Archives for July 2013

I Forgive You and Will You Forgive Me?


One of the habits I appreciated about the home I grew up in was the habit of unconditional forgiveness. My parents instilled in my siblings and I the concept of keeping short accounts with one another. Forgive with liberality. Forgive with grace. Do not hold grudges or harbor resentment. They modeled this by example.

I recall an instance when I had to make a big confession to my parents about how physical Edric and I had been while we were dating. We didn’t have sex but we did everything close to it. We really played with fire. As a result, I lived with a deep sense of shame and guilt. All the while, my parents did not suspect that Edric and I were struggling in this area.

Two years after we started dating, Edric and I mutually agreed to break up because we wanted to honor God. We believed that it would not be possible to discern God’s individual plan for our lives if we continued to play games with him, if we weren’t committed to purity by his standards. So we parted ways in the year 2000. It was a painful separation, especially since we both imagined getting married in the future. But being away from one another resulted in much spiritual fruit. Edric and I grew in intimacy with the Lord and we experienced how he directed the course of our future.

The next year, Edric asked for my hand in marriage. However, between the break-up and getting engaged, Edric and I made the decision to confess how we had struggled with physical purity in our relationship. It was awkward to do this because at the time, we were not dating. We weren’t even talking on a regular basis. Our break-up meant no communication while we spent time discerning God’s will. So I prayed that if God really wanted me to marry Edric, then one of the things he would do is meet with my parents and tell them about our impurity.

Whew. I didn’t know how this was going to happen. And my other prayer was, please help my parents to still accept and love Edric even after we confess everything.

I was kind of asking for a miracle. What father wouldn’t pull out a shotgun and chase an ex-boyfriend away after hearing something like that?! But I believed that God could redeem the whole situation and bring everything to the light in a way that would glorify him. More importantly, I wanted to be right with him, with my parents, with Edric. After all, how could I expect God to speak through my parents about whether Edric and I should get married in the future if they didn’t know the whole truth?

Well, one day, out of the blue, Edric called me and asked if he could meet with my parents. Whoa. This was it. This was going to be that dreadful encounter with the truth that I wanted to happen but was scared to confront at the same time.

The meeting pushed through over a dinner. It was embarrassing, healing, and life-changing. My parents teared and expressed grief over our choices, but they also extended forgiveness. Their response toward us was redemptive. We were given a new start, a clean slate. (Edric and I didn’t get back together until months later but that moment proved to be a key event in the events leading up to our engagement.)

I cut the details of that dinner short because I want to focus on how that event impacted me. Receiving unconditional forgiveness restored me spiritually. I felt like I could move on with my life without having to lug around a big metal ball of guilt. And the communication between my parents and I was repaired because I had asked for their forgiveness and admitted to my deceit. Of course, this meant I had to bear the consequences, too…like stricter accountability and earlier curfews.

(I found out later on that Edric had the same sort of talk with his parents. Both of us were convicted not to mislead our parents about what our relationship had been like.)

Being forgiven helped me to better understand the heart of God. And I must add that my dad did not chase Edric out of the house with a gun or machete. He and my mom counseled us and offered their godly wisdom on the matter.

Throughout their years of ministry, I also witnessed my parents forgive those who have insulted, threatened, accused, and criticized them. Although I was tempted, at times, to take offense on their behalf, their example of not retaliating in anger or holding on to resentment convicted me. They forgave people whether or not an apology was given. And they moved towards them in love by being willing to see their perspective, saying sorry for making mistakes, and choosing not to let hurt build up like a wedge between them.

This too taught me that forgiveness is a choice. It’s not dependent on a person’s apology. It is within our power to say, “I will forgive you,” even before they ask for forgiveness. We can do this because God has freely forgiven us through Jesus Christ, his son.

Hebrews 4:14-16, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

If I had not grown up in a home where forgiveness was given with liberality, it would be difficult for me to understand the grace of God. But seeing unconditional forgiveness modeled by my parents made me want to practice the same thing with Edric, my own kids, and with others.

Furthermore, the Bible tells us, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14

This passage tells us that those who bestow grace receive grace. I also believe that those who have experienced God’s forgiveness and encountered his grace will be motivated to forgive others. They will not withhold forgiveness.

My children are still young but they need to experience grace. So when they come to me with their offenses and say, “Mom, will you forgive me?” I readily forgive them. I tell them, “Of course I forgive you. I will always forgive you, no matter what.”

Does this make them think, Yeah, I can keep doing wrong things because mom will always forgive me… Of course not. It encourages them to do what is right the next time. Because my children have a relationship with God, they want to obey and honor Edric and I. Yet the reality is they make mistakes, just like we do. So Edric and I help to repair what is broken in them – their relationship with one another, with us, with others, with God. Forgiveness motivates them to turn away from sin and pursue righteousness.

One morning, I heard Edan encouraging his younger brother, Titus, to approach me for forgiveness. He encouraged Titus by saying, “Just say sorry to mommy and ask for her forgiveness. She will forgive you no matter what. She will always forgive you.” I can’t even remember what Titus was sorry for but I remembered Edan’s perspective on the situation. I’m glad he had the confidence to say this to Titus.

But Edric and I can’t just model forgiveness, we need to model asking for forgiveness, too. Just this morning, Edric asked Elijah to forgive him for being impatient because he got snappy while they were playing a strategy game. At the breakfast table, Elijah expressed how he appreciated that Edric said sorry for that incident because he felt badly about it.

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My prayer is that Edric and I will continue to cultivate unconditional forgiveness in our home. Whether it is forgiving our children or asking for forgiveness from one another, I hope that this reassures our children that they can be honest about their failures with us. I hope that this will keep their hearts tender and give them the courage to ask for forgiveness and not cling on to sin as they grow older. More importantly, I hope they will realize that they have a heavenly father who loves them so much. They can come before him with their weaknesses and imperfections. He will not only restore them, he will give them the power to overcome sin and live a life that is pleasing to him.

For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You. Psalm 86:5 

I have this book that I’ve read to the kids called First Virtues for Toddlers by Dr. Mary Manz Simon, and one of the poems in it is about forgiveness. It is such a simple poem but with profound meaning and opportunity for application, especially for young children:

Tiger, Tiger share today, what the Bible has to say…

To forgive means move on past. Don’t let angry feelings last.

If a friend steps on my toe, I will pardon her, you know.

When someone won’t share a toy, I forgive that girl or boy.

Then we have a brand new start. I feel kindness in my heart.

