Archives for February 2014

Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me

I received a letter from one of the persons working at our construction site asking for money for his soon-to-be-wedding. In the letter he explained that he was desperate because the fund he had allocated for the reception was stolen. Of course I wanted to help him. The guy seemed to be trustworthy and sincere. But at the same time, I had to be prudent and tell Edric about it. (I have been suckered before.)

In marriage this is called the principle of being “under cover”. Author John Bevere talks about submission to authority as a form of protection. Submission isn’t just about obeying Edric as leader. It’s also recognising that God has ordained him to look out for me, that his authority in my life is like an umbrella over me.

When he told me, “Let me handle it. I will talk to him,” I felt stressed at first because I wanted to give the guy an answer right away. I knew he was waiting. In fact he texted me to get an update. But a part of me knew I should investigate the legitimacy of his story, too. So when Edric said, “I will be the one to respond to him,” the stress was replaced by relief. Edric took on the burden and I was able to relax.

In the car, on the way to our site meeting, I told him how much I appreciated his desire to protect me and stand in “harm’s way” for my sake. He turned to me very casually and was like, “Of course. I like to protect you. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” (I love this man.)

After our morning meeting, Edric met with the guy to find out more details and verified what he was saying with a co-worker. He also asked the guy why he didn’t email him directly. And he said he was embarrassed. Edric responded jokingly, “Well, the money will come from me anyway, right?”

In the end, the guy’s story checked out. He was telling the truth. So Edric told him, “We will help you.”

This incident may seem like a small matter but I wanted to talk about the blessings of this aspect of submission. In the garden of Eden, if Eve had said to the serpent, “Let me get back to you about eating the fruit. I have to go check with Adam,” I wonder what would have happened?

Maybe she would have gone to Adam and said, “Hon, there is this serpent I have been hanging out with. He’s been telling me that God doesn’t want us to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because He DOESN’T want us to be like him. I kind of see his point, but I wanted to find out what you thought about it. Do you think I should try it? I have been thinking about it alot lately. It looks really tasty.”

In response perhaps Adam would have been like, “Heck, no! And I don’t want you talking to that serpent anymore either! He is bad news. Trust me, honey, God wants what is best for us. He has given us everything else to eat. He is a good God. In fact, next time that serpent comes anywhere near you, I want you to tell me where he is and I will have a word with him!”

It’s interesting that the Serpent targeted Eve, poisoning her thoughts with his lies. Whether she was entirely alone or not can only be speculated. But from the sequence of events, it doesn’t look like she got Adam’s permission to eat the fruit. She acted on her feelings and emotions. She invested time lingering around the forbidden fruit and fantasizing about what it would be like to have it. And the Bible tells us that it was Eve who was deceived, not Adam.

For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:13, 14 NASB)

As women we need to recognize that we tend to have same Eve-like vulnerability. Look at the way we fall for men who don’t treat us the right way! In my household alone, almost every single girl that has ever worked for me (and I have gone through a number) has had her heart broken by a man. (Heck, I have too!) In the group of ladies I disciple and women that I counsel, I have heard countless stories of misguided choices when it comes to men. But this is just one aspect of our lives. We fall prey to many other deceptions outside the realm of dating and relationships.

Years ago I read Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and this book opened my eyes to how much deception is going on in my own heart. The evil one still uses the same strategy he did with Eve in the garden — he is constantly lying to us about who God is, who we are, where our worth lies and what me must do to be happy. The key is to confront these lies head on with God’s word.

Married or not, we have to be feeding ourselves with Bible truth. Of course for the marrieds like me, we need to keep learning to listen to our husbands, and letting them be the protector they were designed to be.  I’m blessed to be married to a man who loves the Lord with all of his heart. So he helps me to make choices that are for my good. He helps me to discern what I ought to commit my time to and what activities aren’t profitable. He looks out for me spiritually, emotionally, physically.

After nearly thirteen years of marriage, I still like to hear him say things like, “Stay on this side of the road, hon…it’s safer.” I still like it when he reaches out his hand to hold mine so I won’t trip or fall. I still like it when he offers to open the door for me. I may be able to fend for myself, but it’s wonderful to be able to have, in Ira Gershwin’s words, “someone who’ll watch over me.” I’m so grateful that Edric has turned out to be that someone for me! 

New Years

Kids Need Their Fathers

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Some weeks ago my third son, Titus, was recovering from a cough and cold so he had to stay away from the other kids. Edric happened to see him peering out of the window, all alone. So he called out, “Do you want to go walking with daddy?” Titus was thrilled. He ran down the stairs and put on his shoes.

