Archives for October 2016

Cultivate a Culture of Grace 

Edric and I come under spiritual attack before almost every major ministry event we are involved in. One can argue that all life ought to be a ministry when you are a follower of Christ. However, the reality is there are certain activities that we participate in that make us more vulnerable than others.

For example, last weekend we had a huge homeschooling conference that we were both involved in. We were speakers for this conference at different points in the program. My topic was on laying a foundation for children’s future success. I spoke alongside my mom. Edric played an integral role as one of the core team members spearheading the event.

Any time we are part of an activity that focuses on marriage or parenting we tend to have an argument or an issue related to these areas during the week preceding it. There weren’t any hitches until Thursday when Edric and I had a conflict about mismanaged expectations and poor communication. One of our speakers was to arrive from the U.S. that evening. So we had to send our vehicle back to the office so the driver could pick him up.

After a meeting during lunch, Edric and I agreed to leave soon after so we could make it home early enough to give the driver a gracious window to deal with the traffic. For some reason, Edric heard the wrong information from me and expected me to get him at the office. I thought we discussed that I would wait for him with the kids at my parents’ house.

My big mistake was leaving my phone on silent mode so I couldn’t hear the four calls that Edric made to me as he panicked to determine my location. (I must confess that this has been a need-to-improve-on area for me.) Since I was so focused on finishing the slides of my presentation for the conference, I missed all of Edric’s calls.

He arrived at my parents’ house flustered because we were running late. He rushed the kids out the door so we could speedily head home. The children scurried to put their shoes and socks on, and that moment of frenzy heightened the tense atmosphere that we entered into as we all piled into our vehicle. Edric, anxious to avoid making our foreign guest wait at the airport, was emotionally charged. He corrected me in front of the kids which is something he usually avoids doing.

Naturally, my instinct was to counter his statements to favor my own position. However the kids were in the car, taking in the scene unfolding before them, and I worried that they would learn to be combative in a disrespectful way if I challenged Edric at that moment. Thankfully, God quietly and gently brought me back to the passage I read that morning: “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.” (Proverbs‬ ‭17:14) In other words, Joy, keep your mouth shut.

This verse spared me today! Instead of answering back and raising my voice, a scene that I played out in my head several times, I resorted to prayer and apologizing for not answering my phone. Then I just prayed that Edric would realize that he sounded angry in front of the kids.

It’s amazing how much quicker the Holy Spirit is able to speak to Edric than I am! My yakking rarely penetrates his heart in a positive way. But when it’s the Holy Spirit at work, real transformation takes place.

After a while, Edric quieted down. He must have remembered that the kids were watching and listening intently to every word and movement he made in the front seat. So he humbly and sincerely apologized to the kids and to me. I praise God that he is so often this way — willing to say sorry.

In a matter of twenty or so minutes, the conflict had begun and died down without engagement. In a strangely abrupt sort of way, Edric caught himself before his ire escalated into a more impassioned and fiery speech about inefficiency, bad planning, and not picking up phone calls.

One of our sons remarked, “Wow, that was fast, dad!”, alluding to his humble apology.

Two more times afterwards and while we were at home, Edric gently pulled me aside to talk about what went wrong and how we could both improve. He wanted to make sure I was alright, too. I really appreciated that. Edric has always been sincere about his apologies which dissipates whatever hurt I have.

After Edric and I resolved our conflict, I also processed the incident with the kids, explaining to them, “In marriage husbands and wives are not perfect. We make mistakes sometimes, and we do things that hurt each other. But when you have Christ in your marriage, He helps you to forgive one another and love one another.”

I used to have this unrealistic expectation about my marriage and family, that Edric and I wouldn’t make mistakes in front of our children that they could potentially imitate. My great fear as a parent was that our failures, if visible to them, would give them an excuse to follow our wrong choices, rendering us ineffective at teaching and training them to love and follow God. However, I witnessed today, as I have many times, that grace is more powerful than our failures. This doesn’t mean we should trample upon it and take sin lightly. However, it does give me hope and peace to know that when Edric and I fall short of God’s standards for righteousness, we receive God’s grace to heal and repair what is broken. And our kids see this in action.

The bonus is we also receive grace from our children by way of their understanding and forgiveness when we come before them to admit our wrong and acknowledge our need for Christ. Somehow this assures our children that they can be “in process” as well, not impossibly perfect, but on the way to becoming more like Christ.

No family can survive without God’s grace. And it’s foolish and prideful to think that human perfection is what will convince our children that Jesus Christ is worth following. The reality is, we will fail each other as husband, wife, parent or child. We will do things that hurt one another. So it’s really not a question of whether this will happen but how we will respond.

As the offender will we humble ourselves and seek to repair our relationship with those we have wounded, and commit to improve? As the offended will we accept the apology without making the person “suffer” for their mistake? As a witness will we suspend judgment and avoid taking offense for the wronged?

Humanly speaking, it’s counterintuitive to answer these questions in the affirmative. Our carnal instincts would persuade us to do the opposite. However when a family cultivates a culture of grace, where the pursuit of Christ-likeness is encouraged and prioritized but people aren’t rejected for their failures, then each member is compelled to choose humility, forgiveness, and love instead. Although I used to think that perfection would motivate our kids to love and follow God, I am realizing over and over again that it’s seeing and experiencing the power of His grace is more compelling to them.

On a sweet note, Edric hugged me last night after our crazy October schedule simmered down a bit and he said, “I want to be a better husband and father. And I am sorry for being on edge this past week.” He didn’t need to say that because Thursday’s incident had been resolved, but it was a nice plus.

Let me leave you with 2 Corinthians 13:11,14, which we can pray for our families: “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you…The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

Let’s pray this for our families! We all need grace! 

