Archives for November 2013

Homemade Gift Tags

Paper crafts are another one of my loves. And every Christmas I design gift tags for myself and others as gifts. With a coloured printer and sticker paper, plus my wonderful paper cuter, I make personalized tags for family members.

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And since I spent so much time designing them on photoshop, you can download and print them for free! Gift Tags My gift to you! Enjoy…

You Have to Let Him Be the Man

Edan, our second, is 7. So he has a number of baby teeth on their way out. I pulled one a few weeks ago. Edric was jealous that I did it. He wanted the honor of pulling it out himself. But I couldn’t help it. The thing was practically dangling at a 45 degree angle. It was much too tempting not to pop that sucker out and that’s exactly what I did. I pushed down on it really fast with my thumb and it came right off. Edan was too stunned to realize there was any pain. I was so looking forward to pulling out his other teeth but they weren’t quite ready.

Two weeks later another baby tooth was just barely hanging on. We were in a lighting store at a home depot when Edan showed me how loose it was.

“Do you want me to pull it out? I can do it right now.”

Edan stopped me, “Daddy said he is going to do it.”

I tried to bargain with Edric for the opportunity to since I had done it so successfully the last time but he wouldn’t budge. “Nope, I am doing it.” He was adamant and confident.

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Okay, okay. We got home and Edric brought Edan to our bathroom. With Edan facing him he proceeded to pull on the tooth with a tissue. A tissue?! My thoughts were, You’ve got to be kidding me. That isn’t going to work.

He spent about five minutes toiling over how to do it and using the tissue without success. Edan was feeling very stressed and on the verge of tears. I really really wanted to say, “Can I please take over, that’s not the way to do it. I know what to do. Just let me do it.”

But I couldn’t defame Edric in front of the kids. Some of them were watching in suspense and Edan believed that Edric could do it. He was terrified but he trusted his dad. So I stood aside but discreetly suggested that he could flick the tooth downwards with his thumb and it would probably come out really fast.

He gave my suggestion a try and the tooth didn’t resist at all. The root was so worn down it just popped out. Edan was so happy and relieved. Whew. So was I!

Edric pulled me aside and asked, “How did you know that would work?”

“Really? You have never done it that way before? I pulled out my own teeth that way when I was a kid.”

“I have never pulled out a tooth!”

“Seriously?! You have never pulled out even your own teeth?!”

“Nope. In fact I was getting pretty stressed and nervous trying to pull out Edan’s!”

No wonder why he was trying to grip the tooth with a tissue initially and attempting to pull it upwards! He could have at least thought of using pliers!

Well, looking back I am glad that he still came out the hero in all this. The kids were impressed at how he eventually got it out.

It may seem like such a small thing but our kids are watching us all the time. They observe the way Edric and I relate to one another as husband and wife. We try to respect one another in front of the kids because we also ask them to respect us. So when he has greater insight or perspective on a matter and vice versa, we will correct in private or give suggestions in a way that doesn’t make each another look inferior or incapable (as much as possible). We support each other’s roles and affirm them. In this instance, I stepped aside to let Edric be the man, especially given the fact that getting their teeth pulled is pretty terrifying for our kids. So
I wanted them to be confident that he could definitely do it. I wanted them, especially Edan who is going to be losing a lot more, to trust his dad.

And…well the added bonus is he REALLY DOES know how to pull out a tooth efficiently now!

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In a marriage, we must help one another improve but not in a hostile take-over manner. Nobody is perfect. A husband and wife both need each other to become better, but it should be done in a positive manner, and not in a way that makes each other bitter because they are humiliated or belittled.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; (Romans 12:10 NASB)

How to Attract the Right Kind of Man

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Once again, to my single readers, here is the the post I promised. After writing “What To Look For In A Man,” this is the flip side – how to attract the right kind of man. It took me a while to put it together but with the help of a group of men whom I trust and hold in high regard, I got the content I needed. They provided valuable insight into the kind of woman they considered as “marriage-material.” Some of the men were already married, so they had the added hindsight of what really matters in the long term. Although certain preferences varied from one guy to another, there were a couple that stood out as pretty consistent. So let’s get right to it…

What does a good guy look for in a woman?

Someone who will follow his leading. Yep. I wasn’t surprised to get this one as an answer. Men naturally like to lead and they want a woman who will trust and respect them to do so. No matter how society reverses the roles of men and women, God’s design still stands. A man is called to headship in a marriage.

One of the guys clarified that it doesn’t mean a woman can’t have an opinion. In fact, he welcomes this. Men don’t want a woman who is always patronizing them. However, at the end of the day, if a man has to make a decision and a woman doesn’t completely agree, will she support him? This is what counts. Will she be willing to yield her will in favor of his, trusting that God has spoken through her husband?

This is important in marriage because you can’t have two heads going in different directions. Think about it…two heads on one body is also known as a MONSTER. God has given men the responsibility of leadership in a marriage. He has uniquely made a woman to be a compliment to a man. A woman’s role is invaluable – her support, encouragement, insightfulness, and prayer will be key to her husband’s effective leadership.

A positive, joyful person. Men don’t want a woman who will drag them down with their moodiness, irritation, expectations, and negativity. If a man is going to settle down with someone FOREVER, let her not be a grumpy, moody, self-absorbed person who will drain the life out of him! Oh my.

I’ve fallen into that mode a couple of times and it is not attractive to Edric. Men go to happy hour to get away from a woman like that. They want someone who will encourage, build up, and affirm them. For example, if a man makes a mistake (and he will in marriage, that’s a given and so will we!), he doesn’t want to hear a lecture or a 10-point sermon on what he did wrong and how he can correct his error. He doesn’t want to be yelled at, criticized or belittled either. What he does want to hear is, “Hon, I forgive you. I believe in you. I know God is going to help us get through this.”

Is this asking too much? I don’t think so. After 12 years of marriage, I know how powerful statements like that can be. As women, we have a way with words. We can target our statements to cut through a person. In fact, we can destroy a man and turn their heart away from us when we say things like, What’s wrong with you?! What were you thinking?! That was really stupid! This is all your fault! I should’ve never married you! I was better off single! And on and on…

The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21)

We need to carefully consider the words we say and filter them to make sure they build up and don’t tear down. No guy wants to end up with a woman who will keep highlighting his present mistakes or resurrect his past failures.

“It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” (Proverbs 21:19)

A good guy is looking for a woman who will encourage him to trust in God, who will keep him hopeful about the future, and remind him that she is right there with him, willing to move towards it together, for better or for worse!

I like what my dad had to say about my mom, “She is flexible and easy to please. Anywhere is fine as long as she is with me.” He also added, “I pity the man who marries a woman who is difficult to please!”

