Archives for January 2016

It’s About Surrendering to God, Not Your Spouse

  My struggle with pride is so often tested in the context of marriage. It is most apparent when I have to apologize to Edric, too. Why? Because I tend to think that I am right and he is wrong (which doesn’t make me right!) I also think that offering an apology means to raise the white flag of surrender — to give up a strategic advantage in a verbal conflict. (Also wrong.)

    Let me illustrate this problem of mine in a story. On Monday I felt weak, like I was coming down with the flu. My body was heavy, my brain was foggy, and I had little appetite. Being overwhelmed by the kids’ homeschool portfolios heightened my feelings of malaise, too. If I could have laid down to sleep off the fatigue I would have but the kids needed me and I had responsibilities to get done.

    Since it was date night and Edric and I were set to enjoy a buffet dinner together, my mid-afternoon phone call about changing the plans came as a disappointment to him. But in my state I wouldn’t have been much fun and the thought of eating a huge meal when I couldn’t appreciate it was unconscionable. So I requested to do date night at home, with a movie on the couch. Not too exciting. Edric agreed but he wasn’t thrilled.

    When he got home, I didn’t greet him immediately, either, which was a mistake. He hollered for a bit while awaiting my appearance at the bottom of the stairs to run into his arms. However, I stayed upstairs on my bed, half resting, half hovering over papers, trying to grade Elijah’s physical science tests. When Edric saw me, he commented, “Oh so this is why you wanted to stay home, because you had to get homeschool work done.” 

    “No, I really am not feeling well,” I replied. 

    Perceiving me as preoccupied, he took the kids to the garden to throw the ball around. 

    When evening settled in and dinner was done, Edric and I asked the kids to give us some time alone in the family room. We talked about Edric’s day — the highlights and lowlights. He opened up about a major problem at work which disheartened him so we spent some moments in prayer together, lifting up the issue to the Lord. I thought that this exchange qualified as a good substitute for a conversation we might have had over if we had gone out that night. Afterwards, we watched the film, Unbroken. (A great film!)

    Interested in the true life story of the character being portrayed, Louie Zamparini, I googled the guy and read an online biography about him. When the movie ended I was still on my phone reading so Edric interjected, “So you’re still busy.” 

    “Nope. I was just reading about Zamparini.” Shortly after I put my phone down, too.

    When we retired to bed, he didn’t attempt to cap off the night with a conversation. Instead, he turned over to his side and said flatly, “Goodnight. I love you.”

    After nearly fifteen years of marriage and almost twenty years of knowing one another, I am very sensitive to Edric’s mannerisms and tone of voice. I most certainly know when he is upset. So I asked, “What’s wrong? Are you upset?” 

    No answer came. I waited for a few moments. Absolute silence. Then, in my irritation I said, “I really feel hurt when you don’t answer me.”

    He didn’t like this comment at all. It roused him from his pretend slumber and he turned around to face me. Then he proceeded to enumerate the different ways I disappointed him that afternoon and evening. His primary sentiment was, I didn’t give him the time and attention he expected to receive. I was too busy for him. Plus, he hoped to end the evening with intimacy, but he felt like I was not interested because I was sick.

    Since the evening didn’t play out the way he imagined it would he decided to go to bed. And my question and comment to him about not answering me felt like an insult that he explained as, “turning the tables around and projecting him as the bad guy.” With indignation he asked, “What do you want from me?” 

    I responded in a feeling-holier-than-thou sort of way, “I want you to be spirit filled when you respond to me.” 

    He took this as a verbal jab. Okay…it was. I didn’t like his aggressive tone and I felt like he was only looking at things from his perspective. Wasn’t I the sick one here? I had a long day, too. And didn’t we have a wonderful moment on the couch to talk and pray together? 

    I even added at one point, “So are you faulting me for being sick?” 

    He responded with, “Are you about to get your period?” 

    “No and this has nothing to do with getting my period.” (Why do husbands always think this is a reason?!)

    There was silence again. His corner and my corner.

    As I wrestled in the quiet with my feelings, more specifically, my pride, I prayed that God would help Edric to see that HE WAS THE WRONG ONE, that he was the one over-reacting. Then I waited for Edric to be convicted. 

    It didn’t happen. 

    Instead, I heard God address me and my attitude. He told me, very clearly, YOU HUMBLE YOURSELF. Initiate saying sorry. You said you wanted to improve in this area, so humble yourself. You be the one to ask for forgiveness first…for your tone, your irritation and not prioritizing him.

    I wanted to ignore the prodding but it was incessant. Furthermore, Edric remained unmoved. Finally I remembered reading about loving God during a recent morning quiet time: TO LOVE GOD IS TO OBEY GOD. 
    “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John‬ ‭14:21‬

    Would I dare to defy and resist God himself?! No way. Not when it came down to that. This wasn’t a fight between Edric and me, this was an occasion that revealed the real war raging beneath the surface — me vs. obeying God by choosing humility over pride. 

    So I yielded. With gentleness (which could have only come for the Lord) and with quietness of spirit (which also came from Him), I asked Edric to forgive me for my disrespect — for not prioritizing him, for being angry, and for saying the things I did during our conversation. 

    I found out later on that Edric was shocked by this uncharacteristic behavior of mine. I am ashamed to admit that he usually apologizes first.

    But I am also happy to say that after surrendering my rights and feelings, and entrusting them to the Lord, my vindictiveness dissipated. I cried for a little bit to myself, which felt like being cleansed somehow…like ugliness was draining out of me. I was honest with God, “Sometimes it’s so hard to follow you. It’s so HUMBLING!” But He comforted me with his sweet presence as I lay there, in the dark, with my head pressed against my pillow. What followed was relief and liberty, like I had made I through a spiritual test. 

