Resolving “Dredd”-ful Dates

Sometimes a date seems ruined before it begins. It starts out as a good idea but a number of things go wrong and it’s like, ok this is NOT turning out to be romantic.

On Tuesday evening Edric wanted to take me out. I love going out with my husband on our weekly date nights. And since we had been having some friction lately, this was a particularly important date to have. We needed to talk through some things.

The problem with this particular date was that I did not remember him telling me that we were supposed to leave the house at 5:30. I was coming from a meeting that ended close to 5:30, from at least 30 minutes away. Boo-boo number one.

On my way home, Edric called to talk about the plans the call got dropped, which added to the tension between us. I tried calling him back shortly after but he didn’t answer the phone so I thought he was annoyed at me for being late. I found out after my fourth call that he had been taking a shower.

When I finally got home, Edric drove us to Rockwell where we were going to have dinner and watch a movie. But in the car, one of the first things he asked me was, “Can you edit this for me?” He handed me his IPad which had his CV on the Pages App. “When do you need this done? I asked. “Right now. I need to send it to ABS-CBN before we go out, for my press interviews tomorrow.”

Instead of saying, “sure!,” I complained about having to do it last minute. I said, “Hon, do you know me? Do you understand my personality?” He took this as an insult. (Why was I asking this rhetorical question so disrespectfully? Of course he knows me.)

My point was to emphasize that I really don’t like being asked to do things last minute, especially when it could have been given to me a week earlier. It wasn’t like I wasn’t going to edit his CV, I just wanted him to understand why I felt harassed by his request.

He explained that he had been swimming in week-long stress and he wouldn’t be asking me if it was not absolutely necessary. Well, I wasn’t the supportive, life-giving kind of wife I should have been. Sure, editing a CV may not have been the ideal prequel to a romantic dinner, but this was my moment to serve him and I was resistant. Sigh. Why is it always the little, petty things in marriage that get so much prime time? Really, editing a CV shouldnt have been an issue for me, and it shouldn’t have caused hurt between us.

Well that’s how the night began. We entered the mall without holding hands. There was an emotional distance between us. We were like one of those couples who don’t walk side by side…where the guy walks faster and the girl lags behind like a duckling to its mother, only not in a cute way.

Then there was the choice of movie. Judge Dredd. What the?! Don’t watch it. It’s like a 3 out of 10. The number of people in the theater should have been indicative. Personally, I avoid senseless displays of violence in movies…the kind where they use too much ketchup. And there was one split-second sexual scene which made me feel dirty inside. Anyway, it was a poor choice and we both knew it but waited til the end for some redemptive conclusion to make the 90 minutes we spent for worth it.

Oh and we skipped the romantic, sit-down dinner talking part because we watched the 7:00pm showing. (Dinner is often the highlight of our date night because we get to connect.) We had to get some take-out to eat while watching. Edric had his own craving at a place two restaurants away from where I wanted to eat. We ordered take-out dinner in two different places and then met up to go into the theater. Pragmatic. Not romantic.

After the movie, we still felt like there hadn’t been much “healing” between us. We both knew there were some lingering issues that needed to be discussed. But we ended up sleeping early because we had to wake up before 6am the next day for morning prayer time at church.

Wednesday morning, we sat in church, listening to the morning devotional which segued into prayer time. I knew that my heart wasn’t right. I knew I had been selfish. So, I asked the Lord to speak to me. The prodding that I got was, “Listen to your husband. When he tells you how to improve, listen. Do not be defensive. Be humble.” My response was, “Okay, Lord. For you. I will do it for you.”

Edric turned to me right after this and said, “I can’t pray. We need to talk. I would like to tell you what’s been bothering me lately.” Okay, here it comes. Be quiet. Be humble. Don’t be defensive. Gentle voice. Gentle voice.

He told me four things I needed to improve on. I took out my IPhone to take notes, like an executive assistant. I didn’t want to forget. Each time he mentioned something, I acknowledged it and said okay…with a gentle voice. As I listened to him, I knew that this was something God wanted me to hear. I DID need to improve in the areas he mentioned. Apparently, the incident which occured the night before (not wanting to edit his CV), was really just a surface issue. There were other more serious issues that I needed to be corrected on.

Afterwards, he asked me how he could improve and I didn’t want to say anything because I felt like it was really me who needed to change. My issues with him were minor. But he volunteered. “I have been selfish and self-focused lately. God has been reminding me to be more understanding and patient towards you.” Oh, this was good stuff! I took notes on that, too. But more for comic relief.

He told me that he loved me and it was very important to him that our relationship was okay, that there was no lingering hurt or unresolved tension between us. And then we both took some time to pray privately. The next day our healing discussions continued… We set aside part of the morning to listen to one another. It was not easy but it was one of those cleansing experiences when you expose your heart with trepidation, not wanting to be vulnerable, but knowing that the honesty is necessary.

I can’t explain the magic of good communication in marriage. But, after that conversation, I felt a renewed attraction and lovey-dovey feeling toward Edric — the kind of connectedness that was missing during our “Dredd”-ful date night. One thing is for sure, we had to lay aside selfishness, and take the suggestions each other gave with humility and a commitment to change.

