Archives for August 2015

Mommy Milkshare: A MilkDrive for Moms Who Care

  “Breastmilk is the best for babies” — most, if not all, moms have probably heard this at one point in their lives. The statement is 100% true, of course, which is why the World Health Organization (WHO) states the following in its report on “Global strategy on infant and young child feeding”:

“Breastfeeding is an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants; it is also an integral part of the reproductive process with important implications for the health of mothers. As a global public health recommendation, infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health.

Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Exclusive breastfeeding from birth is possible except for a few medical conditions, and unrestricted exclusive breastfeeding results in ample milk production.”

Bearing this in mind, two breastfeeding-advocate-minded local enterprises are holding a post-Breastfeeding Awareness Month event to help provide breastmilk to needy babies, namely “Mommy Milkshare: A MilkDrive for Moms Who Care.” This will take place on from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on September 5, 2015, at The Parenting Emporium, 29 1st Street, New Manila, Quezon City.

The Mommy Milkshare milkletting event is open to all breastfeeding moms who wish to donate their milk. “There is no registration fee, but it is exclusive for breastmilk donors. Mommies should bring frozen milk, expressed within 3 months, and should also be willing to be screened,” Maricel expounds.

Aside from the milkletting activity, participants can expect different activities as well.

Below is the list of talks scheduled for the event:

10a.m.-12nn: Developmental Milestones of Your Infant/Toddler (Speaker: Tanya Velasco of Guru Firm {Early Childhood and Family Life Experts})

1-2p.m.: Time Management Skills for the Busy Mom (Speaker: Candice Cipullo of “The Travelling Maybahay” Blog)

2-3p.m.: Overcoming Breastfeeding Challenges (Speaker: Joyce Martinez, RN, MSN, IBCLC)

3-4p.m.: Managing Mommy Guilt (Speaker: MommyProofing Coach Joy Dejos, Certified Professional Coach)

It is hoped that through this event for moms by moms, the message of “growing together as parents” will be shared to all, and that parents — especially mothers — will be encouraged to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, and share what they have with others.

   
 To pre-register for the event, kindly contact the TPE Events Hotline: 0917-8110821. For updates from The Parenting Emporium, please send an email to theparentingemporium@gmail.com or follow TPE on Facebook and Instagram @theparentingemporium. To get in touch with Honeysuckle Philippines, contact them on Facebook and on Instagram @honeysucklephils.

Paez Shoes

This was my first time to try Paez shoes, the shoe brand from Argentina that fits so comfortably around my feet. 

I am a practical gal. On occasion, I will wear heels for special events but usually I prefer wedges or flats because my feet tend to hurt when I wear any kind of high heel. I mean, any. It’s unfortunate because I love the way heels look. But as a mom of five, I can’t always prance around in four inch shoes. (I don’t know how Victoria Beckham does it.) 

My philosophy when it comes to shoes is to be kind to yourself. Feet are important. Don’t abuse them. I like stylish shoes but I need comfort. 

So what a treat it was when Paez Shoes invited our family to their store in Rockwell, to pick out pairs for all of us. Seven awesome pairs that are wearable, fun, and oh-so-sweet to our feet! 

Catalina made a bee-line for the watermelon themed ones. All the Paez shoes for little kids are so adorable!  

  
 
Edric decided that all the boys should match his pair.   

   
   
I got a denim one that will work with almost any outfit. Tiana got herself a pink pair. But of course! 

    
 I have been enjoying mine since! And my feet have stayed happy! Yeah!
Thank you, Paez! 

    

 

When A Good God Allows Rape

This September, at the Manila International Book Fair in SMX, OMF Literature will be launching my first published book, When A Good God Allows Rape. Yes, the title is kind of a shocker but for those of you who have followed my blog, you already know that this event is something I have spoken openly about. Some parts of the book I have take from a few articles on this site but I am happy to say that it’s the first autobiographical account of the tragedy, the events that followed, and God’s hand in all of it. 

 This is a dream come true for me, a bucket-list-kind-of-accomplishment. When I was younger I hoped that one day I would have the privilege of declaring what God has done in my life through a book. Now that I am just a few weeks from its launch, it feels wonderfully surreal. 

Even if I originally wanted this book to come out ten years earlier, the timing of its launch is as it should be. The landscape of my life’s journey includes a postscript of experiences and memories that overshadow that black spot in the timeline of my life. People will be able to see the thread of God’s goodness. 

Everything was going smoothly between the publisher, editor and me up until two weeks ago, when one of my dear friends in the story requested that her real name not be used. I understood where she was coming from and completely respected her feelings so I honored her request. But having to make alterations at the nth hour wasn’t easy. We remain close and this change will not harm our friendship. She is so dear to me.

Initially, the stress robbed me of sleep. So I did the one thing that I probably shouldn’t have done. I went shopping on Amazon. There’s something ridiculously therapeutic about putting things in my cart and taking them out, then putting them back in and taking them out, and reading reviews. I am not advocating stress-shopping! But it did give me something else to think about besides my book. 

What this unprecedented turn of events taught me was to trust in God’s will. I was also reminded that this book is not mine. I may have written its contents. But God owns this story, and he allowed this last minute revision even after I prayed for my friend’s heart to change on the matter. So this is part of His plan. 