    Then came something unprecedented. God asked me to initiate intimacy with Edric. “Tell him you will also have sex with him.” 

    “What?! Lord! That’s too much! That’s giving in too much!” 

    But I knew why God was asking me to do this. (Let’s not get uncomfortable about sex, okay? This is what you are supposed to do in marriage!) Offering to have sex to Edric, in the context of an argument or at the conclusion of one, was to abandon my tower of pride and to break down my walls of self-preservation. Inviting him to intimacy was to tell him, “I still love you. I still forgive you.” It was an offering of grace.

    Edric also revealed to me later on that he didn’t know what to say because I don’t EVER tell him this when we have come from an argument! He was too shocked to say yes! How awkward was this?! But I was thinking…Yey, he didn’t say yes! But Lord, please see that I obeyed by asking, okay?

    Two days after Edric and I had a great conversation to repair and heal our relationship. Edric also owned up to the areas where he should have been kinder and sweeter to me.

    What’s my point in sharing this very personal story? Humility in marriage doesn’t make me the loser like I wrongfully think it does. It’s being prideful that does. When I always want to win an argument, discussion, or maintain my fighting position, the effect is more pain and anger for Edric and me. In contrast, when I aim to please God and obey Him when he tells me to say sorry, admit my shortcomings, and move towards Edric with a sincere desire to reconcile and restore our marriage, this act of emptying myself of ME invites Christ to fill the space that pride has vacated. What pride refuses to do, Christ enables me to — to wholeheartedly love and forgive Edric, and to enjoy him again. It’s always a gain to choose God’s ways over mine. And always a win when God is glorified. 

    I don’t know what kind of marriage you are in or what kind of struggles you have as a spouse. But all of us ought to love the way Christ loves us. And a lot of times this may mean denying our prideful-ness and replacing it with the grace He gives to apologize, forgive, accept, hope, and remain committed to the one we vowed to love. So whenever you say sorry first, admitting to the hurt you have caused in your marriage, think of it as surrendering to God, not your spouse. 

    My father said that “grace is more than unmerited favor, it is the ability to accomplish God’s will.”  As Titus 2:11-12 explains, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”

    Let me leave you with an insight from author, speaker, and apologist, Ravi Zacharias. “Love is a commitment that will be tested in the most vulnerable areas of spirituality, a commitment that will force you to make some very difficult choices. It is a commitment that demands that you deal with your lust, your greed, your pride, your power, your desire to control, your temper, your patience, and every area of temptation that the Bible clearly talks about. It demands the quality of commitment that Jesus demonstrates in His relationship to us.”   


    The Inspiration Behind the Book

    There are pivotal moments in all our lives, circumstances that compel us to reevaluate our beliefs and convictions. We cannot move past these monumental interruptions in the timeline of our existence without answering questions about God, the world, or ourselves.

    Many years ago I found myself at this juncture, as a victim of rape at the age of 15. I came face to face with the reality of evil in this world, something that my cornucopia childhood had shielded me from. Confronted with the pain of being violated, I had to find an interpretation for tragedy. Why does tragedy happen? What causes others to commit crimes against other people? What makes me the same or different from criminals or those who intentionally hurt or destroy? Will I continue to believe in God or deny Him for allowing this to happen to me?

      The choices I made post-rape, repositioned the compass of my life. By God’s grace, I was able to move towards healing rather than away from it. In the process of thinking through what happened to me, these were the conclusions that helped me to move forward:

     We cannot control what happens to us, but we can choose how we will respond. We can choose to become better or bitter.

    When tragedy happens, it reminds us that we live in a fallen world marred by sin. At the same time, tragedy enables us to identify with the sufferings of others when we process it positively. It enlarges our capacity to empathize and minister to others.

    Real healing happens when spiritual issues such as faith and forgiveness are dealt with. And forgiveness is a major step towards healing. However, to forgive those who have hurt us, we need to understand that we too are sinful and need God’s forgiveness. With the forgiveness that we receive from God through His Son, Jesus, we can choose to forgive those who have wounded us. Furthermore, forgiveness liberates us from being destroyed by bitterness and anger.

    When bad things happen in our lives, it doesn’t alter God’s character. He remains sovereign, good, and loving no matter what we go through.

      A sovereign, good, and loving God restores, resurrects, and renews. He purposes to use the tragedies in our lives and turn them into beautiful stories of His amazing grace.

    I elaborated more on these points in my book, which I hope and pray will also encourage those who have gone through difficulty in their lives. Although I wrote this book as someone who was a rape victim, I intended it to minister to all people who have suffered from tragic experiences in their lives, especially those who are questioning God’s goodness and plan for them.

    Recently, I was asked why I wrote this book at this point in time, years after the incident occurred. God’s timing is always perfect. Today, I am happily married to a wonderful man who loves God – a hard-working provider, a spiritual leader, and a loving husband and father to our five children. My husband, Edric, and I have the privilege of doing ministry together as speakers for seminars and conferences on marriage and parenting. I also have a blog called where I write about the joys and honest challenges and struggles of marriage, parenting, and homeschooling. The incidence of rape is no longer the main focal point in the story of my life. It is the goodness of God.

      This is a story about who God is and how He redeems what is broken in all of us. As people read it, may they be encouraged to cling to the hope that He promises – that He causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28) To Him be all the glory! 

      When A Good God Allow Rape is avaialable at OMF Lit and Passages Bookshops and select National Bookstores for P100. 