Edric walked with him all the way to the park and back. And Titus talked the whole time. He is not much of a talker so this was significant. Some of the things he said were, “So you and mommy have been married 5 times right, because you have five kids?” “Someday I am going to marry Tiana.” Of course Edric corrected his understanding of marriage and explained why he can’t marry his sister. It was a precious time, just the two of them.

When Titus got back home, he announced to his siblings that “dad went walking with him.” He narrated how Edric saw him at the window and called out to him. He was very proud to tell everyone.

A child’s self-worth is very much hinged on the attention and regard given by his or her parents. But, I think this is especially true for the time a father gives to a son. There is something special about the affirmation and validation a son receives from his dad.

I know a couple of guys who admitted that they tried to compensate for what their fathers’ did not give by turning to unhealthy habits and behaviors, relationships, and friendships, or pursuing ambitions in order to feel whole.

No one can give back the years that a father was absent or heal the wounds that his flaws inflicted. However, I have also seen men who did not live with the example of a godly father or receive the love and affection of a dad recover from their deep brokenness. Their new identity and self-worth came through Jesus Christ.

Two Sundays ago, I listened to the testimony of a man who was physically and sexually abused by his own father. He was betrayed and harmed on multiple levels as a young boy. As a result, he grew up without a compass. In his young adult years he turned to homosexual relationships and a decadent lifestyle to feel happy. But he was never satisfied with that life.

When he finally encountered Jesus Christ and understood how much he was loved, forgiven and redeemed by God, he became a transformed person. Today he is living for Christ. He admits that he is still tempted by sexual sin but he continues to pursue God’s design for him as a man. He has a peace and joy that he never used to.

I believe that no one is beyond God’s grasp. God can always redeem the mistakes of our parents. As this passage says, “Behold, the Lord ‘s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear.” (Isaiah 59:1 NASB)

However, let us not be the kind of parents who shipwreck the lives of our children. We may not be as bad as a father who beats and molests his children, but are we present to disciple, lead and train our children, steering their hearts toward God?

Most likely, you are a young woman or a wife or a mom reading this post. And if you are married to a husband who is neglecting your children emotionally and spiritually, hope in God. Pray for him. (Look at yourself, too, and pray about the areas where you need to change…we can all change for the better.)

When Edric and I had a smaller family, I prayed for him to step up as the spiritual leader of our home, that his heart would be turned towards our children. At the beginning he was great at prioritizing me and his work, but he didn’t really know how to be an intentional and purposeful father. But as we had more sons, he realized that they needed him. They needed him to model biblical manhood and to teach them what it means to love and follow Christ. And he couldn’t do this unless he spent time with them and built a relationship with them.

Today parenting is a team effort between us. We still make mistakes but we continue to refer to God’s word for guidance. We also ask for forgiveness from our kids when we fail to be Christ-like.

Just yesterday, Edric asked Titus to forgive him for being irritable. While I was correcting Titus and Tiana for speaking to one another with an unkind tone, I asked them, “Do mommy and daddy do that?” trying to point out that they should copy our example. Titus replied, “No, but daddy gets angry sometimes.” He clarified that daddy doesn’t shout but he can get irritated. Of course I passed on this observation to Edric. And he was very repentant about it and apologized to Titus, who readily forgave him.

Edric and I continue to pray for one another as we parent our kids. He prays for me to be the mom I need to be and I pray for him to have the wisdom he needs to lead our family. Author Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” I agree with this but I also believe that whether man or woman, before God, we are all broken and need repairing. If we want to build strong children as parents, we have to recognize that we can’t do it apart from Christ.

Furthermore, if we find ourselves in a season of parenting alone as a mother, then we can be encouraged by God’s tender description of himself as father to the fatherless. What an assurance that he will provide in the areas where we cannot! Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy. (Psalms 68:5 NLT) Kids need their fathers, but more than a loving, godly earthly father, they need the FATHER OF ALL.

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Everything Breaks

The house is turning out better than I imagined thanks to our architect and contractor, but I allow myself to get stressed about little details. It doesn’t help that I am artistically inclined by nature and notice every mistake…everything…tiny chips, uneven walls, paint lines that aren’t totally clean, awkward termination points. Like Sherlock Holmes said, “My curse is, I see everything.”

During the surprise Valentines dinner Edric planned for me on the balcony, I was staring at a 1 cm chip on a tile for a bit, and I started feeling the frames of the sliding glass doors because I noticed some scratches. He was like, this is supposed to be a romantic evening. Let’s not do that. We can do that during the punchlisting.

Oh right, sorry. But that 1 cm chip kept looking back at me! Even now I am still thinking about it!

