, and asked, “Did you play baby with Alana again?” He said, “No.” Elijah came in to explain everything. (He likes to do this. To clarify. To give the details.) “Titus was not playing baby. He was acting like a baby when he was in our cousin’s house.”

So I turned to Titus again. “Titus, remember what we learned about truthfulness. Did you play baby?” He responded with a “No.” “Okay, I trust you. Remember, you are not supposed to play baby.” He acknowledged me. The issue was over. I did not spank him for this because playing baby in a game of “house-house” is different than acting like a baby. The first would have been disobedience to a command. The second could have been a response triggered by a number of factors. So I let it go. Titus went on eating his Cheetos.

In the meantime, Edan, who had been so troubled about having to tell on his brother, had calmed down. I took him aside to talk to him about what happened. And I found out that he was convicted to tell me the truth but he struggled with the idea that his revelation might merit his brother a spanking. He didn’t want to have to put Titus in that predicament. He was concerned that Titus would have to suffer pain for his wrong (which turned out NOT to be an act of disobedience).

It’s instances like these that I appreciate the hearts of my kids. They aren’t perfect children but they genuinely care about one another and look out for each other. At the same time, they are learning to discern right from wrong and what it means to make hard choices. It was a hard choice for Edan to make — to tell or not to tell. He wanted to tell because he knew that if Titus was wrong, he needed to be disciplined for it. But he struggled because he wanted to protect Titus from the pain of discipline. He could have kept quiet but his conscience would have bothered him and he knew this.

As I reflected on what happened between my boys, it made me think of how we too come up to forks in the road of life. Which path is the uncomfortable choice that risks momentary pain but leads to righteousness? Which one is the easier choice that trades temporary peace for a defiled conscience? May we be discerning enough to know the difference and bold enough to choose what is right.

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You’ve Got to “Role” with It

The talk I gave on a Wife’s Role in Singapore during the Before I Do Seminar for soon-to-be-wed couples…

Edric and I met in college. What I liked most about him was that we shared the same values, that he was God-fearing, that we could talk easily about anything and everything and that he was simple and easy-going. He wasn’t pretentious, insincere or complicated.

Two years after college, we got married. We both wanted to get married young and start a family while we were young. But, honestly, our romantic bubble burst pretty quickly. The first year of marriage was difficult. We had a whole lot of conflict, arguments, and tension in our relationship.

I discovered that Edric was short tempered and easily irritable, which I really did not like. And he discovered that I was disrespectful and strong-willed, and insubordinate to his leadership when I didn’t trust him. I would challenge his ideas, his decision-making capacity, and I would correct him when I felt that he wasn’t being a godly husband. My intention was to help him become the man that I thought God wanted him to be. But I was turning into the wife that he didn’t like to be with. We both reacted to each other and reached our capacity to tolerate one another’s personalities.

Both of us believed that we would never ever divorce, but I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why did I ever get married in the first place? If I had known it was going to be this difficult, then I would have thought twice!”

At a certain point, both of us had to stop and consider what we were doing wrong. I remember God telling me something like this, “If you want my blessing in your marriage, you do things my way.” Up until this time I had blamed Edric for the way our marriage was. I thought that if he would just be less temperamental and less irritable, and more positive and affirming, it wouldn’t be this way. I would readily submit and trust his leadership. But God said, “Look at your own heart. Look at your own life. Stop focusing on what you want your husband to change. You change the things that you need to. You have A LOT to change. Change yourself. Edric is my problem. Let me work in his life.”

So I surrendered my marriage to the Lord and began praying for Edric. I started focusing on my role as a wife. It wasn’t easy because I wrestled with my pride and selfishness. But as I began to apply God’s principles for marriage, I began to see changes in my relationship to Edric. Edric also began to change, first in small ways, then in big ways. He began to step up as the spiritual leader of our family. Romance started to blossom again. Our marriage became sweeter and sweeter. It wasn’t without its imperfections or problems, but we understood the main issues. We learned to address and solve the fundamental problems. (Our marriage is still a work in progress, but by God’s grace, we are experiencing the blessings of keeping God at the center of it).

Almost always, the problems we experience in our marriage boil down to roles – my role as a wife and Edric’s role as a husband.

A few years after we were married, I learned a very beautiful description of the woman’s role. It is found in Genesis 2:18.

Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

In this passage, we see two words that describe a woman – HELPER and SUITABLE. Read in plain English and defined by an English dictionary, these words are not very inspiring. So we have to refer to the original Hebrew text, where we learn that the Hebrew word for HELPER is EZER, and the word for SUITABLE is KENEGDO.

EZER KENEGDO.