I am excited and nervous at the same time. Excited because this is my first published book ever!!! And nervous because what if it isn’t received well and I have made myself so vulnerable in it?!!! You can tell from my exclamation points that these are emotionally loaded statements. But I have done my part and must rest in the comfort that God will do the rest. 

On a side note, I think it is pretty amazing that my editor was a British woman named Victoria Hope. How cool is it that the person who helped me finalize this book had a name like that? Victoria means victory in Latin. So put the two words together and you get “victorious hope.” This is what my book is about. We can all have a victorious hope in God, who redeems our tragedies. He loves us and uses all things for our good when we choose to follow and trust in Him. 

May God get all the glory for this book! It includes perspectives from Edric and my parents. And it’s a book for anyone dealing with tragedy and loss, no matter what kind. 

Of course I hope you will come to the book signing on September 20 at 4:30 PM at SMX, too! This book will retail for P100.   To read the MIBF preview on the OMF Literature site, click this: when a good God allows rape

Print the image below to get free entrance to the book fair!   

Does Money Make Us Happy?

When I was living at home with my parents, life was comfortable. My parents didn’t spoil my siblings and me, but they provided handsomely for us. It wasn’t until I got married and left home that it dawned upon me…there’s a ceiling to what Edric and I have, financially speaking, and it isn’t very high. 

We started off simply as a young couple and for the first time, I began to compare myself with others. Edric and I couldn’t afford luxuries like travel, buying new cars, eating out, or alot of personal shopping. 

We were both corporate people so the prospect of amassing wealth was a far off dream as we were in the beginning stages of our careers. Even though I appreciated how hard Edric worked, there were occasions when I paid attention to the disparity between what I grew up with and what I now had in marriage. And although I didn’t think I had a heart problem when it came to money, the reality was I believed that having more money would make me (us) happier.  

  

(Photo: exchangecalculator.com)

Thankfully, God used that stage in my life to expose my dependence upon money for security. Those early years of marriage were humbling as I watched my siblings and peers enjoy material things I desired for myself. Yet having less than I hoped to have was spiritually beneficial. 

Edric and I realized that we didn’t need a lot to be happy. In fact, those difficult years turned out to be some of the most romantic memories! The secret to joy was contentment. ‬‬When I stopped comparing my financial status to others and turned my attention to what I had, I saw the goodness of the Lord in my life — my wonderful, hard-working and loving husband, beautiful children, my health, the ability to work, a happy home, harmonious relationships, ministry, and most of all, God Himself. I accepted those years of spiritual pruning as protection against greed and materialism. 

Since God allotted for Edric and me to struggle financially, I believe He purposed it for our character growth. I honestly don’t think we were ready for the stewardship of financial wealth because our perspective on money was immature. We saw money as something to serve our own aims. If we had more we would have spent more on ourselves and attached our sense of self-worth and identity to money. 

Thankfully, God was always faithful. We never went hungry. God also assured me that He would provide for Edric and me. Provision didn’t always mean material wealth but I knew I didn’t have to worry about our future because God was our Father.

Psalm 34:10 tells us, “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.”‬‬

As God continued to increase our financial capacity, there came a point when we were preparing to build our home. This plan coincided with the efforts of our church to build a new training and worship center. One Sunday service, a guest speaker spoke on giving to God. Stirred by the message, Edric decided to write a check to support the building fund. Because of the amount he chose to give, he tearfully surrendered our dream to build our own home. Yet God assured him, build my house and I will build yours. Sure enough, about two years later, God provided above and beyond what Edric had written on that check and we were able to finish our house! 

Money is so often a test, whether in lack or abundance. And sometimes more so when it is abundant! The Bible tells us, “…Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:15‬ ‭NASB

Although money doesn’t make us more important or more special, it does have that sneaky way of making us feel like this is true. Whether a little or plenty, we all have the tendency to pursue it above our pursuit of God. Perhaps this is why the wise King Solomon wrote, “…Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭30:8-9‬ ‭NASB‬‬ 

Since money competes with God’s place in our hearts, the first cure is to fall more in love with God rather than money. Luke 16:13 tells us that we cannot serve both God and money because we will end up loving the one and hating the other. 

The second cure is to give. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 tells us, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:6-8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Generosity is a good gauge for our heart’s attitude towards money. Author and speaker, Craig Groeschel, beautifully put it when he said that the pursuit of God over money will make us “strangely content” and “irrationally generous.” 

Randy Alcorn reminds us that “Too often we assume that God has increased our income to increase our standard of living, when his stated purpose is to increase our standard of giving. (Money, Possessions and Eternity

I am continually blessed by a couple I know who sets aside a giving fund from their monthly income. And whenever God prods them to give to a person or an organization, they willingly do so, having allocated the money beforehand for whatever or whomever God should convict them to be generous towards. 

We also need to remember that generosity is a condition of the heart not an ability reserved only for the wealthy. A poor and kind African man once told a missionary, “no one is too poor to give nor too rich to receive.” 

The third cure is remembering that God owns everything and we are His stewards. King David declared, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name…”‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭29:11-13 NASB‬‬ 

When Edric didn’t understand stewardship, he went into near bankruptcy.  His mentality used to be, “I earned this. I worked hard for this. I can spend my money on what I want to.” (He has shared this in public.) It wasn’t until a loving friend corrected his mindset that he realized he doesn’t own anything. He is just a steward of the resources God has entrusted him with, namely his time, talents, and treasures. 

