Archives for May 2013

More Fun With You

“I can run by myself, but it is more fun to run with you.” My husband, Edric, said this last week when we went for our morning jog. Previously, he went on two runs alone because I was too tired to go with him.

But I started running with him again. Very slowly! At a certain part I break my run with a walk. Edric will either circle back to be by my side or find a way to meet up with me as we do the last stretch. I appreciate how thoughtful he is about my growing incapacities (fitness-wise) due to pregnancy.

People ask me why I still run at 7 months or how I am able to do it. Well, like I said, my pace is significantly slower so it is not super athlete stuff. The youngest of my kids can outrun me for sure. But I keep at it, for as long as my body can bear the increasing weight, to spend time with Edric.

My secondary reason is I am mentally and physically preparing myself for labor and childbirth. It takes a certain kind of fortitude to do natural birth without anesthesia. And if I don’t keep myself fit, it makes me feel less in control and less able to rise to the challenge of working through labor pain.

I always feel scared when it is the last stage of pregnancy. But I am more afraid of taking anesthesia or getting a C-section! Personally, doing the Bradley method caters to the least of my fears.

Going back to Edric and running…

As I thought about what our runs are like, I realized some important parallels to marriage.

He said, “I can run alone.” Similarly, as a single person, a woman or man needs to be complete in the Lord. A dear single friend of mine once made a remarkable statement. She said she is so contentedly single that if God were to bring a man into her life he would have to be better than everything she has now. She is plenty fine to keep running alone with God until then.

However, if God should allow marriage to a person, and Lord willing, to one who shares the same love for the Lord, values and convictions, then praise God! For Edric and I, we have experienced that it truly is “more fun to run together.”

I can no longer imagine my life without Edric intertwined into every aspect of it. He is my favorite person to be with. I have the most fun with him!

When we got married 12 years ago, we were starry eyed, clueless about the realities of marriage, and it felt like we were riding an emotional roller coaster. Yet, just like running, at a certain point, we found our pace…we learned to adjust and accommodate one another’s personalities and differences with God’s help.

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It is incredibly comforting to know that even if I cannot run fast because of pregnancy, Edric will circle back to me. He doesn’t hold it against me that I am going at a turtle’s pace compared to what he can do. And that’s marriage. There are seasons when we have to consider each other’s weaknesses and choose to stick around, for better or worse — to still run together. Edric and I have gone through seasons when we must pray for one another and patiently wait for one another to get out of a spiritual slump. Or, one of us goes through a crisis and the other must learn to be an encourager and motivator.

At present, I am “alone” in the changes that are happening to my body and I must contend with them. This is not a crisis. It’s normal. But this stage can be likened to the personal journey every person must take, married or not. There are some circumstances which will make you feel very alone. But, I have the bonus blessing of having Edric right beside me. And while my ultimate comfort is the Lord’s presence, Edric is certainly a tangible representation of how much God loves me.

It takes selflessness to be a blessing to one another. The reality is, as a couple, we need to keep fixing our eyes on Jesus to run the race that is set before us. Marriage is not a sprint. It has to last waaaay long after the honeymoon. It takes endurance, especially the spiritual kind. And unless we set aside the entanglements that keep us from Christ-centeredness (pride, anger, selfishness, unforgiveness, disobedience before God, and the like), we will not be able to run together, as a team.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1, 2 NASB)

I don’t know what the Lord has in store for us in the future in terms of challenges and trials, but my prayer is that Edric and I will always be “running partners.” I mean this beyond the literal sense. Although our morning jogs have been wonderful, I am talking about the relational aspect of our running partnership. We are two different people with varied needs, capacities, struggles, desires, and dreams. But as long as we are running together in the same direction, towards God’s purpose and plan for us and willing to support one another through life’s seasons, marriage is truly a joy!

During the recently held Global Discipleship Congress, speaker, Ann Chan, quoted Robert Browning. But I would like to paraphrase the “grow old with me” part and say, “Run with me, the best is yet to be…”


Are You A “Super” Model?

A few days ago, I was watching a movie with my four children. My husband, Edric, had a meeting that night, so the kids hung out with me in our bedroom. At one point in the movie, my 7 year old son, Edan, said, “I’m scared.” Without being prodded to, my 2 year old daughter’s response was, “Aw, you are scared? Come here, I will take care of you.” And she motioned for him to sit on her lap so she could cradle him. Of course Edan who was much bigger refused and we all started laughing. Tiana had acted like a mini-version of me. This was not something I had taught her. It was something she picked up from observing me.

Like my children watch me, I watched my parents. The principle of modeling is: values are caught not taught. Our actions speak much louder than what we say. There were two particular areas demonstrated by my parents that made an impact on me — their example of being spirit-filled and their intimacy with the Lord.

My siblings and I were blessed to have parents who modeled love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. I can talk about each of these but I want to highlight my more favorite observations about their modeling.

Moodiness was not allowed in our home. In fact, my mom told my sisters and I, “There is no such thing as PMS. Moodiness is selfishness. You can choose to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.” My mom could tell us to do this because she herself was a predictably joyful person. We didn’t have to guess, what mood will mom be in today?

She is in her 60’s now and I am sure at some point she went through menopause. However, I honestly don’t know when it happened because she didn’t burden any of us with her hormones!

Even my children have noticed the positive attitude of my parents. One morning, when we were visiting them, my eldest son Elijah spontaneously told my dad (his grandpa), “Angkong, you are always happy. I’ve never seen you get angry. Grandma, too. You are both so positive.”

Feeling a little bit jealous, I took Elijah aside and asked him jokingly, “What about me?” His politically correct reply was, “I can see that you are trying to change and you have improved a lot!” Nice one, son.

My parents’ attitude and perspective towards business-related stress, ministry stress, and people stress also impacted me. They would respond with peace and rested-ness when they encountered problems. Instead of panicking, they would invite us to pray along side them and commit the issue to the Lord. Because their confidence and security were in God, I learned to trust in God’s sovereignty and rest in him when I went through a personal crisis. I believed that God would cause everything to work together for my good as it says in Romans 8:28. But this was a perspective first passed on to me by my parents.