Happiness According to Trolls

“Trolls” is a fun loving movie about the power of positive thinking. It has an uplifting message for kids and parents — that happiness is a choice. 

We got to preview it as a family yesterday which was a real treat! The kids thought it was so cool to sit in a private theater with their 3D glasses and popcorn! (Thank you, Mae Vecina!)



In one pivotal scene, the main character, Poppy, declares, “There’s always a bright side,” as she encourages her friends to keep hoping for a favorable outcome despite the odds against them. 

However, the ever-pessimistic, Branch, presents himself as a complete contrast to her perky self, unable to relate to her perpetual optimism. Unlike the rest of the loving, hugging, singing, and dancing Trolls, Branch has allowed tragedy to turn him into a disappointed, cautious, and distrustful Troll. He doesn’t celebrate life the way his fellow Trolls do.


Branch represents those of us who cannot move forward because of the pain in our past. He remains a victim of circumstance and isolates himself from others, cloaking his vulnerability with cynicism and sarcasm. 

There is another group of characters in the story called the Bergens, the antagonists who see happiness as something external, something that they must take from others. They believe they can never be happy unless they eat Trolls. 

The musicality, colorful graphics, and plot will keep parents and kids blissfully entertained. This is one sparkly, tenderhearted story that doesn’t need a complicated plot to weave in it’s valuable message. Happiness is not something that needs to be conditional. And genuine happiness is contagious. 

Anna Kendrick stars as the voice of Poppy while Justin Timberlake plays Branch. 

I am not a Justin Timberlake fan but his singing voice was just, wow.

Directors Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn’s goal was to make a movie about happiness, to explore where it comes from and what happens when you lose it. 

As a follower of Christ, I would like to add that true joy is found in Him. Even if the movie doesn’t highlight this at all, the main character, Poppy, shows us what someone who is full of the joy of Christ out to look like. She is a great example of someone who…

 …is an optimist about circumstances

…believes the best about people 

… stays connected to people she loves and cares about 

….thinks of others as more important than herself 

…is a blessing to others 

…laughs a lot, hugs, sings, and dances for joy

…makes the right choices 


​“Trolls” opens November 2 in cinemas nationwide from 20th Century Fox and will also be available in 3D screens. The movie’s voice cast includes James Corden, Gwen Stefani, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, Christine Baranski, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Swedish pop music duo of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, Kunal Nayyar and Ron Funches.

Let’s Be Motivating Parents!

I sat through the homeschool conference yesterday particularly inspired by the talk Andrew Pudewa gave on motivation. He shared four types, three laws, and two keys of motivation that made so much sense in the context of homeschooling, raising kids, and dealing with employees that I have to pass these on to you.

For a person to be motivated there is an intangible thing called relevance that must be present. If something is interesting, meaningful, practical, and valuable to a child, they will be motivated to learn about it and do it. Conversely, the absence of relevance makes it difficult to teach a child.

Pudewa defines four forms of relevancy:

Intrinsic Relevancy. Most of us are innately curious and interested in particular topics, activities, and pursuits. For example, my son, Edan enjoys playing the piano. I don’t have to remind him to practice for his weekly lessons. He goes down every morning and plays his pieces without being asked to because he is interested in learning how to play the piano.

To capitalize on the natural curiosity and interest of my kids, I give them the liberty to go in-depth into subject areas that they want to explore further. (Of course this implies that their curiosity and interest is NOT directed towards harmful things.) But take for example, chemistry. When Elijah expressed a liking for chemistry as a 5th grader, I didnt wait for him to be the appropriate school age to learn it. I bought him books on chemistry and he devoured these. He even memorized the periodic table of elements without me requiring him to. 


If a child is able to explore a subject they like, they learn more about it than you can ever imagine they will. In the process, they also learn concepts related to the subject that cover other areas of study.

Pudewa said something like this: Learning should bring children to the subjects. Subjects shouldnt dictate when learning ought to take place. Our problem is we want to cover all the bases, which is impossible. If a teacher attempts to cover all the bases, a child will be a mile wide, and a quarter deep, and will know nothing about everything. Therefore, whatever seed God has planted in our childrens hearts, let’s water it.

Inspired Relevancy. Even if we don’t have a natural curiosity or interest in a topic, activity or pursuit, this changes when we spend time with someone we love or respect whose interest is inspiring.

Growing up, I didn’t have as much a love for the word of God as I ought to have. However, I saw my father pouring over his Bible for hours every morning. Because I had such high regard for my dad, I wondered why in the world he committed so much time to reading his Bible. His love for Gods Word inspired the interest to develop in me. I thought to myself, If the Bible is so important to dad (and mom), then there must be something about it that is meaningful enough to matter to me, too. Today, I read the Bible because it is relevant to my own life. But it began with inspired relevancy and not intrinsic relevancy.

Some years ago, Elijah, our eldest son, became interested in investing in stocks. He discovered investing when he watched one of Edrics TV episodes on personal finance. So at 9 years old, he asked his dad if he can learn more about stocks. Edric took Elijah to a seminar where he learned how to research about stocks and how to set up his own fund.

Edan, our second son, was never interested in stocks, even when he saw Elijah get into it. However, when he realized that Elijah was making money through stocks investing, he wanted to compete with him. As a result, he developed a curiosity for stocks as well. Today, Elijah and Edan are both “young investors.”

Intrinsic relevancy can be positive or negative, especially in the peer-influence-sense. If our children associate with other children who are bad influences on them, they will adapt their values. So we need to pray and teach our children to select friends and surround themselves with peers who love God and seek after Him.