The fourth cure is to remain simple. Just because we can pay for an item or a service that is more expensive doesn’t mean we should. When I wrote an article about why I don’t buy designer clothing, bags, or shoes it wasn’t because they have no appeal to me. They are beautiful things indeed! But the price at which they come by is unconscionable when so many people have needs around us. 

Do I go shopping and try my best to look put together? Do I still look for quality goods? Of course! Yet I want to quote another insight from Randy Alcorn: “Abundance isn’t God’s provision for me to live in luxury. It’s his provision for me to help others live. God entrusts me with his money not to build my kingdom on earth, but to build his kingdom in heaven.”  

So does money make us happy? Yes and no. It doesn’t make us happy when we look to it as the source of our happiness. But it can make us happy when:

1. we love God more than money and find contentment in Him.

2. we cheerfully give when God leads us to.

3. we understand that we are merely stewards because God owns everything. 

4. we choose to be simple so we can spend less on ourselves and bless others more.

In short, money “makes us happy” when we don’t use it to serve our own purposes (purposes which will never fully satisfy), but do use it to serve God’s purposes, which will give us infinite joy!  

 

The Amazing Bubble Man – A Show For the Kid In All of Us

BM_about the show

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Louis Pearl – The Amazing Bubbleman will visit Manila for the first time, to perform at RCBC’s Carlos P. Romulo Theater from September 23 – 27.

It’s more than just a family show, it’s educational entertainment. Louis Pearl teaches the science of bubbles, incorporating physics and chemistry into his bubble acrobatics and magic, something he has become an expert at in the past 30 years. From square bubbles, layers of bubbles inside bubbles, fog-filled bubbles, volcano bubbles to flying UFO bubbles and even people inside bubbles — The Amazing Bubble Man is set to enchant adults and children alike with his unique blend of skill and humor.

The Amazing Bubble Man has performed to more than one million people, including royalty and celebrities, in hundreds of cities around the world. He is also a favorite at the world-famous Edibburgh Festical Fringe, where he returns this year for his eighth successive season.

The Guardian, U.K., describes his show as “brilliant.” While Producer James Cundall, Chief Executive of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions says, “I saw Louis Pearl’s Amazing Bubble Show at the Edibburgh Festical Fringe and was absolutely mesmerized. I had no idea you could do so many amazing things with bubbles. I went to talk to Louis after his performance about touring internationally – I thought ‘if a producer with 25 years in the entertainment business can be blown away by bubbles then surely people all around the world will be amazed by this incredible show too.”

This wondrous 75 minute show combines breath-taking artistry, colorful music, plenty of audience participation and enough spellbinding bubble tricks to keep all ages entranced, including adults! The Amazing Bubble Man is for the kid in everybody! My kids can’t wait to watch this!

See ticket prices below:


For tickets:

Ticketworld 
Ticketworld Facebook
Concertus Manila Facebook
Ticketworld Booking Online: 891-9999

For more information contact Anna Yulo at 403-8678 or 0917-827-9856

Louis Pearl, The Amazing Bubble Man is produced by Concertus Manila and Lunchbox Theatrical Productions in association with Louis Pearl.

God Always Provides For Our Homeschooling

Sat Apr 11 2015 02_36_51 GMT+0800-2

It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord continues to prove faithful as we homeschool our children. Homeschooling gets challenging every year in new ways. With a 7th grader and other kids moving up the elementary ladder, my instruction requirements become more and more difficult. In some ways, my kids become more independent when it comes to their subject studies. However, their emotional, spiritual, and physical needs increase. They need more mentoring and discipleship, they also need us to be more involved and attentive to what’s going on in their hearts.

I found this to be true with our son, Elijah, who is becoming his own man as he transitions into his teenage years. A lot of times Edric and I have to help him process what’s going on his head — the fears, the doubts, the worry, or the frustrations. We praise God that he loves the Lord because it makes it easier to reconnect him back to the biblical perspective as he deals with his feelings and his thought life. But I realize, that parenting never quite ends. We get through one stage and one season and feel like we’ve mastered it, only to enter into an entirely unchartered one where we are faced with the thought, We have no idea what we are doing! This is the wonderful adventure of being a mom and a dad. It’s never boring!

As a homeschooling mom, I have to come to terms with my own limitations, even intellectually. Teaching mathematics at the higher levels is not easy. But thanks to programs like Khan Academy, I can augment my lack of expertise. This year, there was a subject area that I finally surrendered to. FILIPINO.

I can teach math because I studied math. I may struggle through it, but if I can do it if I need to. But Filipino was never a subject to me until I got into college in Ateneo. And even then I enrolled in the Filipino for foreigners class where we learned phrases like, “Magandang Umaga and Mabuhay.” (I know. It’s pathetic.) But I thought it was great! Learning how to speak in Filipino more fluently came as I interacted with people in school. However, I never took it as a formal subject.

So to teach it now is like my version of a homeschool mom’s nightmare. I can’t get through a lesson without having to translate everything word-for-word into English in order to teach it to my kids.

As I planned for this homeschool year, I decided that I would focus on my strengths and supplement this area of weakness. Edric was sweet enough to give me the go signal to hire a Filipino tutor. I’ve never had to do this in all of my homeschooling…hire a tutor. But how nice to have it as an option!

I praise God that homeschooling offers me the flexibility to customize my children’s learning experience. I don’t have to be an expert in every subject area. I can outsource where I lack. Yeah!