    You can also buy the ebook through Amazon, Buqo, Flipreads, Google Play Store, iBooks (international stores only), and Kobo. 

    Written for OMF Lit blog.

    Keep Praying for Your Kids

    Spending time with my kids is always a highlight of my day, especially when I have one on one time with them. Today I focused on Elijah. It’s fun to engage him in dialogue because he is expressive and enjoys talking. Plus, he is my eldest so we can discuss things like “adults.”

      After homeschool coop this morning, I took him to the American Eye Center in Shangrila Mall to see a pediatric ophthalmologist. (Thank you to everyone who gave me recommendations on Facebook!)


     We chatted on the way, and he shared with me how his fasting week went. Last week, our church had a week-long prayer and fasting event which our family and kids participated in. Elijah chose to fast from gadgets, sweets, and snacking. According to him, avoiding gadgets liberated him from a secret addiction he was beginning to have.

    He confessed that using computers and iPads to educate himself on how to program and do coding pulled him into a world that cut him off from reality. In his own words he said, “I knew it was becoming unhealthy for me to be on my devices but I made two excuses. The first was ‘dad is busy working so I don’t have anything fun to do.’ Second, ‘it’s not bad because I don’t play games.'”

    He explained that participating in the fast allowed him to use his time in different ways — reading books again, playing with his siblings, praying for others, and having quality bible reading time. The first few days were challenging but as the week progressed, he felt like a bondage was broken. And to think that his experience with gadgets was more educational in nature!

    Yet, he admitted to me that there’s something about computers that entices him so much he can think of little else when his usage of them increases. As an older child, I check on him once in a while but I also know he has to come to his own conclusions about computers. Thankfully, the fast afforded him perspective. He was able to think objectively about being on gadgets. He even said, “My brain was releasing serotonin every time I got on a device!”

    I laughed when he said this but I can believe it. Our brain naturally does this whenever we derive pleasure and joy from any experience. For my son, Elijah, it happens to be his interest in technology. He is deeply fascinated by the world of computers which can be a good thing. But I praise God for speaking to him about its potential dangers, too. He is not interested in gaming or Internet surfing or social media but he knows that the issue is about the time he dedicates to experimenting on computers. He likes learning about how computers work, how to jailbreak devices, build websites and apps…that sort of thing.

    His proposal, therefore, is to avoid being on a computer or gadget as much as possible during the week. Originally, this was our house rule. But last year, during the latter months, I was more relaxed. The kids would use devices for educational purposes only. However, Elijah was susceptible and more vulnerable to gadget-addiction than my younger kids were. So this hidden struggle developed in his heart.

    Thankfully, a big change has been Edric’s availability. Since he stopped his morning show on ANC, he has dedicated more quality moments to share with our sons — playing games, doing puzzles, and getting them outdoors. Elijah told me this made a significant difference in subduing his desire to fiddle with gadgets. (The presence of a father does wonders!)

      Elijah will be 13 next month and I have been praying that He will develop positive habits and use his time wisely. I do believe that fasting week made Elijah more concerned and aware of his spiritual struggles. But his revelation also affirmed the need to keep praying for my kids.
    Our greatest work, as parents, is on our knees, interceding for our kids. Someone once told me that parenting must be done on our knees. It’s so true! The battle for our children’s hearts is a spiritual one.

    I spend a lot of my time with my kids because they are homeschooled. Edric and I are intentional about disciplining, training, and teaching our kids. Yet all these efforts will fall short if we do not beseech God for his enabling and wisdom, if we do not pray for our children’s protection and for God’s love to grow in their hearts so that it transforms them from within. Therefore the encouragement I received from my afternoon with Elijah was to pray for him and all my children. Only God can effectively bring to light the concealed parts of their hearts and convict them to choose attitudes, behaviors, perspectives, friends, habits, and activities that are good and pleasing to Him.

    Here’s an example of how I pray for my kids (not including the specifics for each of them.) Feel free to personalize it and improve on it for your own kids:

    “Lord, I pray for each of my kids to love you with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Help them to seek after you and desire to know you. Put in them a passion for your Word. Open their eyes to understand spiritual truth and shield them from the lies of the evil one. Let them develop God-honoring convictions about the friends they should choose, habits they should form, and the use of their time. Prepare their future spouses to be God-fearing and committed Christ-followers. Safeguard their innocence and purity. Keep them from unhealthy addictions. Instill in them Christ-like character and teach them to be spirit-filled. Make them bold and courageous for what is true and right. Give them a compassion for the lost. Let them love one another and look out for each other. Help them to love and respect us and to submit to authority. Let them know they are equally loved and special to us. Allow them to develop their gifts and talents for your glory. Equip them to be influencers and leaders who will make a difference for you in this world. Let their hearts be teachable and humble. Give them a love for learning. May our daughters be beautiful inside and out, and our sons handsome and masculine — men and women of stature. Bless them with musical and artistic talent, and let your favor be upon them. Make them mighty in spirit and wise. Protect them from Satan, his demons and evil spirits, malicious people, robbers, kidnappers, abusers, natural calamities, accidents, sicknesses, and sin. Do not let them fall away from you. Let them be faithful to you till the end of their days. May they live for you and glorify you with all that they are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

    I want to keep praying for my kids this way and even more intentionally as they grow older. Each one of them, like Elijah, has their weaknesses, and these become more apparent as they mature. Sometimes it’s such a temptation to be anxious. However, when I start to feel worried, it is prayer that allays my fears. I remember WHO I am entrusting my children to. Let me end this with an amazing description of who God is. We can replace each “you” and “your” with the names of our kids:

    “He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.”
    ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭121:3-8‬ ‭

    Potty Training Mode

      At two and five months, Catalina is officially the longest in diapers among my five kids. I liked those Huggies Pull-ups so dang much, I delayed potty training her. But a week after the Christmas and New Year’s activities died down, I decided it was time. There was no more putting this off. Her younger cousin was already potty-trained! 