There have been occasions when it’s not just about a chip. Yesterday, for instance, I heard some pretty awful news. One of the hanging light fixtures in the dining room was broken by a supplier. I was livid. I couldn’t believe it. How could the supplier have been so careless?!

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Well, God has been using incidences like these to keep me spiritually conscious of my tendency to love the things of this world.

When I start to emotionally hyperventilate and feel frustrated about the house, Edric reminds me, “hold the things of this world lightly.” He also motions with his hand for me to relax!

He is totally right, too. At the end of the day, I have to remember that this house isn’t heaven. It’s a wonderful, amazing blessing. We want to be good stewards and fix the issues that we can. But it still represents what is temporal and fading in this world. As monumental an event as it will be for our family to move into this home after living in a condo for so many years, it cannot be the essence of what makes us a family or what brings us true joy.

I saw the broken light today. It was dangling in a sad way with the bulb exposed on one side. The kids gasped when they saw it. (The good news is the supplier is going to replace it.)

Of course I felt disappointed that the accident happened in the first place, but I thought of all the other things that will eventually break, get stained, fall apart, crack, and deteriorate over time. Such is the manner of the world we live in.

So while I am totally excited about moving into our new house, I cannot forget that it’s the things of eternity that I have to hold tightly.

Will our family love one another in this home as God’s word tells us to? Will it be a place where people feel welcome and loved? Will we use it for God’s work and kingdom? Will it’s atmosphere be characterized by a happiness and peace that points people to Jesus?

I pray our home can be all these things and more…things that will not pass away.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. (Matthew 24:35 NASB)

Be A Blessing

It came as a total surprise when Salve Duplito, Edric’s co-host on the show On the Money, asked me if I would be willing to do an interview about the article I wrote on To Buy Or Not To Buy A Designer Bag.

At first I hesitated. Me?! Why?! I write so I don’t have to speak! I am shy! (Kind of…in a self conscious, prideful kind of way, which is wrong!) Sigh. The irony is, the more I write, the more people want me to talk about the things I write. I wish I could just say, “please check out this link…” because it’s so much easier to be behind a computer typing my thoughts and editing them. I would much rather do that than speak. Speaking makes me breakout from stress and afterwards, I am tired for a week!

Why? Because my default mode is introversion. I like solitude and quiet activities that don’t require a lot of interaction with human beings. (I even need breaks from my own darling children sometimes, so I lock my bedroom door or breastfeed for too long.) But when an opportunity arises that seems to be a divine invitation to share God’s word or to be a blessing, then I ask Edric and let him help me make a decision.

My first instinct is to find some way to get out of a possible commitment. So I need his objectivity and insight. Plus, he is my “boss” and so I run things by him. If he says, “yes, go for it,” then I know it is something the Lord wants me to do.

When he found out that Salve asked if I could do an interview for the show, he encouraged me to do it. His perspective was “be a blessing.”

I have learned this same mindset from my mom who often goes outside of her comfort zone to reach out to people and make a difference in their lives. Whether it is sharing the gospel to a total stranger, spending time sitting beside a person she can encourage and minister to, or accepting speaking engagements where she can impart God’s word, she embraces these opportunities. She doesn’t think about herself or focus on what others will think about her. She has been a great example to me.

God didn’t put me in this world to do only what is cozy and comfortable. I have a job to do…to tell the world about him and to glorify him. If that means that I am going to have to stand on a stage, or walk into a room full of strangers and make new friends, or attend an event, or do something like an interview for TV, then I absolutely should (for as long as I do not neglect my husband and kids).

To psyche myself up for these moments, I tell myself…Be a blessing. This is not about you so stop thinking about yourself!

What does it mean to be a blessing?

1. Consider others as more important than myself
. Because my tendency is to think about my needs and my own preferences, this passage helps me alot…

Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vain glory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others. (Philippians 2:3, 4 NABRE)

When I walk into a room of people, and I am tempted to think of what kind of impression I am making, I have to mentally slap myself and ask…
How can I make a positive difference in someone’s life?
How can I make others feel special and important?
How can I engage people in conversation and be genuinely interested in who they are and what they do?
How can I encourage and minister
to the people I meet with or speak in front of?


2. Use every opportunity to glorify God and point others to Christ.
The gospel must be apparent in my life, in the things I say and do. I

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NASB)

I need to keep in mind that I represent Christ’s agenda — saving souls — and not my own. My mom used to say, “never steal an ounce of God’s glory.”

Will people be attracted to Christ when they observe my life?

3. Pray
. I can do absolutely nothing to make a difference for the Lord if I am not spiritually equipped by the power of the Holy Spirit. He helps me to overcome my insecurities and self-consciousness. It is he who enables and goes before me. It is he who must speak through me. It is he who purifies my motives.