The Bible says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant…” (Philippians 2:3-7 NASB)

Selfishness is a persistent enemy. It surfaces unexpectedly or it grows over time. It causes deep hurt. It divides. It can ruin a marriage. It is ugly. But God gives us an example to copy. Be like Christ. He was God but he humbled himself. He gave up his right to be God and took on the form of a servant. He gave his life for us.

When I think about this, I feel very ashamed. I fall very short of this standard. There are days when I don’t feel like thinking of the needs of others over my own needs. I want people to think of my needs, particularly my husband and my kids. In my mind, I think, I serve you all, so what about me?But Christ himself, son of God, didn’t have this entitlement attitude. So neither should I. My attitude should be, “Lord, you gave your life for me. Help me to do the same for others, especially for my husband and children.”

We are bombarded by a world that says, “Get what you deserve and fight for your rights.” Are there times when I deserve to be treated with more kindness by Edric? Yes. Are there times when he deserves more respect from me? Yes. But we have learned that the secret to loving one another is not demanding our “rights” but surrendering those to the Lord and choosing to be controlled by the transforming love of Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 5:14 to 15, the apostle Paul says, “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”

We all need to evaluate our responses and actions towards our spouses, children, and towards others. Are we able to transcend relationship killers like pride and selfishness? If not, then why? Can we honestly say that Christ’s love controls us?

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Year-End Assessments and God’s Faithfulness

Testing doesn’t seem to stress out homeschoolers the same way it does children who go to schools (and parents who have to prepare them for their tests.) I don’t want to make this a general statement about conventionally-schooled kids but they do seem to have a lot more performance pressures imposed on them. Tests are a big chunk of quarterly grades so they matter a whole lot.

For homeschoolers, the focus is different. Tests are used as a diagnostic tool to determine areas of weakness and strength. And many times, parents have their kids re-study and re-test for mastery.

Some homeschool organizations encourage children to take year-end assessments and some parents opt to have their children assessed even if they are independently homeschooling.

Elijah took his year-end assessment last week. I asked him if he was nervous and he said something like this, “I’m a little bit nervous, but I’m also excited. But I’m more excited than nervous.” And when I asked him again afterwards how he felt about testing he said, “Testing is not scary, it’s actually fun. It’s not like it’s the end of the world!” Oh okay. Got it. That’s a good sign!

The comforting thing about a year-end assessment is that it doesn’t flunk children out of a level. With TMA Homeschool, for example, children have scheduled portfolio reviews during their school year. So the end-year assessment is a means to validate the portfolio reviews. And moving forward, the results become beneficial as a diagnostic tool. Parents can also use the results to monitor their child’s progress through the years.

Homeschooling Solutions Inc. (HSI) is a company that was very recently set-up to support the needs of homeschoolers (and non-homeschoolers) by providing access to materials, curriculum, enrichment classes, and testing services like the Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test and Metropolitan Achievement Test.

Students who take the year-end assessment with HSI are given both sets of tests, in a group setting, on the same day. Testing time will vary depending on a child’s grade level. But generally, they won’t exceed half a day (even for higher levels).

The Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test measures abstract thinking and reasoning ability, specifically covering verbal comprehension and verbal, pictorial, figural, and quantitative reasoning. All questions are multiple choice in nature.

The Metropolitan Achievement Test will assess reading (including vocabulary and comprehension), mathematics, language (i.e. writing), science (life science, physical science and earth science) and social studies (geography, history, political science and economics). The results are shown as grade level equivalents. Based on data culled last year by TMA Homeschool, almost 50% of their homeschool students perform at least 2 grade levels higher in one or more disciplines.

As a homeschooling mom, I especially appreciate how an assessment like this gives an evaluation of strengths and weaknesses. It helps me to modify, supplement, or improve my instruction. And since I am after a very honest evaluation of Elijah’s homeschooling experience. At the end of each year, I don’t make Elijah study for his year-end assessments. First of all, I don’t want him to be stressed out the week before his testing. Second, if he knows his stuff, he knows it. And if he doesn’t know something then I would like to find out so we can cover it the next year.

The only thing I do to prepare him is to get him to sleep early the night before. So, for the most part, he has gone into these testing scenarios without feeling too “pressured.” I just encourage him to do his best for the Lord. Of course we pray, too!

Each year when I see the results of Elijah’s tests, I am reminded that God is faithful. He helps my children to learn and learn well, despite my shortcomings as a teacher. Sometimes I think, are there big holes and gaps that I may be missing? Am I really teaching enough? Are my children really learning? But the results keep showing me that homeschooling is working! It is not some backyard-crazy-idea that risks the academic future of my kids. It is a superior education. (I am saying this especially for those who are concerned about the academics part of homeschooling.)

When we respond to the call to homeschool, God qualifies us and makes us able to do far beyond we can ever imagine. Two years ago, I gave birth to my fourth child, Tiana. I hardly had time to homeschool. My schedule revolved around breastfeeding and caring for the needs of a newborn. I did my best to teach my kids, but very often, I was exhausted.