    So I did what I have commonly done with all my other children. During the day, she wore underpants instead of diapers. Did she pee on the floor? You betcha! Did we have to do a lot of mopping and soaping of the floors! Uh-huh! 
    This phase usually takes a week to two weeks. It is about conditioning a child to recognize that the pee has to go somewhere appropriate and the floor is not it. Furthermore, she finally gets to feel what it is like to be wet. With her Huggies that always worked well to keep her dry, she didn’t experience this. 

    Every time she had an accident, I would tell her (or anyone else who saw it happen), “You have to wee wee in the toilet.” (And poop!) 
    Furthermore, a great trick has been to anticipate when she might need to use the toilet. Every hour was a good start. We would sit her on the toilet seat and encourage her to urinate even if she didn’t ask to.

    Amazingly, after about a week and a half, she finally got it. And now she asks to pee in the toilet. Pooping has been a little more challenging. But she’s done it a couple of times, too. I usually personify her fecal matter. Edric thinks I am crazy when I say, “Catalina, the poop wants to go into the toilet. That’s his home. And he wants to be there with his friend.” (If there’s more than one “banana” fellow. How do I explain all of this without being gross?!) 

    Well, Catalina now has a dialogue with me about Mr. Friend going to be with his other friend when she is about to do number 2. Edric may think my methods are crazy but it is helping her get more comfortable about using the toilet for number 2. It’s a girl thing! We are relational. 

    Anyway, toilet training success has always happened at the 24 month mark for my kids. And I am so glad that Catalina has adjusted to “phase 1” — ask to be brought to the toilet to pee or poop. Better late than never. 

    Phase 2 will be removing diapers when we are out of the home. Phase 3 will be taking them off for night time sleeps. Challenge, challenge! 

      I do have to give credit to Huggies for their pull-ups which made it so much easier to rush Catalina to the toilet and get them off so she could sit on the seat just in time. This has been especially helpful in the mornings when she wakes up with her Huggies on and then she still asks to use the potty. 

    By the way, I skip the whole miniature toilet thing. I had one and tried it wih two of my kids. Who wants to have to clean that thing out! It was much simpler to get one of those small cushion seats that attach to the top of a toilet seat so my kids don’t fall in. This has happened! And this is an awful way to build potty-confidence and security! 

    I will miss the diaper-butt look…the kind where Catalina wears leggings or pjs that look all bubbly at the bum and then taper down to the ankles. Soooo cute! But it’s time. And thankfully, these tactics are working just like they did with my other four.  


    The Problem With My Tongue

    If there is one SPECIFIC thing I need to improve on this year, it is to guard my tongue. As a person who takes pleasure in the use of language as a means of expression, I have come to realize what a sacred responsibility it is. This gift of communication is from the Lord but when infected with selfishness, it can be used to curse and hurt others.

    For example, over the holidays I took the kids to buy presents for one another. The kids earned their own money to buy gifts and they were thoroughly excited to pick out Christmas presents for each others and their cousins. But since their budgets were small, they couldn’t purchase very expensive toys for each person. Instead they had to be thoughtful and creative. However, since four out of my five were in the store with me, in the end, l paid the cashier a significant amount of money on their behalf. 

      I took the kids’ presents to the wrapping counter and asked if the attendants could wrap each of their gifts. One of my sons bought three cars for their cousin, the total amount of which was 300+ pesos. But the lady at the counter said, “I am sorry but we can’t wrap items that are less than P300.” And I appealed, “But I am combining the items so they are equal to at least P300.” The lady’s non-sense reply was, “Sorry, ma’am but that’s our policy.” 

    I retorted with irritation, “It doesn’t make any sense. You mean to tell me that even if I spent seven thousand pesos in your store, you will not wrap items that I bought that are less than 300 pesos?” 

    “Yes, ma’am. The minimum for wrapping everything is 10k.” 

    By this time I was thoroughly annoyed and visibly so. There was no real logic to what she was saying. One of my sons was beside me, peering over the table, innocently hoping that he could have all his gifts for his siblings and cousins wrapped. The site of his anticipation heightened my aggravation for the attendant.

    Maybe the attendant saw all the small items in his shopping bag and thought about how she didn’t want to have to wrap every single small item in it. I don’t know what exactly was going through her head but she seemed to be unaccommodating and inflexible. This was a classic case of rote thinking at the expense of the customer’s convenience. 

    My pride kicked in when she offered to wrap some of the items with a higher price tag on them. Instead of cheerfully receiving this proposal, I said, “Forget it. Never mind. We will just do everything ourselves.” My tone was curt and cutting. 

    I didn’t want to have to sort through all the kids’ gifts for each other — 20 something items to check each of their price tags before giving them to the attendant to wrap for us. So I walked off. My son saw that I was upset. 

    My heart wasn’t right and I wasn’t a good example. This was one of those moments when I wished I could have restrained my emotions and chosen to be humble and compliant. I let bad customer service determine the way I verbally responded. 

    This is where I often err. I had to apologize to my kids and ask for their forgiveness. Looking back, I should have returned to the salesperson and also asked for her forgiveness, but I was too proud. I didn’t redeem the situation or honor God’s name. 