So, going back to the ANC interview…I met with Salve to do it. When I saw the script, I was thrilled that she was so accommodating of my spiritual perspective. In fact she asked me questions that allowed me to talk about my relationship with Jesus. This wasn’t edited out of the interview! And a wonderful bonus was I got to know Salve better and make a new friend.

When I look back on how God brought the opportunity to me, I am so glad I obeyed Edric when he said to do it. And I am so glad I forced myself to do something that was “unlike my personality.” The gospel is worth being inconvenienced for. It is worth the sacrifice of time, effort, resources. It is worth being rejected for, ridiculed for. It is worth giving my life to. It is worth dying for.

Therefore, I must not box myself in or put restrictions on what God wants to do through me by insisting that I do only what feels comfortable and natural. Rather, I must have the same conviction that Paul had…

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. I do all things for the sake of the gospel… (1 Corinthians 9:16, 19, 23 NASB)

The best way to be a blessing is to live out, share, and proclaim the gospel whenever and however God wants us to.

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Marriage and The Best Valentine’s Celebration Ever!

I have often said that I married a wonderful man. He is still wonderful and he gets better with age (like wine). Praise God! But marriage has always come with its challenges. We are two very different people. And these differences can polarize us when we don’t make the effort to preserve our unity in Christ.

In past entries I’ve talked about having Jesus Christ in the center of a marriage as the key to keeping it together. I’ve also written about the importance of fulfilling the biblical roles of a wife as helpmate and “lifegiver” to her husband. So I’m not going to talk too much about these two principles.

Instead, I want to share a few practical tips that have made a positive difference in my marriage. Every marriage is at a certain season and stage so not every point may apply. But I hope you will pick up something that will give you renewed inspiration and resolve to love the one you married.

Tip # 1: If it’s not going to matter twenty years from now, don’t make it an issue.

One of the hardest things for me to do as a wife is to lose an argument or a discussion. I can be such a proud person. I often want my perspective and ideas acknowledged by Edric as more valid than his. I want to “win.”

Just yesterday Edric was looking for our bee propolis throat spray. I sensed in his tone that he thought I wasn’t “on top of things.” But, my suspicion was he misplaced it. I even told him that he was the last one to have it. He didn’t admit to this. And honestly, between the two of us and our bad memories it is often hard to prove who is right when it comes to remembering where things are.

Well, I visited him in his office and lo and behold, there was the bee propolis spray sitting on his shelf. I picked it up and said, “Hey! Here it is! I knew it was with you.” Edric looked at me like he had no idea what I was talking about. According to him he never even realized it was there. This irked me. It was on display just a few feet away from where he was seated, how could he not have known that it was there?

To prove that he must have known, I scrolled through my text messages to find evidence. I remembered a text message he had sent me, asking me to have the propolis and throat candy delivered to his office. I showed him this text message but he was like, “I don’t know. I never received the propolis so I can’t be held responsible.”

What?! This made me want to jump up and down in irritation. Why couldn’t he just say, “Oh yah, my bad, I had it after all.”

For several minutes afterwards, I tried to pursue my point – that he was the one who had it the whole time. But when the discussion was getting nowhere, I realized it wasn’t worth deliberating about. If he honestly couldn’t remember that the propolis was given to him then so be it. I should give him the benefit of the doubt. Did I really have to fight him about it? Would it matter twenty years from now? No. Peace between us was more important. So I went for that. Plus, we found the propolis. Case solved.

Tip # 2: Be willing to accommodate each other’s preferences if it isn’t a matter of moral consequence.

There’s no way that two people, living together with different personalities can be like-minded in everything. Edric and I are similar in what is most essential…what we believe about God and his word. We may have theological debates once in a while but we refer back to God’s word and make conclusions that are based on biblical truth.

However, we can be very dissimilar in our preferences when it comes to our hobbies, interests, and habits.

For example, building our home has been an exercise in choosing to accommodate one another’s preferences.

One major point of contention between us was the master’s bathroom toilet. Yes, a toilet. Edric wanted one of those low, old-style toilets that was reminiscent of the potty we had in our tiny condo (our first home as a couple). For him this toilet epitomized comfort. I insisted that we should not get that kind of toilet. It seemed outdated and ugly to me. But he really wanted it.

After going back and forth for a while, we came up with a compromise. We would get the shape he wanted but I would help him look for an updated looking one. Fortunately, we found one that had both features. He also let me choose all the other toilets in the house. The willingness to accommodate one another’s preferences brought about unity in our disharmony. And now Edric will always be happy sitting on that toilet!

Tip # 3: CHOOSE GRACE.