One of the challenges of inspired relevancy when homeschooling is motivating our kids to learn a subject that we aren’t excited about or experts at. This is where we have to utilize other homeschooling parents or resources that will inspire our kids to learn. I’ve had to do this with my kids Filipino subject. I don’t know how to teach this subject well and my own struggles with the language put my kids at a disadvantage. So I invested in Rosetta Stone Tagalog program. It’s an online program that my kids actually enjoy doing, And because they enjoy it, they are learning much more effectively than when I was teaching them.

Contrived Relevancy. This form of motivation is about taking something that is not relevant and using the mechanics of a game to make it relevant. The components of the game have to include two things: The possibility of winning, and the potential of gain and loss (an economic principle that works in real life).

One of the ways I do this with my kids is giving them incentives for completing their work. I’ve explained this in previous posts. I use a tab system for the kids. If they complete X number of pages, they get a tab (those colorful Post Its). Their books are marked with tabs for the quarter or semester. So they can go as fast as they want to in order to earn more tabs or they can do just the minimum (2 to 3 pages), to get at least one tab for that subject, for that day. If they don’t do at least 2 to 3 pages, however, they cannot claim a prize from the mystery jar. By the end of each week, the kids can turn in their tabs to redeem prizes and draw from the mystery jar. If they don’t get at least 20 tabs, they don’t get to draw.


Pudewa explained that the idea of a game appeals particularly to boys who thrive when competition is involved because they like to win! I’ve got three boys so I absolutely believe this!

Enforced Relevancy. This method of motivating kids is what we often use to get our kids to do their homeschooling work, but it is the least effective at producing real learning.

Most kids who go to school are terrorized by the idea that they can’t fail on their exams because these exams carry so much weight both for their class standing and for the approval of their parents. As a result, they study painstakingly for exam week in order to get a good grade. However, little is retained afterwards. They simply study for testing season.

Homeschool kids can be forced into the same mindset when we require them to learn just because they have to.Theres zero inspiration for the child. Since they aren’t engaged, they arent likely to recall what they learn either. They may appear studious and busy at work but nothing is really transferring into long-term memory storage. As much as possible, we need to avoid enforced relevancy.

Let’s move on to the 3 laws of motivation:

Children like to do what they can do, what they think they are good at. I’ve complimented Titus many times for his natural capacity to understand math. He now believes it comes easily for him so he claims that math is one of his favorite subjects. If I hand him his math book, he will readily take it and complete the pages he needs to, rarely asking me for assistance. The trick is, we need to give our kids plenty of opportunity to do what they excel at.


Children want to do what they think they can do. Elijah does a whole lot of complicated programming on the computer. He began with a basic understanding of programming and moved up to higher levels of coding because he experienced enough successes to convince him that he could actually do this. I never said, “That’s way too hard for someone your age to attempt.” I let him believe that he could do it because I saw that he had a bent for it. Hes built a couple of apps since he first started learning the language of computers.

Children hate and refuse to do that which they believe they cannot do. This is usually due to a record of failure, as Pudewa likes to call it. I didn’t like math as a student, primarily because I didn’t think I was any good at it. I struggled in this area in high school. As a result, I had mental blocks. Even if problems were explained to me clearly, I didn’t have confidence in my ability to solve them. However, as a homeschool mom, I’ve had to revisit many math concepts and relearn them. Since I had to start with preschool, I got myself a more solid foundation in arithmetic. And Ive come to realize that I can actually be good at math after all, that I can actually like math! What changed my perspective on math? My level of competency and filling in the gaps that I missed out on as a student.

As a homeschool mom, I cannot force my kids to move on to more difficult concepts, especially in math, unless I help them master the preceding ones. I’ve had to do this with Edan. When Edan doesn’t like to do math its usually because he feels like he can’t do it. So I have to spend time going over every topic he doesnt like until he realizes that its not as difficult as it seems. Then his face will light up and he will say, Thanks mom! I get it now! and I can leave him alone to finish the lesson.

Tiana had a hard time understanding how to decode words in order to read. Instead of forcing her to be at her level, I had to patiently work her up where she ought to be by going back to learning letters and their sounds. We had to practice and practice these until she memorized them, and then we moved on to attempt reading. Now, she is an emerging reader who has experienced enough successes to read not just her leveled readers, but signs, posters, and words she sees in her environment.


In Pudewas words: If you can spend most of the time allowing kids to do something that they can do 60% of the time, and 40% of the time doing what they think they can do, you will have a 100% motivated child.

Lastly, the two secret weapons of motivation are my favorites! Pudewa tells parents to acknowledge and appreciate, and then to smile! If a student knows that he or she is loved, they will be motivated.

When Pudewa was a violin student under THE Mr. Suzuki in Japan, he marveled at how often his teacher commended students, even for the little things. My mom used to say that parents ought to have a detectives eye for positive character in their kids. Whatever we can compliment in them, lets be generous about it. When we deposit into their emotional bank accounts, we build up enough principle to live off the interest, says Pudewa.

Homeschooling parents have a great opportunity to communicate messages of security to their kids because of the time factor. We have so much time with our kids which means we have so many moments to speak life into them and affirm how much we love them. Lets make those moments count, and lets do so with our brightest, sincerest smiles. A smile while homeschooling our kids will put them at ease. It communicates the message, Im enjoying this time with you. What child wouldnt be motivated by that?!

If you want to read more about Andrew Pudewa’s insights on motivation, check out this link:http://iew.com/sites/default/files/article/fileattachment/art_and_science_of_motivation.pdf

Hedgehog & Gameboard Issues & God’s Love 

Since three days ago Edan has obsessed about a game called Sushi Go! Party, hunting for it on Internet board game sights, Amazon, and even local stores. If Elijah is into technology and computer programming, Edan’s equivalent is strategy board games. He is a game lover. His idea of a great day is to gather friends and family around a fun board game that he can facilitate for them.