    Therefore, it’s no surprise that during this fasting week and time of prayer, God revealed to me that I need to improve in this area. I came across this passage…

    “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, To practice deeds of wickedness with men who do iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭141:3-4

    Even though I gave an example of speaking unkindly to a sales attendant, most of the time it isn’t with strangers that I let my tongue loose. Rather it is with my husband, Edric, who has also told me on numerous occasions that I have to be careful with my words and tone. When I don’t like a decision he has made or the way he treats me, my tendency is to lash out with statements that provoke him to debate and argue with me. 

     During a seminar I attended last year, the speaker said, “When you are about to say something to your spouse think about whether it will really benefit them to hear you say what you want to say or if it is merely to benefit yourself.” 

    I thought this was a great principle to keep in mind as I guard my mouth. God made our tongues to bless and not to curse, to give life and build up, not to tear down. Furthermore, we are to use our mouths to exalt God and declare His goodness. During the same day I read about guarding my tongue Psalm 145 said, “All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, And Your godly ones shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom And talk of Your power; To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom. My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.” ‭Psalms‬ ‭145:10-12, 21‬ ‭

    Please pray that I will be more thoughtful about the words I speak. What comes out is a good clue to what’s inside my heart. I have tried to find a remedy for this disease of the tongue that I am susceptible to. And so far the best fix is what Psalm 119:11 says: “Your word have I treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you.” 

    Future Park

    We just visited Future Park, an interactive technology-based play center for kids.The kids had a blast! There aren’t too many stations yet but the concepts were really cool!  They gave us a glimpse of what future play will be like. 






    Sketch City was my personal favorite and it was designed by the Philippines! You add your own details and color to sketches of different forms of transportation and your final drawing is scanned and uploaded into a program that animates and displays your work.    


    This board of lights sense your heat and changes color accordingly.
     The best days to visit are weekdays. It’s 200 pesos cheaper!  

    “Future Park is the Philippines’ first digital interactive play space – a dazzling exhibit of games and installations powered by cutting-edge tech and your imagination!” (Source: Century City Mall)

    Highlights of 2015


    Before January gets really busy, I would like to thank the Lord for the year that was and thank you, my readers, for taking the time to visit this blog. Your comments, messages, and prayers have been a blessing to me, and a motivation to keep writing whenever I get lazy or tired. Many of you have come up to me in person, too, to take hold of my arm and whisper that this site has been a part of your life, and you can’t imagine how your words have brought me joy.

    I slowed down a little bit this year with writing, primarily because it felt like our family lived two years in one this 2015. This was probably the most hectic year I’ve ever survived. Writing kind of took a backseat at times to give way to motherhood and wife duties, homeschooling, ministry, work, speaking, traveling, or much needed rest. But this site is still important to me and I haven’t lost the desire or drive to keep using this site as a means to reach out to people and talk about what God is doing in my life, marriage and parenting. This is what keeps me pressing on.

    Indeed, He did much in 2015. I would even call it the best year I have ever lived. God is amazing in this way. Every year that I walk with Him, every year that I give to Him turns into the best year. This doesn’t mean that my family and I are free from problems or crises, but it does mean that His grace and faithfulness abound.

    These were my personal highlights of 2015 and I hope that going through these will remind you that God is a loving Father who knows the needs of his children, the desires of their hearts, the purposes He has called them to, the mistakes they make, and the correcting that is painful but necessary along the way.

    Our family capped off 2014 and welcomed 2015 with a trip to the U.S., where we survived a month without household help, the cold, and learned to serve each other through sleepless nights and endless chores. We came back to Manila in the second week of January recharged and ready to jump into 2015.


    IMG_4238 1

    One of my first challenges was running in a 21K, which I thought was going to be a killer but Edric and I got through it by God’s grace! (I actually finished ahead of him which was another surprise but I couldn’t have run it without him so he helped me “beat” him.)

    IMG_2905 1

    Soon after we had our family commercial for Cetaphil which was an unexpected blessing. Catalina acted up a couple of times which is why she wasn’t in the final video edit but they included her in the print materials. Edan actually had a fever that started the day of the shoot (look at the photo below and his eyes), but he was a real trooper and the team behind the production was very easy to work with. It’s been a privilege to be brand ambassadors for a product line we really believe in and use as a family.


    Shortly after, Meg Magazine featured my testimony. They asked me to talk about how God brought healing to my life.



    Our homeschooling had its highlights, too. Edan discovered an interest in botany. He grew his carnivorous plants for a season. Unfortunately they eventually died which was a lowlight but he continues to be interested in animals and plants. Looks like we will be buying more carnivorous plants again this year!

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    Elijah graduated from elementary and moved on to high school! This opened a new chapter in our homeschooling, especially for me! More grace, strength, and wisdom needed from the Lord!


    Titus took his first achievement test and did well! He also excellent at math this year which I didn’t even know was a strong point for him. But praise God. He knows that I’m not the best math teacher. I also discovered that Titus has a God-given musical talent. He started harmonising at the age of 6 and taught himself to do this!


    My fourth child, Tiana, started to read which was a big milestone!


     Catalina, my youngest, became a real a chatterbug. She grew in her ability to express herself and comprehend, and has showed an inclination to learn and be part of our homeschooling. She got exiled many times because she was disruptive but I hope to include her as often as possible this year.


    One of the kids’ homeschool field trips was to Costales where they learned about organic farming. God saved Ethan (my nephew on the right) from drowning, too! He got sucked down a drain and it’s a miracle that he popped out the other end and my brother was able to pull him out!