“I forgive,” are words I say almost every single day.

If a friend does not play fair, I forgive to show I care.

God forgives, so I can, too. That is what I try to do.

“I forgive,” God says to you. Are those words that you say, too?

Family Photo Shoot


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It was a perfectly sunny Friday morning, July 19, when we headed off to Pinto Gallery for a family photo shoot. We had prayed for good weather because it had been raining that week — the unpredictable sort of rain we tend to get in the Philippines. But Friday turned out to be just the right amount of sun. Okay, there was a lot of sun. I was sweating for most of the shoot…all of us were. Yet it was worth it!

When photographer, Jay Jay, and his wife, Tine Lucas, offered to take our family photos I was thrilled. I’ve seen their work and it is pretty magical and creative. I love their concepts and how they make a story out of each photo they take and make. I say “make” because Tine is a stylist so she knows how to put together all the little details that count.

We had no idea how grand a production they were cooking up. Wow. I was blown away. They assembled a team of hair and make-up artists (Gerry Penaso), events stylist (Eve and Company), Lifestyle by Feliz (Tine’s group), and Chestknots Studios (Jay Jay’s group). Of course, there was the very picturesque and romantic setting of Pinto Gallery in Antipolo to complete the “look” they were going for.

mendoza68I had never seen Jay Jay and Tine in action with their team before and when I finally did I was incredibly impressed. First, they work so well together — a compliment to each other’s abilities. Second, they work so hard. Third, they know how to make everyone comfortable and in their element. It’s not easy to photograph a big family like ours. With 4 young children and pregnant me, there were lots of details and factors to consider. We had psyched the kids up for that morning which helped, but it was the very natural way that Jay Jay and Tine got us all to interact and behave in front of the camera that made a big difference. Of course, the props that Eve & Co. brought to the site transported us to some sort of fantasy garden setting, too.

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This shoot exceeded our expectations and it was such a fun bonding activity for our family. Edric and the boys enjoyed being outdoors, and Tiana liked all the clothes she got to wear.

mendoza84mendoza391It took about half a day to take all the photos and I just saw a lot of them posted on Chestknots’ site this afternoon. What a blessing and gift that day was. It almost made me want to get pregnant all over again…MAYBE. But if we don’t (which is probably the more likely option), we have the best photos to remember that point in time, and lots of pictures to frame for our new home.

Since I am not pressured to advertise anything on this site (and I’d like to keep it that way), I’m happy to be able to talk about products, services, occasions, people, and things that I really appreciate and would recommend to family, friends, and readers. Well, these guys are one of those things I would recommend. And they are better together. Jay Jay and his team are great photographers but each shot becomes unique when infused with Tine’s sense of style and artistry. I’m thrilled that they are doing more family-type photos. Pre-nuptial photos and wedding photos are wonderfully romantic but personally, I feel that celebrating the gift of family is even more important. Looking through the photos made me reflect on the journey that Edric and I have had as a couple — from just 2 of us, to three, to four, to five, to six and soon to be seven. The multiplied love and joy chronicled in each photo is a testament to God’s goodness, faithfulness and grace. Edric and I cannot thank Jay Jay and Tine enough for capturing in photographs the priceless memory of our children — their youth, innocence, tenderness, and happy smiles. And for making Edric and I remember how amazing 12 years of marriage have been and will continue to be for as long as Christ is at the center of it!

View the photos here: Mendoza Family Shoot

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The Unexpected Gift

It’s amazing how God demonstrates how personal he is, how thoughtful he is of his children. Alot of times it’s in the small ways that I see this attribute of him manifested. Like a few days ago…

I was doing my on-line baby shopping (which I enjoy much more than actual shopping in a store), and one of the things I was canvassing for was a thermoscan for taking the kids’ temperature when they are sick.

For many years, I used the digital kind and it worked fine but I thought it would be great to upgrade to something more accurate. However, since I had already put a bunch of stuff in my virtual cart, I felt like I would be exceeding my budget to include a thermoscan. So I didn’t think about it anymore and stopped looking at reviews and comparing prices.

The very next day I was asked to be present at a ladies lunch where my mom invited me to co-teach with her about marriage and a little bit about parenting. I wavered on the decision because I had been trying to slow down my activities. With my delivery date so close, I didn’t want to have too many commitments outside of the home. However, for this particular opportunity I was prodded by the Lord to go, to choose to be a blessing.

I ended up being the one so blessed by the hearts of the ladies and their hunger for God’s word. And the wonderful bonus at the end was the host came up to me and said, “I have something for you.” She handed me a Braun Thermoscan! I couldn’t believe it! In fact I told her I was wanting to buy one just the night before but had decided not to. And Braun is the best one, too. I’ve read the reviews. 😉

The greater marvel to me was how God allowed someone to be an instrument of his mindfulness. I don’t think it was coincidental that this person gave me the Thermoscan. God used her to let me know that he is intimately involved in my life, that he knows me personally. He truly is a loving father to his children. He is that way towards all who seek and serve him.

I had several kids sick since I got the device so it has come in very handy!

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Thank you, Lord, and thank you, Jessica Chan, for the unexpected generous gift of the Braun Thermoscan!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. (Psalms 139:2-6 NASB)

He Brings Me Flowers

Titus was standing in front of a hedge of hydrangeas and I knew exactly what he was planning to do…pick some…for me. But we were in a place where it was not appropriate to do so and I had to tell him, “Titus, no picking flowers here.”

He is such a sweetheart in this way even though he is a tough kid. In fact his name means giant and hero, and he has this bent in him. But I have the privilege of seeing his tender-hearted side, especially towards me. If he sees a flower he will most definitely take it and bring it to me. Sometimes it’s a weed that looks like a flower. And alot of times he picks flowers in places where he is not supposed to…like when he was in the Gardens By the Bay in Singapore and I forgot to tell him to refrain from doing so. (Well, he was innocent about it so he didn’t get in trouble.)

It started a while ago when Edric told the boys, “We should get flowers for mommy.” Of all my sons, the idea stuck with him the most. Ever since then he has picked flowers for me. From big bright ones to teeny-tiny ones cupped in his hand, he will offer them and say, “For you mama!”

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Yet more than the actual flower, I appreciate the sentiment and thought behind the gesture. I feel so special when he does this.

When God said children are a gift, I absolutely agree! I treasure each one of them — their personalities, peculiarities, talents, interests, and dreams. I enjoy the moments of discovery and insight into who they are and marvel at who they are becoming.