Physically attractive. Before you react, let’s dissect this a little. God first presented Eve to Adam visually. Almost all the men I know (the good guys and the bad boys) notice what a woman looks like. In fact, this is often what gets their attention at the beginning. But after hearing the opinions of the men I interviewed, it was comforting to know that they don’t all share the same preferences for physical attributes.

One guy said, “I like legs and I got a wife who is 60% legs.” Another guy jokingly quipped, “It wouldn’t hurt if she looked like a Victoria Secret model.” (Good luck!) Yet another one said, “femininity and poise, a woman who is lady-like in her behavior and demeanor.”

When it comes to outward beauty, it can be very subjective. This means there is no ONE type that will appeal to every single man on the planet. So let’s celebrate our uniqueness because it is God given. At the same time, there are attributes that are considered universally appealing which we can do something about. Here are some examples: clear skin and vibrant hair, feminine curves, fitness, posture, bearing, smile, a positive body-image, confidence, hygiene, and grooming.

We need to do our best to look our best. If we need to change our diet and start an exercise program then let’s get started. If this means we have to pluck our eyebrows and wear deodorant, hey, it’s about time. If this means we need to update our wardrobe because our closet is a collection of ratty T-shirts from high school, then we need to go out and get something nice.

It doesn’t cost that much to look put-together. My mom and I enjoy bargain shopping. We are able to find stylish clothing just about anywhere without having to spend a fortune. We cut each other’s hair, too! (Okay, I probably need to get my hair professionally cut soon.) I’m sharing these little secrets because I am glad my mom is simple. She never bought a single designer bag or designer pair of shoes, so I wasn’t wired that way either. But she taught me a lot about how to sit, stand, walk, and how to dress like a lady.

A good guy has radars that alert him to avoid high maintenance women. Men can tell if a woman is overly concerned about her physical appearance. One of the interviewees said, “A woman needs to be content with herself so that she doesn’t feel the need to buy expensive clothing or wear a lot of make-up to make her feel beautiful.” (Paraphrased) Okay, I understand where he is coming from but praise God someone brilliant invented the “no-make-up-make-up” look! Ssh.

The focus of trying to look our best shouldn’t be, “I need to do this to get a guy but rather, I need to put effort into taking care of the face and body God has given me because I reflect him.”

And on that note, let me add that if we want to represent Christ, let’s wear clothing that highlights beauty but doesn’t sexualize us. If you don’t know if something is too sexy, ask your brother or your father! That’s right, go ahead. My older brother used to ban me from wearing all kinds of clothing.

As a married woman, Edric helps me a lot. He will tell me if I am wearing an outfit that isn’t appropriate because it draws the wrong kind of attention. And speaking of attention…when it comes to physical attractiveness, let’s remember that the motivation should be to attract people to the person in us – Christ – and not to pursue and obsess about being attractive. Honestly, the most attractive women I know and admire are those who are spirit-filled and radiate Christ-likeness.

I like how one of the guys put it, “The physical rates very high with men, but it’s definitely not number one after you get married.” He went on to explain that a really beautiful woman has depth. There’s a depth to who she is and it is anchored on who she is in Christ. This is not to say that it doesn’t matter to a man that his wife tries her best to stay attractive, but as the Bible says, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

Someone he can connect with and enjoy activities with. Being able to engage one another in conversation, meeting each other intellectually, having common passions, hobbies, interests or shared ministries…these things add dimension to a relationship. A guy wants his life partner to be a companion he can have fun with and DO things with. In fact, if a gal plays sports and is game for an adventure it’s a plus.

My brother, Paul, and his sister-in-law, Jenny, are both athletic. In fact, they seem to breed athletes. My nephew, Caleb, turned over at just a few weeks! Since Paul and Jenny are into fitness and sports, they can play golf together, run, bike, swim, and if Paul is lucky, he can even get Jenny to play basketball once in a while. Recently, they even mounted a Fitness Retreat for athletes. She’s pregnant right now so after this season, she will be up and about her activities with him again. But it’s great that their common interests get them to bond with one another and their kids.

Furthermore, if a woman uses her gifts and abilities to serve the Lord and others that’s a plus-plus. A good man will be drawn to a woman who invests her life in blessing those around her versus someone who is self-absorbed, spends too much time on Facebook and Instagrams herself all the time.

“Get along with his parents.” Who wants the added stress of having to manage their parents’ perception of the woman they are interested in? Stretch that across a lifetime and it’s not pleasant to keep trying to convince your parents that you married the right person.

I have a friend who is absolutely loved by her mother-in-law. Before she was married, she would bring food over to her boyfriend’s house and spend time with his mother when she was invited over. So very early on, she won the favor of her mother-in-law.

In our family, all my sisters-in-law are dearly loved, too. My brothers made sure that my parents got to meet them before they committed their hearts. So during family gatherings, it’s wonderful that everyone gets along and shares common values. Conversations are free-flowing, no one has to be “on their guard,” and we exchange a whole lot of laughter.

Most important of all…A committed follower of Jesus. According to one of the interviewees, “When a woman loves the Lord, the rest follows – obedience, submission, gentleness of spirit…”

One of the couples in our discipleship group (a small group for couples) had a pretty rocky start. Both the husband and wife would criticize each other in public and they would shout at one another during fights in private. However, both of them had a relationship with Jesus. When they began to take their spiritual growth seriously, there was a very noticeable change in the way they treated each other. The wife became sweeter, more respectful and submissive toward her husband. In fact, she made a 180-degree turn from the person she used to be.

So many conflicts in marriage need spiritual solutions. Furthermore, when children come into the picture, it matters that both husband and wife share the same biblical values. Otherwise, they will be contradicting one another’s parenting style and challenging one another’s decisions when it comes to child-rearing.

Before I end this entry, I want to insert some of my own take-it-or-leave-it tips on what is attractive in a woman. I’m no love-guru. But I believe there is an art to the kind of womanhood that men are drawn to and it largely has to do with behaving like a lady, a feminine one. (Some people have vehemently reacted to this list. And like I said, it’s NOT the Bible. My goodness, no. These are just SUGGESTIONS. If you really really don’t like to wear skirts, hey, don’t kill me. Wear pants. At the end of the day, a man will look past things like this if he really loves you. I know someone who had sweaty hands and stinky armpits but she has a husband who is madly in love with her.)

In no particular order…

Wear dresses and skirts more often than pants. It sounds silly but it makes a difference.

Stand straight. Don’t slouch. Walk with good posture.

Don’t play head games with a guy, acting like you are interested in him one day and ignoring him the next. If you like him, smile at him, talk to him when he talks to you. Don’t send mixed signals. Guys don’t do well with mixed signals.