I also valued my parents’ example of receiving criticism and correction with grace. My parents would invite us to correct them anytime. I remember my dad telling me, “Criticism is a blessing. If it is false then praise God, take it as a warning, something to avoid. If it is true then praise God, learn from it. Either way it is a win-win.”

There was one occasion when I corrected my dad about his management style. I said, “I thought you were a bit harsh and unkind when you said what you did.” Instead of defending himself, he humbly said, “Thank you. That’s why I need you guys to hold me accountable…to tell me these kind of things.”

A question they often asked us was, “How can we improve? Is there anything we need to change?” They allowed us to be God’s instruments to help them grow in character and spiritual maturity.

My husband, Edric, and I have done this with our own children. I have had my kids tell me, “Mom, I think you need to say sorry to daddy for your attitude.” And I have appreciated this because they see my life closely. They know the areas I have to improve in. The blessing is, our kids also ask us, “What about us, how can we improve?”

Another area I appreciated in my parents was they didn’t put a premium on material things. For example, my mom had this “special ability.” She would accidentally bump every new car that my dad bought. She baptized each car with some sort of dent. My dad would tease and describe it as an uncanny ability to hit inanimate objects like the curb, fire hydrants, telephone polls and the like. But he never got angry about these things. His first concern was whether my mom was okay.

Very recently, I was blessed to see my dad respond to my mom’s carelessness with grace. She had destroyed a gadget that was pretty costly. It was a medical instrument that my dad used daily. When my mom chose to break the news to him he was seated on his lazy boy reading a book. I happened to be visiting them that afternoon so I saw the scenario unfold like a scene from a movie. My mom came up to my dad’s side and said, “Hon, I have a question. The chord of this machine isn’t working anymore. I think I must have bent it too far while I was carrying my stuff. Do you think I should have it fixed here by an electrician or send it back to the U.S. to have the chord replaced?”

My dad looked up from the book he was reading. There was not a single strained vein on his temple or neck to indicate stress or irritation. Considering that it was an $800 dollar machine, I thought, this unfortunate incident might have elicited some sort of negative response from his part. But he was quiet and calm. Instead of making a big deal out of it, he patiently discussed the possibilities with her, and it was decided that mom would send it back to the U.S. to have it fixed. I don’t know if my parents even realized that I was paying attention to their dialogue, but I remembered that incident and archived it in my brain for future reference.

Hold the things of this world lightly. That’s what I learned from incidences such as these. Do not make money and possessions more important than pleasing God, than people, than principles that we ought to live by.

One notable principle my parents lived by was integrity. When my parents were undercharged for a bill, they would inconvenience themselves to pay the balance. I know this wasn’t always easy for my dad who is a businessman. Any amount saved was good for business. But, neither he nor my mom compromised when it came to small things like paying a bill accurately. And I remembered this when I got older and found myself in similar predicaments: Do not love money.

Beyond all these examples, the greatest modeling they provided in our home was their intimacy with the Lord. This was the secret to their spirit-filled testimonies. I knew with absolute certainty that my parents loved God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. And that’s why they loved us, too.

They loved us unconditionally. My siblings and I made many mistakes growing up, but my parents always affirmed that we were loved and accepted. We didn’t have to earn their love. They pursued us relationally and often communicated and demonstrated to us that we were their priority, that we were special to them.

Almost every night my dad would ask me, “Who loves you?” just to remind me that he did. And he would follow up with, “Do you know that you are special to me?” (I know he did the same with my siblings.) He was a very intentional father, not sacrificing time with us for business or ministry. So my siblings and I knew that we were loved. We were very secure in the love of my mom and dad.

This morning’s message by Pastor Edmund Chan included a story about a Brazilian girl who left her home for the excitement and worldliness of Rio de Janeiro. Her mother went looking for her and posted photos everywhere. However, it wasn’t until years later that her daughter, bruised and battered by the realities of a painful world, found one of the pictures her mother randomly attached to the mirror of a shady hotel restroom. It was her mother’s photo. The young woman pulled it off the wall and on the back it read, “Whatever you have done, whatever you have become, it doesn’t matter. I love you. Please come home.”

As a child, I too needed and longed for the unconditional love of my parents. And because it was given, I greater understood the grace of God. Since my parents could embrace an imperfect me, it was easy to believe that God could love me, too.

I remember telling my dad one time, “My friends said our family is not normal,” referring to the fact that I had a loving family who seemed to have it all together. And my dad was quick to reply, “Joy, this is normal. Families should be Christ-centered and spirit-filled. That has always been God’s design.” The common hurt and pain we see in families is abnormal, it is not God’s plan.

This statement really struck me. I was beginning to believe this idea that good families were some sort of aberration. However, the reality was and is that parents who make Jesus Christ the center of their home will experience the blessings and joy of God’s design for their family, and their children will want to pass on this legacy.

Because my parents’ testimony at home made Jesus Christ attractive to me, I desired to have the same personal relationship with him. I desired to tell others about Jesus and minister to them like they did.

My parents didn’t model perfection, they modeled authenticity. The grace of God was manifest in their weaknesses, shortcomings and inadequacies. He was the source of their abilities and successes. When I got older, I prayed for a man who embodied the same love for God so we could have a marriage and family that was centered on Christ, too. And God helped me find one. Or should I say, God allowed me to be found by this kind of man. But all glory goes to God and not to my parents or to us. He alone is the reason my siblings and I and our spouses are committed followers of Jesus and teaching our children to do the same! He makes parents the “super” models they need to be!

Can we say to our children, Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ? (1 Corinthians 11:1 NASB)

I shared part of this during the recently concluded Global Discipleship Congress. One of the workshops was given by my dad, entitled “Discipleship Begins at Home.” He invited my siblings and I to share about our family experience. There were five points to his talk. Parents need to be intentional about modeling, building relationships through open communication and time, teaching and training, and imparting a godly vision to their children. I was assigned to share about the importance of modeling.