But I looked to the Lord and trusted in him to finish that year of homeschooling. When Elijah took his year- end assessment I just hoped and prayed that he would do well. The results came back a few weeks later and I cried when I saw the interpretations by Phil Psychor (The testing organization that was assessing TMA Homeschool students at the time). Elijah’s results were in the 99th percentile across all areas for his Otis-Lennon School Abilities Test. And he was several levels above his grade level for most of the disciplines he was tested for in The Metropolitan Achievement Test.

That experience confirmed once again that God is my partner, sustainer, and enabler as I homeschool my kids. He continues to supply where I lack and redeem my failings! He has done this year after year just as he promises…Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thessalonians 5:24 NASB)

Homeschool Portfolio Idea

A friend of mine, Liza Berroya Salud, is a homeschooling mom of four kids. I admire her for giving her 100% in whatever she does. Whether it be homemaking, homeschooling, or ministry, she will do her best. And she is always radiant — a beautiful woman inside and out!

She is one of those moms who understands that homeschooling is so much more about character than academics. She wanted her kids to come up with a character “magazine” that they would put together for their most recent homeschool portfolio review. Each child was asked to contribute to a part of the magazine. When I saw it I thought it was a creative idea to teach and remember the character lessons they learned as a family. So I asked her if I could show what they did here. Thought it would be a good portfolio idea to share with others, especially those who are homeschooling a number of children. This is a great family project! Thank you, Liza!

Food Fight

20120923-191401.jpg During lunch, our boys had an “incident.” After Edric and I had excused ourselves from the table, we left the two younger boys to finish what was left of their curry meal. Fifteen minutes later, both of them came into our bedroom and looked very guilty. Edan was on the verge of tears and Titus was already crying. What was going on?

Edric calmed them down and asked them to explain what happened. They wanted to confess that they had a food fight. It took several minutes to extract this but they admitted to it.

Apparently, they playfully started chucking rice and bits of beef curry across the table to hit each other. This resulted in a big mess. When Elijah saw it, he encouraged them to tell us what they had done. At first, they were afraid because they didn’t want to get spankings for not following eating rules. But they wanted to be honest (according to Edan).

I watched the two of them stand side-by-side facing Edric. Edan had one hand to his eyes, trying to wipe the tears away. Titus was red with snot coming down his nose. Edric handled the situation and got to the bottom of it all.

Honestly, I kind of think that food fighting is pretty cool! The mess part wasn’t really a big deal, except that we have eating rules. One of these rules is, eat everything on your plate. The boys ended up throwing whatever was left on their plates. They knew they were wrong.

However, since they told the truth, Edric extended grace to them. But Edric said that he was concerned about Titus. He explained to me that Edan was very repentant but Titus was more like “yey!” no spanking.

I offered to talk to Titus. Titus was all smiles as he came into our bedroom. I sat him on the bed beside me and I looked into his eyes to let him know that we were about to have a serious conversation. But I kept my tone gentle. We talked about what it means to really love Jesus. I also explained to him that Jesus wants to bless us, protect us, and take care of us. And I told him that there is also the Devil who wants us to do things like disobey and lie. He doesn’t like us at all and he wants to hurt us and destroy us. Titus asked me questions about this and I explained to him more about what the Devil is like.

I used the example of eating too much candy to let him realize that the Devil always wants to harm us. “Remember how mommy and daddy tell you not to eat too much candy because it’s not healthy? But the Devil will tell you things like, ‘It’s okay to eat candy. It’s yummy. You really like it!’ Just eat it anyway when no one is looking. If you listen to him and keep disobeying mommy and daddy what do you think will happen?”

Titus replied, “All my teeth will fall out!”

“Well, you may get cavities and the Devil will be so happy because he got to hurt you. But mommy and daddy, we don’t want you to get hurt. And that’s how Jesus is. Jesus doesn’t want you to get hurt, either. That’s why you need to learn to obey. And if you love Jesus, you will obey him.”

Titus listened intently and understood what I was trying to say. (I asked him a couple of questions just to check if he really got what I was talking about.) Afterwards, I affirmed him and told him that he was a good son. He really is a wonderful son, but he needs to be trained and guided, just like his siblings.

My purpose for having one-on-one time with Titus was to help him understand that the rules we make are not meant to make his life less fun or deprive him of something good. We want what is best for him. We love him and we are concerned about his heart. But he needs to guard his heart from the Evil One. And he needs to guard his heart so that he always loves Jesus.

When I talk to my kids like this I am reminded that the battle for our children’s hearts is so real, so serious, so spiritual in nature. Each one of them is developing a set of values and principles that will define and determine their choices. And many times it will take some parenting detective work to investigate what is going on inside them. With Titus, I wasn’t as concerned about the food flinging as I was about the possibility that he has not internalized that obedience is for his greater good.

Since he is just 4 years old, we will need many more dialogues together to talk about this truth. Dialogued are really important. The more we interact and communicate with our children, the easier it is to identify the “weeds” in their hearts. Weeds can grow anytime, and they can grow undetected and root themselves deeply into our children’s hearts if we don’t catch them early.

This is one reason why I am a big believer in homeschooling. Homeschooling gives Edric and I numerous, daily encounters with our children. We get to ask then questions, draw them out, and uncover wrong thinking, unbiblical world-views, secret sins, unhealthy patterns, deceptions, or fears. (Oh and pray like heck for them.)