Since the game is difficult to source and order, it came down to one place — gamewright.com. Unfortunately, my many attempts to purchase it were inhibited by my address. The site didn’t allow purchases from the Philippines through Pay Pal or credit card. I could have moved on and forgotten all about the game, but not Edan. He pushed himself so hard this week, studying to earn tabs (a system I use to motivate my kids). As a result, he collected 60+ tabs, enough to merit the reward of Sushi Go! Party.

Edan isn’t an extravagant person, nor is he demanding when he makes a request for a toy or book. But when he really likes something, he will find a way to get it. I think this is a good trait when the desire is channeled to something positive.

For example, two years ago, he had a fascination for carnivorous plants and took the initiative to research about them online and source a supplier based out of Bukidnon.

This year, strategy board games have been his new interest. He has been researching about strategy games. I thought it was an interest that could be encouraged because it required him to apply, logic, math, communication, and social skills. 

So I put in a lot of effort to find the game, to support Edan, and the best solution was to ask my sister, Candy, to buy it for me since she lives in the US. The plan was to have it brought to Manila through my youngest sister, Carolyn, who is visiting her. Edan hoped to get the game by Tuesday when his Aunt Carolyn arrived. He dreamed and imagined what that day would be like, so much so that he couldn’t rest. All he could think about was Sushi Go! Party

His single-mindedness was both fascinating and concerning. On the one hand, I was excited for him to have the game. On the other hand, I wondered if there was a bigger character lesson he needed to learn…specifically related to waiting and patience. I would remind him, “Edan, if we can’t buy the game then take that as an opportunity to practice waiting.” 

He agreed with me. But since he knew that I asked his Aunt Candy to purchase it on my behalf, he felt pretty certain that waiting wouldn’t be something he had to do. 

Well, today, when he woke up, two unpleasant incidents occurred to produce what he called, “The worst day of his life.” 

First, one of our hedgehogs, named Eve, went missing. She left a trail of dung down the steps to our lower ground storage area, so logically, she must have hidden herself behind one of the boxes. The kids searched everywhere and returned to the kitchen table for breakfast worried and baffled by her mysterious exodus. She had disappeared. 
Edric gave them an impromptu lesson on the importance of good stewardship and responsibility. The hedgehogs fell under Edan’s care so he felt the most distressed. He didn’t get to go with his brothers to play a game called Praxis with Edric because he was tasked to find Eve. 

The second and bigger disappointment for Edan came when I relayed to him the message I received from my sister, Candy, informing me that Sushi Go! Party wouldn’t arrive on time for Carolyn to bring to Manila. Edan began to cry. He hid behind one of the cereal boxes to conceal himself but everyone knew that he was upset about the game. 

I reminded Edan that he ought to be grateful that the game was purchased in the first place since that was a blessing in itself. Furthermore, his Aunt Candy had inconvenienced herself to do this for him. Third, the game would arrive eventually, just not next week. He mustered a thank you but I know he remained troubled. 

Most of the early morning was spent searching for missing Eve. She was found a few hours later, huddled quietly behind some old tiles, clueless about the panic she caused. I praise God that cats didn’t get her! She was returned to her husband, Adam. Problem #1 solved. 

Even so, Edan lounged lazily around on the couch in our bedroom, uninspired to do anything today. He isn’t the type to voluntarily express his feelings so I had to command him to sit beside me so we could talk.

I hugged him while he explained how disappointed he was and how awful the day was as the tears kept falling down his cheeks. He admitted to me that the Sushi Go! Party game had become a sort of “idol” to him, when I explained to him what idolatry is. And I also shared that things can’t replace the joy we find in Christ. Material things, people, and circumstances can offer a measure of happiness but these are temporal and passing. In the end, there’s no one and nothing that can fully satisfy us but Christ. A part of me wondered if I was delivering too heavy message to such a young boy, but Edan listened. 

I went on to say that he can open up to me about anything, that he shouldn’t be afraid to tell me his feelings. It was okay that he felt sad about today. I was going to judge him.

He seemed to relax and then he added, “Actually there’s something that I wanted to say…”

I waited. He took a moment.

“When I read my Bible today, I came across a Psalm that talked about the loving kindness of God.”

Edan began to sob. 

“You know, mom, I felt like God didn’t love me. This was the worst day ever because of Eve getting lost and then the news about the game. So I felt really bad and then when I went to read my Bible, the first passage I read was this.”

He pointed it out to me…

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” Psalms‬ ‭103:8‬ ‭

“When I read that, I felt like God was speaking to me, telling me that He really loves me.” 

Edan was really crying at this point. He felt like God was against him today but God dispelled that thought by assuring him that He loved Him, that circumstances aren’t to be the basis for interpreting God’s love. 

So Edan and I continued our conversation, this time focusing on what God’s love is really like. We talked about how God’s love need not be proven by the things He gives us. These are all a bonus compared to the gift of His Son, Jesus. When He gave us Christ, He gave us everything. We are His children, His resources are infinite, and heaven is our home. So when He withholds something we really long to have or when circumstances don’t seem to go well for us, we need to trust that this is what is best for us, according to the One who loves us. 

By the end of our dialogue, Edan was smiling through his tears. He realized that today’s disappointments gifted him with an opportunity to encounter the Lord in a personal way today. 

We spent the rest of the morning doing art instead of pouring over books. Edan described it as therapeutic. He drew and painted a dragonfly among other drawing skills. His gloom and doom disposition was replaced with joy. 


I am so thankful to the Lord that He is at work in the lives of each of my kids. He knows exactly what is going on in their hearts, and He intends to meet them and minister to them. But Edric and I have to keep encouraging our kids to read His Word. The truth is what gave Edan the right perspective today. 