Strawberry Yoghurt

While I struggled with my miserable cold two nights ago, trying to rest in the room alone, a commotion in the kitchen woke me up. With a raised and agitated tone, Titus said, “I don’t want that!” This wasn’t the sound of my usually sweet and happy Titus.

I would have preferred to remain in my rested state and ignore the situation. But I could not willfully do so. Titus had lost his temper. There was an issue that needed to be dealt with. Intervention was in order. So I got up and called him out of the kitchen to talk about what happened.

Apparently, he wanted a strawberry yoghurt drink that ended up in the hands of Edan. He was offered an orange flavored one by our househelp, Joan, which upset him. Edan, on the other hand, was apathetically sipping the last few drops of the coveted drink. Titus looked on with quiet anger, convinced that he had been done a great injustice.

Taking Titus aside, I tried to understand where he was coming from. But my attempt to have a dialogue with him as his two older brothers curiously stood on the sidelines and his youngest sister called out, “Titus is going to get a spanking!” was counterproductive. So I brought Titus to my bedroom.

He thought he was going to get a spanking but my intent was to get to the root of the issue. This was not something that could be solved with a spanking. There was a much deeper problem here. Titus’ spirit was not right. There was hardness and frustration.

He stood in front of me while I sat across from him. We engaged in a conversation that involved me explaining to him why his attitude was wrong, why shouting was not okay, and how he needed to learn to share. His part was to acknowledge and respond in repentance. Did it work? Maybe a little. But I could sense that his compliance was external. It was void of real conviction.

So I called him to my side, hugged him really tightly and said, “Titus, I love you no matter what.” I assured him that I was after his greater good. His countenance softened and he started to tear. All my lecturing had not produced this sort of heart-felt response. It was not until I took him in my arms and held him that I could sense a motivation to change his attitude.

With my arms around him, I went on, “Because I love you, I want to teach you to do what pleases God.” Appealing to his own love for Christ, I reminded him that getting angry and being selfish were wrong behaviors because Jesus didn’t want him to do those things. I asked him what he thought would make Jesus happy and he acknowledged that he had to learn “to share, to say sorry, and that he shouldn’t get angry.” When I was convinced that he sincerely meant this, I let him go back to the kitchen to say sorry to those whom he had hurt.

He walked up to Edan and Joan to ask for forgiveness. There was humility in his tone and disposition, and he bounced back to his smiley, cheerful self. I affirmed him for doing what was right and I peacefully went back to my bedroom to go back to sleep. Strawberry yoghurt training case closed.


Training is such a challenge. First, it takes commitment. Second, it must be personalized. Third, it must be purposeful — the pursuit of Christlikeness. Fourth, it must be cradled by love.

Sometimes, I am tempted to short cut the training part and make behavior the priority. But fruitful discipline and training must seek to restore our children’s hearts to us and to the Lord. It must heal what is broken inside them and be redemptive, effecting much more than behavioral change.

If we want real fruit in our children, we must consider these heart questions: Do our children know that we love them? Are they absolutely convinced that we want what is best for them? Do they love Jesus? Do they know that he loves them?

1 Corinthians 13:8 says that love never fails. When I think of that statement, I think of how it can be applied to training our children. Love does not fail to motivate or inspire change. When our children are convinced that they are loved and accepted, flaws and all, they respond to our teaching. More importantly, when they love Jesus with all that they are, they desire to please him and live for him.

It’s like Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”(John 14:15 NASB)

Titus painted this earlier on in the day for me. I thought it was a great reminder that our children give us their hearts to handle with care. What are their hearts telling us about their spiritual condition? What are we doing about it?


Home Remedies for Sick Preggies

I have been fighting a cold and cough for nearly two weeks. Today, I felt especially miserable. My head cold is now causing upper jaw pain on the left side of my face and my eyes kind of hurt.

My problem has been getting adequate rest. The kids kept coming into my room to be around me. I got this virus from them so they were safe. But I finally sent them all out and locked the door. They weren’t too thrilled about being separated from me but I might need to sleep more than 8 hours tonight. And the only way to make that happen is to exile my kids.

When you are sick as a pregnant woman it is a little bit challenging. First, there are issues with your immunity. “Your immune system runs at low speed when you’re pregnant, which is a good thing, since it keeps your body from fighting off the baby — a foreigner to your body. The down side of this immune suppression, though, is that your body can’t fight off colds or flu as well as it normally does — making you extremely vulnerable to coming down with a stuffy or runny nose, a cough, or a sore throat.” (Colds and Flu During Pregnancy)

Second, you can’t really take medication unless of course, your doctor gives you something that is absolutely safe. Otherwise, “It is best to avoid over-the-counter medications during pregnancy. The list of what is considered safe constantly changes, making it difficult for a woman to choose the best way to treat her congestion.” (Decongestants and Pregnancy)

So what’s a preggy mommy to do? Well, I did some research and discovered a couple of natural and safe ways to relieve cold symptoms. And I tried them all today. I may not be well yet but I am hoping and praying for some good results tomorrow, especially since I have a conference to attend. (I’m so jealous because Edric is at it right now — The Global Discipleship Congress 2013.)


This looks like pee but it is apple juice!


Congee and soft-boiled eggs with my favorite all-natural seasoning…(I got mine at SM Hypermart)




Cutting it up into tiny bits and mixing in some lemon and salt made it palatable, but maybe that’s just me. Sour = yummy.






This stuff kept Edric and I from getting sick in Europe. It’s amazing. (I bought this one at Echo Store in Serendra.)


Now I know why they hate it. It just feels weird.


Tiana wanted me to use these flash cards with her but I was too tired. After a morning of homeschooling, I was pooped. And it was hard for me to use my jaw so I let Edan take over.


So, goodnight! And may God sustain and uphold all of us mommies who can’t afford to be sick for too long because everyone needs us!

A Beautifully Untouchable Space

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When Edric and I have date night on Mondays our favorite places to go to are quiet and crowd-less, where we can talk. Sometimes we will throw in a good movie at the theater but we definitely want to sit down and connect.