And well, okay, I am also writing this to psyche myself up for the next one. At 37 weeks pregnant, I don’t have alot of time before our lot turns into 5! And there have been numerous occasions during this pregnancy when I have wondered, Lord, can I really love another one? Parent another? Homeschool another? Change diapers, endure sleepless nights, breastfeed?!

Just the other day I was telling Edric that I don’t think I am ready to handle another baby. Focusing on the grave responsibility of bringing up another child has really intimidated and scared me more so than ever before. I suppose this is a good thing because it has driven me to my knees in utter dependence before the Lord.

God has encouraged me with his grace in many ways but he has also reminded me that there is nothing quite like the privilege of being a mom. He makes me smile with images like that of Titus, thoughtfully standing in front of the hedge of blue flowers, contemplating which one to pick for me. And I can’t help but think of what sweet joy it is to love the children God has given me and to be loved by them in return.

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate. (Psalms 127:3-5 NASB)

A Mother’s Prayer

Dear Lord, It’s such a hectic day,
With little time to stop and pray,
For Life’s been anything but calm,
Since You called on me to be a Mom,
Running errands, matching socks,
Building dreams with matching blocks,
Cooking, cleaning, finding shoes,
And other stuff that children lose,
Fitting lids on bottled bugs,
Wiping tears and giving hugs,
A stack of last week’s mail to read,
So where’s the quiet time I need?
Yet, when I steal a moment, Lord,
Just at the sink or ironing board,
To ask the blessings of Your grace,
I see them, in my small one’s face,
That you have blessed me
All the while –
And I stoop to kiss
That precious smile.

—–Author Unknown

To Love and To Cherish

One of the things I really appreciate about Edric is his willingness to admit wrong and say sorry when he makes a mistake. I think it takes a real man to be able to own up and accept responsibility for his choices. Over the years, Edric has changed for the better in this area. He used to resist humbling himself to make an apology. However, he is often the first between the two of us to do so nowadays. It’s me that needs to improve in this area!

Yesterday morning, he went biking again. He didn’t kill a chicken like the last time but we ended up being late to worship because he didn’t get home before 8:30 like he said he would. Of course, I felt upset because he gave his word and I believed him again.

I was quiet in the car as we drove to church and he very intentionally addressed the kids and myself by saying, “Will you forgive me for making us late this morning?” Edan replied with a “You said you wouldn’t be late again.” And Edric acknowledged his error and asked for forgiveness for that, too.

Later on in the morning, he asked me to share what I was feeling because I was more distant than usual. “I think you should just let it out” was his invitation.

I didn’t want to say hurtful things but I was angry. So I expressed that I was mad and disappointed that he made the same wrong call. He listened to me go on and on about priorities and putting God first, being an example to the kids, and sense of timing…and he didn’t defend himself. Afterwards, he reiterated that he was sorry and in the wrong.

Towards the evening, when he sensed that I was not my usual jolly self, he prodded me to share what was on my heart knowing there was more lurking beneath the surface. So I unloaded about other things that had been bothering me and he listened once again, very patiently and with great understanding. I talked about how I felt badly that he had not prepared anything for our anniversary when he made time to play basketball, have a PS3 night with the guys, play board games online, and go biking with friends the week before.

It probably would not have been such a big deal had he not set such a high standard for himself. He is the type of person that goes all out to surprise me with a very thoughtful and creative gift. So when he asked, “Hon, can you give me the next week to come up with something because I did not have time to prepare for our anniversary?” I did not say it aloud but inside, I was like, really? Did not have time? Aren’t you the guy who always says if its important to a person, he will make time?

Well, the last thing I want to be is a nagging and unappreciative wife. The reality is, our relationship is not about hallmark occasions. I know he loves me. But right now, I am this sensitive, emotionally vulnerable pregnant woman — a hormone bomb.

And he recognized this. So instead of reacting with annoyance, he sweetly said, “I think you just miss me. You just want me to be around. And you are right, I have been busy and I will re-arrange my schedule so that during these last few weeks before you give birth, I will spend more time with you.”

That’s all I needed to hear. I just wanted to feel like I was a priority. I am pretty easy.

In the car, I expressed to Edric how appreciative I was that he is always willing to change and improve. I know it is the Lord’s work in his heart. After 12 years of marriage, it can be a challenge to keep the romance going. But a humble husband, who is patient enough to listen to his wife with understanding and be tender towards her…that’s a gift I will gladly receive on every anniversary! I want that more than flowers, chocolate, fancy dinner dates, creative demonstrations, and thoughtful cards.

Here is a tip husbands might want to know about their wives…You will spend less money if you recognize and act upon a simple truth about women. We are not as complicated as we seem. But if some basic needs are not met, I admit that we can get complicated. We want to be cherished, nurtured, appreciated, and understood by our husbands. When these needs are met, we feel secure. Otherwise, we get all weird — trying different ways to get attention, acting cold and distant, complaining, nagging, picking fights, and turning towards hobbies or friends to fill what is lacking and empty. Ultimately, of course, we should find our sense of security in the Lord and there is no excusing our own wrong behavior, but God also designed marriage to meet the needs of a man and a woman. He created natural desires and longings that are best met by one’s spouse.

Research shows that the number one need of a man is respect with sex as a close second. And for women it is to be loved and appreciated. Dr. Emmerson Eggerich talked about this in his book, Love and Respect. He pointed out that God specifically instructed husbands to be understanding because it is a behavior that takes effort and selflessness on the part of a man. Similarly, God commanded women to be respectful because this is a behavior that takes effort and selflessness on the part of a woman. When a husband and wife address these needs to the best of their ability, the marriage is relationally healthy and the blessing of romance follows.

You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:7-9 NASB)

I know I said earlier that Edric did not “plan” anything for our anniversary. But before he left for work he asked me to block off my schedule from 5 PM onwards without telling me what we are going to do. Well, whatever the surprise may be, it’s a wonderful bonus to already feeling loved and important to him. 🙂

20130722-084211.jpg (This photo of us is courtesy of Chestknots Studios and Lifestyle by Feliz)

The Day I Said Yes to Edric

imageIt was amazing to find this document in my files! Twelve years ago, Edric and I wrote about how God brought us back together after our breakup.(Okay, I wrote most of this engagement story…he had a post script.) We had mutually agreed to seek God first as individuals and discern his will for our lives prior to our engagement. It was a very painful time of separation, but God used it to prepare both our hearts for the future.