“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:12‬ 

In the midst of what felt like turmoil for him, he went to the word of God and received the assurance he needed most…Not that his hedgehog would be found or that his desired Sushi Go! Party game would come on time, but that God loves him. Thank you, Lord! 

On a sweet note, he also told me that he felt much better after talking to me. Let’s all be good listeners to our kids, my mommy friends! 

When Older Boys Are Uninspired to Study 

Friday morning started out like pulling teeth from my two older sons. Elijah and Edan grumbled, complained, and resisted being told what to do for their homeschooling work today. I have encountered moments like this before and it’s never easy to think through how I should respond. Part of me wanted to lay down the hammer and bully them into obeying. The other part knew there were better ways to inspire the right behavior in them. 

I invited them into their bedroom for a conference. “You (Elijah) and you (Edan), in the bedroom now.” 

They didn’t resist and followed me into their room where I motioned for them to sit across from me on one end of Titus’ bed. I took the other end. 

“What’s the problem, boys?” I asked this in the most gentle way I could.

One replied, “My work is too hard.” 

“Is that the real problem? What’s the REAL problem?” 

“We have a bad attitude?”

“Nope. That’s a problem but that’s not the REAL problem.” 

I paused, hoping they would apply some critical thinking and accurately assess themselves. Their mopey faces told me they weren’t going to get to that point. So, I volunteered the answer. 

“The real problem is what’s going on in your hearts. I don’t want to force you to do your work. Your motivation should be to please God.”

By then Edan was tearing, half-concealing his face behind a pillow. Elijah struggled to keep himself together.

I didn’t want to lecture too much, but I had to add, “The second thing is, you need to develop the discipline of hard work. Pushing yourself to accomplish a task is good for your character. Don’t expect your responsibilities to always be easy. Someday when you are older, you can’t run away from hard work, you can’t just give up on tasks. So you need to train yourself now.”

The boys were stewing in their emotions. They didn’t like that statement. I let them be and encouraged them to take some time to pray. “Come back to the study room when you are ready, with the right heart and attitude, and with a smile. Until then, just stay here and talk to the Lord. It’s okay to take your time.” 

I hugged them and returned to the rest of my kids. 

Although I refrain from shouting at my kids when they are difficult to teach, I do feel like crying and locking myself in my room to have a pity party at times. It hurts and saddens me when they are disrespectful or demotivated. 

However, homeschooling can’t be about me, even though I would like to voice that out and say, “Look, it’s not easy for me to homeschool five of you. I get tired and upset, and there are days when I don’t feel like it, so get over your attitudes and do what I ask you to!” 

Although it’s tempting to yell that out, I absolutely can’t. I mean, I can, but it won’t address the real heart issues in my kids. Slouchy postures, groans, huffing and puffing, complaining, and smart-alecky responses from them incite my irritation but I have to quell this in favor of a spirit-filled reaction. Thankfully, my kids don’t act out their negativity often, but there are days when I have to force the anger down so I can effectively disciple my kids.

One of the biggest factors influencing my desire to control the anger is this: I don’t want to model hypocrisy to my kids. I don’t want to tell my kids to love God and obey God, and then yell at them in frustration because they aren’t homeschooling in the manner I expect them to. Hypocrisy snuffs out faith in children. 

I wish I could claim to have a spotless record with my kids…that they have never seen me lose my temper. However, I can’t truthfully say that. 

There are days when I get annoyed at Tiana for forgetting what I have taught her, when I lecture Titus for failing to stay focused, when I let out an exasperated sigh because Catalina is disturbing the quiet, or when I threaten my older boys with confiscated gadgets to manipulate them into compliance. I praise God these unkind reactions aren’t the norm, and that’s because of Christ and not me. But my kids have witnessed enough evidence to conclude that their mom has her character flaws! 

Howeber, I praise God that He calms me down with the reminder that I am called to be an example to my kids. He also brings to my attention passages like, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs‬ ‭15:1‬) 

More importantly, the WHY of my homeschooling supersedes the day to day upsets of unmet academic goals and unfulfilled expectations. If I succeed at educating my kids in the head but fail to instruct their hearts then I fail them as a homeschool mom. My greater purpose for homeschooling my kids is to teach them to love God and to glorify Him which is why stressful encounters with my kids can’t bring out the monster in me!

So my encouragement to all homeschooling moms out there is to welcome the interruptions that require us to address the heart issues in our kids. Although our instinct may be to resent them, these are opportunities that God brings our way to accomplish the greater work we have as mothers. By God’s grace, the boys came back to diligently finish their work with good attitudes after they prayed and sorted through their emotions. So the academics did get done in the end but not at the expense of my relationship with my kids or their relationship with the Lord. 

“When it comes to my children, my ultimate goal for them is heaven, not Harvard. If they go to the latter on their way to heaven, that’s great. But if I reverse that equation, I’ve failed them.” ~Barbara Frank

Why Do You Still Love Me?

Edric is a very demonstrative person. He often tells me things like, “I love you.” Or, “You are the highlight of my day.” Or, “I miss you. I just want to be with you.” This is partly because he grew up in a family where his parents and siblings vocalized their love for one another. They were “huggy” and “kissy” and very sweet to each other. (They still are, which is something I appreciate about my in-laws.)

I don’t think I am as lovable as Edric thinks me to be. This is primarily because I know my flaws and weaknesses as a person, as a wife. Sometimes it baffles me to think that after all these years, his affections haven’t waned. In fact, he told me recently that his love has grown deeper and more profound. We must have been on a date when I challenged him with the question, “Why do you still love me?” and he gave that answer. 