If he has already expressed interest in you, reciprocate interest if you like him. You don’t always have to wait for him to come up to you and make the first move. You can wave hello or initiate conversation. Just be natural about it and don’t do it ALL the time.

Have a life of your own that doesn’t revolve around his. Let him miss you. You don’t have to see him every single day. You don’t have to text him, call him, message him, and send him photos every other hour.

Don’t be clingy and selfish. If he wants to hang out with his guy friends or he has something he has to do that doesn’t include you, don’t make him choose and don’t impose rules on him. Be happy for him and give him his space. Be busy doing your own thing.

Pursue your ministry calling, hobbies, work, and interests. It makes you multi-faceted and more fascinating (but don’t do it for this reason!)

When he starts to open up to you and share his dreams, his frustrations, his goals, etc., be a good listener, someone he can confide in.

Preserve an amount of mystery. This is different than playing games. Don’t always volunteer information about yourself unless he asks. And if he does, give it to him in regulated doses so there’s always something more to discover.

Be grateful and appreciative for the things he does for you, and compliment him when it’s appropriate.

Show off some of your domestic skills (if you are pretty confident about them). Cook him a meal, or bake him some brownies.

Be game for adventure and activity. Don’t act like you are going to break your nails if he wants to take you hiking. Be fun!

Be thoughtful and considerate. For example, don’t be late or make him wait for you. Another example is when he has a rough day, send him a word of encouragement.

Pray for him. Ask him how you can pray for him.

Love God more than you love him. Don’t compromise your values or principles for him. Set boundaries when it comes to the physical.

Be complete in Christ. Don’t look to a guy to complete you.

In fact, I want to end with that thought. There’s something that you absolutely need to know. God loves you. Live to please him first. Don’t take this article and think, “Yes, this is how to snag a husband who will love me and take care of me.” You don’t need a man to complete you or make you whole. You are beautiful just as you are because you were made by God. He created you for a special purpose and your best life is found in pursuing this purpose. If that includes getting married, then praise God. If not, he has something better in store for you. But just remember, married or single, an attractive woman is one who is content, at peace, and joyful in the Lord!

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Do Not Aim For External Obedience

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My fourth child is Tiana.
She is a charming 3 year old and she knows it. Tiana will flutter her eyelashes, twinkle those big brown eyes of hers and flash a disarming smile, and voila! you forget that she needs to be disciplined for something. But Edric and I need to make sure that she doesn’t miss this critical stage of discipleship and discipline, which is largely about obedience. We want her to learn to obey because it is for her good and protection.

Since we have a lot of kids, the challenge when it comes to discipline is consistency. Each child may need a modified or personalized approach but we want the same end result — internalized obedience. Obedience is preached, practiced, and applied in our home, so we cannot allow Tiana to be an exemption.

For example, some time ago, the kids and I were hanging out at my parent’s place. And while I was putting them down for a nap, their cousin came in to rest with them. This would have been fine had my niece calmly gone to sleep. But she was singing, humming, buzzing, and trying to get their attention. I told her that if she kept that up, she would have to take a nap by herself. Well, she did not listen, so I took the kids out of the room and let them sleep elsewhere.

My niece is a sweet girl but she is not my daughter so I can only control what I do with my own kids. I wanted my children to see that I meant what I said and I would follow through. Their cousin wailed for a while because she was upset that she could not nap with everyone else. The kids could hear her in the other room but they understood why I couldn’t let them stay together. No one would be able to sleep.

After about fifteen minutes, my own kids settled down and were hitting that point where their eyes glaze over and they fall asleep. However, Tiana was moving about on the bed and playing with her pillow. So I told her, “If you do not obey mommy and lay down quietly you will be disciplined.” She acknowledged this but didn’t take me too seriously. As a result the other kids were unable to fall asleep. They knew that Tiana wasn’t obeying me and they were waiting to see how I would handle the situation.

I looked over at Tiana who was sitting up on her side of the bed, fiddling with the zipper on a memory foam pillow. She was not lying down. Honestly, I did not want to spank her. I was seated comfortably across the room looking up recipes on my Ipad. But I knew that if I didn’t deal with the situation, she would think, “I can get away with this sort of thing.” And there was the matter of her brothers looking on to see my next move. They knew that if they were in her shoes, they would have been disciplined.

So I picked her up, took her into the bathroom and explained to her that she did not obey. As a result, she would be getting a spanking. Edric and I don’t spank our kids a lot. We can count the number of times each of our children has been spanked. But when we do spank, our kids know that it is for disobedience. It is a rule that is clear to our children.

Tiana got a spanking. Afterwards, we talked about it and she said sorry for not obeying. She also laid down quietly like I had asked her to previously.

I love my kids and I don’t like to spank them. But because I love them, I want them to understand what it means to obey and submit to authority. It is for their greater good. Some people may not agree with using spanking as a form of discipline. In our home, however, we have used it in the context of a good relationship with our kids. It is not done in anger. It is primarily used to correct disobedience, especially while they are between the ages of 1 and 6. We also use other forms of discipline like withdrawal of privileges and natural logical consequences.

Harold Sala wrote, “You can discipline without love, but can you really love without discipline? ​Discipline is an integral part of love. Although discipline is actually a very old concept, there are many, today, who consider any form of discipline to be punishment. There is a vast difference between the two. Centuries ago, the writer of Scripture declared that discipline is the result of real parental love, just as God’s discipline for His children is the result of His love and concern for our lives.”

“My son do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12).

It’s interesting that discipline makes our children feel more secure because they know their boundaries. When parameters are set, our kids are aware of what we expect from them and what they need to work on in their character. They don’t have to guess or figure out what is right from wrong as they go along. As parents we tell them what is right based on God’s word and then make them accountable and responsible for choosing to do what we tell them to.

Tiana is still young so we have a lot to work on with her. As for her three older brothers, we are trying to ingrain in them the higher motivation for obedience — the desire and will to love the Lord and please him. After all, we aren’t after mere external compliance but the peace of knowing that our children will follow God’s word even when we aren’t watching them.

Someone asked me very recently, “How do you make your children obey?” I had a problem with that question. First, my goal is not to MAKE them obey. I want them to embrace obedience as God’s plan for their lives– for blessing, protection, and an abundant life. During the early years, we teach our kids that obedience is doing what we say, but eventually we teach them that obedience is doing what we say with a cheerful attitude. It is about the heart.

Second, obedience is something I want my kids to see modeled by Edric and I. God has established a chain of command in the home. Edric is the head and I am under his authority. If I don’t submit to Edric or if I do so with a bad attitude, I distort my children’s concept of obedience to authority. Furthermore, my authority over them is established only if I exemplify what I ask of them. If I ask them to obey me but they see me contradicting, disrespecting and undermining Edric’s authority then I can’t expect them to understand obedience from the heart.