We put this on a website before our wedding, but the website is long gone. I thought I would resurrect this to encourage the singles out there that God’s timing is perfect. And, well, it’s our anniversary in a few days and reading through this again reminded me how faithful God has been in our relationship. So for nostalgia’s sake…

March 3, 2001 — The day I said yes to E.

We often try to plan our lives with such careful precision, and every action becomes a determinant for what we will be in the next year, what we will accomplish, where we will find ourselves, but we never know when God will intervene to course our lives in the direction that he knows is best for us. When we recognize that God has allowed a tragedy or trial, pain or disappointment or even just change, we must be fully convinced that he loves us in order to experience and enjoy his perfect will.

Last year Edric and I thought we would be married. It was not uncommon that we would discuss our future together and our relationship seemed to be progressing toward that direction. However, when we were finally close to the possibility of being engaged, God changed our plans and we mutually resolved to be apart for a while, to discern His will first. We began to make decisions outside the context of a dating relationship and we no longer communicated on a regular basis after May 2000. This became the period of isolation from each other that God used to renew our desire to love Him above all else and to make us completely dependent upon Him.

I think there are many forms of idolatry and perhaps people can become so important to us, we allow them to replace God. Knowingly or unknowingly we find ourselves making choices based on what we value most at that point in our lives rather than what we know will please God. During this time of being away, Edric and I began to realize how we had become so focused on each other, so much so that we even made some compromises that caused us both and those whom we love a lot of grief.

There is only one God and he will not share his throne with anyone or anything because he wants us completely–heart, mind and soul. Using this period of absence from each other, we sought to reorient ourselves and seek God more passionately, while at the same time working on character traits that we needed to.

I would find myself frequenting Au Bon Pain a small café next to my office almost daily. Alone with my Bible and journal, I would order the same tuna cheese melt sandwich that I did each time I was there for my lunch break. Sitting in front of the window that faced the street, I would be devouring God’s word tearfully, reading chapters and chapters of the Old and New Testament while looking for answers to all my questioning and searching for His direction for me.

In a journal entry dated Saturday, June 10, 2000, I had written:

Just thinking about Edric now and how I have wished for the length of three years to be with him forever…I know it is not time to seal this relationship. Of course we are merely friends now and I know that decision was something God placed in both of our hearts so that we would come to know him more intimately, more personally.

Saturday, July 9, 2000

Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go. I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

Monday, July 31, 2000

I know that I must wait for E a while longer than I might have wanted to but if God has chosen him for me then no waiting will be in vain, it will all be worth this temporal agony.

 

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Year 2000 passed and Edric and I started communicating again. I had prayed for three specific things. Lord, if you want Edric and I to get married then please help him not to date anyone else while we are apart – help him to have eyes only for me even through the separation. (It sounds like a selfish prayer but I wanted to be certain that he really loved me.) Second, I prayed that if we opened up to my parents about how we struggled with our physical relationship, that they would still embrace him and accept him should he decide to marry me. Third, if Edric did ask me to marry him that he would get the blessing of his parents and mine first.

February 2001

I was in Bangkok, Thailand, visiting Rahab Ministries with the intention of doing research on how to be a care-giver for abused women. It didn’t turn out the way I had anticipated because the ladies at the center were fairly preoccupied with their day to day activities at a beauty parlor where they worked as hairdressers and make-up artists instead of at the pubs and bars in Patpong. However, Jenny Reed (who later became my sister-in-law) and I were able to observe the women and see how God had radically changed their lives. During their worship time in the early afternoons, they would gather around in a circle and sing praise songs, praying out loud and sharing from the word of God. It was hard to believe that these women had once been prostitutes. It was also during this trip that I learned that drinking water after eating spicy food is a useless attempt to quell the fire in your mouth. The Thais pass around leafy green vegetables, which quickly subdues the burning sensation on the tongue more effectively than water does.

Apart from losing our bearings several times and eating curry off the streets, I remember telling Jenny during that trip that I was waiting for Edric to ask me to marry him but it was taking a while. I admitted to her that I was feeling a little bit impatient because I was very eager to map out the rest of my life.

Tuesday Night, YMCA Hotel, Bangkok, February 6, 2001

What a relief to be away from Manila. I have needed this escape for the last year and finally here it is…the tumbling forwards had to come to a halt at some point. What next, where to, what of all this, what about Edric, what about a new job, what about China? If E doesn’t ask me to marry him before May, it will make a big difference in my decision-making process…Already I miss him but somehow we both understand the necessity of being away from each other to think. He asked me to pray for God’s guidance in his life. I know what he means. He wants to know if he should get married, go to China, changes jobs…Lord, give me the patience to wait on you as I wait for him to sort out these possibilities. Knowing that you are sovereign is my comfort and my assurance. I know that you will speak to E and speak to me and your will shall be pleasing and perfect.

The week before March 3 Edric had seemed very high strung and stressed, and for some reason I had been feeling a little agitated as well with my own work requirements. Both of us were really looking forward to Saturday and Sunday to escape from our day-to-day schedules and have the weekend to relax and breathe. He told me that we should go through all the things he had collected from our dating relationship. I was not excited to do this since I thought it would be more appropriate if we did this kind of memory-lane walking in the context of being engaged. However, since he made it sound so fun, I conceded.

About Wednesday of that week, Linda Reed, who was renting our old house in Valley Golf with her husband Nelson Reed, called and asked if I wanted to have dinner with Jenny (her daughter) and Paul (my brother) Saturday night. This was not something out of the ordinary since she enjoys putting together tea parties and dinners for people. She told me to ask Edric to come since he had never seen our old house.

I was thrilled! I had always wanted Edric to see where I had grown up and that house was pregnant with childhood memories. When I spoke with Edric he said he would get back to me and added that I ought to check if we have to dress up. By Friday, Edric confirmed that we could go to the Reeds place for dinner and I had found out from Paul that it was a formal occasion. Both of us went out on a movie date on Friday but Edric seemed so distant and reserved, very much unlike himself. This made me a little frustrated and hurt since I did not feel like he appreciated my company during the evening. Furthermore, I had written in my journal earlier that day that I was becoming impatient once again with waiting for Edric to ask me.

Friday morning, March 2, 2001

What is it Lord that you have in store for me? I wait expectantly and hear nothing…I look for signs and yet see nothing but a large, indefinable expanse which overwhelms me. Tell me, where I should go and lead me…Should I sit and wait for E to propose or should I move on with my life and go for everything—a job overseas, a ministry overseas. Should I stay put and be patient? It is enough to make me squirm, this waiting…like I have no walls to determine what passageway I might be in, no doorway visible to me that I might inch forward to…I am perpetually hanging. This is not liberating. It is uncomfortable, spacious but not spacious enough so that I feel held back and trapped by my own imaginings and wishful thinking about the future.