Edric and I don’t always know what to do but the guiding principle for us has been to keep turning our children’s hearts back to Jesus. Jesus will be the one to take our children from immaturity to maturity, from foolishness to wisdom, from obedience out of fear to obedience out of love, from desiring self-will to desiring God’s will.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6
NASB)

Family Culture

One of the things I have always appreciated about my parents is the humility with which they receive correction, especially when that correction comes from their kids.

Weeks ago, my dad found out about Elijah’s eyesight grade. When I told him that Elijah’s grade was 400/425, one of his first comments was, “Well, you are partly to blame. It is your fault for not feeding him the right food. You have to be very intentional about what you let him eat.I see the way he eats his food and he is lacking vegetables…” Here I was, hoping for some word of encouragement, but he was giving me a lecture. And he doesn’t see what Elijah eats every single meal so it wasn’t even an accurate observation on his part.

I was hurt when he said this and I retaliated with a joke. “Actually the doctor said it’s genetic and I don’t wear glasses, so it might be from you, dad.” We both laughed when I said this, but I didn’t tell him right there and then that his comment made me feel like a failure. I know my dad. He is a teacher at heart and his intentions are usually good. But there are moments when he errs on his style of correction.

Days after, I visited him in his home and went up to his study room to talk to him. He was seated at his desk studying and reading his Bible. “Dad, can I tell you something?” My dad stopped what he was doing. I said, “I felt hurt when I shared with you about Elijah’s eyes and you corrected me right away. I know you meant well because I know you, but I was surprised that your first instinct was to say that I didn’t feed him the right food.”

At this point, my dad turned his chair around and gave me his full attention. “Really?” He asked with utmost sincerity and concern. When I expounded on how it made me feel, he asked for my forgiveness and spoke kindly and gently to me.

The conversation continued and I added, “You know I was just wondering if you do that with other people. Like people who work for you. Maybe they might feel de-motivated, especially if they look up to you.” He had this thoughtful look on his face, and he said, “You are right. I can improve in this area. I need to be more encouraging and positive. Other people have told me that.” There was no defensiveness on his part. He really meant what he said.

As far back as I can remember, dad has been the kind of father who listens to the correction of his children. My dad instituted this kind of culture in our home. We were allowed to speak up and express our feelings, concerns, and share how our parents could improve. In fact, both my parents would ask us regularly, “Is there any way we can improve?” Then they would listen intently and openly to our suggestions, take them to heart, and really make the effort to change.

Well today, I visited my dad again. I went up to his study room (his usual hang-out) and I had a long chat with him about the message he was preparing for Sunday worship. He gave me a sneak peak into the topic he was going to preach on. We exchanged ideas and dialogued about possible illustrations and bible passages.

At some point, I interjected and said, “Dad, I just want you to know that you were a good example to me when you listened to what I said about Elijah’s eyesight…about my getting hurt and all. It meant a lot that you were humble enough to say sorry. I also wanted to tell you that I noticed you have been trying to be really positive with the men you are mentoring. I saw you go out of your way to encourage a couple of them the other day at church and I have been very blessed by your efforts to change.”

“Oh really?” He replied with his big smile. He thanked me for the encouragement and went on to talk about how he really needed to grow in the area of affirming, fathering, and mentoring the men he disciples. I lingered in his study room for a wee bit longer as he finished discussing the rest of his outline for Sunday’s message.

I enjoyed visiting with my dad. I always do, and so do my siblings and our spouses. My parents established a family culture that has been about open communication, unconditional acceptance and love, peace among family members, predictable joyfulness, as well as mutual respect and honor.

By saying these things I don’t want to make it seem like I am elevating my parents or giving them all the credit. The real secret to this family culture has been Jesus Christ. My parents have walked with him, followed him, and lived by his principles which made our home a wonderful place to always come back to, even when we were grown up. My dad has this joke that he can’t “get rid of us.”

Well, Edric and I are trying to develop this same culture in our home. Just two days ago, Elijah corrected me for having a bad attitude about my cell phone. I had tossed it on the car seat in an exasperated way when it didn’t turn on. When we got back to the house, Elijah confronted me and said, “You had a bad attitude, mom.” He did not say it disrespectfully, he was merely pointing out an obvious reality. For a split second I was tempted to defend myself, but somewhere in my subconscious I must have remembered my dad’s example of humbly receiving correction and I responded by saying, “You are right, hon. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have behaved that way. Will you forgive me?” Elijah readily forgave me, hugged me, and then went to go play with his brothers.

Family culture matters. Can our children correct us? Are we willing to change when they do? Do we say sorry when we are wrong? Is forgiveness readily given? Is conflict resolved quickly and in a way that honors God? Do our children feel important, loved and treasured? Are family members joyful and at peace?

Maybe it is just a theory but if families tried being like this, I really think grown up children and their spouses would look forward to visiting mom and dad more often! They would want to keep coming back!

Lock the Door

I don’t know what happened to my week. But somehow, I managed to be so busy doing things, attending meetings, preparing for an upcoming retreat, getting together with people, and finishing errands, that there was no time left for stillness and quiet. Oh, it was a whole lot of good things. Yet all the busyness made me feel disoriented and a little bit lost in the unending movement from one day to the next.