When we were newly married, Edric used to drape his clothes all over the house. He would remove his clothing and then do the drape thing. It totally bugged me. There was a hamper that he could’ve put his dirty shirts and pants into but he preferred to lay his worn clothes on the back of our sofa. And then there was the matter of his socks. They were like little annoying balls left here and there. I used to get so upset until I was taught this hard-to-swallow-but-very-effective principle…Choose grace.

Choosing mercy was about keeping myself from getting irritated. But choosing grace was about picking up his things and putting them in the hamper for him.

The amazing thing is today he is much neater than me! His closet is more organized. And he has a stand where he drapes all the clothes that he wants to have accessible for the next day.

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Sometimes in marriage, choosing grace is not as simple. What if a husband is temperamental and easily angered? What if he was unfaithful?

If we were to look at ourselves very honestly, we are all recipients of God’s grace. There is no goodness in any of us apart from Christ. But we were forgiven and redeemed from sin by His sacrifice on the cross. When we choose grace, we recognize that because of what God has done for us, we can do the same. We can forgive, restore, and love by his grace.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us... (Ephesians 1:7, 8 NASB)

When we apply grace in our relationships, we experience its transforming power. I have experienced grace from Edric many times. One of the ways he is grace-filled towards me is at night, before we go to bed. Almost every night for as long as he doesn’t fall asleep out of utter exhaustion, he will tell me he loves me. Even if we have come from an evening of unpleasant dialogue because we were fighting or I was “misbehaving” as a wife by being disrespectful, he will reassuringly tell me, “I love you.” That takes supernatural grace! He says it without expectation, without trying to manipulate me. He says it just because he wants me to know that he loves me no matter what circumstance we weather together.

When Edric tells me he loves me and I know I don’t deserve to hear it, it makes me want to be a better wife. It makes me want to change and right what I have done wrong.

We should never underestimate the power of extending grace to our spouses. The effect may not be immediate. Sometimes it may take years for a spouse who is a cheat and a liar to come around, but I like the comfort that this passage offers. We need to hope in God…

1 Peter 3: 3-5 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.”

Tip # 4: Give one another a CLEAN SLATE.

I would not be worth paying as an accountant. But I have an extraordinary capacity to keep a record of offenses done by my husband against me. Oh wait a minute, that is pretty common to us women, right?!

Whenever the hurt starts to pile up because I keep adding to this record, I am quick to respond with irritation or anger. It’s not the big stuff that often frustrates me, it’s the small things.

To free myself from recordkeeping, I must choose to give Edric a clean slate everyday. Otherwise, I will keep an inventory of hurtful incidences and file them under “things I don’t like about my husband.” And the more I file in that section, the more likely I am to focus on the negative. Instead I need to have this mindset: New mercies every morning, just like God is towards me.

Lamentations 3:22-23 “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.”

The idea of a clean slate is like the movie, 50 First Dates. The woman in the movie lost her memory everytime she went to bed at night. In marriage, I want to apply this by having amnesia for offenses and long-term memory for the good.

Past hurt can often define the way we respond to our spouse. So the principle of giving one another a clean slate is to forgive daily and declare in our hearts, “This is a new day, a new beginning. It is my gift to you.” When we do this we liberate ourselves from bitterness and we are free to enjoy our spouse.

Tip # 5: Be positive.

We can be so exacting of our spouse that we forget to praise and affirm them. Just recently, Edric and I were counseling a couple and we encouraged them to tell one another three things that they appreciate about each other every morning. Everyday, it has to be three original things. We asked them to do this because their default mode was to be critical of one another. As a result, they struggled to communicate what was really on their hearts.

Whenever I start to hold Edric to a set of expectations or mental “checklist” of how he should behave or treat me, I lose that feeling of admiration and respect that I ought to have for him, that God’s word commands me to have. To revive it, I try to be intentional about minding the simplest gestures or aspects of his personality that I appreciate. Soon after, I can’t wait to be with him and spend time with him because I realize what an amazing man I am married to!

Tip # 6: Keep dating each other

I am crazy about our kids but it is really nice to spend a quiet evening with Edric, just the two of us. He is my best friend and my favorite person to be with. Date nights really give us a chance to talk no matter how busy our week gets.

During our dates, we will ask one another, “How can I improve? How am I as a wife? How am I as a husband?” Because of this weekly habit, we don’t have a lot of issues that pile up. They have a short life span in our marriage.

When I gave birth some months ago, date nights were hard to come by. We noticed that this really affected our intimacy. I’m not just talking about physical intimacy. I’m talking about that deep sense of connectedness that we usually share. We became more pragmatic and less romantic towards one another.