This is both the mystery and miracle of marriage when Christ is present in it. I have said it many times that we don’t have a perfect relationship. We still suffer through our conflicts and general annoyances towards one another. However, Edric is right. I feel the same way about him. The love I feel is an eyes-wide-open kind of love, where I know everything about him, the wonderful and the frustrating, and yet, I would still declare without hesitation, that he is the person I would marry all over again. 

We are past the stage where the physical ranks high to both of us. Initially, I have to admit that this mattered a lot. We were very physically attracted to each other. But as we aged and gravity kicked in, we realized that this can’t be the magnetizing factor between us. We still try our best to stay fit but we know the truth about where our bodies are headed! 

Of course, when I first got serious about Edric 18 or so years ago, we connected on more important levels beyond the physical, too. Conversations were easy. There was mutual trust and agreement about values, principles, and faith. 

In this season of our marriage, however, it’s the history, memories, companionship, shared passions, common goals, and oneness in the Lord that matter most. The truth is Edric and I are such polar opposites in a way that ought to repel each other. We discovered this to a greater extent in marriage. 

He is full of energy and highly excitable. I am chill and not as free with my emotions. He’s spontaneous and engaged in every moment. I tend to be cautious and reserved. He likes food to have variety, to be presented in a palatable, intentional way. I can eat tuyo or Paksiew na Bangus out of a pan every day. He is lofty and bold with his ideas. I prefer to be conservative in my estimations. When he gets into a sport, it’s about the competition. Sports are a form of exercise to me. He is accustomed to being served and catered to in the home. I was raised to self-serve. He can get up on a stage and lose all track of time as he speaks. I freak out when he does this, especially when we speak together. He is confident and friendly. I can be insecure and quiet. He sees the big picture. I look at the details. His nose can smell the faintest scents. I have olfactory issues. He gets OC about his desk in the office and his study room at home, and likes to draw imaginary boundaries which designate where his space is. That’s all too complicated for me. When he’s hurt, he feels it for a long time. I move on too quickly and can be insensitive. He generously expresses love. My version can be too economized. He holds himself to a high standard and labors to help others excel. I like high standards when it comes to work ethic, personal growth, and outcomes, but I don’t always know how to inspire this in others apart from my kids. He is more critical. I am more affirming. He likes to fix his closet and organize his stuff. I don’t always know where to find the stuff in my closet.

With such dissimilar personalities, it’s a wonder that we haven’t aggravated one another to the point of falling out of love. That love can grow, bloom, and root itself so deep into our hearts is clearly the doing of God. There can be no other rational explanation. I find all those difference between Edric and me to be a source of irritation. And I know he would echo the same sentiment. However, I told him the other day, “Even if we are so different, I am thankful that we are fundamentally the same.” 

It’s the fundamental sameness that counts, that binds us and cleaves us to one another, that makes us one. Edric and I love the Lord. We are committed to obeying Him and following His principles for our marriage and parenting. The more we pursue the aspects that make us one, the more we love one another, the more delight we find in our relationship. And yes, there is still a lot of romance. Thank you, Lord. 


I don’t think our differences will ever go away completely. Sometimes they kind of spill over and contaminate his personality or my personality so that we take on certain traits that originally didn’t belong to either of us. Or, we imitate what we like about each other. Yet for the most part, it’s a take it or leave it thing. Either I accept that Edric isn’t like me and vice versa, or we both end up miserably disappointed because those differences remain. 

Therefore, my encouragement to all married, soon to be married, and considering-marriage people is to think through what differences and similarities are present in the relationship you have. If the similarities supersede the differences because they cover important areas like faith, purpose, priorities, goals, and values, then you can enjoy the differences as the spice in your relationship. And if you are married and you keep defaulting to how aggravating the differences are, then work towards achieving sameness in faith, purpose, priorities, goals, and values. 

Here are some questions you can discuss together:

1. FAITH – What do we believe about God, the universe, mankind, and ourselves? Are they consistent with the truth in God’s Word?

2. PURPOSE – What are we on earth for? 

3. PRIORITIES – How will we prioritize our marriage and family? 

4. GOALS – What should we accomplish as a team, given the strengths, abilities, and burdens that God has given us? How will we continue to grow and improve our sleeves? 

5. VALUES – What principles about marriage, parenting, and money will dictate how we fulfill our roles and how we make wise choices? 

It’s the fundamental things in a marriage — faith, purpose, priorities, goals, and values — that make its foundation shakable or unshakable. So when your relationship begins to feel unstable and rocky, revisit the foundation. If you need to rebuild, then do it! As impossible as it may seem in certain situations, let’s be encouraged by this passage: “But He said, ‘The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.'” Luke‬ ‭18:27‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Support and Encouragement for Your Homeschooling

If you are considering homeschooling, in the trenches of it, or seeking to be a more intentional parent, then you will need all the support and encouragement you can get. 

I remember a season when I struggled to teach my oldest son, Elijah, how to write well. Thankfully, I found a writing program called Institute for Excellence in Writing by Andrew Pudewa — Student Writing Intensive Course levels A to C. 

This program introduces kids to the basics of good writing and works them up to a level of excellence that is remarkable. The focus is on structure and style. Kids learn how to express themselves clearly and creatively.

Although I am an avid writer I wasn’t able to inspire the same sort of interest in my kids. I needed help. Pudewa’s material changed this for my boys.

Today, my two boys, Elijah and Edan, use this for the writing component of their Language Arts curriculum. They are thoroughly enjoying it, too, which is an answer to prayer! 

Sometimes the kind of help we need when homeschooling is a skill or resource to supplement an area where we can’t teach a subject or material effectively. Yet, most of the time, what we really need is perspective from others who understand the challenges and unique adventures that come with being a home school parent.