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    Over the summer the boys attended Coach Siot’s basketball camp, which they will be joining again at the end of this month. They learned to push themselves physically.



    They also enrolled in Ninja Academy’s Parkour course, which has been incredibly fun for them. What boy doesn’t want to learn to scale walls, jump over bars, free fall off a ledge, and swing from ropes?


    Tiana finally made it through her ballet classes without crying through them. She turned out to be quite a graceful dancer (most probably from Edric’s side of the family).

    The boys improved immensely in their violin playing.


    We also got to fix our homeschool room which made a big difference in our kids’ daily learning.




    God opened up opportunities to be featured on television to talk about homeschooling. The first was on CNN’s Mommy Hacks.


    I was also interviewed about homeschooling for Mommy Mundo’s new show which should be airing soon!


    Throughout the year, the kids spoke with us during retreats, business speaking engagements, and other ministry activities. This was a great way for them to use their communication skills to bless people.



    Our homeschool Coop gave our kids the opportunity to develop some great friendships. I also enjoyed connecting with other homeschool moms and team teaching with them. By the end of the year, when we celebrated our Christmas party, we were nearly 100 people! We had to cater the party!




    Our coop covered culinary arts, art history and theory, speech, ethics, apologetics, science, social studies, history, and it culminated with a Kid’s Praise musical thanks to the talented moms who contributed their expertise for directing, teaching dance, singing, and designing the set. The kids performed for an audience of underprivileged children at Revelation Church in Sta. Mesa.


    TMA Homeschool did some much needed expanding this year. We did several roadshows to connect with homeschoolers around the Philippines…


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    TMA Homeschool also moved into its new office to help serve parents better, and Learning Plus, our homeschool bookstore, opened to provide curriculum and homeschool-related materials to parents. Our guests from the U.S., Mike Donnelly of Homeschool Legal Defense Association, and Davis and Rachel Carman of Apologia Press graced the ribbon cutting.



    The portal, Homeschooling Solutions, became available for families who can’t come to the Learning Plus Bookstore because they live farther away or out of the country. Materials are delivered within 48 hours. A lot of non-TMA Homeschool families used this site for their homeschooling needs.

    We had two big homeschool conferences this year. Set Them Up for Success and Ready for the World, where we partnered with Manila Workshops ,  The Learning Basket and HAPI. These events brought the homeschool community together.





    On the Family Ministry front, God provided an amazing team to mount three very special events —  The Before and After I D seminar for engaged and newly married couples, Family and Finance, and Counterflow. We intend to make these events a yearly thing for young couples and families who want to know more about biblical marriage, finance, and parenting.





    Here’s a super big one which was made possible only by God’s amazing grace! My book, When A Good God Allows Rape, got published and was launched at the Manila International Book Fair by OMF Lit Publishing. It’s now available in bookstores around the country like National Bookstore, Pages, OMF Lit, and as a online ebook via Amazon, buqo, and others.



    Writing the book opened doors for me to talk more about the Lord. On CNN Philippines’ Real Talk the hosts devoted the entire 45 minutes to asking me questions about my book and my faith in Christ! I was thrilled! My dream for this book is that it will inspire people to follow Jesus. May He get all the glory!


    We had some favourite family photoshoots over the year. The first was done by Mayad Studios, who ventured into lifestyle photography with their Mayad Beginnings. They captured our family so naturally. 





    Another one was done by Alex Adiaz, which we also appreciated very much. He shot this one in our backyard.


    Another super highlight was Elijah getting baptized. 

     Yet another personal favourite of 2015 was how God worked in our Thursday couples’ group. We grew closer to the Lord and to one another, and most of us got to attend The Executive Couple’s Retreat in Baguio Country Club, where we learned and re-learned marriage principles. Some of us also served by facilitating other couples’ groups.



    As a group, we put together a surprise wedding for the Avelinos. This really knit our hearts together in a special way.


    Our bigger discipleship group family grew, too! Unfortunately we didn’t get to see everyone as often as we wanted to because we moved far from the area where we used to meet every week. But, we got together for “trimester” fellowships. These people are our extended spiritual family for life and we love them dearly!




    The year had some sad turns. Steve, who was like family, died tragically a day before he turned 30. My grandfather, angkong to us, passed away at 96. Both knew the Lord so we shall see them again, but it was difficult to lose both of them.





    We didn’t do too well in the pet department. We lost three of our Siamese cats – one committed suicide off the top of our roof, and two got run over by crazy drivers. Our Myna bird fell over in its cage and expired, and several of our fish were found floating lifeless in their tank. We also had to give away two dogs to more deserving and caring owners. (They are still alive and much happier now.) We hope to have less tragedies with our animals in 2016.

    Our family also lost a very loyal and hard working household help who went to work abroad. We gave her our full blessing and support but she continues to be missed.

    A definite high was celebrating the wedding of Edric’s sister, Danie to Vince Valdepenas. 

    (null)(null)I started sewing dresses this year. I sewed the dress I wore for the wedding and made 6 yards of mistakes in the process! Experience is the best teacher! Thankfully, the material was only P80/yard. Ssh.

    Another endorsement fell into our laps when we were asked to do an online commercial for Vernel Fabric Softener as a family. We love these family endorsements! We are so thankful! It’s an undeserved bonus from God whenever we are asked to do these things.

     (null)The year ended with a number of parties and engagements (my last count was about 20) but my favourite part was being with family (Edric’s side and my side). The Mendozas were almost complete for Christmas this year. The Tan-Chis most definitely were which was extra special for all of us.