When Catalina was able to take breastmilk in a bottle after 6 weeks, we resumed our date nights again. Even though it was very soon after I gave birth, we decided that it was important to safeguard this time together. (Praise God we also found a yaya whom we could trust to take care of her.)

After so many years I still get excited when Edric picks me up to go out for dinner. I dress up for him. I look forward to our conversations and affectionate exchanges…holding hands, hugging, kissing everywhere we go like newly weds. Date nights are our designated times to enjoy one another. No paying attention to cell phones. No gadgets. Just us.

Tip # 7: Pray and wait with eager expectation.

Not all issues or problems in marriage can be solved over night. There may be circumstances that happen in the timeline of a marriage that cause deep wounds. Only God can heal these. We need to give him room to do this. The wonderful thing is God has the capacity to fix what is broken in our marriages. He invites us to turn over burdens and rest in him. “Come to Me,” He says, “all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” And He goes on…”Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

There are occasions when I have to come desperately before God and ask him to do a heart makeover in me or work in the heart of Edric. And he has always been faithful. The answers may not come right away. But when they do, the timing is perfect.

I want to end with a story that illustrates exactly what I mean.

Lately, Edric has been so busy that I wondered if he would plan anything for Valentine’s Day. Yesterday passed and we did not go out. We just hung out with the kids at home. I didn’t expect anything dramatic but I didn’t receive a card or anything.

Over the years Edric has set a very high precedent for himself. During celebrations like Mother’s Day, my birthday, and our anniversary, he will put a whole lot of effort into planning a surprise that is pretty spectacular. But I have learned to be content and cut him some slack. After all, what matters more to me is that Edric is faithful, loving, and most importantly, that he keeps God at the center of his life. These are the greater gifts that he has given me as a husband.

The only thing I really wished was that he would be around more because I missed him a lot. I felt like all his activities were cannibalizing time that we ought to have together. Instead of complaining, I just asked the Lord to guide him as the spiritual leader of our home and to keep his priorities in the right order.

Well tonight, he suggested that we go inspect our new house (which is almost done. Yeah!) Edric and I did our routine checks of the finishing work on the ground floor and then we headed upstairs. When I got to the balcony, I was completely blown away. He had set up a table for us. Music was playing. The kids were jumping up and down (they were all in on the surprise, even our househelp.) And he had flowers on the table and food for our dinner. It was a setting for two.

He blurted out, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

I started to tear. This was our first dinner in our new but unfinished home. He put together a playlist of music we both like. And he even bought outdoor furniture for us to sit on. Edric doesn’t go out and buy furniture! I do that kind of thing. He had food ordered and he asked our househelp to set up table. (The kids were given dinner in a restaurant nearby and Edric and I had the place to ourselves.)

As for the contractor, Edric had coordinated with him last week and asked that the entire second floor be cleaned up in preparation for this evening. Usually, I can sense when he has a plan cooking. But I had no idea. I never imagined that he would be able to go through all the trouble to put together a dinner with the schedule he has had as of late. He told me, “I want you to know how special you are, no matter how busy I am.”

Just when I started to feel a little bit “neglected” as a wife because Edric was so preoccupied with work, ministry, speaking engagements and his tapings for ANC, God touched his heart to do something like this for me. This was the best post-Valentine’s celebration ever! And it was a wonderful reminder that I can always hope in God for my marriage and anticipate that it will get better and sweeter as I commit to pray for it and walk with Him.

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When Your Children See Half-Naked Women On The Cover Of A Magazine

“Don’t let Hollywood have a monopoly on what our children learn about sex” Dr. Peter Tanchi

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Our children don’t learn about purity today. They learn about immorality. Just turn on the TV or surf the net or heck, drive down Edsa. It’s hard NOT to be assaulted by the sexually charged environment we are in.

The other day, my ten year old, said, “Mom, they have pictures of half-naked women over there.” This happened at the grocery and Elijah came up to me looking disturbed as he made this statement. He was referring to the magazine rack display which was positioned in full view of everyone who was exiting the store. The most scandalous of them all were at his eye level.

Edan was over there too but he was looking at something else. When Elijah asked him if he saw the magazine covers, he was like, “Huh?! What pictures?! I didn’t see anything.” He was telling the truth. He didn’t notice them at all. Elijah, on the other hand, is getting older and more cognizant of what is inappropriate in women’s dressing. All the visible skin was shocking for him.

We talked about how women are not supposed to show off their bodies that way, that it is not pleasing to God. I also told him that he shouldn’t marry a woman that projects herself in that manner. I don’t even know why I added that, but he very emphatically responded, “I will never ever ever marry a woman like that!” GOOD. I hope he feels the same way ten years from now.