This is exactly what the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI) intends to offer parents this October 22, 2016, as it collaborates with Educating for Life to mount the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016 at the SMX Hall in SM Aura. 

There’s no perfect homeschool parent. We all have our strengths and we come with our weaknesses too. And that’s why we benefit from the victories and insights of others. Furthermore, it’s important to stay connected to other homeschooling families and foster community. This is something we are in together, and going the distance means we have to look out for one another, too.

I am particularly looking forward to this homeschool conference because Andrew Pudewa will be a keynote speaker. His contributions to the larger homeschooling movement have been so valuable. Furthermore, he has had a significant impact on our family’s homeschooling journey. 

It must have been 10 years ago when my husband, Edric, told me about a lecture he attended where Andrew Pudewa spoke on how boys and girls learn differently. Some years later, I met Andrew Pudewa at the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Conference in Branson, Missouri. Early this year, Edric and I were introduced to him again during the Global Home Education Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Pudewa delivered a very insightful talk on how conventional schools are an outmodeled form of education in this day and age. He presented compelling reasons to support why homeschooling makes sense given that we have advanced past the Industrial Age and are presently in the Information Age. (He also has great homeschool material on public speaking.) 

He is a gifted communicator and musician, and he is a well-known and sought after speaker in the homeschooling world of America. During the conference, he will focus on motivating children. (He will also have pre-conference workshops). Whether it’s getting them to write, read a book, or finish a task, motivation is important.

“Children like to do what they can do, they want to do what they think they can do, and they hate to do what they think they cannot do. If you want excited and enthusiastic children who learn well, you must understand these key laws of motivation and focus on the essential element of relevancy. If it matters, children will learn it, and if it doesn’t, they won’t.”


ANDREW PUDEWA- Keynote Speaker

Besides Andrew Pudewa there will be other keynote speakers like Bo Sanchez, my mom (Deonna Tan-Chi) and yours truly. I am nervous and excited! Please pray for me! Of course there will be a host of  great workshop speakers who will cover specific issues and concerns about homeschooling, too. Here’s what to expect during the PHC 2016:

PROGRAM

7:00-9:00 – Registration 

9:00-9:15 – Welcome remarks 

Keynote Sessions:

9:15-10:00 – Building a Firm Foundation by Deonna Tan-Chi and Joy Mendoza 

10a:00-10:20Strengthening the Foundation Through Financial Planning* by Eric Nicdao 

10:20-10:30 – Raffle 

10:30-11:15Motivation – The Art and Science of Helping Students Learn Well by Andrew Pudewa 

11:15-11:25 – Raffle 

11:25-12:10pm – Wings to Soar: Leaving a Legacy for our Children by Sanchez 

12:10-12:20 – Raffle 

12:20-2:00 – Lunch Break / Expo visit 

Workshop Options: 

2:00-2:45 The Ins and Outs of Homeschooling in the Philippines by Edric Mendoza OR Transitioning from Brick and Mortar to Homechooling by Jenn Punzalan OR Homeschooling the High School Years by Raquel Guevara  

2:45-3:00 – Mobilize to next session 

3:00-3:45Laying the Foundation in Preschool by Milona Barraca OR Paper and Pen: How “Low Tech” Reading and Writing Benefit Students* by Andrew Pudewa OR  Transitioning to College by Ivy and Bernard Marquez 

3:45-4:00 – Mobilize to next session 

4:00-4:45Starting Your Homeschool Journey by Donna Simpao OR The Hows of Interest-Led Homeschooling by Alex Hao OR Homeschooling the Special Needs Child by Jen Bellosillo 

4:45-5:30 – Break / Expo visit 

5:30-6:00 – Major raffle prizes / Closing Remarks 

*Subject to change

For more information, check out Keynote and breakout sessions
KIDS’ ACTIVITIES

There will be various activities for children of all ages should you want to bring your children along. These activities will all take place in the Expo Hall. Please make sure, however, that they are with a trusted adult at all times. HAPI and Educating for Life will not be liable for any untoward incident that may happen to your child during the event.

SCHEDULE

Write Pretty by Meg and Maddie (8:30am-10am)

Children ages 7 and up will enjoy learning a new skill with fellow homeschooled children Meg and Maddie Barraca.


Handlettering by Maddie (10:30am-12noon)

Join in the hand lettering trend by learning how to write calligraphy. To be conducted by Meg and Maddie Barraca. For children ages 7 and up.

Just Add Water – A Brush Calligraphy class by Marj Liwag (12:30pm-2pm, 4:30-6pm)

Little Miss Printer herself will teach this class for children ages 7 and up.

Inks and Lines – A Tangling class by Marj Liwag (2:30pm-4pm)

Learn about this relaxing art that creates beautiful images from simple patterns.

Challenge Island (8am-10am, 10:30am-12pm, 2:30pm-4:30pm)

Loosely based on the popular show, Survivor, children ages 5 and up will learn collaboration and cooperation the various Challenge Island tasks that they will be given to their tribe. Are they up to the challenge?

Crochet Along with Crafted Crafts by Marge Aberasturi (7am-6pm)

Marge Aberasturi of Crafted Crafts will welcome children ages 6 and up in her booth for beginning crochet lessons. Additional P250 fee for yarn and hook.

MEET THE ART MASTERS by Likhang Bata Creativity Center (7am-6pm)

Likhang Bata Creativity Art Center’s classes are a fun way to introduce the art masters to the children. The classes will be held in Likhang Bata’s booth the whole day.