If we have to keep MAKING our children obey there may be something wrong with our approach to discipline.
We may be focusing too much on the behavior and punishment instead of discipling the hearts of our kids. Discipline is necessary but we need to reinforce character instruction, highlight the blessings of obedience, and remind our children that when they obey us they are ultimately pleasing God. Furthermore, if our children aren’t obeying us we need to look at our own example. Do we obey the authorities in our lives with a cheerful attitude, especially our husbands? 🙂

Sweet Randomness Part III

TIANA AND HER INTERESTING USE OF WORDS:

My 3 year old Tiana is a chatter box. But sometimes she thinks she knows the right word to use in a sentence or statement but it’s cutely inaccurate.

“Mom, I need some mosquito propeller.” (Repellant)

“Oh no! Catalina has liva! (Also known as saliva dripping on my shoulder.)

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“Dad, I found my nipple.” (She meant pencil.)

“It’s a Lee-zard!” (Care of our househelp.)

“Tiana how is your stomach ache? Are you feeling better?” I ask.

Her reply, “Yes. I am well. I have no more stomach.”

EDAN’S PERSONIFICATION OF OBJECTS:

Edan is given candies by a friend.

Me: “Can I have one of your candies?” (He had six.)

“No.”

“Huh?! Why not?”

“Are you supposed to eat candy, mom?”

“Yes it’s fine. So can I have one?”

He still didn’t want to give me one! I couldn’t believe it. When I asked him why again, he said, “Can I tell you later?”

We resumed the conversation after about thirty minutes.

“Mom, remember when I told you that I pretend that my pillows are like babies?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I think the candies have smiley faces.”

“So you pretend they are alive?!

“Uh huh.”

Apparently, he puts personalities into objects. It’s kind of weird. This too shall pass.

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CLEVER TITUS:

“What did you learn in Sunday school, Edan?”

“I don’t know.”

“Titus, what did you learn?”

“The same thing Edan learned.”

Nice one.

WHAT-YOU-SEE-IS-WHAT-YOU-GET-TITUS:

I was at the beach watching Titus sitting in the sand by himself, drawing circles in the sand with a stick. I was wondering what he was thinking. So I walked over to sit down beside him and start a conservation.

“Hey Titus, what are you thinking about?” (I was trying to draw him out, excited to hear some profound thought about what he was doing.)

“I am not thinking of anything.”

Oh okay…

MY LITTLE LOVABLE “SENSITINA” (Sensitive Baby):

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Catalina’s yaya tells me, “Ma’m, si Catalina parang manok matulog.” (Catalina sleeps like chicken.)

“Talaga? Bakit.” (Really? Why?)

“Kasi pagtulog siya habang hinahawak tapos binababa sa kama, bubukas kaagad ang mata niya, parang manok.” (Because when she is asleep while she is held then put down in her bed, her eyelids open right away like a chicken.)

Hence…her need to be carried almost all the time!

AND THE HIGHLIGHT FOR THE WEEK…

Tiana: “Mom, do you know I love you?”

I smile and ask, “Why are you telling me that?”

She whispers…”Because I love you…”

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Counterflow! (Updated Details)

Don’t miss this event. Attending a parenting seminar like this immensely helped Edric and I become better parents. We learned valuable principles that we have applied as we raise our children.

Counterflow is about parenting against the tide of modern thinking which has removed God from the equation and turned towards humanistic philosophies and perspectives on how to bring up children. Man-centric child rearing is on a dark path. We are seeing a rise in a generation of young people who do not have a moral compass, who are sexually promiscuous, who struggle with gender confusion, who live in a virtual world, who are addicted to social media, who act out violent fantasies, and who are victims of broken homes.

We need to change this. We need to stand against this tidal wave and save the next generation.

The content of this seminar will focus on big picture parenting and how to teach, influence and disciple your child at every stage of their lives from baby to young adult. Even singles are welcome! Find out what kind of parent you need to be before you start a family. Hope to see you there!

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The Greater Tragedy

Almost everyday, I watch the early morning news on the aftermath of Hurricane Haiyan (Yolanda to us). In fact, I feel guilty as I sit there with my healthy baby, Catalina, kicking in her bouncer and cooing. Seated in a comfortable chair in a house with electricity, a comfortable bed, food and clean water seems excessive at a time when so many have lost everything.

Initially, the apocalyptic images were unsettling. But far grievous to me have been the personal stories of loss.

It is spiritually and emotionally troubling to hear about tragedies that resonate with my heart as a mother, as a parent. I was told of a mother and father who lost their 1 month old baby, their first child…a man who was found dead with his arms around his four year old son…a mom who is still waiting to hear from her husband and two children who lived by the shore-line while she was working in Manila…babies who have no milk because their mothers were killed.

Yesterday, I kept tearing as I went up and down the aisles of the grocery, shopping for the children of a lady who works for us – Catalina’s yaya. Her children have no access to food but she was too embarrassed to ask me for help until she was really desperate. When I asked her if she was okay, she started to cry. Shopping for her family was such an emotional event for me. I kept thinking about how diligently she had been taking care of Catalina while she feared for the well-being of her own children!

I was also heartbroken last Sunday, while singing songs during worship about the faithfulness of God. I kept thinking about the people who have been affected by the storm. Plagued by images of their horrifying circumstances, I was distracted as the congregation went through song after song.

I don’t doubt that God is faithful but I know it is one thing to stand in an air-conditioned church auditorium singing worship songs and another thing to be praising God when you are in the eye of a storm like Typhoon Haiyan. And what about afterwards, while assaulted by the stench of decomposing bodies, overcome by desperate thirst and hunger, and confronted with the reality that you no longer have a home to go back to or the resources to rebuild it?

In the most timely manner, however, last Sunday’s message given by Dr. Harold Sala ministered to me. He said, “When people asked, where was God during the storm?” his answer was, “The same place He was when His son was crucified.” It hurt God to watch his own son pay for the sins of the world but he stood aside and let it happen.

This was comforting because on the one hand, God is not far removed from our tragedies. He is not a distant spectator or unconcerned about the details of our pain. He is present. But it is sobering to consider that on the other hand, he may sometimes stand aside and allow suffering to crystalize the truth about sin. There are consequences to sin. He is so intolerant of it that he let Jesus, his only son, die to save us from it.

Death and destruction were never his original plan for mankind but he permits them to exist. So how do we reconcile what is true about God as loving and what happened 11 days ago when the most powerful storm to make landfall ravaged us?