I know we cannot keep our children in a bubble. In fact, Elijah told me he has seen similar photos of women on billboards. Of course it upsets me that society doesn’t care at all that children are continually exposed to lewd and provocative pictures of women and even men. There may be some sanctions imposed on marketing and media companies but still, our children’s innocence is threatened so often.

I was upset about the magazines in the store, but it was my mom that went the extra mile. My mom was with us doing her grocery shopping, too. Immediately, she called the manager and said very nicely but with conviction, “You shouldn’t display magazines like these the way you do. Please find a way to cover them. It doesn’t speak well of your store and it’s not good for children.” And one by one she flipped over the magazines. No one stopped her and the manager acknowledged what she had to say.

I didn’t know if the store would do anything about it. But I was proud of my mom. (Elijah was, too.) I thought to myself, yah, you tell them, mom!

The good news is just today my mom dropped by the same grocery and she informed me that there was paper pasted across the bodies of the cover models. You can still see the names of the magazines that are being sold but no more half naked women visible to the public. She commended the manager for taking action on her request.

When Elijah and I found out that the grocery had “censored” the magazines, we were both thrilled. It was encouraging to know that people (represented by this grocery) still respect convictions. There are still people out there who know, deep inside, that it’s not okay for young women to be posing with a tiny strip of fabric to cover their private parts. Elijah, in his candid manner, just called it out and it was like, oh, right, hello, these women are not partially clothed, they are pretty much naked.

This is not an attempt to go out into the streets with a sign that says, death to all who let themselves be photographed wearing nothing but a tiny strip of fabric, death to all those who photograph them, death to all those who buy these photos, and death to all those who sell them. I am not so guiltless, not about the above, but about feeding my carnal appetite for immorality. There are times when I switch on the TV and get intrigued by the plot of a movie or show that outrightly condones sleeping around. And occasionally, I will surf the net and look up some Hollywood gossip and find it entertaining. I am ashamed to admit that there’s something interesting about all the garbage that goes on in the lives of famous people. By God’s grace, I don’t have much time to do any of the above these days. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t have the curiosity for it…a curiosity that needs to come under the control of the Holy Spirit.

I am writing this entry because I want to challenge all of us to practice and model holiness no matter how hostile the moral climate is today. I told Elijah, “We must never be ashamed to have high standards when it comes to purity. We don’t have to be like everyone else and think, well this is just the way it is.”

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18 NASB)

Personally, I need to be more aware of how easy it is to buy into the unbiblical standards that are becoming more and more “accepted” in our country. But God’s word says, As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “Y ou shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16 NASB)

If my mom had not said anything about the magazine rack, I probably wouldn’t have. I would have just let it go and thought, well, that’s just the nature of things. But because my mom spoke to the manager, I was blessed by her desire to protect my kids and every other person that comes in and out of that grocery store.

Society may continue to head in the wrong direction by promoting and celebrating immorality but we don’t have to become a causality of this inertia. We can say something when there is opportunity to do so. We can take a stand when necessary. We can hazard being ridiculed as outdated and boringly conservative. We can hold on to the belief that purity is God’s design, that sex is supposed to happen in marriage, between a husband and wife. Why? Because our children are watching and others, too. They want to know what to believe, what to value, what to uphold. If we guard, protect, and live out what is good, true, and holy, and if we are a testament to the blessings of doing so, then our children and others will have the courage to do the same.

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Sweet In The Arms Of…

Catalina reached out to me for the first time today. She is five months, going on six. It was a wonderful feeling to be wanted. Her little arms stretched out and she motioned toward me. Moments like these are sweet rewards for being a mom.

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While I was holding her, I thought of the parallels between what it is like to be a mother and the heart of God as our Heavenly Father. When my baby girl extended her arms, lunging forward towards me because she wanted to be held, I didn’t say, “Oh well that’s so cute, keep doing it and maybe I will pick you up.” Of course not! Immediately, I dropped everything to take her in my arms and hug her, whispering tender things in her ear. I was thrilled to pick her up.

If I am like that as a mom, flawed as I am as a human being, then what more the delight of a perfect God when we reach out to him, call out to him and turn to him with all sincerity? If he put in me a desire to be good to my children, then how much greater must his goodness be?

He eagerly waits for us to recognize that he loves us, just like I wait for the point in time when all my kids know that I love them and they can reciprocate. One of my highlights as a mom is hearing my children say, “I love you, mom” for the first time, without being prodded or coerced to.

In the meantime, I do all I can to communicate to them that they are special to me, hoping that one day they will want to have a relationship with me. Similarly, God has done everything to make it possible for us to have a relationship with him.