The word Ezer in the Bible is not only used to describe Eve but to describe God.

For example, Psalm 54:4 “Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul.” Or “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help you.” (Deut. 33:26).

Therefore, more accurate definitions of “Ezer” are words like “to rescue, to save, to strengthen.” Author, John Eldredge, in his book, Wild at Heart, proposes that the word means “lifesaver.”

The word Kenegdo, on the other hand, means “corresponding companion, partner to.” God created a perfect partnership. Without Eve, God’s creation was not complete. Something was missing. God knew that Adam needed Eve. She was the only one suitable. (Genesis 2:18) This is why the Bible also tells us that woman was created for the man’s sake and not the other way around.

1 Corinthians 11:8-9 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.

God designed us to empower and strengthen, to be life-givers to our husbands. The question is, are we doing this? How can we be the empowering, strengthening and life-giving companions that our husbands need? How can we help, assist, encourage, and support her husbands so that they can accomplish God’s purpose for their life and for our marriage?

1. Home management. Husbands and wives can share division of labor if they are both working and have no house help. But the Bible does encourage women to be “workers at home.” It doesn’t say that women are the only ones who can run a home. I know some guys who are great cooks (better than their wives) and who can clean a toilet bowl very well. Yet, men are called to a different battle – the responsibility of provision and leading the family rests on their shoulders. Women can pursue careers and develop their professional skills, and God does gift all of us with unique abilities, but not at the expense of the home.

It isn’t the man’s burden to manage the home. His burden is to lead his family and give his wife the resources she needs to effectively manage their home. So if a woman pursues a career and yet her home suffers for it, she needs to ask herself if her priorities are in order.

I know women who are very successful in their careers or professions of choice and yet, they are able to run their households with excellence. They create schedules for their children, for their staff (if they have househelp), and they have systems in place for getting laundry done, grocery shopping, cleaning, etc. So it is possible to do both with excellence. The Proverbs 31 woman described in the Bible was this kind of woman – a major multi-tasker. But her priorities were clear – she didn’t earn money at the expense of her husband’s or children’s needs.

Early on in my marriage, my dad asked me to work for him. It would have helped Edric and I financially but after consulting with Edric, he told me not to do it. At first, I felt bad because I wanted to be able to help my dad out who needed my assistance for a certain set of skills. But I also knew that my dad would be demanding of my time and energy (he’s a great dad but as a boss, he can really pile the work on). So I turned down the financial opportunity because I didn’t want to be in a position where I would not be available to Edric if he needed me. Looking back, it was a wise choice. My priorities were clear and God has continually provided over and above our needs.

2. Submit. The word “submission” doesn’t sit well with a lot of women. My mom was counseling a lady some years ago who told her, “I’ve been reading my Bible and highlighting it. Do you want to see?” She showed my mom the verses she had read on submission and my mom laughed. The lady had highlighted all the verses she didn’t like with a black marker!

Ephesians 5:22-24 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

People like to avoid talking about submission because women are uncomfortable with the idea that they are to be “subject” to men. Historically speaking, subjugation of women has been an issue – we have seen women abused, violated, taken advantage of, misled, and hurt by the wrong kinds of men. Today, many women are still oppressed in different parts of the world. But this was never God’s design. He wanted marriage to be the context in which men and women experience the most beautiful, intimate kind of love. Women were to be cherished and appreciated the way they desire to be, and men trusted to lead and protect as they should.

But sin marred this picture. Sin brought confusion, disruption, division, destruction. And people used human means and wisdom to solve a spiritual problem. We didn’t go back to the Maker. We invented our own solutions – feminism, being one of them. But feminism had to have a second and third wave just to correct its first wrongs. Today the spirit of the independent woman is nothing new. Eve had the same issue. God said don’t eat the fruit. Eve said, I will eat the fruit. Well, there were consequences back then and there are consequences now to going against God’s design.

Submission is a choice. The Greek word for it is “Hupotasso” which means to voluntarily complete, arrange, adapt to within a legion, so as to make a complete whole. It is a choice to come “under” the covering of our husband’s authority for our own protection and good. God doesn’t force us to submit. We are free to choose what we want to do but not free to escape the consequences.

God speaks through our husbands. When there are instances when I don’t agree with him or his decisions, I try to pray instead of contradict or disobey. Since my husband in under God’s authority, I appeal to the Lord to speak to him or change my perspective and heart if I am wrong. This always works! Either God changes Edric’s decision or he changes my heart. It’s a win – win for all.