We checked out SM Aura last night but it was swarming with people. Well, swarming by our standards. Usually, we enter a mall on a Monday night and it’s like having the place to our selves (almost). Aura is going to be a fun mall to shop in when all the stores are open, but for now, people are flocking to it out of curiosity. Lots of people traffic. We were there for 20 minutes until we realized it wasn’t going to be conducive to conversing on any sort of private level. So we got out of there as quickly as possible and went to a place called Casa Marcos.

Aside from a mom and her son, we were the only other customers. That was more like it. Tucked away in a corner, we ordered Paella Valencia, a salad, and gambas.  The salad was so-so but the Paella and shrimp were fantastic. I wasn’t hungry but I probably ate two pounds worth of food. I’m sure the baby was thrilled!

These date nights have been a significant part of our marriage. Parenting four children can blur the borderlines of our identity as a couple. Plus, our schedules tend to get pretty hectic so we need to get away at least once a week to be together.

Even though Edric and I interact with one another daily, the “how was your day?” and chit-chatting isn’t enough. At home, the kids are all vying for attention. Cell phones, gadgets, and social media are a distraction. And pragmatic concerns are top of mind. So we have to escape from all of that.

On our way to Casa Marcos, I actually made the mistake of asking Edric if I could call the kids and tell them where we were going to have dinner. He turned to me and was like, “Are you serious? No. You don’t need to call the kids. This is you and me time.” Of course, he was right.

This time is supposed to be “sacred.” There can be 10 million things going on in our lives but when we choose to be fully present for one another, communication magic happens. We listen, exchange ideas, share our longings, fears, dreams, and confess (if necessary) anything that might be a threat to our relationship or to our walk with the Lord. There is vulnerability and accountability, a lot of laughter…hallmarks of oneness and connectedness – intimacy.

I praise God that there is nothing I can’t talk to Edric about and he would say the same. There are certain issues that I may bring to the Lord first but I have no dark secrets or untouchable compartments in my person that are off-limits to Edric. He has free access. Similarly, there is no hiding or pretense on his part.

Last night, over Paella, shrimp, and salad, we discussed some very important issues that were weighing heavily upon Edric. Of all the people in the world, he knows that his feelings are safe with me. Over the years, I’ve also learned to see where he is coming from first and pray for him quietly in my heart, even when I’m itching to make comments like, “You should do this…” Or, “You should change your perspective…”

As a wife, I may not be able to solve Edric’s problems or win his battles for him. Honestly, there are occasions when I don’t know how to encourage him or what to say to make him feel better. But, he has more than once told me that all he needs from me is to listen, pray for him, and focus on my role as a wife.

Every married couple needs to cultivate habits that foster intimacy. The reality is all marriages are at risk. It doesn’t matter how many years a couple is married or what stage their marriage is in. The evil one is hell-bent on destroying families and will target a husband and wife – the nuclear relationship. If he can tear that apart then he gets the family, too.

For Edric and I, having a weekly date night has been a way to counteract his attempts to keep us too busy and too preoccupied with parenting, ministry, and work to pay attention to our relationship. The kids have learned not to dissuade us from going out, too. Occasionally, they will make comments about how sad they feel when we are gone, but they have learned to cooperate with us. On weeks when we can’t have date night but want to be alone in our room, they will respect that. When we tell them that our relationship as husband and wife is a priority, they understand. And, they are happier children because of it. They reap the benefits!

Someday, I hope this habit of preserving a beautifully untouchable space in the week like date night will leave an imprint in their minds, an example they can pass on to their own children. It’s not so much the date itself but the act of giving one’s spouse the time and attention they need to feel loved and important…making the effort to build intimacy.






Have You Ever Seen An Evil Person?

“Mom, have you ever seen an evil person?” This was the thought-provoking question my 7-year old posited to me when he was lying on his bed last night. I was praying with the kids for protection, health, good dreams, their obedience, etc. (Edric usually does this nightly routine but he was doing a show with Suze Orman for On the Money. So I was filling in for him.)

Edric and his co-hosts with Suze Orman

Edric and his co-hosts with Suze Orman

Well, Edan asked about the thieves that broke into our home many years ago when I was a teenager. It was too late to go into a lengthy discussion about that. But, I tried to explain to him that sometimes we think that people who do things like steal are evil. However, we can all be evil. Like, when we don’t obey God…that’s evil.

Many of us have a certain image that we associate with evil. We think of the Cleveland guy, Ariel Castro, who abducted, raped, and held Michelle Knight, Georgina Dejesus, and Amanda Berry captive for 10 years.

It broke my heart to imagine what it was like for the families to grieve over their missing daughters and for the victims to endure such a nightmare. Talk about hell on earth!

The news often highlights many other forms of crazy and it makes me deeply concerned for my children, to say the least. I look at my kids and treasure their innocence. If anyone were to steal or pollute that, I would be devastated.

Yet, the reality is there is no way to shield them completely from the godlessness that is present in this world. Edric and I can prepare them and arm them with the truth, but there is no bubble that they can float around in, completely untouched and unscathed. Why? The scarier reality is all our children have been hard-wired to sin, just like us. Our predisposition is toward selfishness and self-gratifying behavior. In today’s terminology, we might call such a person who acts upon their selfish inclinations, a sociopath. Okay, I’m not saying that all people are sociopaths but look at the description. Doesn’t it sound like many people we know, including our children, and ourselves (maybe not all the time, but at least some of the time?!).

What is a sociopath?[1] Someone who…

  1. Does not learn from experience
  2. Has no sense of responsibility
  3. Is unable to form meaningful relationships
  4. Is unable to control impulses
  5. Lack of moral sense
  6. Has chronically antisocial behavior
  7. Displays no change in behavior after punishment
  8. Lack of emotional maturity
  9. Lack of guilt
  10. Self-centeredness

Supposedly, this Antisocial Personality Disorder is said to begin at adolescence and is chronic. Really?! I’ve seen this sort of behavior exhibited by my children very early on which tells me that it seems to be inherent to the human person. But who will listen to me? I’m not a psychologist or a doctor who does clinical analysis. I’m just a mom who has to deal with addressing this tendency in my kids every day.