    We left a spot for Edric’s sister, Nicky, who was terribly missed.

    My sister, Carolyn and her husband, Joel, were MIA in this photo because she gave birth over the holidays. But we were together for opening presents on December 26th.



    I am a pretty simple gal. Edric and I always have a lot going on, but my best memories of the year were the quiet ones… being at home, enjoying our house (we finally completed a year in it), exploring the outdoors as a family, getting to know our kids better and growing closer to one another, playing board games, curling up on the couch for some me-time, watching movies, going on dates with Edric, eating around our kitchen table…These are the moments that made up the best of 2015 for me.






     When I take stock of this year, I am thoroughly amazed at God’s hand in everything. There’s no success mentioned here that can be attributed to Edric or myself. Everything that happened that was good was due to God’s grace. Everything that happened that was unfortunate was part of his grand plan. 

    I’m posting this in the middle of our fasting week as a church, while I am praying for God’s direction and leading for 2016. A few days ago I began by asking Him, “Lord what is your will for me this year?” I expected answers like, “Say yes to this speaking engagement or say no to this one,” or, “Pursue this venture,” or, “Write another book,” or, “Do this for your homeschooling,” etc. Instead, this was the answer I received:

    “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me, and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John 14:21

    “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done fore. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:7-11

    We all want to experience a life of joy. I certainly do. And sometimes I mistakenly think that what I do with my abilities will determine how great a year I will have. But God simplified it for me when he said, “Love Me. Abide in My Love. Obey My commandments.” This is the path to a life of joy, a year of joy!

    So my new year’s resolution is not a long list of things I would like to do or avoid. Instead it is dedicating 2016 to loving God, and abiding in His love by obeying His commands. How does God want you to live your 2016?




    In Your Anger Do Not Sin

    It’s rare that our household help will do things that aggravate me, but this past week they collectively made a decision that tempted me to fire them all. I came homeearlier than expected with the kids after a lunch appointment to discover that our home was locked up.     (Photo courtesy of

    I was carrying Catalina who was fast asleep on my shoulder. Bags of groceries had to be unloaded from the car. So I told my kids to go downstairs to tell our household help to unlock the door from the inside. But my kids reported to me that none of them were around. 

    Maybe they were upstairs cleaning? I tried calling their names but still, no answer. I must have stood outside our door for fifteen minutes, Catalina weighing heavily on my shoulder. I had no where to lay her down to go on an investigative hunt for our missing help. Then I tried contacting our household help via their cell phones. None of them were answering. 

    By this time I was irked. no one was home to let us in. My suspicions were that my household help left to go on personal errands. When I finally got through to one of them, this is exactly what they confessed to me. Edan was standing next to me at the time and I raised my voice loudly over the phone and scolded them, “Why did you do this?! How are we going to get inside the house?!” I didn’t curse them or berate them but I was fuming. 

    Anazingly, Titus, my mechanically inclined son, found a way to break into our home! (We know how to fix this vulnerable spot.) The kids and I got inside eventually thanks to Titus, and after I laid Catalina down on her bed, I stormed back down to wait for our help in the kitchen. 

    I had to leave the house again but couldn’t do so because the girls weren’t home yet. This only exacerbated the situation for me. In my head, I played out the dialogue that I intended to have with them. The tone, the words, and my anger. And I even said to the Lord, “I am so mad!”

    My help should haven’t left the house without telling me. And they shouldn’t have all gone, leaving the house together. They could have asked for my permission and I would have let them go (not all of them, because someone would have needed to stay to watch the house, but I would have let them do their errands.) Plus, I had just given them a bonus, lots of gifts and many days to relax over the holiday. It felt like they were taking my kindness and trust forgranted. 

    God reminded me immediately, “In your anger do not sin.” (Ephesoans 4:26) Honestly, I wanted to fire all of them. I didn’t care at that point. I didn’t want to be merciful! But God’s command calmed me down. I also called Edric to express my frustrations to him. He listened very patiently, and he did not add fuel to my fire. In fact he encouraged me to ask our household help to explain themselves first before making any rash decision like choosing to let them all go. 

    Furthermore, my dad used to tell my siblings and I, “do not make major decisions when you are emotional.” I was the epitome of emotional. My hormones weren’t stable because I was PMSing. I was in high stress mode because I had a major event I was preparing for in two days. 

    It turned out to be a blessing that my household help took a while to get back. This gave me time to process my anger. The reason why I was so mad was because I focused on myself and the inconvenience and hurt my household help had inflicted upon ME. 

    Perspective makes all the difference. Whenever I perceive myself as the victim in a situation — someone whose rights have been violated — I tend to think negatively about people and circumstances. However when I choose to lay aside my prejudices and see other angles of the same incident, I am less likely to lose my temper. Furthermore, when I consider that it is more important to glorify God with my responses, I lose the urge to prove myself and fight for my rights. 

    Forty five minutes later our household help came back. They were very apologetic before I could even get a word in. Asking them to sit down around the kitchen table, I CALMLY requested them to tell me what happened. Afterwards, I expressed myself with “I feel” statements. “I felt upset,” I began, “that you did not ask me for permission. And then I felt hurt that you assumed that what you did was okay, leaving the house all together without anyone to watch it, and then making it inconvenient for us because we were locked out. Have you done this before? Is this something you do when I am not around? It concerns me because I trust you all very much. That’s the kind of relationship we have. I trust you.” Etc..etc…

    They were sincerely apologetic and of course I forgave them. I used the mildest tone I could put on while explaining my frustrations to them, too, and corrected them with gentleness. Later on, Edan pointed out that I needed to apologize for shouting over the phone, so when the opportunity presented itself I did that, too. 