At the end of the day, when we submit to our husbands, we are submitting to God. It is an act of obedience – an act of faith. The Bible verse says, “submit as unto the Lord.” If we make our submission optional and dependent on whether we like what our husbands tell us to do or whether we trust them, we are missing out on the blessing of submission. Submission is something we do as unto the Lord, because we trust that he is the one looking out for us, that he has our best interest and our good at heart.

During a difficult counseling case, I had to encourage a wife to practice being a submissive and godly wife to her husband even if he was an adulterer. He was never physically abusive to her but he was mean and unkind. Honestly, I hated the guy and I wanted to tell the woman to leave him and “good riddance!” But, I also knew that I was accountable to the Lord for the welfare of her soul. And I had to tell her something like this, “I really want to tell you to leave your husband, but it would be wrong of me to do this. Beyond human reason but in faith, I am asking you to continue to be submissive…as unto the Lord. Look to the Lord and claim his promises of blessing even if it seems so impossible to imagine that your situation can change.” She followed this advice and months later, I received news from this woman that her marriage had been restored. Only God could have done this!

1 Peter 3:1-3 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

Submission can seem like a ridiculous and unfair expectation of women who are in problematic marriages but I am a believer in the validity of God’s word and his promise of blessing to those who obey him.

3. Respect. The number one need of a man, whether we like it or not is respect, with sex as a close second. This is a scientific truth. Men are wired to desire respect. A man will look for it in the workplace, among peers, from strangers, while driving on the road, but most especially from his children and his wife.

Our husbands marry us hoping that we will support them, believe in them, follow them…that we will be their number 1 fan. They don’t want to lose our respect. Some men will go to the extent of hiding the realities of their finances, their jobs, or other issues from their wives because they don’t want to lose the trust or confidence of their wives.

Respect is so important, God makes a specific command just for us.

Ephesians 5:33 And let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband – that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates him and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him and loves and admires him exceedingly.

It is in the little things – complimenting our husbands in private and public, responding with a tone that is kind and not harsh or irritated, not being a nag, not comparing them to others or making them feel like they have to earn our respect, etc…

There is a book called Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs which talks about the Crazy Cycle of marriage. Men desire respect and women desire love. In marriage, when a woman doesn’t feel love, she disrespects her husband. When a husband feels disrespected he doesn’t feel like loving his wife. And the cycle continues.

In contrast, a husband who feels respected desires to love his wife. I’ve experimented with this phenomenon many times in my own marriage. It is a proven theory. When I respect Edric by appreciating him, giving him attention, communicating my admiration for him, following through with the things he asks me to do, and responding to him with a pleasant tone when he corrects me or tells me what to do, it’s like a magic formula for lovey-dovey feelings in him towards me. In contrast, when I am antagonistic, easily irritated, confrontational, too busy to take care of him, and de-prioritizing his needs, he shuts down emotionally. There is no tenderness. He doesn’t feel like being romantic or sweet towards me.

When I talked about this topic at a retreat some time ago, I requested that the wives ask their husbands to rate their “respect-o-meter”. Ask your husband, “On a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being the highest), do you find me respectful? How can I change or improve?” Be prepared to humbly listen and be willing to change when you do this!

In summary, the role of a wife is to be a helper to her husband. The word is EZER-KENEGDO – which means to empower, to strengthen, to be life-givers to our husbands by managing the home, and submitting to their authority with an attitude of respect.

My eldest son asked me yesterday morning, “Mom, is marriage easy?” I paused for a little bit and I said, “Marriage is not easy. It is actually difficult. But it is worth it.” He had a far-off look in his eyes like he was trying to take in what I had just said. So I followed up with the question, “Do you know what makes it difficult?” I waited for him to answer but he was waiting for me to explain so I said, “What makes it difficult is that people are not perfect. We are sinful and selfish.” I shared with him that God designed marriage to be something good and wonderful but when we don’t follow God’s design, we don’t experience marriage the way God wants us to. He understood this and he replied, “I used to think that in marriage people just love each other. Like it’s just natural. Like daddy loves you and you love daddy.”

His fairy tale idea of marriage had just been thrown out the window, but I wanted him to understand at this very young age that without God, marriage is not a fairy tale. Marriage is not happily ever after. That’s the pin to his bubble, to everyone’s bubble. But the other reality is that marriage can be the most amazing relationship if a husband and wife choose to fulfill their God-given roles and keep God at the center of their marriage. Later on in the day, he shared with me. “I want to get married someday. I want to love someone and take care of someone and I want to have children.” Whew! He’s still excited about marriage! That’s a positive indication.

Of course, I was also thinking to myself, You are just 9 years old, so spend the next fifteen years preparing to be the man who will do that! In the meantime, Edric and I have to role-model a healthy, God-centered marriage for all our kids. We can give these marriage talks over and over again but it all means nothing unless we live the truth ourselves.