So I had the plan to hire a Filipino tutor but I didn’t know where to find one. Thanks to Facebook, it took just one post, one cry for help on Facebook. Sympathetic and kind-hearted friends sent me several options.

Last Saturday, Elijah and Edan had their first session with their tutor and they loved it! I was so happy. It’s amazing how quickly the kids pick up content when the teacher knows what they are doing!

As for me, I marveled once again at how good God is. He called Edric and I to homeschool our children. He put the conviction and desire in our hearts to raise them to love Him with all that they are. And when the journey hits an obstacle, God is faithful to provide for our homeschooling needs.

I always tell moms who are having a hard time with homeschooling to remember that God is our partner in all of this. God is our enabler. His grace is sufficient. There is no homeschool problem too big for Him to solve. So be encouraged whenever you come up against a road block because it means that God is going to do something that will make you smile and say “Thank you, Lord! I can keep going!”

 

For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5 (NASB)

Sat Apr 11 2015 02_34_09 GMT+0800

 

 

I Need Heaven

 I held a magnifying glass up to my eye and jokingly asked Elijah, “Is this what things look like to you when you aren’t wearing glasses?” It was evening and I was lying beside him on his bed as the rest of the kids threw pillows up in the air with Edric. They were playing a game, using the pillows as pretend bombs and tossing them at one another.

Elijah had taken off his glasses as he usually does before bedtime and set them aside. But in response to my question, he now put them back on, holding the magnifying glass up against his eyes. “Yup, pretty much.”

I knew his eyes were bad, but for the first time, I realized how indistinguishable details are to him. The room turned into a messy blur of moving shapes and colors that melted into one another. I could see forms of people but there were no lines to define where one object or body ended and another began. It was like seeing the world as an impressionist painting, but with movement. No wonder he says I’m a beautiful mommy! He doesn’t see any of my flaws! (In contrast to my second son, Edan, who asked me the other day, “What are those holes on your face, mom?” referring to my pores! Ack!)

When the reality of Elijah’s eyesight hit me, my heart hurt in the way that a mother’s does when she feels helpless to remedy the pain of her child. I was quiet. Elijah, unaware of the stirring within me, removed his glasses once again and sat up on the bed to join his brothers’ pillow-bomb fighting.

I watched him playfully interact with his brothers and dad, unaffected by the constraints of his handicap. He’s lived with his degenerating eyesight for years. And although his Ophthalmologist visits are trying because his fear of possible blindness intensifies during each check up (when his eye grade shoots up), he’s come to accept that this is his cross in life.

Without his glasses, Elijah wouldn’t be able to find me in a crowd unless I was twelve inches away from his face. Unless he heard my voice and zoned in on the direction it came from, he would be lost. When Elijah misplaced his glasses last year, he got separated from us in the mall. In my terror, I panicked. It took me a few minutes to find him. He was walking directionless in an aisle with crowds of people passing by him on either side. I called out to him and took him in my arms immediately and held on to him. What a relief to know that he was okay!

By God’s grace, Edric and I don’t have bad eyesight. Edric wears glasses but his grade is minimal. He can function without them. My eyes are still okay. I’ve eaten a lot of tomatoes in my lifetime. Maybe that has something to do with it! More sensible people would say that it’s genetic, of course.

Everytime I think about Elijah’s eyesight, it makes me reflective about heaven. Whether surgery works on him someday or doesn’t, I’m glad that there’s heaven for him, for me, for everyone. We need heaven. I need heaven.

This morning, on the way to a planning retreat, Elijah and I were having a dialogue about his eyesight again, and he told me, “Mom, someday in heaven, I want Jesus to be the one to touch my eyes to heal me.” I choked back the tears. What a tender hope he treasures in his heart as he looks forward to eternity.

I think about the hurting, the sick, the destitute, the dying, and rejoice that the length of human life on earth isn’t the best part of our existence. Whatever you and I are going through today, it’s comforting to know that God has prepared a better place for us through His Son, Jesus.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-3

   

Draw the Line Far Away From Adultery

“You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 5:14

Let me begin by saying that adultery is emblematic of our heart condition above all else. When Jesus said, “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” he was elevating our understanding of unfaithfulness to our spouse to include the impurity we think and entertain in our hearts. (Matthew 5:28)

This higher standard is needed today more than ever, when marriage between a man and a woman is under attack from all sides. Whether it is a government’s attempt to redefine what marriage is, Internet sites like ashleymadison which blatantly advertise having an affair, the rising addiction to pornography, or the erosion of our own moral consciences due to the lack of healthy role models at home and around us (especially as glorified in the media), the game plan of the evil one is the same…corrupt God’s design for marriage by enticing a husband and wife with sin.

A sin like adultery doesn’t always begin as a bold declaration of defiance against God’s will and purpose for us. Many times we are hooked in ever so gently and deceptively ensnared. James 1:14 – 15 tells us, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” I like how James reveals to us a very important antidote for resisting sin, especially sexual sin…Do not awaken desire.

A few weeks ago, one of my sons was in a hardware store with me. We got to the check-out where a magazine rack displayed all kinds of magazines with covers of skimpily clad and partially nude women. My son was deeply upset. “I can’t believe this!” He said, huffing and puffing. He turned his head away and started to pull off each of the magazines and flip them over! Because he wasn’t looking at them as he did so, it was hard for him to get them back into their slots on the rack.