So after our date that night, we decided that he would pick me up before dinner Saturday the next day and we would drive out to the Reed’s place together. Saturday I spent cleaning my room and talking to my mom. She helped me get ready for the dinner in an unsuspicious sort of way, without acting like there was anything unusual about the date. I put on a gold-ish shirt and this long flowy skirt which I had not worn in years but felt that for some reason, I had to wear this particular skirt that evening. I waited all afternoon for Edric to call me and let me know if the plans were pushing through but there was no word from him. When I tried calling him at nearly 5:00 in the afternoon, he could not be reached. Dinner was at 5:00! When finally I got through to him, I had started sobbing. I don’t know why but possibly because I was emotional all week due to work-related stress and feeling like Edric was beginning to take me for granted. He tried consoling me by saying that he was so sorry that he had not called, that he had work to do, that he would make it up to me.

Arriving at my house at around 6:30 pm, Edric came in through the front door with a bouquet of flowers behind him. They were beautiful. Of course I was pleased with his efforts to appease me. He was also mindful enough to compliment me by saying, “what you are wearing is perfect for tonight.” My dad, for no particular reason, also said goodbye to me on the stairway by giving me a hug. In fact, everyone said goodbye to me, which wasn’t too bizarre since we commonly yell out goodbye when one of us leaves the front door. But looking back now, they all seemed very excited about saying goodbye, lined up on the stairs. My mom even mentioned that I shouldn’t be upset about Edric being late because it might ruin my time with him.

By the time Edric and I got into his car, I had forgotten that I was feeling down and we were on our way to the Reeds. He said, “Just tell me how to get there because I don’t know where it is.”

“No problem,” I responded, “Just take Ortigas.”

By the time we got to Valley Golf it was nearing 7:30 and I discovered, upon arriving at the Reed’s house, that Paul and Jenny were nowhere in sight. This irked me because we were supposed to start dinner and I felt quite embarrassed that my brother had been so ill-mannered about being on time. He did call Edric’s phone, however, so I spoke to him and barraged him with a flurry of questions about where he was, why he wasn’t there, what time he was planning to get there, blah, blah. Linda Reed was good enough to be such an accommodating hostess and she suggested that I go ahead and show Edric around the house to give him the grand tour. She didn’t mind serving us first. Distracted by the excitement of showing Edric my old room and the rest of the house, I carried on a running commentary about where we used to play as kids, what my favorite places were and so on. Since Paul and Jenny had not yet made it to the house by the time we finished the “tour”, Edric and I made our way to the balcony, where I discovered a romantic place setting for four people. And I matched the color scheme perfectly with my outfit!

I was soon overcome by the natural beauty of our surroundings…something I had always loved about that house, and forgot about Paul and Jenny, who, incidentally, were never going to come anyway. Linda Reed, who was our “waitress” along with Jan Landry, her neighbor, served us the most delicious food, all my favorite dishes from salad to mushrooms to fish. At the same time, there was very familiar music playing subtly in the background, which I suppose was meant to infuse my mind with subconscious thoughts about marriage. Very good planning, Edric.

We were having such a delightful, romantic time, talking about an infinite number of things, in between remote controlled photograph taking and praising the food, when Edric decided it was time to bring out the “box.” This “box” contained all our memorabilia from the time we started dating until then. This was what he had mentioned earlier in the week that we should do – reminisce. At that point, I conceded. It was such a wonderful evening. Although I should have wondered why he was so comfortable about being in the Reed’s house, it just did not occur to me at all that something extraordinary was going on. I mean, there he was, borrowing their tripod without asking and going in and out of the kitchen like he was getting something from their fridge.

Anyway, this box turned out to be incredible. It was filled with photographs and things like placemats from restaurants we had eaten at, movie tickets, pieces of material or just the oddest objects that I never knew he had the diligence to preserve. As we went through these articles Edric opportunely asked me, “Joy, I have been meaning to ask you what God has been teaching you lately through his word.”

The question seemed out-of-place but I was happy to answer it. “Well I have been reading in Exodus about how God told Moses and his people that he would fight for them while they kept silent, and lately I have felt like I really needed God to do this for me at work.”

“That’s very interesting,” He said. “You know, God has been speaking to me directly in Exodus as well. I have been praying about this one thing and this is what he showed me…”

At this point, Edric pulled out an old Bible which I recognized as the one he had when we first started dating.

“Do you remember this Bible?” He asked.

“Of course!,” I responded.

I took it from him and was about to turn to Exodus, when he said, “Let me do it.” So he found the passage he was referring to—Exodus 33:12-14. “The Lord said, I will go before you…” I noticed that he had underlined the sentence with one of those gold metallic pens but the rest of the sentence was on the next page, which he let me turn to. After I did so the rest of the verse read, “…and give you rest.” Waiting for him to explain the significance of this verse to me, he simply said, “this is what God has been saying to me directly, Joy.”

As I continued to look at him and at the verse, I noticed that he seemed edgy and nervous. I did not know why until something on the right page caught my attention. Written in bold letters, with the same metallic pen, were the words, “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” And, at the tip of the question mark was a diamond imbedded into the pages of the Bible. He had cut out a hole for the ring and placed it inside the Bible.

I stared at the page for a while, trying to process what was happening, and then looked back at Edric, who, by now was pointing to the question with trembling hands and saying something with quivering lips. “I have been praying about when to ask you and this is what I read in Exodus. I am serious, Joy, will you marry me?”

For a split second, in between my screaming out YES! and my verbal constipation, I wondered if Edric had asked my Dad for permission since this had been something that I prayed about. (The two previous prayers I had about our relationship had already been answered so this was the last one.) God must have told Edric to mention it to me without my prodding because very quickly he added, “I have asked your dad and my dad and gotten their blessing.” The tears began to stream down my cheeks because I knew that this was confirmation from God and I said, “YES…”

We lingered in the moment, taking photos, laughing, going over how crazy the last few days had been, and uncovering the plan he had masterminded with my family and the Reeds. The entire thing had been a grand set-up. Edric had been to my old house many times to coordinate the evening. And he had bought all the food from a restaurant which I liked – all my favorite dishes. Paul and Jenny were never supposed to show up. He also bought movie tickets for the rest of the people in the Reed household so it was just Edric and I, Linda Reed and Jan Landry in the house when he proposed. (They were peeking from behind the kitchen the whole while and I didn’t know it.)