    God gives us His grace to do the things that He calls us to. Not blowing up in front of my help was God’s grace! 

    Managing household help isn’t easy, even when I am blessed to be able to say that the ones who work for us are wonderful. (I really do believe this even if I wanted to fire them when I was emotionally charged.) They make mistakes every now and then, big ones, small ones, but no mistake of theirs is worth losing my temper over or profaning God’s name so that they stumble spiritually. I must always choose to act in a manner that points the people who work for me and the people around me back to the heart of Christ. Why? Because it’s not about me. As Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” 

    Does this mean I should let people trample on me and do nothing? No. But, it does mean that I don’t have to yell or scream or wound others with my words when they wrong me. There is a way to correct people without shaming them or belittling them. I praise God that I preserved my relationship with the ladies who work for me, but I praise God even more for what one of them said to me (and Edric) about a month ago:  “I have learned so much from you about the Lord and I want to thank you for your example.” I don’t want to destroy what God is doing in their lives and I very easily could if I was a bad example.

    May God give us all wisdom when we find ourselves in these temper-testing predicaments with our household help or with others. We are accountable for drawing people closer to Christ or away from Him because of the things we say and do. May we be motivated to please Him and avail of the grace He promises to supply so that we can!

    Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrew 4:16

    A recent party we held for our household help and our friends’ helps…  

    First Day of Homeschooling

    We kicked off January 2016 by cleaning and organizing the books in our homeschool room. The kids did most of the work.

    Today, we officially started. I loved seeing all the kids are their “stations,” some struggling and others breezing through their new material. Okay, so there were tears half-way through. Quiet ones from Titus who had forgotten most of the Zoology content we read back in November. And loud ones from Elijah who was frustrated with himself for leaving a SIM card in the pocket of shorts that got thrown into the washing machine. Catalina interrupted whenever she could with her nose leaking snot down to her lips which she licked up a couple of times. Ew. 






     We didn’t cover much this morning. Just two or three subjects so I wouldn’t call it an amazing academics day. But being together again to learn was wonderful. The day ended with all of us folded over each other on the couch watching FoxHD’s Top Twenty Funniest Videos. Is it still called that? I can’t remember but there’s definitely a twenty and funniest in the title. 

    Homeschooling has always felt like such a natural lifestyle for our family. I suppose this is partly because we chose to home educate our kids from the very beginning so they didn’t have to transition from any other sort of learning environment. To them learning was and still is a way of life and a worthwhile pursuit. It’s not without its challenges of course. Like I said, today we had some emotional outbreaks, minor ones, but still, these things do happen. But we weather the humps and bumps together and the journey becomes an adventure.

    When I was asked by Edric to explain what I liked most about being a homeschool mom, I whittled down my answer to one major thing. T.I.M.E.

    I have time with my kids. It’s uninterrupted. It’s quality and quantity time. This is such a treasure to me as a mother because my children will pass through this season quickly. And there’s a milestone everyday when you get to see the lives of your children up close. So many beautiful moments to enjoy together and to linger in. I am so thankful to the Lord that I don’t have to rush through them. It often feels like I have the bonus content version of a favorite movie, only it’s my children’s life stories that I am watching. 

    Time also gives my kids the opportunity to explore their bents and passions. Most of the day is dedicated to this. We try to get through the academic requirements as quickly as possible so we can proceed to the “real” learning which happens outside of their subject studies. 

    Here’s Edan’s newest project…ants:  

    Elijah just built a website from scratch because he learned how to code. And he just jail broke an old IPhone! He studied how to do these things on his own. He is waaaay smarter than I am.

    Most important of all, time affords me (and Edric) the power of influence. The more time I spend with my kids, the more open they are to listen to what I have to say and what I teach them. Time is a relationship-builder. And building relationships gives me special access passes into the hearts of my kids. This is why I don’t mind the humpy and bumpy parts of being a homeschool mom. The sacrifice is worth the gift of time. 

    “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.” (Barbara Bush)

    Eagle Point Resort

    We spent the last couple of days at Eagle Point Resort with Edric’s family. The beach is always a hit with the Mendozas. Our kids can never get enough of sand and water. 


    This was our third time to visit Eagle Point. The food has certainly improved over the years. Buffet meals are reasonable and kids can eat at 50% off. The rooms are Spartan but they are affordable and they can accommodate large families (which works great for us). Plus, who stays in a room when the beach and sun beckon? 

    Eagle point is more of a dive resort even if it has direct access to the sea. It doesn’t haven’t a decent beach front. But there’s some great snorkeling, diving and kayaking right off the “dock”.  Two sets of pools with waterfall elements keep the kids busy, plus there’s a pool with baby sharks to swim in, too. To maximize our stay, we took a boat to Sepoc Island where the beach was very wide. We rented snorkels and masks at Eagle Point (better to bring your own). 

    Just a few meters from the shore we saw all kinds of fish and coral. This time of year the shoreline was pebbly because of corals, but closer to the tree line, the sand got very soft. The little kids spent an endless number of hours digging and building in the sand.        



    My father-in-law organized a series of feats and games for us. He likes being a game master and he knows how to rally everyone together to engage in healthy competition. Some of his bible study group came along which added to the fun.


    It was a tie! “W” for winners!

    To end the day, Edric, Elijah and I ran to the peak of the hill where the panoramic view was spectacular.

    2015 came to a close, and after 20+ get togethers/parties, this was the best way to ease into the new year…with the family I love, reveling in the beauty of God’s creation!