I watched him, a little bit embarrassed, as it seemed like a rather extreme reaction when he could’ve just turned his eyes away. Did he really have to rearrange the magazines in front of everyone?! But then I realized, this was a good thing. He was acting on a conviction. For him, seeing a picture of a sexy woman makes him vulnerable to thoughts of impurity. So he did what he had to do to protect his eyes and turned all of the covers around.

Of all the sins in the Bible, we are told to FLEE sexual immorality. “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) Don’t venture near it, don’t hover around it, don’t dip your finger in it. RUN AWAY!

Last Sunday, Edric asked me to share practical tips on how to avoid adultery. Interestingly, someone wrote our church and was very upset, saying that we were imposing OUR values on the congregation which were not biblical and that we were a deeply insecure couple. The other accusation was that we were telling married persons that they cannot have meaningful relationships with the opposite sex.

   
 To the first criticisim, that we were passing on unbiblical values, my response is this: Since the Bible tells us to flee immorality, what is unbiblical about saying we must do whatever it takes to safeguard our marriages? 1 Peter 5:8 reminds us, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” The evil one is a crafty opportunist. If we don’t have our guards up, anyone of us is susceptible to infidelity. 

To the second criticism, here’s the reality…illicit relationships very often began as harmless, well-intentioned relationships with the opposite sex. Furthermore, affairs tend to happen in the workplace more so than in any other setting. Since women and men work closely with one another and spend alot of time together, it is unwise to have “meaningful” relationships with the opposite sex as a married person. To clarify, the word meaningful is different from being friendly, courteous, respectful, and kind (which we ought to be to all people). Meaningful connotes a deeper kind of friendship that crosses over to personal.

Dr. Liz Curin writes, “Over the past half century, women have entered the workforce in increasing numbers. In today’s economy, it is almost a luxury for a woman (or a man) to remain full time in the home and raise children. And so women and men have become accustomed to working closely with each other, particularly as the feminist agenda has continued to push for full and equal participation in the workplace. The reality is that many men and women spend more time with their coworkers than they do with their spouses. They engage in more conversation about both work and non-work-related matters. The emotional intensity of workplace demands can contribute to the forging of strong emotional bonds.” (Source:Atlanta Psych)

85% of affairs begin in the workplace. Think about the amount of time you spend with your spouse vs. the amount of time you spend with co-workers. Day after day, maybe 40+ hours a week, you and your colleagues share the ups and downs of work; you bond over projects, successes and difficulties at work. The close interaction, travel, and unavoidable closeness may lead to strong friendships and emotional attachments outside your marriage. The workplace provides opportunity and proximity to people outside your family. Women’s increasing entry into the workforce has correlated with a rise in the number of affairs women are having. It’s no wonder the workplace is the most common place affairs start. (Source:Good Therapy)

No one connives to tear apart their marriage by having an affair unless their conscience has been blackened by years of compromise and sinful choices. Usually a person begins to develop a “meaningful” relationship with someone who isn’t their spouse and a connection and attraction begins to form between them.

This is precisely why Edric asked me to emphasize the need to draw the line in marriage. Draw the line to protect it against adultery way before the choice becomes about sleeping with someone who isn’t your spouse.

Our own personal boundaries may have seemed extreme as I shared them with the audience, but they were meant to be examples of how one can avoid adultery rather than personal values we were trying to force upon people. Everyone has to determine what extent is necessary for them to guard against infidelity. As for Edric and me, one thing we have found necessary is to avoid being ALONE with the opposite sex.

When Edric was in the corporate world, he did not have coffee or share a meal with a colleague who was a woman. He wouldn’t ride with a woman colleague in a vehicle to meetings either. If he really couldn’t get out of a situation, he would invite another officemate to join him or call me first to let me know.

Edric also applied being cautious when it came to hiring an secretary or assistant. He would ask me to meet any woman he planned to hire so that I could help him make a discerning choice.

Furthermore, when he designed his current office, he used glass walls so everyone can see what’s going on inside. All his private meetings with any woman who works for him are actually public.

As we began to be more involved in ministry, we also followed the CCF policy of “Do not counsel the opposite sex alone.” For example, when a woman asks for Edric’s advice, whether it is in person, via text, email, or social media, Edric will invite me into the discussion and ask me to be the one to minister to the woman, or we do it as a team. When a man gets in touch with me to ask for advice, I connect him to Edric.

No one is impervious to an affair. In fact, speaker and author, Francis Kong says that if you want to protect yourself, “avoid the ambush of overconfidence.” The devil uses all kinds of avenues to tempt us or make us fall in the area of purity. So Edric and I also draw the line when it comes to Facebook and other forms of social media and digital communication, too.

I used to dream about a certain person from my past, someone I used to have a crush on. I had no more feelings for him but one day he tried to get in touch with me through social media. I remember feeling a twinge of excitement. When I asked Edric if I could respond to him he was like, “No way! Don’t communicate with him at all!”