That night, I kept staring at the ring. The engraving in it read 1 Corinthians 13 forever, 3/3/01, Your E.

Sunday, March 4, 2001

The day after my engagement to E. Last night Edric asked me to marry him. Saying yes was inexplicable bliss. I still cannot get over what happened last night but I have this ring on my finger to prove that it was all real and not just one unbelievable dream. That was the happiest I have ever been. Today, during breakfast, in the shower, lying on my bed, I couldn’t stop smiling. What can equal this? God’s love has overflowed within me. He and Edric have been planning this entire set-up.

 

Every little detail was pre-meditated. God’s hand was sovereign in it all—especially since I had absolutely no inkling that it was going to happen, that he had talked to my Dad while I was in Thailand and to everyone, while I was kept completely in the dark. What a wonderful conspiracy. It was absolutely amazing, beyond my expectations—the most romantic thing that has ever happened to me. E said it couldn’t have happened without God.

Before bedtime…

I have to keep on looking at the ring to remind myself that this fairytale is all true. My elation has not quit. I don’t suppose it will die down for a couple more days, at least until I realize that this all means forever.

I am getting married to the man I love. God made him just for me. How could we have found one another if not for God’s orchestration? I cannot stop marveling, cannot stop admiring the way God works, the way he accomplishes his purpose. As far as Edric and I are concerned, God designed and planned everything. He heard my prayer— those times of fasting and besieging God to guide Edric and to speak through him.

 

Postnotes by Edric:

I had decided to propose on March 3 upon a wild deduction from the Verse God lead me to. Ex. 33…3-3…March 3!? I pondered on the idea and realized that it all fit into place:

Joy was leaving for Thailand, work permanency was around the corner, and, on the practical side, the date fell on a Saturday. “Perfect”, I thought to myself…and the preparations began. I had all of two weeks.

What amazes me is how all the details fell into place on that Saturday…the motif, the food, the decor, the flowers, the ring, the bible, the memory box, and even the venue. Everything magically found its way into my consciousness (with monumental thanks to Linda Reed). God had planned it all in an instant. I just let go and watched it all happen. The only part I actually felt very emotional about was the pop-the-question moment. I was trembling because I had never done this before, nor did I expect to ever do such a thing again. It was a once-in-a-lifetime first-time experience that felt like a cross between the suspense of opening a college acceptance/rejection letter, and the excitement of a first kiss. That instance would change my life forever.

As her tears began to fall, she gracefully sprung towards me and said, “Yes!” In the blur that I recall, after this climactic response I took her hand and slid the ring onto her finger.

Voila! It didn’t fit.

“Not to worry,” I said to her, “We can have that repaired.” (I had planned out the repair of the ring in the event that it didn’t fit, along with the rest of the surprise proposal.) This is where I will end my “postnotes”…with the thought that in our future together there will be surprises like these that we will experience, but none that we cannot – together with God, handle or overcome.

My heartbeat has stabilized. Yes, I am alive, and she said yes, and we will be married and live happily ever after, by the grace of God. And the Lord said, “I will go before you and lead you…”

Amen.


We had no digital photography for our wedding! It was waaay too expensive in 2001…

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Teaching Truth Through Music

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My children go through stages when they are scared of the dark or don’t want to be alone. For a time Tiana didn’t have this fear but she started to be afraid of being alone early this year. Even though I would explain to her that Jesus is with her, it wasn’t until she memorized a song during Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS) that she internalized this.

About three months ago, my kids attended DVBS with the theme “Studio Go,” which centered on the passage in Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

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One of the songs the kids learned went something like this, “Wherever I go, God is with me, wherever I am, he is there…” It was a catchy tune and Tiana would sing it to herself frequently while walking around the house. Studio Go! Music CD

When we were talking about being afraid some days ago, she told me, “God is with me.” She also remarked to Edric, “God is with me wherever I go.” One time I also caught her sitting on the bed saying to herself, “I’m not scared because Jesus is with me.” And on another occasion, she stopped Edric on his way out the door and told him, “Are you going to be by yourself, Daddy?” Don’t be scared, God is with you.”

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It was so precious to hear my three year old say these things. And it reaffirmed the power of music to commit truth and principles to memory.

Of course, there is an upside and a downside to this.

Whatever our children listen to can have a positive or negative affect on them. As a family, we prefer to play uplifting and God-centered music in our home and car. Our househelp isn’t permitted to blast secular music while cleaning. So our kids have little exposure to pop music. They cannot be absolutely sheltered from it, especially at parties, in the mall, at a store, or other people’s homes.

One morning as we heard Katy Perry’s “Firework” song, Tiana said, “Oh, it’s my favorite song!” and started singing along. How this happened is a mystery. I just laughed as she sang it. Edric and and I aren’t legalists, especially with elements that are beyond our control. And we aren’t paranoid about pop music, but we also know that it can pass along the wrong kinds of values to our kids. It’s like subtle programming.

So in our home, we prefer to be careful about media influences and filter them for our children. We like them to listen to music that will turn their hearts towards righteousness, holiness, and a greater love for the Lord.

Music can be a wonderful tool for teaching. It can convey or reinforce biblical truth in the lives of our kids much more effectively than merely memorizing scripture. Here are some great resources that I’ve used with my kids to build up spiritual truth in them which you might want to look into for your own home:

Music Machine (Complete 3 CD Set)

Bible Songs

The Singing Bible

Kids Sing Bible Promises

Memory Bible – A to Z Vol 1

Memory Bible – A to Z Vol 2

Answers for Pre-schoolers Sing Along CD

My Travel Time Bible

Hide ’em in Your Heart

 

 

 

Climate-maker

While watching a humorous video of my nephew, Kaden, doing his rendition of Gru’s minions, I had a moment’s epiphany about a wife’s unique capacity to impact the climate of a home. How this connection happened is a curious thing really, considering the fact that Gru’s minions really have nothing to do with being a wife. But I suppose it was observing my nephew’s candid happiness, the child-like, uncontrived delight that he exuded that made me smile and conclude that he is doing just fine.

I say this because a few months ago, my sister-in-law, Denise and her husband, Fritz, relocated their family to the U.S. They were here for a while, taking a sort of “sabbatical” from their life in California. And it was a welcome respite for Denise. After all, she had grown up with the comforts of househelp and having a yaya to mind her kids. So she enjoyed being in Manila after being gone for three years.