I have four wonderful children and I would like to believe that they are good and lovable. I wouldn’t want them lumped together with offenders who murder, commit adultery, steal, cheat, and rape. But they do act in undesirable and hurtful ways, especially when they aren’t trained or taught otherwise.

I’ve had my two year-old Tiana ignore me completely and walk away while I am talking to her. I’ve seen my boys get really angry and emotionally wound one another. At times, they struggle with admitting wrong and asking for forgiveness. One of them used to hit his siblings without conscience.

And what about myself? I’ve had moments when I’ve entertained thoughts of strangling or slapping my children out of frustration. Praise God I have never done so! But, if someone were to peer into my brain and itemize every wrong thought I’ve ever had, I would be ashamed of my crimes!

Personally, I feel that the many explanations given to understand the criminally inclined may help society and governments prioritize medication, the law, greater sanctions and penalties, controlled environments and better parenting to create boundaries that prevent people from hurting others, but they won’t solve the real problem.

The core issue is that evil resides in our hearts. It hatches at childhood and steers us like a compass. Deep inside, my children and I are no better than those who actually abuse others. We are not a higher class of good or righteousness. The only reason why our impulses and carnality are in check is because we have a greater power at work in our lives – the Holy Spirit.

When my children decided to make Jesus the Lord and Savior of their lives, they received the Holy Spirit. I saw the evidence of His fruit in their lives. Titus used to whine, cry, and sulk when he didn’t get his way. It was a struggle to teach him how to obey and listen. But, when he turned three years old, Edric shared the gospel message with him and he made a personal decision to acknowledge his sin and give his life to Jesus. A few weeks later, my mom noticed how different he was. When she told him he couldn’t have something that he wanted, he replied, “Okay, grandma,” without being upset or frustrated. Whoa. This was not Titus. This was the work of the Lord in his heart!

Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

The Bible tells us that the secret to overcoming the flesh or sin is to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. When it comes to parenting my children, I appeal to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. During occasions when I sense that their will is pitted against mine or they are not ready to listen, I pray for them and I ask them to check their hearts (especially my older children). I am witness to the unseen war between their flesh and the Spirit. They must learn to surrender to the Lord or the flesh will win.

Galatians 5:16-17 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please…”

When I observe my children, I look for proof of their relationship with Christ – evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. Until this is apparent, I cannot assume that they have really come into a personal relationship with Jesus.

Romans 8:9-11 tells us, “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

Ariel Castro actually posted on his Facebook page on May 2, “miracles really do happen, God is good.” In the meantime, he was holding three women and a child in captivity, against their will.[2] Did he really know God? From the evidence, I don’t think so. He was living a dichotomy. No one figured him for a criminal until his secret was uncovered. Maybe he didn’t think himself such a bad guy either. I read that his intention is to plead not guilty. Wow.

We may not commit crimes like Castro did but we can be guilty of the same sort of dichotomy in our thinking. When our standard of morality is of our own making, we may be tempted to think, I’m not so awful. I’m not like the psycho in Cleveland. But that is a very relative plumb line. The standard for goodness cannot be people or ourselves because we are fallen to begin with. Just look at any two-year old who hasn’t been disciplined or taught obedience. It’s called terrible twos for a reason!

He displays the same sort of sinfulness that adults struggle with – the flesh that sets itself against God, a heart that is bent on rebellion. The Bible tells us every person “falls short” of the glory of God. This is the bad news. God’s holiness and goodness are the standard and we don’t make the cut. In fact, there is nothing we can do to merge the gap. But the good news, the gospel is that God, in his love, provided a solution through his son Jesus Christ.

John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

Because we are sinful, we cannot clean ourselves out. This requires supernatural intervention. The cure for sin (also known as evil) is Jesus who makes us right with God, and the ability to resist falling into sin comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. Unless we embrace this truth, atrocities will continue as foretold in God’s word. Unless our children embrace this truth, they will grow up with a predisposition toward evil.

2 Timothy 3:1-7 “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.


What sobers me as a mom is recognizing that I am responsible to teach my kids about Jesus. Edric and I, as parents, have been commissioned to do so. We cannot close our eyes and hope that our children will grow up with a knowledge of God and a desire to live for him. No way. We have got to pay close attention to what is going on in their hearts and steer them towards God.

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When my children start trending towards selfish behavior, I ask them, “Who is in your heart?” They will answer, “Jesus.” “If Jesus is in your heart, will he want you to act the way you are acting? Are you making him happy or sad by what you are doing?” At this question, they will pause, think, and answer honestly.

“What will make Jesus happy?” is usually a good follow up question. And depending on the circumstance, they will tell me “I need to be kind.” Or, “I need to forgive.” Or, “I should share.” Or, “I have to change my attitude.” These heart checks have helped them to discern whether they are controlled by their evil-prone selves or controlled by the Holy Spirit. And because they do belong to the Lord, they have the desire to please him and do what is right in God’s eyes. But the key is to focus on their relationship with Christ. This is the foundation, the starting point. From there Edric and I can teach our children to be spirit-filled vs. self-filled. We can talk about what is moral and right in accordance with God’s standards and commands. Of course, Edric and I have to role-model the same or we become a counterweight and stumbling block to our children’s spiritual growth.

So…to answer the question, “Have you ever seen an evil person?” I sure have. Myself. Apart from God…apart form his grace and love through his son, Jesus Christ…and apart from the enablement of his Holy Spirit to reject evil. I like how 1 John 3:23-24 simplifies it all…“This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.”

Do we believe in Jesus? If we do, we will love one another.

Do we keep his commandments? If we do, we remain in Him. There is continual evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. 






A God Who Minds the Small Stuff

Recently, Titus received a marble maze toy for his birthday. Yes, he still likes marbles and no, he is not swallowing them anymore. Whew.