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PHOTO CREDIT: www.ibtimes.co.uk

It’s worth pondering these passages in Deuteronomy, “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Deuteronomy 6:1-3)

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)

People may not agree with me but I believe our actions must be called into account for the curses that befall us. Could we have been accomplices to a murder of mass scale? Have we not abused the environment we were created to care for, ignored the poverty-stricken, celebrated immorality, sold innocent children to sexual predators, committed idolatry by worshipping materialism and success, cheated one another, and stolen from those whom we are supposed to serve under the pretense of good governance? And even after a storm pulverized our landscape there were those of us who pillaged and raped the fallen!

God has not abandoned us, but we have, in many ways, abandoned him – his Word, his principles, his prescriptions for an abundant and blessed life. So when there are consequences to our choices, we cannot say that he is not loving or absent for allowing us to reap what we have sown.

God has not moved. His offer of salvation through His son, Jesus Christ, still stands. His arms are ever open to receive those who repent and want to have a personal relationship with him. And his promises remain the same to those who believe in him — especially the promise of everlasting life with Him.

Tragedy causes an uncomfortable stirring in our souls that makes us more conscious of spiritual realities. Senseless dying and mass devastation are not pleasing to God. But if these things cause us to turn away from sin and run towards him, then they accomplish a salvific purpose, in the eternal sense of the word. We can trouble ourselves with the thought that it isn’t fair when innocent and good people have to perish. What of the thousands whose lives were taken away by the shoreline of Tacloban? I would like to hope that they had a moment to give their lives to Christ like the thief on the cross to whom Jesus said, today you will be with me in paradise. God’s grace is beyond our scope of understanding so who is to say where they are now.

But for those of us who live on, we must consider the consequence of eternity in hell as infinitely worse than the effects of a super typhoon. Hell is the one place where you cannot say to a tormented soul, “It’s going to get better.”

Perhaps this storm ought to be taken as a much-needed wake-up call, a kind of divine sideswipe to get our attention. We need to reflect on what course we are on as a nation. Are we becoming more Christ-like as a people? Is God really the center? Are we living in accordance with his word? What values are becoming commonplace in our homes and do they glorify him?

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Packing relief goods and organizing relief operations are important to meet present physical needs but we need a cure that is beyond the basic necessities of food, clothing, and shelter. We need Jesus Christ to heal our nation. He cannot merely be a cultural figurehead or a symbol of religion to us. We must receive him as Lord and Savior. His life, death, and resurrection warrant nothing less.

When I think of the fury of a 600 KM-wide tropical storm pulverizing an area like Tacloban, I cannot imagine the wrath God poured out upon Christ at the cross because of our sin, and I dread to think of what his wrath will be like at judgment.

The real threat to our nation is not the superstorms that may come again, but the state of our inner, spiritual lives and the effect they have on our country. Do we have God’s favor because we are committed to righteousness and holiness? Or, are we inviting trouble by making sinful choices?

Everyone around the globe wants to help us move past this disaster so we can restore what once was. But it would be a greater tragedy if each of us did not look into the depths of our hearts and ask, “Is Jesus Lord and Savior of my life?” If he is then I need not fear the trials to come or lose hope during the trial I am in. But if he isn’t, I have no real security and I hazard everything, especially my eternity.

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Photo credit: Arlynn Aquino EU/ECHO, Leyte, Philippines, November 2013.

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NASB)

Teaching A Toddler

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Alot of eager-to-teach-moms ask me what I do with my 3 year old daughter, Tiana, so they can get ideas. Honestly, I don’t spend too much time laboring over academic material. I feel that she is too young to be learning to read or mastering her numbers. My older boys were more ready than she was at the same age. She has her own time-table so I don’t want to compare. Our homeschooling is more “come what may” at this point.

I encourage parents to be sensitive to their child’s readiness. Not all children are ready for academics at age 3. They can be forced to learn but it is easier to wait a few months or even a year or two. When they are ready, they will absorb material much quicker and more confidently. This will eliminate alot of the battling that goes on between an impatient parent and a frustrated and pressured child.

Trust me…I have tried to pressure my kids to learn concepts against their time-table mostly because of pride and this approach turned out to be disastrous. I wanted to showcase homeschooling or I wanted my kids to get ahead of others their age so people would say, wow, look at their family. Choke and gag me. How insidious pride is!

So what to do, what to do with a 3 year old…

1. Let them tell you. I let my little kids ask for work. It takes an amount of trust to wait for this point. But kids are naturally curious and eager to learn. When there is no pressure to perform, they actually want to move on to more intellectually challenging activities. All my kids after Elijah were the ones who wanted to be included in our homeschooling. I would only “test the waters” by introducing concepts but if they weren’t ready, I would leave it for a later time or change the methodology — more games and play as a teaching tool.

Tiana is at the stage when she wants to do work. Almost everyday she asks to do “work.” Her question is, “Can I do my work?”

One day she asked me about 10 times while I was still eating breakfast. I kept on telling her, “Yes, we will do your work, but you have to wait.” She trailed me all the way to the study room to ask again. I finally said, “I told you we will do your work but you have to wait,” with a little more conviction. “Okay, mommy.” A few moments later he was about to ask the question again but she stopped herself and melodically said, “I REALLY like doing my work!” just to make sure I did not forget.

2. Start slow. A child’s interest may indicate readiness but it may not always mean they can take on loads of content. Their enthusiasm may simply mean they want to be included in the day’s homeschooling to be like their older siblings. However all they need is a piece of paper to draw on and they are content. But it could also mean they are ready to learn their numbers and letters and shapes and patterns and whatever else we consider to be sooo important to the survival of the human species.

In this case, break them in gently. I made the mistake of assuming that Tiana could identify numbers 1 to 10 in one sitting. Wrong. We both ended up in tears. She could count but that was completely different than knowing what the numbers actually looked like and what quantities they represented. So I decided to tackle one number at a time. (She is three years old. Slowing down the pace is not going to kill her future.)

3. Make learning very natural. You don’t need a black board or white board. Homeschooling is side by side learning and teaching. It also involves a lot of dialoguing as you go about your day.

For example, I started to panic when Tiana did not know her colors because her same-age cousin did. So I tried flash cards and books and she didn’t seem to get it. Since this wasn’t working, I took her outdoors instead and we went for walks, identifying colors as we went along and playing games like, “I see the color red, can you point to something that is red?” I also modified it to, “What color is this gate? What color is the grass? What color is that car?” to see if she could name the colors. Well, with the exception of gold and silver, she knows the basic color wheel now.

4. You can use work books but proceed with caution. I understand how workbooks can make a teaching parent feel incredibly secure. After all, everything has been laid out by supposed experts and all you have to do is go through each page faithfully and that constitutes educating a child. No, honey. A workbook can be a reference and if your child likes it then yippee. But don’t feel discouraged if filling out workbook pages with answers doesn’t appeal to them. Workbooks aren’t even the best way for a child to learn. Real life should be the main context for learning. Workbooks are a supplement.