Today, I came to that point when I was desperate for silence. I was longing for a deep rested-ness in my soul that only God could give. And it came. But I had to lock my bedroom door and keep the kids out.

It’s hard to find this kind of solitude with four young children perpetually clamouring for my attention. (Sometimes, I can’t even use the toilet in peace because they follow me all the way to the bathroom so they can have a conversation with me!)

At first I announced, “I am giving you a break. We won’t do work today!” Instead of hearing the cheers I was hoping for, I heard, “Aww! We want to do our work!” I know they meant this, too. The kids enjoy learning so the idea of taking a break didn’t light any fireworks. It was me who didn’t want to do any work! In fact, Elijah said, “Okay, so if it’s YOU that’s too tired to do work, then that’s okay. But if you were to ask me, I would like to do my work.”

Well, instead of teaching lessons, I did crafts with the kids. This was acceptable to them because at least we were spending the morning together. But after lunch, my emotional battery was running so low, I wanted to crawl into bed and take a nap.

I talked with them and said, “Mommy is very tired. I will rest this afternoon. I’m going to put a sign on the door.” The sign read, MOMMY NEEDS TO REST. I WILL COME OUT SOON. (Smiley face) And I asked Edan to make sure the sign was followed. Edan, my Mr. Responsible, took this to heart. He asked, “We will only come in if there is a problem, or we need something, or you need something, right?” (He always likes to know the parameters.) “Yes, thank you, hon,” was my reply.

After a few minutes, he came in and asked the sweetest thing. His question was, “For my work today, can I read stories to Titus? Is that okay? I will play with him first and then I will read to him.” Is that okay? What planet is this kid from? Carebear land? It was more than okay! “Of course that’s okay! That’s a great idea!”

So I got my space. The boys preoccupied themselves. I turned Tiana over to my househelp, and I locked myself in the bedroom.

I sat on my bed and read my Bible with half my body buried under the covers. Except for the annoying fluttering and drumming sound that has been bothering my right ear since yesterday (I will be going to an ENT tomorrow), it was all quite blissful.

After one week of too much activity, I am very much certain that sprinting through life and moving in hyper-drive is not really living. It may seem exciting to get a whole lot done in a day, but it gets spiritually exhausting. I end up with depleted resources – I don’t have the energy to serve my husband, my kids, or others. I can’t meet their need for love and attention the way I should. I end up worrying about what I’m supposed to do next and stressing out about schedules. And worst of all, I neglect the one thing that really matters – enjoying God’s presence and cultivating intimacy with him.

When I take time to enjoy God, I am reminded to consider, as Luke 12 says, the ravens and the lilies, how God takes care of them and how much greater our worth is to God than ravens or lilies. I am reminded to consider, as David did in Psalm 8, the heavens of God, the work of his fingers, the moon and the stars.

God wants me to consider who he is, what he has done for me, how much he loves me, and what he has in store for me. But when each day is crowded with activity, I miss all this.

I’ve got a whole lot of stuff to get done next week and I don’t know how it is all going to turn out. But I do know this: There is no excuse for missing my daily appointments with God. I cannot bypass BEING in his presence, being filled with him, or connected to his word. I can’t skip this whole part and expect to be prepared for the DOING part of my day. It’s like going on to a battlefield with no armor, no weapons, no backup, and no plan. So, I’m learning to lock the door if I have to!

The kids did just fine without me for a few hours. And after my “rest,” I emerged from my bedroom ready to take them all on. We went to the park, played catch, and walked back home in the rain. It was a good day.

God Can Give Your Husband A Migraine

A couple nights ago, Edric and I were having a discussion about finances. It was really not a very big issue but I reacted to his irritation toward me so it became a big deal.

Edric holds me accountable for a monthly budget and he prefers that I settle my own credit card bills. He gives me the cash to manage that monthly budget so we know who is spending for what. He has his own budgets to manage. I only have to take care of groceries and household expenses (which is pretty straightforward).

There are occasions when there is something on my credit card bill that actually falls under his budget because I had to pay for gas, a dinner, or do an errand for Edric. When this happens Edric prefers that I inform him right away and at the right time (ie. as soon as I get my bill). This gives him time to put all those expenses onto his spreadsheet so he knows how much cash he has to set aside to pay for all the bills. He HATES being surprised by money matters because he likes to keep the percentages — 10% tithing, 20% savings etc…Well, go figure, he hosts a TV show called “On the Money.”

Well, I made the mistake of nagging him about a certain amount that was on my credit card bill the day I had to pay it. He did not like this. He came home from a tiring day and was ready to relax. I wanted him to help me settle the bill which he didn’t feel like doing. And he was also upset that he had a payable on the bill that wasn’t brought up to him earlier in the month. We argued about this for a bit because I felt like he was being unreasonably irritable about it. I felt that his irritation was not justifiable. It was a little overkill for the “offense.” But he was very frustrated with me for not following his system.