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When Fritz decided that it was time to go back to California, Denise’s initial reaction was disappointment. She enjoyed being close to family and friends, and having our kids grow up together. However, I was incredibly blessed by her decision to have the right attitude and perspective about Fritz’s decision, and to affirm his ambitions and dreams for their family.

At the end of the day, she submitted to him as the leader of their home. And beyond that, she trusted that God would guide their family through him.

I know that it was a struggle for Denise but she is a woman of God and understands the principle of supporting Fritz’s headship. Because of this, the blessings of her obedience and faith have trickled down to her children, too. God is taking care of their family and blessing Fritz’s endeavors to build his career and establish his home.

Fritz and Den have obedient kids. I know this has a lot to do with parenting as a team. But I absolutely believe that Denise’s attitude as a wife encourages her kids to be good followers. Her willingness to be a helpmate to Fritz, a lifegiver along side him, makes her a positive role model to them.

I have also seen the way her kids, Kaden and Audrine, respect Fritz. They hold him in high regard just as she does. Denise not only learned this from God’s word, she saw my mother-in-law, Daisy, model the same attitude towards my father-in-law, Eddie. I have seen it, too!

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I wanted to write about Denise’s example because it made an impression on me. The reality is, I will not always agree with every decision Edric makes — big or small ones. But God has ordained him as the head of our family. And my responses to him impact the climate of our home, too. Our children need to see me supporting him, encouraging him, and being one with him about the choices he makes. They need to feel like there is unity and harmony in our home and it has alot to do with the way I respond to Edric’s leadership.

How can they possibly relax and be at rest if they see me continually challenging Edric’s authority or being insubordinate to him? How can they possibly understand what it means to obey and submit if I don’t model the same? And how can they have the right perspective when our family goes through difficult times due to hard choices that Edric must make if I don’t communicate my unconditional support towards him?

My attitude towards Edric’s headship gets passed on to my kids. I remember instances when Edric would make a call about something and the kids didn’t like it. But I would tell them, “Daddy is our leader. We will follow him.” End of discussion and attempted mutiny. If I am not negative about Edric’s decisions, the kids tend not to be either.

They see the chain of command in action…Edric is under God’s authority, I am under Edric’s authority, and the they are under my authority. As a family, we are all subject to God. If I break the chain, my children will be more inclined to do the same. I put them in jeopardy by failing to model obedience. I also become a threat to the peace in our home by instigating an attitude of resistance.

So when I have a perspective that is contradictory to Edric’s, I try to be careful about voicing this out in front of our kids. I pray about it, or Edric and I talk about it so we can resolve it in private and come before our children as a united team. The kids don’t have to take sides or feel stressed that we aren’t aligned. They are assured that mom and dad are one.

The buck may stop with Edric, as he likes to say, as leader of our home. And he recognizes the seriousness that the responsibility of headship comes with. But mothers are the lifegivers of a home. We can cultivate an atmosphere of positivity and God-centered attitudes if we model these ourselves, particularly in the way we come along-side our husbands to be their strong supporters and cheerleaders. When we do this, our children will most likely do the same, and we will all benefit from the harmonious climate that distinguishes our homes and attracts people (including our own children) to Jesus Christ.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! (Psalms 133:1 NASB)

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3 NASB)

Mystery of History Volume I (Quarter 1)

Every time I tackle the book Mystery of History (MOH) with my kids I need ideas for crafts and projects to put in their portfolio. Sometimes, I use the suggested activities in the books. But other times, I think of an activity my kids can do using things I already have around the house. Or, I do my own research and find free stuff online. I love free stuff!

Right now, I have two kids going through MOH. My eldest son is doing Volume III and my second son is doing Volume I. Next year, I intend to do just one volume for the entire family. It was crazy covering two separate volumes this year. Learn from my mistake. It’s called a multi-level curriculum for good reason!

Here is what I have so far for Volume I – Creation to Christ (Quarter 1). I will add to this list whenever I can and if you have your own ideas, please let me know so I can include them here, too. Hope these help to make your homeschooling a little easier! (Some of these are home-made, some are ideas I picked up on-line, and others are free resources). With internet resources, please be present to monitor your child:

QUARTER 1

Lesson 1: Creation (c. 4004 b.c.)

Creation Mini-book

Lesson 2: Adam and Eve (c. 4004 b.c.)

Adam and Eve in the Garden (You Tube Cartoon Video)

Paper Chain Snake

Lesson 3: Jubal and Tubal-Cain (10 Generations After Adam)

Easy Instruments to Make at Home

Lesson 4: Noah and the Flood (2349 b.c.)

Streamer Rainbow

Noah’s Ark Paper Plate Craft

Lesson 5: The Ice Age (c. 2300–1600 b.c.)

Ice Cube Painting

Lesson 6: Dinosaurs (Created on the 5th and 6th Days)

Dinosaur Fossil Cookies Option 1

Dinosaur Fossil Cookies Option 2

Lesson 7: The Sumerians (c. 2300 b.c.)

Your Name In Cuneiform Writing

More About Ancient Sumer

Images of Ziggurats

Lesson 8: The Tower of Babel (2242 b.c.)

Tower of Babel Craft Page 1

Tower of Babel Craft Page 2

Lesson 9: The Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2000 b.c.)

Epic of Gilgamesh for Kids (Powerpoint)

Lesson 10: Stonehenge (c. 2000 b.c.)

Miniature Stonehenge

Lesson 11: Early Egypt (3rd and 4th Centuries b.c.)

Guide to Hieroglyphics (Interactive)

Write and Print Your Name in Hieroglyphics

Explore Ancient Egypt

The Two Lands and King Menes

Lesson 12: The Minoan Civilization (c. 2000 b.c.)

Minoan History for Kids

Printable Maze (Challenging)

Lesson 13: ABRAHAM (1922 b.c.)*

God’s Friend Abraham Game

A Promise for Abraham Bible Mini Book

Lesson 14: Jacob and Esau (1836 b.c.)

Lesson 15: Joseph (1728 b.c.)

Coat of Many Colors Pattern

Lesson 16: Hammurabi (1792 b.c.)

Hammurabi’s Code

Hammurabi Strategy Game

Lesson 17: The Israelites in Slavery (Date Unknown)

Make Mud Bricks

Brick making in Egypt (Video)

Lesson 18: China and the Shang Dynasty (c. 1600–1046 b.c.)

How Silk is Made Video

About the Silkworm

The Shang and Chou Dynasties

Lesson 19: Moses and the Exodus (1491 b.c.)