Blitzkrieg Singapore

Just spent the weekend in Singapore with Edric. Our good friends flew us there for to speak at a seminar called “Before I Do.” It’s a marriage preparation seminar for engaged couples. The trip was a blessing. I was pooped out of my mind because each day was packed with activity but it was nice to be able to escape (just the two of us) and spend time with relatives and friends. I haven’t been to Singapore for at least 10 years. It’s awesome! Looking forward to taking the kids there in the near future. :)

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Emoticon Tiana

Just for fun…

I asked Tiana to do facial expressions and I took a video of her. If you want a minute of entertainment to break up your day, watch this silly thing…

Emoticon Tiana

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You can take the idea further and make expression cards using your toddler’s face. Take photos of your child and print them out. You can discuss them together to encourage language skills.

 

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Happy Face

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Sad Face

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Surprised Face

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Scared Face

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Sleeping Face

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Laughing Face

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Praying Face

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Shouting Face

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Silly Face

 

Questions you can ask:

What kind of face does this show? When do you feel this way?
Can you show me what face you have when you are tired?
Which face shows you praying?

You can also say things like…
“When I see you, I feel happy!” Then show the happy face card.
“When you tickle me, I laugh!” Then show the laughing face card

You can also make a little book of expressions for your child.

Etc…

The REAL Cutest Newsman

My husband, Edric, has been a host of a show called On the Money for the last couple of weeks. It airs 3:30, 6:30 and 11 on weekdays on ANC with replays on weekends.

How it all came to be was really quite miraculous and God-ordained. It wasn’t anything that either of us was expecting, but there was clear leading from the Lord, from his word, wise counselors, and circumstances to venture into this unchartered territory. His main motivation was to allow God to use it as a platform for ministry and influence.

He’s kind of been taking it step-by-step, show-by-show, without giving much thought to the implications on people’s perception of him as a TV personality. In the first place, popularity was not his goal. But being on ANC every single day and several times a day has given him a lot of “face” time. He was even voted as “Cutest” Newsman of 2012 by Spot.ph.

Whoa! This was surprising news to him when he heard about it this morning. It had a bit of a “showbizzy” feel to the whole blurb about him. Frankly, I didn’t think it really captured who he is. I wish they had let me write the article! It was really more about his physical appearance. But Spot.ph did say that this was all about brainless fun.

When he told me this morning, he was laughing and said he was actually embarrassed. “Are you sure you’re not flattered?” I teased him. “No way! That’s the last thing I would want to be recognized for!”

I believed him. He doesn’t like that kind of attention. It’s sort of anti-thetical to what he would like to be known for (if at all). I know he’d rather be known as someone who passionately loves God and lives for him. But they don’t give out awards for that, at least not on TV. That would be the day!

He does hope that the show, On the Money, will help Filipinos to better manage their finances. And beyond that, he is looking forward to how God will expand his borders for the sake of the gospel.

It is definitely challenging to be in the media. For example, I watched his interview about being voted “Cutest Newsman” and everything he said about God was cut out when they wrote about him online. That’s to be expected, of course. So the best way he can represent his beliefs and views about faith is to be excellent at what he does so that people will care enough to listen. And that’s my prayer for him. That’s his prayer for himself.

I’ve put my “friend” hat on (which I do as a wife when he needs a confidant or someone to bounce off ideas with), and we have talked about whether being a TV host will conflict with his priorities – God, wife, children, work, ministry (in that order). And we have talked about whether it will detract from his homeschooling advocacy. We have also discussed what the gains will be, as well as the possible pitfalls. (Thankfully, ANC values integrity and wants it’s personalities to do the same. At least it seems that way.) We’ve both come to the conclusion that the biggest temptation is really pride.

At the end of the day, Edric doesn’t want being on TV to change the core of who he is. I don’t want it to either. He didn’t even want to look at the Twitter feeds or Facebook comments of people who were talking about him being voted “Cutest Newsman.” It was partly because he found it silly, but partly because he didn’t want to focus on that and get a big head about it. I was the one who wanted to look at all the comments while we were playing a board game with the kids. But the kids were like, “Mom, you are violating our game rules. No Ipads.” Geez…so strict!

There we were, playing a board game as a family, and Edric was fully present and engaged, focused on the children, on all of us.

Cutest newsman or not, I’m blessed to be married to Edric Mendoza. He does look good on camera but I’m more thankful that he’s got a good heart, a heart that loves the Lord, that loves his family. I know the world doesn’t care much about this. But the kids and I do.