All the boys have enjoyed this toy and it has brought them many hours of creative fun. Two days ago, they wanted to bring it to their cousin’s house. I allowed them to on one condition. They had to keep track of all the marbles. I told Edan he was personally responsible for the 20 steel marbles. After all, he was the one who insisted on bringing the toy to his cousin’s and he tends to be very responsible about these things.

Unfortunately, a most untoward incident happened. The bag the marbles were carried in had a hole. Some marbles fell out of it while the kids were on the way to their cousin’s. Edan started to cry. He wailed and wailed.

He is such a tender hearted child and is very particular about fulfilling the tasks he is assigned to. So this was a devastating turn of events for him. I was in the study room of my parent’s house when Edan came up to me to explain what happened.

They didn’t know where the marbles could have fallen out. Maybe in the car, or in grandma and angkong’s house, or on the street while they were walking over. Basically, their chances of finding them were very slim. Two remained missing.

Of course I did not blame them for the accident but since we had an agreement, they could not play with the marble toy until they found the missing marbles.

I encouraged them by saying, “Try your best to look for the marbles and pray that God will allow you to find them.” Edan, was especially intentional about praying because he was the most affected and frustrated by what happened.

I prayed, too! “Lord, can you consider the prayer of my kids? For the sake of their young faith? Can you possibly help them find the marbles?”

The kids did their best but after a while, I told them to go on over to their cousins anyway. Hopefully, the marbles would turn up somewhere. They were not allowed to play with the marble maze, but they had fun with other toys and games.

At 9 PM, when we took the kids home, I asked for an update on the marbles. One of our yayas told me that Titus had found a marble on the couch of their cousin’s house and he another one in a blue bag.


I asked Titus if he had kept any of the marbles in his pocket when he walked over to his cousin’s house but he hadn’t. And, the blue bag had been left in their cousin’s house last week. The boys also told me that their cousins did not have that toy so if those marbles looked like the same steel marbles from the marble maze, they were most certainly ours.

But, there was NO WAY they could have ended up where Titus found them because the marbles had been misplaced even before the kids got to their cousin’s house.

I asked for the bag of marbles and counted them. There were 20! I counted them three times. The marbles were all the same steel ones that had come with the set.

The boys started smiling really big and I was in awe.

“It’s a miracle!” Elijah shouted. Edan, who is generally calm and more reserved, kept grinning at me. He had this knowing look on his face.

“What do you think happened, Edan? Remember, you prayed?”

Edan acknowledged that God had answered his prayer. He told me that recently, God had answered another prayer he had, too.

“Lord, you are amazing. I don’t know how those two marbles ended up where they did, but thank you. Thank you so much for paying attention to the prayer of the kids.”

I tried to replay the events over and over again in my mind and it just didn’t make sense that the marbles were recovered. From a human stand point, it really was impossible. So the only logical conclusion was God made a way for the marbles to re-appear!

God has a way of building the faith of my kids. He can use the small stuff to make a big impact. This incident was another reminder that He is a personal God not just to me, but to my kids. He reveals himself to them so they are encouraged to keep seeking him. It’s like he said of himself in Jeremiah, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. “(Jeremiah 29:13 NASB)

Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14 NASB)

DVBS in Greenmeadows

I should have posted this sooner but in case you are interested in sending your kids to a fun three days of bible stories, music, dancing, games, crafts and fellowship, Greenmeadows subdivision will be hosting a DVBS starting tomorrow. Please check out the flyer. Personally, I prefer to bring my kids to this one because it is just three days and it is a smaller group. Our church just organized one for about 700 kids! This one is a mini-scale version with the same theme.


For Mommies Who Don’t Like to Be Zombies

Once again, I am offering take it or leave it advice on motherhood. This one is about getting your baby to sleep through the night. A friend recently asked me about sleep training and I gave her tips that worked for my kids. So far, she is enjoying better sleep and her baby is doing just fine.

If you are like me and miss your uninterrupted sleep, and you feel like being a zombie is not your speed, then I hope this will help. However, if you are the type of mom who can’t stand to let your baby cry (even if it is done very purposefully), then you may have vehement objections to this article. In case you are neither of the above and just curious, read on…

I have four kids and I am pregnant with a fifth. Sleep training is a matter of survival. If I don’t sleep train, I won’t be able to fulfill some very important duties…like prioritizing my husband and caring for my other kids. Too many people need me at this point so I can’t kill myself by neglecting a good night’s rest.

When I was a rookie mom, I had no idea about sleep training so I suffered for almost 2 years and aged, oh, a good 10 years! My son, Elijah, woke up to breastfeed every night and I gave in because I thought, well, that’s what good mothers do. Looking back, I was right and wrong.

Good mothers do make sacrifices. But they don’t have to be martyrs. A really good mother loves her children unconditionally and purposefully addresses their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs. Having said that, sleep training is a purposeful way to meet a child’s physical needs. And there is a way to do it without neglecting their emotional needs either.

By the time a breastfed baby is between three and six months old, they have put on a significant amount of weight, their stomachs can take in more milk, they have had many hours and days of bonding with you, and they don’t spend the entire day asleep (unlike newborns). Therefore, it is an opportune time to regulate their sleeping and feeding patterns, especially at night.

During each feeding, they will probably take in 4 to 6 ounces of milk. Depending on their weight, they will be drinking between 24 to 36 ounces per day. They still need to sleep about 15 hours a day.

Here is what worked for a 3-hours-in-between-feeding schedule for my last baby, Tiana:
6 AM – Feed / Play
9 AM – Feed / (2 hour nap)
12 PM – Feed / Play
3 PM – Feed / (2 hour nap)
6 PM – Night time routine / Feed (3 hour sleep)
1O PM – Last Feed / Sleep through the night (8 hours)

Please don’t feel like your baby has to have the same schedule. Every infant is different. Some feed every 1.5 to two hours. Tiana happened to do fine with 3 hours in between feeds. So I worked with this.