At first I reacted, but since this person was someone I used to be attracted to, I followed his advice. An article published in Psychology Today reveals that “Social networks are clearly another factor (for extramarital affairs) – if only to expand the pool of possibility. Emotional friendships that turn physical are the traditional point of entry for female affairs. Now, it’s very easy for those friendships to take root online. Some argue that social networks are merely an expediter; and that cheaters will always find a way. Still, if you’ve never quite gotten over your prom date, chances are you can find him.” (Source: psychologytoday.com)

Statistics from illicitencounters.com (yes that’s the name of the site!) and other legal studies show that divorce and Facebook are significantly correlated with increased flirting and illicit online affairs. In a study conducted by a law firm, out of 5,436 divorce cases a total of up to 1,087 cases cited that illicit affairs started with the social networking site Facebook. (Source: facebookcheating.com)

 

Edric and I aren’t paranoid about every person who reaches out to us on social media. We do give them the courtesy of a response. But we are careful about not carrying on casual chats or frequent friendly exchanges with the opposite sex on social media channels.

When Edric started to become a TV personality, he had a lot of women trying to get his attention through social media. One time there was a woman on Facebook who kept flirting with Edric. She would send him random messages to strike up a conversation or dialogue. She was very attractive and young, too. In other words, danger, danger, danger. I praise God that Edric ignored her even when she accused him of being a snob. And when she kept persisting, he finally “unfriended” her so she would get the picture.

Sometimes a person is obvious about their intentions, other times the invitation to dialogue is malice-free. The point is we all need to apply cautiousness, and be transparent with our spouses. Both Edric and I include one another in exchanges with the opposite sex if the conversation involves more than a few back and forth responses. Other couples actually have a shared social media account.

Another challenge surfaced for us when Edric started doing corporate speaking engagements around the country. This began right after I gave birth to my fifth child so I couldn’t go with him. To protect himself, Edric found a way to include Elijah in all his talks. He made it a point not to travel alone. The added blessing is Edric and Elijah have bond together as father and son, and they can maximise the nice hotel rooms by enjoying them together!

Author Ted Haggard writes, “So many times, I’ve seen men and women get into trouble when they travel away from home because they believe that no one will ever know what they do when away. This is a lie, and it will always come back to haunt you. In Genesis 38, the Bible tells the story of Judah, who went on a business trip. When he arrived at a distant town, he saw a prostitute and approached her to sleep with her. But he didn’t have any money to pay her, so he had to give her some personal items as a down payment. Of course, everyone knew those items belonged to him, and soon what he had done in secret, far away from home, was a public matter. And, again, we’re reading about his hypocrisy thousands of years later. His actions have brought shame to his entire family for many generations. It’s just not worth it. I remember an old tent preacher saying, sin will take you further than you want to go; cost you more than you want to pay; and keep you longer than you want to stay. (Source: Letters from Home. p. 20)

The reality is even if Edric and I have all these lines drawn around our marriage there have been instances where we had to deal with “issues.” I remember years and years ago he confessed to me that he was attracted to someone at work. He had to perform with this woman in a corporate show for his company and dance with her, acting like she was the woman he loved. As a result, the feelings spilled over into real life!

When he opened up to me about his feelings of attraction, I was hurt but I also realized that he was trying to be honest. Praise God he told me when the feelings were just beginning to bloom. So we talked about it, and by God’s grace, it was as if a spell was broken, as Edric put it. Whatever infatuation he was feeling went away when he brought it to the light.

This became a template for us. Today, we talk openly about purity so that hidden struggles don’t fester or grow into bigger problems in our marriage. But I also realized that it helps to put on the “best friend hat” so we can talk about our struggles without feeling like we will be judged or rejected for our honesty. It’s not easy to lay aside pride to do this! But as issues surface, we work through them and pray to overcome them, only by God’s grace.

I also have to add that meeting each other’s need for sexual intimacy is important for safeguarding against adultery. Edric has told me that it’s very hard for a man to keep his heart and mind pure when he is deprived of sex. We counsel a lot of couples and this is a common problem, even among young couples. As wives, we can have all kinds of excuses – pregnancy, breastfeeding, the kids, I don’t enjoy it, I can live without it, etc…But I will never forget what a pastor’s wife once said from the stage, “Have sex with your husband at least once every three days. Scientifically, that’s as long as they can go without it or they become vulnerable to temptation.” If this number doesn’t work, then perhaps a husband and wife can discuss how often is healthy for them. And be creative. Don’t let your sex life become boring. Talk about how you can better meet each other’s sexual needs and desires.

Sometimes the problem is that our concept of sex has been programmed by wrong role models, past relationships or the media which can have a negative effect on our sexual intimacy. So as added protection, Edric and I avoid movies, tv shows, music, or other forms of media that give us the wrong kinds of sexual appetites. And Edric tries his best to keep himself “porn-free.” (Before we got married this was a big problem in his life, which he openly shared when he spoke last Sunday.) 

In an article published by GQ Magazine, author Scott Christian of the NoFap commnunity site argued that porn can lead to physical addiction, a decline in sexual satisfaction with one’s mate, and decreased sexual performance. This conclusion was based on surveys of 75,000 people committed to quitting porn and masturbation. For those addicted to porn, arousal actually declined with the same mate, while those who regularly found different mates were able to continual their arousal, Christian wrote. It’s known as the Coolidge Effect, or novelty-seeking behavior. Porn, after all, trains the viewer to expect constant newness. (We don’t want this to happen to our marriages!) However, he also pointed out that the survey showed that there is hope for the addicted, with 60% of those who embraced the “nofap” (no masturbation/porn) challenge saying that they saw an increase in their sexual functions…

Since women are wired a little differently, one of the ways that Edric protects me from adultery is he meets my emotional needs. He makes me feel loved, cherished, appreciated, prioritized and important. To do this, we have weekly date nights where we can enjoy each other’s company. And he will ask me, how can I improve as a husband? This keeps my emtional tank full and makes me less likely to seek out the affections or attentions of a man.