He did help me settle my bill but I felt hurt by the way he made it seem like I really messed up. I apologized for not following his request to talk to him about money matters at the right time. But I felt like crying and I felt so annoyed. I went to grab my running shoes so I could get out of the house, clear my head, and pray.

And pray I did! I was like, “Lord! Can you please bop Edric on the head and speak to him? I feel so hurt. I am sorry for being disrespectful and annoyed at him, but please help him to realize that he shouldn’t over react and get irritated about something so petty. Can you please tell him to exercise a little more spiritual maturity. And will you please help me to improve and be a better wife because I feel so upset and angry right now.” I think I repeated the same thing over and over again over my 4 kilometer run. (And I threw in some complaining, too.)

When I got home, Edric was asleep (or so I thought. He told me the next day he stayed up to wait for me because he was worried then pretended to be asleep.) But by this time, I had turned over the “issue” between us to the Lord so I was not anticipating that we would discuss it again. I went to sleep in peace.

The next day, Edric and I talked.Things seemed better and we decided that we needed a date night. Edric had work and his taping at the studio so we were going to go out after that. Sometime in the afternoon, however, he called to tell me that he had a migraine. He had not had one in years! He even had a migraine in the middle of his show! He couldn’t see the TelePrompTer because lights were flashing before him (his warning sign for a migraine attack). So instead of going out as planned, he came straight home.

Date night was cancelled but I got something way better. Edric came home and acted VERY sweet and VERY apologetic about his temper and anger the night before. In fact, he said God must have given him the migraine to remind him that there are things that are way more important than the petty discussion we had. He also told me that he valued me and appreciated me, and that he loved me so much. Hello, prayer power! Thank you, Lord! I took care of him so he could get over his migraine and I also asked for his forgiveness again. All was restored.

I have come across similar situations in marriage many many times. Edric and I will have issues that make us both frustrated with one another. Yet one thing has worked consistently to restore, repair, and heal our relationship…PRAYER. Prayer — also known as crying out to the Lord, being honest before God, appealing to our Heavenly Father, communicating our deepest desires and longings, seeking God’s will and his person. God tells us, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB)

“Come to me you who are upset and troubled by your husband, and I will give you rest…and I will give your husband a migraine…”

Well, God did not say that, but he did remind me that prayer always works better than my own efforts to change my husband. And when I really talk to God, I realize I cant stay the same person. I have to change and improve. In the meantime, he can give my husband a migraine if necessary, to speak to him, too.

God’s purposes are much better and much nobler than vengeance (unlike me. he he). He seeks to make us more like himself, and he is committed to change and transform us for the better. Sometimes he uses our spouses, sometimes he uses other people, and sometimes he uses circumstances. Whichever it is, he promises to give us rest if we cooperate with him, if we take his yoke and learn from him.

Faith Like A Child

Listening to my children’s conversations over meals gives me a very good idea of what’s going on in their noggins. This morning, Edan and Titus were talking about who their “best friends” were. They said the names of their cousins, each other, and then they said Jesus was their best friend. When I asked them why, Titus answered, “I like Jesus because he has lots of silver and gold!” He really meant this and then he also wanted to know if Jesus had lots of toys.

A few days ago, he went running around our house proclaiming Jesus to our house help. He went up to each one of them and very boldly asked, “Do you know Jesus? Do you know Jesus? Do you want to come with us to heaven? In heaven Jesus has many big buildings and houses!” He was practically jumping up and down with excitement. He also said a bunch of other things like yelling, “I want to be with Jesus!”

I know Titus is still young and his theology needs tweaking. But his innocent perspective on the personhood of Jesus makes me better understand what childlike faith is. Titus has been acting like a preacher with a prosperity gospel (we will work on that). But as he matures he will begin to love Jesus for who he is and not merely for what he can give. For now, I am thrilled to know that Jesus is real to Titus — that he is excited about heaven, that he wants to be with Jesus, and that he confidently says, “Jesus is my best friend.”

Baking Fun at The Cookery Place

My kids were invited to attend a workshop at The Cookery Place by Tina, a mom in our homeschool playgroup. The boys learned how to make a bunch of different desserts. It was educational and totally worth the time.

What I really like about this cooking studio is how personable and accommodating Chef Jan and Chef Rhenee are. They are so patient with kids and always smiling. My kids had a blast last time we attended a cooking class on how to make Japanese Food.

Experiences like these remind me why I love the homeschooling lifestyle. The kids get to enjoy so many varied experiences beyond books and academics. They really learn useful, real-life skills.

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In Everything Give Thanks

We took a trip to a farm after church today. The experience didn’t turn out to be like I expected but it was a good life lesson on gratefulness for the kids (and Edric and I).

When we got to the farm there were already a whole lot of people and cars inside, so we had to park almost a kilometer away. With four little kids in tow, this was not pleasant news. But Edric got us tricycles to ride into the farm. They were going to charge us P15 per person, which was ridiculous. So he bargained down to P50 for both trikes. This was probably still a lot compared to what a tricycle normally costs, but it was a lifesaver. The boys were thrilled. When we got there, people were everywhere. There were no signs that told us where to go but the people were helpful and accommodating.The mid-day sun was bearing down on us with full force. Even our little Tiana said, “It’s so hot!” Boy, was it HOT!