I let her take two significant naps during the day and by evening, we had a night time routine. She would be given a nice warm bath, we would read a story, or I would sing her a lullaby. The lights would be turned down low and no one was allowed to make loud noises or barge into the room during this time. After feeding her, I would put her down even before she dosed off and she would put herself to sleep.

She learned to do this because during her day time naps, I would let her soothe herself to sleep as well. So she didn’t have to be pat or held to fall asleep.

To train her to sleep through the night, I let her cry out the 2 or 3 AM feed that she got used to in the first few months. She would cry for about 15 to 20 minutes then fall asleep again. This happened for a couple of nights (not more than a week) until her body regulated itself and she took in more milk during her other feeding times. The same process happened with my boys, too.

Of course it is always unpleasant to hear an infant crying. You feel like you might be damaging or hurting your baby somehow. So here is a good checklist to put your conscience at ease before you try sleep training:

Do I spend a lot of time with my baby during the day?
Is my baby alert, active, and healthy?
Is my baby gaining the appropriate amount of weight and growing just fine?
Am I still feeding her at least 6 to 8 times per day?
Is she wetting her diapers regularly?
Do my husband and I have the same conviction about sleep training?

If you can answer yes to the above questions, then rest assured that a few nights of letting them cry is not going to have long-term, negative impact. You have lots of time during the day to bond with your baby and assure her that you are present, available and that you love her. Remember, you aren’t depriving your baby of breast milk, sleep or attention. Babies will adjust to their feeding and sleeping schedules so they get enough milk and sleep. You are simply helping her develop a rhythm that allows both of you to enjoy each other more.

In the long run, training my babies to soothe themselves to sleep and sleep through the night made it easier to transition them into napping and sleeping on their own as toddlers, too. I didn’t have to stay in the room with them and they didn’t need bottles at night either. When it was time to sleep, I could put them down awake or tell them to go to bed. Then I would leave them alone to fall sleep.

Personally, I feel that sleep training before my babies turn 4 months is the easier route. But remember, every mom is different. All moms have an instinct for what is best for their baby. What is comfortable for me may not be comfortable for you. Or, you may have qualms that have not been addressed here, so do your research on sleep training and decide for yourself. Sleep Training Options

A Romantic Proposition

Edric has always been such a romantic. He doesn’t forget an occasion, be it our anniversary, valentines, Mother’s Day, my birthday, etc. Despite his busy schedule, he will find time to surprise me. It’s not always a costly gift, monetarily speaking, but it is something thoughtful and personal. He knows I don’t like generic gestures like flowers and chocolates, so he makes the effort to be creative.

Last year, he collected encouraging letters from friends and family for my birthday. On one occasion, he and the boys did a music video. Another time he got a bunch of artists together to do a portrait of me. Some years ago he cooked me a full course meal and even bought a chef’s hat to wear (he does not cook at all!). After I gave birth to Tiana, he booked a room for us at Shang-rila and we went to the spa at the hotel so I could relax. He thought I needed a break.

I also remember an instance when he and Elijah tried to make a New York cheesecake for me. He and the kids went to the grocery to pick out ingredients and he had no idea what to look for. In fact, he had to keep asking me questions like,”Where would I find something like cream cheese?” When he and the kids got home I caught them crushing graham crackers all over the dining table. The crumbs were flying everywhere but I thought it was the sweetest mess I had ever seen.

One of my more favorite presents was a laminated card that he made which he said entitled me to 10 special privileges. Any time I pulled out that card, I could claim a privilege. Things like…him paying for my credit card bill without being irritated even if I overspent. (I didn’t abuse this one.)

Yesterday, for Mother’s Day, he had the kids write me letters. The theme was, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways…” The older boys wrote out words using the alphabet as an acrostic. When I woke up they all climbed into our bed to greet me and they handed me their letters. What a treat! The most priceless gifts that I have received from Edric and the kids have been these sort of thoughtful gifts.

He told me that since he didn’t have work on Monday, he would do something special for me because we celebrated Mother’s Day with his family and mine on Sunday. Well, this morning when I woke up, I was surprised to find Edric playing on a PS3 console he borrowed from my brother. I felt badly because he was completely engrossed and preoccupied with the game when he had originally said to me, “Today will be your day because I am free.”

Instead, he was caught up in his own world and oblivious to everyone around him. He did not even wait for me to have breakfast with him which he usually insists on.

Well, I did not make a big deal out of it. I ate breakfast, read my Bible then took a nap because I didn’t sleep too well last night. Instead of nagging Edric, I just prayed that God would convict him.

After my nap, which really did not count because I had two boys playing on their violins in the same room and two other kids asking me questions like I was not asleep, I went to the refrigerator to snack on 5 prunes. Edric was still on the couch. He saw me go to the kitchen.

I did not want to be a pestering wife, so I just went back to the bedroom. Edric followed soon after and asked me what I wanted to do today. “Oh, I thought you had something planned…” He wondered if i was mad at him and I replied, “No, I am not mad. I am just surprised that you started the day off by playing on the PS3 when you said that you had something planned for today. But you can do whatever you want to do. It’s your choice.” I didn’t say it like I was angry but I didn’t say it with a big grin either!

A while later, he asked if he could talk to me. Hmm…I knew this was going to be a profound conversation because he wanted me to drop everything else. I lay down on the bed beside him and he held my face as he said, “I was convicted to return the console. It’s not good for me. I have addictive tendencies. And I just want you to know that I love you. That will be my Mother’s Day gift to you.” I started to tear a little because of pregnancy hormones again, but this is the real reason why…

Edric immensely enjoys playing NBA 2K13 on the PS3. It’s the only game he likes to play and he wanted to practice for a tournament he is having with some guys friends. But he got rid of his own PS3 a long time ago so getting to borrow my brother’s was exciting for him. Instead of going over to someone else’s house to practice, it was now accessible to him. He planned to return it after May 17, when their tournament was over. I had my own thoughts about this but I didn’t want to burst his bubble.