Titus wasn’t really into workbooks at Tiana’s age because he wasn’t writing yet. And when a child isn’t able to write proficiently, workbooks are difficult. So, I had him draw and color a lot first. After a few months of doing this, he started writing letters and names and spelling words. Recently, I let him write out words more formally but I waited until he was comfortable with holding a writing instrument.

If a child clamours for a workbook but needs help handling a writing instrument, then assist them. That’s ok. No one is looking over your shoulder. It’s not cheating. It’s allowing your child to develop confidence while they don’t have very good finger dexterity yet. Give them some time and they won’t need you anymore.

5. Use manipulatives to concretize the learning experience. Young children learn better when they can involve more of their senses. I’m always on the lookout for educational toys. This year, I got Mathtacular for my kids. It’s a great math program that includes manipulatives, a DVD, and an instructional guide with all kinds of math-related activities to explore. I got the educational package for my younger kids.
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6. Prioritize phonics instruction. I like to get my kids to learn their phonics sounds even when they are young. This can be done very informally. For example, I use Sing, Spell, Read and Write (SSRW) music to teach the sounds of the letters. I got Tiana the All Aboard Book but I go through it very slowly. She is only able to learn one letter per week.
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I also downloaded and printed alphabet mini books from Sparkle.

7. Have read aloud time. I need to do a better job of this. Tiana really enjoys being read to. She’s at the age where she can sit through a book and focus. So I need to take advantage of this. I’ve got a whole box of books coming to my door step two weeks from now. I’m so excited to share them with her (and all the other kids). Soon to arrive…

Time for Bed by Mem Fox
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barett Barrett
Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book by Rod Campbell
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
First Little Readers Parent Pack: Guided Reading Level A: 25 Irresistible Books That Are Just the Right Level for Beginning by Debora Schecter
First Little Readers Parent Pack: Guided Reading Level B: 25 Irresistible Books That Are Just the Right Level for Beginning Readers by Liza Charlesworth
Favorite Thornton Burgess Animal Stories Boxed Set (Sets) by Thorton W. Burgess
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
Boynton’s Greatest Hits: Volume 1/Blue Hat, Green Hat; A to Z; Moo, Baa, La La La!; Doggies (Boynton Board Books) by Sandra Boynton
Classic Characters of Little Golden Books: The Poky Little Puppy, Tootle, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, Tawny Scrawny Lion, and Scuffy the Tugboat
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Story about Ping (Reading Railroad) by Marjorie Flack
First 100 Soft to Touch Numbers, Shapes and Colors by Roger Priddy
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Biscuit Storybook Collection by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Classic Starts: A Best-Loved Library (Classic Starts Series) by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
Classic Starts: Tales of Adventure by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
My Rainbow Fish Book Box by Marcus Pfister
My Little Pocket Library Early Learning Fun by Roger Priddy
Brown Bear, White Bear by Svetlana Petrovic
Nanuk Flies Home by Christa Holtei
God Gave Us Love by Lisa T. Bergren
A Father’s Touch by Joni Eareckson Tada
The King’s Christmas List by Eldon Johnson
Max Lucado’s Wemmicks: Punchinello and the Most Marvelous Gift, Picture Book by Max Lucado

Arch Books…
Born on Christmas Morn
King Josiah & God’s Book
Parable of the Prodigal Son
Jesus Heals the Centurion’s Servant
Jesus Raises the Widow’s Son
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
Jesus Heals the Man at the Pool
Jesus Returns to Heaven
Get Up Lazarus!
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Happy Day Books…
Don’t Do That Dexter
God Made You Special
Jesus is My Special Friend
God Made Our Bodies
God Made Dinosaurs
God Made Outer Space
Keep Trying Travis
God’s Special Rule
I Can Follow Jesus

God I Need to Talk to You Series by Dan Carr…
God I Need to Talk to You About Stealing
God I Need to Talk to You About My Bad Temper
God I Need to Talk to You About Disrespect
God I Need to Talk to You About Being a Bad Sport

With five children, books are a great investment. I always want to surround my kids with many options for books so they develop a love for reading.

8. Emphasize character instruction. I really believe there is a window of opportunity for teaching character traits like obedience, learning to wait, sharing, kindness, respect, etc. Take advantage of the toddler years to impact the heart in these areas. If I were to jump into all the academics without my children’s hearts being ready to receive instruction, it would be a constant battle to get them to learn. And I don’t want to have that kind of relationship with my kids. I want them to find joy in learning but the prerequisite to that is a teachable heart.

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Christmas Trees and Homeschooling

We took a break from our usual 9 am to 12 pm homeschooling in our study room to visit my pregnant sister, Carolyn. She wanted help decorating her newly bought Christmas tree. So the kids and I came over to her place and got to work.

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When you think of learning as a way of life, any activity can be an opportunity to understand something new, develop a skill, explore, discover, invent, or create.

I had the kids string the ornaments and tie knots to secure the string which was a practice in fine motor skills for the little ones.

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The kids worked together which encouraged collaboration. Some would string and others would tie the knots. They had to conceptualize a process to get their task done.

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They had to use an artistic eye to determine which ornaments should go where to achieve balance and symmetry.

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To incorporate math, I asked the boys to figure out how to divide the ribbon into equal parts so I could make bows. I asked Tiana to count the ornaments.

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Completing the decor was an exercise in perseverance because I didn’t let them take a break until we finished the tree.

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The longer I homeschool, the more I realize that books aren’t the only way learn. But, as parents we can be too set in the idea that learning must happen in a classroom, with a certain set of parameters that we miss out on opportunities that surround our children every day. We need to remember and trust that children are learning all the time. With a measure of intentionality, every experience children have can incorporate content and subject matter that would be boring for them to read in a book. And when knowledge is purposefully applied it becomes meaningful. It is also more fun!

What To Look For In A Man

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Edric is and always will be the love of my life. The other morning, I snuggled up to him in bed. He doesn’t like to be awoken prematurely, but he knew it was me. So he pulled me to himself and hugged me. “I love you,” he said and fell asleep again. I just lay there, content and calmed by the nearness of him.

In the book of Proverbs there is a verse that says a man should rejoice in the wife of his youth. But I think of it from the perspective of a woman and I rejoice in the husband of my youth. Marriage has been such an adventure with Edric, from it’s tumultuous yet romantic beginnings, growing up together, sharing ministries and passions, and now…five kids later. Sometimes, we look around the table at our children’s little faces and ask ourselves, “Do we really have five?!”

I have no regrets about marrying young because I married the right person. Single women have asked me if I could talk about this topic. So I’m going to venture back to my pre-marriage days. With the added wisdom of the present, I hope these insights will give perspective on what to look for in a man.