Despite the heat, Edric decided that since we had come this far, we might as well walk around. So we went looking for animals but they were tucked away somewhere. And by the time we got to the lunch area, it was slim pickins’ because we were late…our fault. We paid 180 pesos for each meal of grilled Tilapia and rice, with a siding of Atchara. And the fish were grilled with their scales. Sigh. We didn’t actually get the number of fish that we paid for because the fish were different sizes so they told us that some were one fish for two people. What? It was too hot to go back and make a fuss about it. The kids started to complain about the food, saying it was tasteless. The rice was undercooked, too. Edric had bought them chocolate ice cream but surprise, surprise, it was spiked with chilli! It was probably intended to taste gourmet, but for our young children, they were like, “spicy ice cream!” I could feel the negativity brewing in our kids.

But we learned a verse on thankfulness two weeks ago. “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Edric reminded all of us to be grateful. In fact, he HATES being hot and sweaty, but he served all of us by going to pick up the food and then making a second trip to get all the rice. This is not like my husband. He’s a great guy and I think he is awesome, but he likes to be the one who is served. It was out of his comfort zone to be acting the part of a waiter.

The boys saw him try to make the most of the situation. And he kept telling us to have a good attitude. So when the boys were licking their spicy ice cream, Edan said, “I’m being thankful! I’m going to eat it all!” And on the way home, Elijah said, “Now we know how hard it is for farmers to stay in the sun all day and plant rice!”

I thought they pretty much got the gratitude lesson. But tonight, when we took a stroll and stopped at a convenience store to pick up some “normal” ice cream, Titus was upset because he didn’t get the ice cream he wanted. He started to pout. I was encouraging him to change his attitude, but it was his older brothers coming along side him that probably helped more. They flanked him on both sides and talked to him about being grateful. Afterwards, I picked him up, hugged him, and told him, “I’m very proud of you for changing your attitude.” (It was an attempt at the power of positive words.) He managed a smile. Then I said, “We may not always get what we like, but if we are thankful, we will always like what we get.”

We ended the day having a family devotion, watching a DVD, and the kids had their ice cream. During our devotion, when Titus was asked how he applied being thankful, he replied, “I was thankful for the ice cream.”

All our kids are a work in progress (just like Edric and I). But it’s certainly nice to see that God uses circumstances, big and small, to give us opportunities to train their character. He also reminds us to be good examples because they are watching us! Edric and I have to be careful not to bicker, grumble, and act spoiled when we are inconvenienced, disappointed or don’t get our way. After all, we can’t expect them to be grateful if we don’t practice it ourselves!   20120909-164843.jpg 20120909-164854.jpg 20120909-164909.jpg 20120909-164917.jpg 20120909-164925.jpg 20120909-164932.jpg 20120909-164940.jpg 20120909-165120.jpg 20120909-165310.jpg 20120909-165344.jpg 20120909-165357.jpg

Better than 20/20

As a mom, there’s no hurt like the hurt you feel when your child experiences pain, disappointment, tragedy, loss…I can’t explain how it tore me up to hear the ophthalmologist tell my son, Elijah, that his grade had gone up to 400/425 — 400 for the left eye and 425 for the right eye. It wasn’t so much about the grade, although I was shocked that it had progressed to that degree since his last eye check-up at 7 years old. It was more of the disappointment I saw in his face and the sadness he felt when he heard the news.

The reality is that his condition is genetically inherited. I first discovered he was near-sighted when he was about 6 years old. He couldn’t read a billboard that was very visible to me. So it occurred to me back then that something was wrong with his eyes. Edric has glasses but his grade isn’t too bad. I am still 20/20. So Elijah probably got it from my dad who is also near-sighted.

When Elijah was 7, his grade was already over 200. But we thought it would stay that way for a while. He’s just 9 now. I dread to think of what his grade will progress to by the time he is 13. According to the ophthalmologist, his eyesight is going to get worse (whether he wears glasses or not) and there is really nothing that can be done, except changing his eyeglasses every year. By 19 or 20, when he stops growing, he can have laser surgery for his eyes. (Praise God for modern technology.)

After the verdict about his eyes at the doctor’s clinic, I watched Elijah settle in a corner as he tried to remain composed. But I know my son. This was difficult for him. He was not okay. His eyes were getting red and watery and he didn’t want to make eye contact. I pulled him close and asked if he wanted to talk about it. He replied, “In private.”

Okay, I understood. The doctor went on to say that he may “have a hard time in school.” (I guess he meant reading stuff off a black board.) We told him that Elijah was a homeschooled kid. (Another blessing.)

Edric helped him pick out new glasses, which we will pick up on Saturday. And we both took him out to lunch to give him attention. Elijah is very much a time person so he opens up when you share a meal with him, when you walk together, or when you are sitting down next to him reading or discussing a book. Over lunch, he began to explain his feelings. He shared how disappointed he was because God had not answered his prayer. His prayer has been that God would make his eyes better. The other thing he was concerned about was going blind. My poor son was afraid that he would completely lose his eyesight. We both hugged him and assured him that God loved him and that we loved him – that we were going to do our best to take care of him no matter what.