The Bible tells us “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love –not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)

Our actions and circumstances do not change who God is. He remains a loving Father even if we reject this truth about him.

So we have to ask ourselves, what keeps us from reaching out to him in faith, with outstretched arms, so that he can be the father he wants to be to us? Is it the disappointments and pains of a fallen world? Is it our refusal to give up sin and follow his design for our lives? Is it our own misconceptions about who he is and our lack of intimacy with him? Is it our busy-ness and the constant striving after personal ambition? Is it the pride of personal success?

If we really knew how deeply, magnanimously, and unconditionally loved we are by the God of the universe, we would all throw our arms up into the air with abandon and say, “Lord, take me. Take all me! I want to be your child.”

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12 NASB)

Catalina dosed off to sleep in my arms while I held her. (When she is with me, she has everything she needs — company, affection, protection, milk! At least for now…) She looked so peaceful and content. In a small, earth-bound sort of way, this is what it is like to rest in the arms of our Heavenly Father. There is no sweeter experience than to be held by him. But unlike me to Catalina, he is the source of everything we need and will ever need, forever and ever!

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My New Year’s REVOLUTION

I am revolting against my fat. Two weeks ago, I resumed P90X’s Ab Ripper X and my abs felt like they were ripping. Not ripping with muscle, ripping in PAIN!

Over the holidays I just lost it with my eating. Every sweet thing was in my hand and I thought, my genetics will overcome this. What pride. What a fool.

After I gave birth, I was just 6 pounds shy of my pre-pregnancy weight. A month after, I started running and my mom was like, “Your insides are going to fall out.” Okay, so I took a break. A LOOONG BREAK.

Now I am 10 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight. Darn. I might as well be 5 months pregnant because that’s how much I weighed when I was!

Christmas came along, buffet meals, sweets, delectable treats and bam! Pounds. Flabbiness. Muffin top. Tummy. I thought, I’m burning 500 calories a day as a breastfeeding mom. Just shovel it all in. I’m a milk producing machine that needs all of this. I’m hungry. I can eat anything.

Reality check. I ate anything and everything and I wasn’t selective and healthy about my choices. Now I have to contend with 10 pounds to lose.

At my age, it’s not that easy. I am up against the law of Thermodynamics, the tendency towards atrophy. I’m going to have to work really hard to get my muscle tone back so my metabolism kicks in.

I knew I needed to get back into shape when my husband, Edric, mentioned that WE need to work out.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “It’s my butt, right? I actually have a butt now, it’s getting bigger! Is that it?”

“I don’t want to say anything. I’m trying to be Christ-like, remember?”

“But I want to know the truth. Tell me the truth! I need to lose weight. Just say it.”

Is there any husband in the world that can win this discussion? Of course not. But I really wanted Edric to tell me what he thought my problem areas were. Actually, I just wanted affirmation for what I knew to be true about my problem areas so I would have greater resolve to stop eating so much.

Finally, he admitted that I have gotten “curvier” (right. safe words) but for my health’s sake, I do need to exercise. It was a softer blow…

So the very next day we ran and did our ab workout. Hoowee. World of pain. But I’m excited. I don’t want to make excuses. It’s safe to exercise now. Catalina is almost 6 months! And I don’t want to grow older without trying my best to be fit and healthy.

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I like how Edric said it the other day. We need to be fit to fight. Fit to tackle life’s challenges – parenting, ministry, work, etc. Plus, I’m always telling women, we need to try to look our best whatever season of our lives. Now it’s time to eat those words and stop eating junk food and candy. The challenge is on!

Step 1: Run every other day and do Ab Ripper X with Edric

Step 2: Get rid of junk food and sweets in the kitchen cabinets (90% done)

Step 3: Drink a ton of water

Step 4: Eat brown rice instead of white (Been doing this)

Step 5: Get more sleep (IMPOSSIBLE, for now, but I will try.)

The first few runs were the hardest because my body was used to a sedentary lifestyle. But exercise is amazing. Once I started getting into a rhythm of waking up early to run, my body began to look for it.

It will probably take me a couple of months to lose 10 pounds if I do it the healthy way. I don’t believe in dieting. Diet has the word DIE in it which is very telling. But I do believe in being thoughtful about what I eat and finding the right fitness program for my body type.

For example, I cannot lift alot of weights. I will look like a she-hulk. My body easily bulks in a bad way. But running increases my metabolism so that I burn fat more efficiently. And doing abdominal exercises works out my biggest problem area. So it is a good combination for me to do both.

I will start out with this and then see what I can add to my routine after a few weeks. It usually takes me about two months to see significant results.

In the meantime this verse motivates me.Philippians 4:7 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”