The 10 Plagues Page 1

The 10 Plagues Page 2

Ten Commandments Craft

Lesson 20: The Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle (1491 b.c.)

Make the Tabernacle Craft (3-D Model)

Tabernacle Diagrams

Lesson 21: Joshua, Jericho, and Rahab (1451 b.c.)

Joshua and Israel Destroy Jericho

Lesson 22: Amenhotep IV and Nefertiti (1353 b.c.)

How to Make a Queen Nefertiti Crown (Tutorial)

Lesson 23: TUTANKHAMEN (KING TUT) (1333 b.c.)*

Printable King Tut Mask

Paper Pyramid Craft

Lesson 24: Ramses II (the Great) (1304–1237 b.c.)

About Ramses II

Lesson 25: Legend of the Trojan Horse (c. 1200–1184 b.c.)

Make a Trojan Horse

Lesson 26: Ruth and Naomi (c. 1200 b.c.)

Ruth Gathering Grain Craft

Family Tree for Boaz and Ruth

Lesson 27: Gideon (1199 b.c.)

Gideon Torch

Gideon Trumpet

 

Other Resources: Downloadable Bible Story Books

 

 

 

 

Kindermusik Certificates Promo

I am giving away 20 Kindermusik Classes (2 sessions worth per certificate) to the first 20 respondents to this post. Send in a comment about your favorite bonding activity with your child and I will email you back and let you know where you can claim certificate! Get it, get it!:)

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My daughter, Tiana, took these classes and loved them.

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When Your Husband Is Late and Kills A Chicken

Grumpy. That’s how I felt this morning when Edric called me and said he was late. We usually leave for Sunday worship early but today, Edric planned a biking bonding activity with his friends. He enjoys these morning bike rides with his high school buddies which, of course, I have nothing against. I am glad he gets to reconnect with them and exercise, too.

But between Edric and I, time estimation is more of my forte. He has changed alot in this area but in the past he would tell me, “I will be there in fifteen minutes” and it would take him thirty. Or, he would plan engagements too close to one another so we couldn’t possibly be on time to the next. This would frustrate me but over the years, it dissolved into a non-issue between us because he became more of a stickler for schedules and appointments…even more so than me.

However, with this occasion I was pretty sure he would not make it back on time to pick is up. Yet he ASSURED me that it wouldn’t be a problem, especially since he was starting out at 5:30am. So I trusted his plan.

I asked the kids to be ready by 8:30 and we waited. But Edric called me to say he was running late and still had to drop his friend off. I must admit that I felt irritated.

First, I don’t like being late to worship. It’s a bad example to the kids and I feel like we aren’t prioritizing God. Second, I trusted Edric and he mismanaged my expectations. Third, I knew there would be consequences — no parking, difficulty getting good seats, getting the kids into Sunday School, and missing half the service. Fourth (and I found this out later on), Edric ran over a chicken. He was biking down a hill and the chicken crossed the road. That was the end of the poor thing. Of course I felt awful about this. Edric thought it was kind of comical. Bird killer.

We ended up leaving by 9:30 am when the service started at 9am. The irritation was percolating.

I wanted to make a big deal out of Edric’s lateness so I said, “I hope you realized that your plan was a bad one.” It was an unnecessary comment but I was itching to let that out. Edric was actually humble about it. He apologized to all of us on our way to church. But I didn’t shake off the negativity right away. I wanted him to internalize and reflect on the gravity of his decisions as the leader of our family. What a meanie, eh?

Little did I know that this was going to be a spiritual lesson for me! During the message, I was convicted by the passage in 1 Corinthians 16:14 which says, “everything you do must be done in love.” God spoke to me…Why are you penalizing Edric with your irritation and making him feel like he is in the “dog house”? Are you being loving? Do I do that to you?

The speaker talked about “Love At Its Best,” that love is the mark of a true believer and the symbol of a genuine follower of Jesus. How could I sit through 45 minutes of a message like that and not be stirred to consider the critical spirit that was brewing inside of me towards Edric.

I wasn’t being loving. I was acting like the pious one, the one who knew her priorities and wouldn’t make plans that conflicted with Sunday morning worship. But I had the facade of a hypocrite.

I had ritualized going to church but God wanted me to take a look at my heart. Was there love in it? Not really. When Edric caused the family to be late, I wanted to make him feel guilty and use that to my advantage. I even asked him to treat us out for lunch and take me shopping! Can you believe it?!

In short, I thought he should “pay” for what he did. But real love is not vengeful. It releases those who wrong us with unconditional forgiveness, without holding on to them with manipulative puppet strings, or making them feel like they “owe” us.

1 John 3:18 says, “Let us not love with words or tongue but in actions and in truth.” So when the speaker encouraged us to turn to the person beside us and say, I love you no matter what, the Lord nudged me to tell Edric, “I love you no matter what…” and I added…”even if I feel irritated.” We both smiled at each other and I asked Edric for forgiveness for being annoyed.

After I let go of my unproductive feelings and replaced them with the choice to be loving, I felt the love for Edric once again. And the matter between us was completely resolved. It even seemed silly and trivial that I got grumpy in the first place. Edric is such a wonderful husband. The killing the bird part wasn’t so nice but it was involuntary bird slaughter, an accident.

He is a sweet guy, eh? He's usually like this. Hee hee.

My serious face when I don’t like something that Edric is doing…

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I have no reason to be mad at this man. Edric is usually like this. Hee hee. I love him! 🙂

I do love Edric no matter what and I want him to know that. But I have this rottenness inside that must be overcome by the love of Christ so it doesn’t seep out in a stench-full sort of way when provoked. Instead, my first recourse when offended or upset should be Christ-like: How can I show grace even when someone does things that disappointment and frustrate me? How can I be loving in the way that God would want me to be?

God is not after the piety of coming to church. He is looking at the condition of our hearts. He wants to see us act in love — a manifestation of real worship — rather than sit there for attendance credit. Yeah look at me, I am in church is not what’s important to him. It’s whether we love him with all of our hearts and channel his love to others, too.

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24 NASB)

Upcoming Marriage Retreat

I didn’t realize there was a flyer for this retreat or I would have posted it earlier but here it is nonetheless. My brother, Paul, and his wife, Jenny, are organizing this retreat with the people they disciple. Please pray that God will use all the speakers, facilitators, and organizers to bless the couples that will attend this. And if you know young couples who want to start off their marriage with the right fundamentals, invite them to this!

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