God created sex to be a powerful and amazing way to cultivate intimacy between a husband and wife. It’s supposed to be something we want to share with our spouse in marriage. Sexual desires are intended for our spouse. When we experience sex outside the context of marriage it is destructive to us as individuals, to our marriages (or future marriages if you are still single.)

When God gave the command “Do not commit adultery,” he had our best interests at heart. And when Jesus explained what adultery is, he clarified our understanding of this sin so that we will draw the line far away from it. Why? As the next two verses will attest, God is after our greatest good. His commands are meant to bless us…

“The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭19:7‬ ‭

“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭5:3‬

So never ever think it is normal to do it (outside of marriage) because everyone else is doing it. Let’s not lower our standards and rob ourselves of the wonderful intimacy God designed for marriage. Normal as God intended is a husband and wife enjoying trust, security, open communication, oneness of purpose and identity in Christ, and sexual pleasure. That’s God’s normal for all of us; that’s what Edric and I pray to have; and that’s why we try to draw the line far away from adultery.

  

 

My Heart Is Turned Towards You 

  
This morning, amidst the flurry of activity I found myself in while preparing for a homeschool playgroup and all-day meetings, Edric very sweetly told me, “You know my heart is turned towards you.” Suddenly, whatever stress I felt dissipated as he calmly smiled at me while finishing his breakfast. 

He said this because I asked him if we could upgrade the tech situation in our homeschool room. The kids rely on my laptop (the only laptop we have at home) so it’s overloaded with files and programs that Elijah experiments with, and it’s a challenge when we both need to use it. I haven’t minded the sharing too much, but this year, with Elijah in high school for our homeschooling, we need at least one other laptop or a desktop computer for writing assignments and research. Plus, Elijah is learning programming too, so he needs a device to work on. 

I don’t know when Edric will actually buy a computer or laptop for our homeschool room because he has a lot going on at present, but the manner in which he heard my request and responded to it with tenderness meant a lot. I have said this before but I will say it again…women are not as complicated as we seem. 

Author and speaker, Craig Groeschel, said that “women are multipliers.” Be sweet to them and they will magnify sweetness in return. Be mean to them and they will give you hell. He actually used the phrase “give you hell” which was kind of surprising for a pastor but he delivered it with humor, trying to emphasize his point — a woman multiplies what she receives from her husband.

When Edric makes me feel like I am important and prioritized, I am an inspired wife! A little gas in my emotional tank goes a long way! My preference is affirmation. For other wives it may be time, affection, gifts, or service. Whatever it is, I think I speak for all women when I say that we bloom when our husbands “speak” our love language, as Dr. Gary Chapman puts it. 

It doesn’t take as much effort as a man might presume to meet the emotional needs of a woman. In fact the effort index is way higher when a man neglects the emotional needs of his wife. For example, yesterday, Edric ignored me when I asked him if I should bring the stroller for Catalina during our family date night. I must have asked for his opinion three times but he said nothing. We were rushing to get into the car and he may have thought it an unimportant question. Even though I shouldn’t have made a big deal out of it, I did. In my irritation I asked, “Why don’t you answer me?” 

He didn’t appreciate my tone or attitude and corrected me by remarking, “This is not an issue.” 

“Yes it is. I really don’t like it when you ignore me. I have said this before. It’s upsetting.” 

Well, that didn’t help. The first part of our family time was a little cold, at least between Edric and me. It took me a while to simmer down and quell my hurt. I started thinking of several other things that Edric did that day which upset me. Over one unanswered question, my mind resurrected three other reasons to fan my ire. Thankfully we resolved the dispute and apologies were exchanged. The point is, I get complicated when I feel slighted by Edric. Of all the people in my life it is his treatment of me that naturally matters the most. 

I am not saying that my reactive-ness is ever Edric’s fault, especially when I choose to be disrespectful or disobedient to him. My responses are still my responsibility. However, what I am saying is Edric’s gentleness and sweetness have a profound effect on me. That one phrase,”You know my heart is turned towards you,” made me think things like, “Wow, he really loves me! He really wants to take care of me! I am important to him!”   

Okay, I know it all sounds cheesy but that’s how simple a woman can be. We respond to tenderness. In whatever sincere form it comes — a kind word, a compliment, a thoughtful gesture, or an affectionate embrace — these little demonstrations make us feel loved. Multiply these actions over years and years and the result will be a woman who looks upon her husband with desire and admiration! Isn’t that what all husbands hope to receive from their wives? 

You don’t have to print this out and hand it to your husband to convict him to change. What you can do is pray for him if he tends to be insensitive or fails to meet your emotional needs. I keep praying for Edric and by God’s grace, he keeps improving. What you and I can do is appreciate and affirm the instances when our husbands do something, ANYTHING, that makes us feel special.

A few years after getting married, I complained that Edric stopped opening the door for me. One date night I said something like, “Wow. Times have changed. You used to open the door for me but now you don’t.” Did that statement motivate him to open my door? Most certainly not! In fact he got very annoyed with me for criticizing him. So one day I modified my approach. When he randomly opened my door during another occasion, I commented, “I really like it when you open the door for me. It makes me feel special, and it makes you very attractive.” With that statement, his eyes lit up and he programmed himself to open my door consistently from then on. Why? Because I appealed to his own heart-felt need to be appreciated. Edric has made opening my door a habit. What used to require effort from him is now automatic.