First, let me clarify when I use the phrase “what to look for.” I don’t ascribe to the idea that a woman should go around prowling for a man. It’s not feminine. A man may be flattered by the attention of an attractive woman but she will not be able to hold his interest forever. No matter what society does to reverse the roles of man and woman, certain truths remain. A real man wants the challenge of pursuing a woman he is interested in. I like how author John Eldredge puts it, men want a “beauty to rescue.”

So, when I say “what to look for,” it’s more about having a conscious list a woman can refer to, something to sift through the dross of suitors who do not fit the bill. But, a word of caution. This list doesn’t have to be so exhaustive that there is no man on the planet that can meet all 100 requirements. May I suggest a few things that really matter, the “non-negotiables.” Looking back, these are the things that made a positive difference in my own marriage.

Remember, this isn’t the Bible. A woman has to develop her own convictions. But I would like to think that this short list can provide a thoughtful start.

1. A God-fearing man who has a personal, growing relationship with Christ. This is number one. If a man truly loves the Lord, he will want to please him. In marriage, this translates to a man who will commit to faithfulness, a man who will be willing to change for the better. He doesn’t have to be a bible teacher or a preacher. But if he has, at his core, the desire to follow God with all of his heart, he will also take care of his wife’s heart.

Edric wasn’t teaching the bible when we got married. I could’ve compared him to my preacher/teacher father and thought, he should be like my dad. But I knew that Edric had something fundamentally important – he loved God. I knew that since the Holy Spirit was at work in his heart, he would become the man God wanted him to be and the husband I needed him to be.

Even though our marriage begun with a colossal clash in personalities, Edric became better and better over the years. He developed an even greater desire to put God at the centre of our marriage. He committed to fulfill his biblical role as leader, lover, and provider. God also gave him the patience to help me grow as a wife!

Furthermore, he had the fear of the Lord in him. So I wasn’t afraid that he would go off and cheat on me or lie to me. Even though he struggled with the same temptations any man would, I learned to put my trust in God. I prayed for him to remain faithful to me. (I still do!) By God’s grace, Edric has stayed faithful and given me no heartache in this aspect.

A lot of women crush on Edric, especially now that he is a public figure on TV. And some of them even tell me they wish they can marry someone like him. (Only in the Philippines!) Yes, he is good looking, especially to me, but what makes Edric special is Christ.

2. Hard-working and responsible. Not every man is a millionaire. But they don’t need to have a fat bank account to be marriage-material. For as long as they understand the value of hard work and their role to provide for the needs of their future family, then God will bless their efforts. Of course a woman needs to adjust her own expectations. She has to be willing to simplify her lifestyle.

When Edric and I were starting out, we hardly had anything, monetarily speaking. But we had enough to get a place to live in and to cover our expenses. (We weren’t recklessly romantic. Edric made sure he had what we needed to get started.)

We had a very simple lifestyle. It was an adjustment for me at first because I was used to having my own car, traveling, and not having to worry about budgets. Although I didn’t expect to have the same standard of living when I got married, I missed some conveniences and comforts of my single life. But I never felt like I traded that life for a substandard version. I was willing to go through anything with Edric because I loved him and trusted his leadership. I couldn’t imagine a better life without him. There was never a time when I doubted that he would take care of me. First, I knew that he loved God. And, as witness to holiness in his private life I knew there was nothing in his life to exempt him from being blessed. Second, he tried his best to be a good provider so I knew God would make sure we never went hungry.

The added bonus of not having much to begin with made Edric and I careful about our spending decisions. We couldn’t be lavish. We had to be thrifty. Edric was genetically wired to be frugal but I needed training in this area. So God used this season to mature both of us. He taught us what it meant to be a steward of his resources and to trust him for our daily bread.

3. A good set of friends. The company a man keeps is pretty defining. If a guy hangs out with fools and drunks, well, that has got to make an impact on his own value system. Proverbs 13:20 says, He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

I knew Edric’s friends. They were nice guys. They didn’t party or mess around with girls. Edric’s friends mattered to me because we would be hanging out with the same set of friends in marriage. Furthermore, I knew that these men played a big role in Edric’s life and they were an influence to him.

Up till this day, we spend time with his “barkada” and we share many common principles about marriage and raising children. And on days when Edric is hanging out with the boys, I don’t have to worry that they are going to go off and do something stupid. I have peace.

4. Parent-approved. I praise God I married into a wonderful family. Edric’s family accepted me as their daughter and sister with open arms. If Edric’s parents had disapproved of me, I wouldn’t have married him. I wouldn’t have dated him either! And if my parents had not given Edric their blessing to marry me, we wouldn’t have gotten married.

Having been privy to many of the marriage counseling cases my parents dealt with over the years, I knew that parental blessing was a key factor in the success of any marriage. Many of the couples who had marital problems began without the blessing of their parents. There are consequences for dismissing the biblical principle of obeying and honoring parents. But, on the positive side, the Bible says “it will go well” with those who listens to their parents.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (Exodus 20:12)

Both my sisters, Candy and Carolyn, are married to amazing guys. In a sense, they were “hand-picked” by my father. But I will talk about Carolyn’s husband first.

Carolyn did not really have marriage on her radar. She was busy with med school and music ministry. It was my dad who asked her to consider Joel. And it was my brother, Paul, who encouraged Joel to pursue her. Carolyn opened her heart to the idea and not too long after they were dating, God led them to marriage with the full blessing of both sets of parents. Today, they are happily married, expecting their first child, and Joel is really the perfect match for Carolyn. He brings out the best in her and vice-versa. Together they serve the Lord faithfully and have a loving, Christ-centered marriage.

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5. A man who has a compass. It’s scary to entrust your life into the hands of a man who has absolutely no idea what he wants to do with his own! We should get a clue from the animal kingdom. The female goes with the mate she feels most secure with, the one who proves that he can take care of her and their offspring.

One of the things I really admired about Edric when we were dating was he knew what he wanted. He sat me down when and talked about his 5-year, 10-year plan. Did he have everything figured out? Nope. But there was a plan and I knew where I fit into the plan. I anticipated that there would be bumps along the way but I wasn’t afraid. His compass was pointing in the right direction. I was confident that he would be able to lead me and lead our children.

Just look at him handle a map… 🙂 Doesn’t he look like knows what he is doing? (Such an unnecessary photo at this point but I just wanted to put a picture of him in this post.)

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Over the years, Edric’s 10-year plan got revised a couple of times but always for the better, because God was changing it for his purposes. We’ve gone through some tough times in our marriage and every now and then, these obstacles and challenges present themselves again. However, my trust and confidence are in the Lord who is the center of our relationship. I know Edric walks with him, and I’m trying my best to do the same. Therefore, the present and future glimmer with hope.