Elijah loved the Persian food we had for lunch. His stomach was satisfied and he enjoyed our company. It was an opportune moment to help him process how he was feeling. Edric shared with him that God has a plan for everything. He reminded Elijah that if he wanted to, God could easily cure his eyes, but he hasn’t. We have to trust him. He reminded Elijah that when we pray for something and God doesn’t answer our prayer, he has a purpose.

There was another instance like this in the past when Elijah was also disappointed with God. Five years ago, Elijah prayed very hard to have a baby sister. During the ultra sound, he was allowed to come in to watch the sonologist. With big faith and confidence in God, he couldn’t wait to hear her say that we were having a girl. But the sonologist announced that we were having a boy – our third son (Titus). Elijah couldn’t contain himself. He burst into tears. “I prayed, Daddy! How come God didn’t answer my prayer?”

I wasn’t in any state to comfort him. Seeing him so wrecked about the news made me feel like crying, too. I was excited to have another boy but I feared for Elijah’s tender faith. Edric took him outside of the room and wonderfully explained to him that God always has a good plan. Eventually, our little Elijah understood what this meant and he embraced Titus as his youngest brother. Three years later, God gave us Tiana. Everything worked out according to God’s time-table.

Yesterday, Elijah was once again at a crucial point in his faith journey. As he wrestled with his disappointment with God, he was emotionally vulnerable to doubts about God’s goodness. His outlook on the future was also bleak. God had to make Elijah recognize that he had to choose to trust in him and thank him for this unchangeable in his life.

After lunch, I reaffirmed what Edric shared with Elijah. All of us go through difficulty and trials. No one is exempt. But if our perspective is right, then our thinking is right, and our behavior will also be right. But if we have the wrong perspective, our thinking will be wrong, and our behavior will be affected by wrong thinking… For example, if our perspective on God is that he is good and that he loves us then we can believe that he has a plan and purpose for our lives. And as a result, we can choose to be joyful, happy, and thankful despite our circumstances. Elijah listened to this and received it well.

Edric and I spent a good three hours with Elijah yesterday and something magical happened in those hours. Elijah’s attitude changed. On our way home, he was smiling his big, bright smile. He was chatty and positive, and he was raving about the food we at. He’s back, I thought to myself. Thank you, Lord! Elijah told us he had a great time, that he loved the food and most especially, he felt better because we got to talk about how he was feeling “in private.”

As a writing assignment, I asked him to do a blog entry about his experience at the ophthalmologist. This is what he wrote:

Today (September 5) I had my eyes checked and the grade of my eyes had risen double in the past three years. I felt disappointed because, before I had my checkup we prayed that my eyes would be better. But God had a different plan. He had a bigger plan. He loves me, so he will only do things to help me. And someday (or soon) God will fulfill his plan.

All of us have our own dreams for ourselves, but God has the best plans for us. I really wanted my eyes to get better, but I know that God can’t just make eyes better, he can make them perfect. It may not happen, but I know that God loves me. He will not allow anything bad to happen to me.

I want to be thankful because at least, I can still see!

In heaven, my eyes will be perfect and I will see better. This is the verse I want to share in Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.”

Over breakfast this morning, I said to him, “You seem so positive and different than yesterday when you found out. What changed?” “I know God has a plan,” was his sincere reply. Does he still feel sad about his eyes? Yes. But he is choosing to believe in the goodness of God.

Elijah may not have 20/20 vision, but if he can see with spiritual eyes, he will see far more than 20/20 will ever give him. After all, “we walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) 20120906-115934.jpg

Homeschooling Children with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities

THIS IS OPEN TO ALL!
I should have posted this earlier, so I’m sorry for the very late notice…
What is the difference between a child with a learning difficulty and a child with a learning disability? How can you know if your child has a learning difficulty and a learning disability? Find out how to address and meet the needs of a child with learning difficulties and disabilities.
WHEN: Friday, September 7 at 8:30am
WHERE: 2/f Fun Ranch Frontera Verde, Ortigas Avenue, Pasig
DEADLINE: Extended until September 5, 2012.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN:

1. Concepts about learning difficulties and learning disabilities.

2. The learning process and the learner with learning disabilities.

3. Common traits of children with learning dissabilities and difficulties.

4. How homeschooling will work or fit into your child’s education.

5. Guidelines for homeschooling a child with learning dissabilities/difficulties.

COST: P650/PERSON or P800/HUSBAND AND WIFE

HOW TO REGISTER:

1. Fill out registration form.
2. Choose from the following mode of payment;
 Cash
 Check
 Bank deposit
Account Name: The Masters Academy Foundation Inc.

Bank Name: Bank of the Philippines Islands
Branch: Megamall
Account No: 2421-0026-413. Email a copy of the deposit slip together with the accomplished registration form to yam@homeschooling-solutions.com on or before September 5, 2012.4. For inquiries please contact Miriam at 09178008257.
5. Training manuals are reserved to those who registered on the given cut-off date for registration.
Photo: Homeschooling Children with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities is open to the public, interested parties can still register until September 5, 2012, you may download the registration form and send to yam@homeschooling-solutions.com650php training fee, and a special rate of 800php for husband and wife.See you at the event!