Similarly, there are many things we want our husbands to do that we wish wouldn’t feel like such chores to them. But rarely will our nagging, complaining, comparing, and criticizing compel them to transform in the areas we hope they will. Proverbs 21:19 says, “It is better to live in a desert land than with a contentious and vexing woman.” A man’s heart turns away from a woman who is argumentative, who provokes with her words and distresses him with her actions. He may look okay on the outside as he gives in to the pestering of his wife but the love he feels erodes over time as it is replaced by resentment for her disrespect. 

So, on the one hand this post is meant to applaud husbands who fulfill the call in Ephesians 5 to nourish and cherish their wives. What a blessing these men are! John Piper wrote, “When a man joyfully bears the primary God-given responsibility for Christlike, servant leadership and provision and protection in the home—for the spiritual well-being of the family, for the discipline and education of the children, for the stewardship of money, for the holding of a steady job, for the healing of discord—I have never met a wife who is sorry she married such a man. Because when God designs a thing (like marriage), he designs it for his glory and our good.” 

On the other hand, this entry is meant to encourage wives to continue hoping in God to work in the hearts of our husbands, praying for them, and appreciating the effort they display. If there is anyone who can reorient the hearts of our husbands, it is the Lord. “May the Lord direct your hearts (our husbands’) into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.” (‭‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:5)‬ ‭

Furthermore, our greater comfort ought to be that God’s heart is turned towards you and me when our hearts are turned to Him!  “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His lovingkindness,” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭33:18‬)
  

Helping A Child Overcome Shyness 

My fourth child, Tiana, might be labeled as shy by people who first encounter her, especially when she clings on to me during social gatherings. She is very sweet and such a darling but she isn’t always confident around people she doesn’t know. I have come to understand that the root of her behavior goes beyond the shyness. She has a fear of people, something I used to struggle with as a child.

My fear of people crippled me at times. I worried about acceptance. I got intimidated by people who were smarter, more popular, more beautiful. I was scared to try new things because I didn’t want to be ridiculed. I preferred the comfort of certain friends rather than mingling with unfamiliar people. I was concerned about the impression I made on people. The real issue was self-consciousness and self-centeredness.  

It wasn’t until much later on in my life that I learned the principle of choosing to be a blessing, to look past myself and see the needs of people around me. My mom taught me this. She said, “Whenever you are with people, seek to be a blessing.” This advice changed me.  

I stil have to make a conscious effort to put on this mindset because it goes against my predisposition. But it has made a big difference when I go to a social gathering, an event, or meet with people to spend time with them or get to know them for the first time. It’s not about what can they do for me or how they will respond to me, but how I can minister to them?

Furthermore, when I am overwhelmed by the social situation, I pray! I ask God to help me be a blessing. And He does! He gives me a heart for the people I am with so that the focus is not on myself or my insecurities. Instead, I am challenged to think of how I can reach out, and make others feel special and important. 

The Bible says, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians‬ ‭2:3-4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Like my mom helped me, I am helping Tiana move past her “self-consciousness.” For example, the other day she was crying when I told her she had ballet class. This may not be a big deal to most little girls who love to wear tutus and dance, but for Tiana it was like a nightmare! She was afraid to be with people she didn’t know. However, I gently informed her she had to obey. Plus, we were going to get through this as a team. She nodded her head with tears in her eyes. 

I reminded her that she just learned a bible verse during our family devotion that went like this, “Do not worry about anything, instead pray about everything.” (Philippians 4:6) So I asked her to pray when I saw that she was about to cry again. And she did. We prayed together. 

When we got to her class, we arrived early. Young girls her age started to trickle in to the dance room. Tiana did not pay attention to them. She sat at the end of the room drawing on a piece of paper. So I assisted her. I asked one of the girls what her name was and introduced her to Tiana. And then I asked them to play together before class started. Initially, Tiana didn’t want to, but I insisted. So she asked if her two year old sister, Catalina, could accompany her. 

 Catalina tends to be more outgoing, so she gladly obliged. She was the one shouting out, “Come, Tiana!” Tiana, her new friend, and Catalina ran back and forth across the room. It was a senseless game but at least it got Tiana’s mind off her self. 

  Tiana started to warm up to her new friend. But when class was about to start and other girls were around Tiana, she began to tear again but I gave her an encouraging look that said, “You can do it!”
  

 She got through the entire class splendidly! Every once in a while she looked over at me and I met each glance with a smile, silently mouthing the words, “Good job!” 

When she was done, she ran over to me and exclaimed, “I had sooo much fun, mom! And I made new friends! They are so nice.” Afterwards, I asked her how she was able to get over her fear and she replied, “Have no fear, Jesus is here!” It was the cutest thing to hear her say that rhyme. 

Will Tiana be able to go to her next ballet class alone? That may be a stretch, but now she knows that there is nothing to be afraid of. 

 As a mom, it is my responsibility to help Tiana work through her fears by teaching her to turn these over to the Lord. The next level will be teaching her to initiate friendliness rather than waiting for others to seek her out or include her. She will get there, by God’s grace!