This morning, when he told me that he was giving back the console, I knew that it was hard for him to make that decision. It wasn’t a life and death matter but it was an activity that brought him delight and joy, and yet, he felt like it wasn’t profitable for his soul or our family to have it around the house. Our kids don’t play on consoles so it is not a family value or culture that we have encouraged either.

Personally, I feel there is nothing more romantic than Edric having his priorities in order — his own spiritual health, the kids and I. That’s what matters to me. When he has the right priorities, he is sweet, tender, and thoughtful. He puts the concerns of others above his own. So I thought that giving up the PS3 today as a Mother’s Day gift was a very romantic proposition!

If you are reading this because your wife handed this article to you (sorry about that, some readers confess to me that they do this sort of thing), well just hear me out for a bit. In marriage, it is easy to get complacent about the romance. But the reality is a wife’s needs pretty much stay the same. We all have a basic and predictable need. We like to feel special, cherished and appreciated by our husbands. It’s the way we are wired. Much of our security is tied up to the way our husbands treat us. Of course, ultimately the Lord should be our sense of security, but God also commanded husbands to love their wives for a reason. It’s important!

Just because a man has put a ring on a woman’s finger does not mean his “job” is over. This is when the real work of nurturing a wife actually begins.

The Bible says, so husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, (Ephesians 5:28, 29 NASB)

If you feel like your husband isn’t very nourishing or cherishing, don’t loose heart and please don’t nag him about it. This is a conviction that God has to put in his heart. Don’t contrive to do so yourself or it will backfire. Trust me, I have tried that approach and it doesn’t work. But prayer and waiting on the Lord does! (And doing your part to fulfill your own role.) 🙂


Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!


DSC05434 copyAs a mother I often feel that I am a composite of the women in my life — the grandmothers, mothers, sisters, friends, and role models who have made an indelible impact in the blueprint of who I am. Some have wounded me, but others have healed me. Some have disappointed me, but others have inspired me. Some have rejected me, but others have loved me.

Whether an inspiring ideal of inward and outward beauty or a glimpse of undesirable selfishness, each woman that I have known has passed on an invaluable life lesson that has shaped my understanding of what it means to mother a child, to raise one and let them go. I am not the sum of them all but they are most certainly a part of who I have become. And I owe a great deal of gratitude to these women who, at different points in my personal journey into motherhood, have been a companion, an example to follow (or sometimes avoid), an encourager, a confidant, a resonant soul.

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Yet, of all the women that have intersected the timeline of my life, I am most thankful to the Lord for my mom. She did not meet me at an intersection or crossroad. She was there from the beginning, from inception, when I was fragile and nameless in the womb.

I have always felt her love. She has loved me through every season…loved me to Jesus…loved me for my greater good.

When I was in high school and college, I made some wrong choices. But mom did not go ballistic. She continued to disciple me, helping me think through my decisions and actions in light of my relationship with the Lord. Her manner of mentoring was not judgmental or overbearing. She knew how to address heart issues and pray for me. Always ready to listen, comfort, affirm, and gently correct me, she was my best resource for biblical advice and counsel. Eventually, I recommitted my life to Christ and became serious about following him, and she played a big role in helping me get to that point.

We remain incredibly close. It was easy to cultivate a relationship with mom because she was around and present. We spent a lot of time together…morning walks, cooking and baking in the kitchen, going to the market and grocery, homeschooling, shopping, serving the Lord together…talking about stories, perspectives, insights, and dreams.

Yesterday, I held my daughter, Tiana, in my arms because she was crying. Whispering into her ear, I tenderly said, “Mommy is here.” Tiana calmed down and snuggled up against me. And for a moment, I remembered the way my mom held me, not as a little girl but as a teenager, the night I was raped. (Whoa, for those of you who haven’t been following this blog, this might sound shocking. Read this post if you have no idea what I’m talking about: A Story Worth Sharing.)

I was lying on the bed crying. I really didn’t know how to feel. Mom put her arms around me like she would have a baby. And she stayed beside me quiet and still, also crying. She really didn’t have to say anything. I knew that she wanted me to know she was there for me. Eventually I fell asleep and mom was still there the next morning. I will never forget that.

Up till this day, I can call her or visit her and know with absolute certainty that I am a welcome interruption. I’ve never felt like I was a burden to her. In fact, she often tells me that she enjoys being with me and has so much fun when we are together. I feel the same way.

Beyond her love and presence, I am most grateful for the godly legacy she passed on to me. Both my parents were intentional about parenting my siblings and I. They introduced us to Jesus and taught us what it means to follow him. My dad was the spiritual leader of our home and he had great impact on our understanding of who God is. My mom, on the other hand, provided a daily example of sacrifice, kindness, goodness, joy, peace, and faith. I grew up with her as a reference point for motherhood and I wanted to be like her.

My mom is blonde-haired and blue-eyed. Physically, we do not look alike. We never will. My blonde sisters-in-law look more like her biological daughters than I do. However, people have often said that I talk and act the way she does. And that is a great compliment! If there is any woman in the world whose character I would like to be associated with, it is my mom’s. If there is any woman in the world I admire most, it is my mom.

I admire her for being a spirit-filled, godly woman who loves God with all her heart. I admire her for raising five children and making it look so easy. I admire her for being a homemaker who put the happy in our home. I admire her for being present during every important milestone of my life and my sibling’s. I admire her for not going crazy when she homeschooled all of us. I admire her for being attentive and discerning about our weaknesses and areas of need so she could encourage us toward righteousness and pray for us. And I admire her for loving us inexhaustibly and unconditionally through the years without expecting or demanding compensation for her many acts of selflessness. She is, as Proverbs 31 puts it, a woman who excels them all!

Happy Mother’s Day to you, mom! I praise God for you!

Proverbs 31:28 “Her children rise up and bless her…”

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We Did Art Today!

The kids always enjoy art. It’s one of their favourite activities. And it’s fun for me, too. I asked them to do two projects today — collaborative work to do a group art work. They were very pleased with the final results especially since they worked so hard. There was a big mess in the process but I suppose that meant they were having a good time!