If I had married a man whose life-goals were secular, worldly, and whose choices did not honor God, I would feel very insecure about the present and future. (I am saying this to singles people who have not yet committed themselves to a life partner. However, if you are married to the kind of man I have just described, don’t lose heart…with God, nothing is impossible. Pray, pray, pray, and exemplify Christ-likeness in your own home as a testimony to your husband.)

For my single friends, don’t be suckered and waste time giving your heart to a man who has the potential to shatter it. Pay attention to the signs… If you know that a guy has a history of promiscuity and is also sleeping with you, whose idea of fun is getting drunk with his buddies, who has a bad temper, who has no spiritual appetite for God or his word, whose life goals are worldly and devoid of the desire to please God, who tends to make choices that are self-serving…hmmm…wisely consider this reality: Married men don’t miraculously change their ways. They need a heart transplant, in the spiritual sense!

Women don’t have the expertise to rescue a person like that. It takes the Lord. So we are better off waiting for that moment to happen way before any sort of commitment is made or moving on entirely.

Good looks, athleticism, charm, wealth, popularity — traits that women tend to find attractive — can camouflage the real man. So pray for discernment. Be realistic about 10 to 20 years from now and ask yourself, is this the kind of man I want to give my heart to and raise children with? Are our values aligned?

Let’s not trade the more valuable qualities for the lesser, temporal ones that may even become our very source of pain. Imagine how sad it would be to marry a handsome and rich man who peacocks himself to other women!

Furthermore, we need to be “femininely” investigative. Use those powers of observation to see how a man responds to stress, relates with people (especially his family), spends or invests his money, uses his time, and follows through when assigned a task in ministry or his job. If he belongs to an accountability group, or a discipleship group, as we call it in our church, gather some information about him through discreet sources. If he owns his own company, find out what his business ethics are like and what others have to say about him. It’s common to be so enthralled by a person and get smoke-screened by traits that we find so attractive. But we have to look deeper and pay attention to what surrounds a man – the people, the history, the influences, the circumstances. What impact does he have on others and how is he impacted by the world around him? What choices define him?

When my sister, Candy, was interested in a guy while she was at dental school in San Francisco, she wanted my parents to meet him. Candy thought he was a nice guy — good-looking, musically inclined, intelligent. She was raving about him and talking about how amazing he was. But she wanted to see what my parents thought. So they took her and her boyfriend out to dinner. During dinner, my parents asked Candy’s boyfriend a lot of questions, particularly about his plans and what he wanted to do with his life. During this dinner the poor guy hardly ate, but it proved to be a very critical moment for Candy. She realized that he wasn’t the kind of man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with. He had no compass.

Later on, my dad suggested that she consider Jeff (her husband today). Jeff wasn’t an option at the time because he was in a relationship. But my father said, “He’s not yet married!” In other words, there was still hope. Not too long after, Jeff got out of his relationship and started hanging out with Candy. Their friendship blossomed into a romantic one and well, long story short, they are married with two sons and another baby on the way. Both of them love God and have a great marriage. Oh, and the cutest sons!

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I’ve laid out the non-negotiables and it’s up to single women to fill in their “negotiables.” This can be anything from the color of a guy’s hair, to his height and build, to the sport he plays, to hobbies, to sense of humour. The list can go on and on (hopefully not too long! Does it really matter what color a guy’s hair is unless you are really big on genes and chromosomes?!)

Be encouraged…It may seem harder and harder to meet a man with outstanding qualities, but remember, there is no telling what a man can become and accomplish when his heart belongs to Christ, especially when he marries someone who strongly supports, faithfully prays, and positively affirms him. At the onset this man may not fit the image of one who has it all by worldly measures, but the potential for extraordinary lies in the inner man. And it is a wise woman who is able to discern this and a prized wife who is able to encourage it.

Next up: HOW TO ATTRACT THE RIGHT KIND OF GUY

First “Work” Shoes

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My 10 year old, Elijah, is now “working.” Edric is paying him to speak with him whenever he gives financial seminars or talks. It’s part of mentoring Elijah into manhood. For every seminar Elijah gives with his dad, he earns 1,000 pesos. It is not much but it’s a good first job. He plans to put that money into his stocks.

Every time he is supposed to get paid, he also gives Edric a billing statement. It summarizes how much Edric owes him.

I just made a deal with him, too. He can make 200 pesos a week for tutoring Edan in Grade 2 Filipino. Since I want to reinforce his own grasp of the subject and need help teaching it, he sits beside Edan while Edan does his work on Genyo. (Genyo is an online program for English, Math, Science, Social Studies and Filipino. I got it for the kid’s Filipino because I can’t teach them well enough with a book. This program makes it interactive and fun.) Elijah was excited about the idea of being able to earn money for his services as a tutor.

Since he is receiving income now, I took him out to buy him a work outfit. He went with me to pick out his shirt, pants and belt. My kids are homeschooled so they don’t have too many dressy clothes. They don’t need them. But now that Elijah has to be on stage with his dad, a more presentable outfit was necessary.

The most challenging part was the shoes. Elijah’s feet are huge. He wears a 5 to 6 men’s as a 10 year old. So we could not find anything at the children’s section. We took about two hours to find something and it was pricey.

He kept going through the aisles trying to find the best deal because he didn’t want me to spend a lot. But I knew he was hoping to get a style that resembled Edric’s. In fact, all the ones he would look at were like Edric’s shoes. And then he would turn them over and not want me to buy them because they were expensive.

When we finally found a leather pair that fit him well and looked very handsome on him, he voluntarily said, “Mom, I will pay you back with my own money.”

Aww. I felt like crying. Of course he didn’t have to pay me back! I really wanted to buy him a pair of “work” shoes. I was even more happy to buy them because he is beginning to understand the value of money as he works to earn it. What are mothers for anyway? It was my privilege to get him ready for his first job.
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Online Book Rental Club

Homeschoolers do some pretty amazing things. I just came across three this past week who introduced me to their site,BookRobin.com.
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Ryan, Christian and Ian are three brothers who decided to share their vast collection of books by making them available for borrowing, like you would from a library. But their idea makes it convenient to borrow books because all the titles can be viewed on-line. The process is so brilliantly simple and convenient for members…

STEP 1: Subscribe. Choose a plan starting at 799/month
STEP 2: Add books to your rental queue
STEP 3: 2GO will deliver your books for free
STEP 4: Decide when you are ready to return your borrowed books. No late fees.
STEP 5: 2G0 will pick your borrowed books for free and deliver your new set of books.

It is the first and only online book rental club in the Philippines created by 12 year old Ryan, the eldest of the three brothers. Launched October 2013, BookRobin.com is the kind of library that works for homeschoolers. It can be accessed from the comfort of your home and everything comes to you. That’s my kind of library!

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