SAFSOF SPORTS PLAY AREA BY TOPMnl (7am-6pm)

Let your kids move and play in our indoor sports play area! Crawl under arch gates. Swing your club in mini golf. Topple the cans with the soft catapult. Play bowling. Practice targeting skills with the Multi Ring Toss. All using SAFSOF safe rubber foam sports toys. For kids ages 3 years to 12 years.

SMILE TODDLER PLAY AREA (7am-6pm)

Children ages 1-3 will enjoy the various activities prepared by SMILE Group in the Toddler play area.

For more information see Kids’ Activities.


REGISTRATION FEE OPTIONS

For adults:

1. Regular rate (With access to plenary talks, breakout sessions and expo)- P1000 per participant

2. Group rate (Register 4 and get 5th ticket at 50%) – P4500 (Payment should be made as a group, not individually, to qualify for the discount)

3. Expo only (Access to vendor booths only; no access to talks and breakout sessions) – P50

4. Walk-in and on-site payment rate – P1200 per participant

For kids:

Children can choose their activities for a fee of P500. Parents can also choose to bundle the activities (except the toddler play area, which is P500 for the whole day) with the following rates:

Choice of 1 activity – P500

Choice of 2 activities – P900

Choice of 3 activities – P1200

Choice of 4 activities – P1550

Materials for the activities (except the crochet lesson, where participants will purchase hook and yarn separately) are only for borrowing. Each child can only register in one Challenge Island slot to give other participants a chance to enjoy the activity.

To register online: PHC 2016 registration

Check out the Facebook page: 


Get the free app!


In summary…Five reasons to attend the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016:





HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE! 

In This Brokeness There Is Hope

The school house stood three stories tall, an edifice that appeared out of place in a residential community. It was at the end of the street, tucked away but too conspicuous to miss. Beth Potter said it was a big, red house, and it certainly was.

Tiana and I pulled up beside it this morning. She gasped when she saw the place. “It’s so nice!” She said excitedly. 

We walked through the gate and into the grand doors of the entrance. To the left and the right of us were classrooms with children of all ages, grouped together and busily at work. What a delightful sight to see these orphaned children engaged in their studies, speaking very good English and writing so proficiently! I was impressed! 

I must confess that it wasn’t what I expected to see. These were well-educated children, under the tutelage of committed volunteer teachers, missionary ladies who were a wonderful mix of loving and purposefully stern.

Beth Potter briefly described their educational philosophy and the strides that many of the students had made over the years. They came in below their academic level and caught up quickly. In other instances they surpassed expectations. 

I wasn’t there to observe the classrooms but it was a nice bonus. I came to give a talk on Life’s Healing Choices. Beth informed me that a number of the children suffered from previous sexual abuse and she asked if I could encourage them. Thankfully, they spoke such good English, so I didn’t have to struggle through my imperfect Tagalog. 

We gathered together in one of the rooms a few moments later, with many of the kids sitting on the floor right in front of me. It felt like a safe and intimate space to be vulnerable. 

I proceeded to introduce myself and go into the details of my story. As I did so I studied the faces of the children and noticed that a few of them were wrestling with their own hurt. The gist of what I shared revolved around three choices I made that helped me to heal as a rape victim: 

1. To believe that God loves me, that He is good and sovereign, and has a plan for my life. Romans 8:28

2. To forgive the men who violated me because I too am a recipient of God’s grace and forgiveness. Matthew 6:14 / Ephesians 2:8

3. To declare God’s goodness in my life and not hide behind the shame. Psalms‬ ‭40:5‬ 

In the end I invited them to come to Christ, emphasizing that there is no guarantee that our lives will be free from pain and affliction. However Jesus promises us His peace. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”” (John‬ ‭16:33‬) I also assured them that God has a purpose for each of their life stories, and they can bring His hope to others. 

This was the easy part of my morning. What followed next crushed me emotionally and spiritually. Beth asked if anyone wanted to meet with me afterwards. It was like blitzkrieg crisis counseling because I couldn’t spend prolonged time with each boy and girl. I listened to heart-breaking stories of teens who were raped by fathers or relatives. They recounted the atrocities committed against them, each story no less a nightmare than the other. 

As I sat on my mononobloc chair, just inches away from these kids, I wondered if there was any solace I could offer. After all, their tragedies were far greater than what I experienced at their age. Who gets raped by their father?! These things should never happen! I felt the rage kicking into a boil as I thought about the betrayals and confusion these children suffered through. 

It’s worst than death it seems, to have to fight off your own father and beg for his mercy, and yet he feels no pity, devilishly responding to your pleas with a blow to your gutt to silence you so he can proceed to assault and defile you in his lust. How do you comfort a child who has endured this and lived to tell it, crying in their shame like it’s their fault to bear the guilt of such perversion?

I am not naive. I know this sort of disturbing and sickening thing happens today, but I tend to be far removed from actual incest cases of young children. Most of the people I counsel are abused, taken advantage of, or raped by peers or strangers. When it’s palpable and up close like this…when each child’s face has a name and I am looking into their eyes as the tears pool and streak down their cheeks, it’s tempting to wonder, Where is God? Is there a God who cares? 

Yet, I heard something I shouldn’t have during those sessions, at least not from children who recounted such horrors. Two of the kids told me, “I have forgiven my father.” When I asked the first one why, she said with conviction, “I read it in my Bible.” 

She told me that she found Christ in the home she was sent to, a place for abused girls. She came to understand the love of God there. 

Another child, a young boy who lost both his parents when they died in their sickness, smiled as he shared, “At night, I look up at the stars and I think about God and how He is with me, and I don’t feel scared or alone.” 

As I marveled at their insights, I was reminded that in this broken world there is hope. There is peace. In Christ people are healed. They become victorious and don’t remain victims.

“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John‬ ‭5:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Although the stories of tragedy won’t cease till Jesus comes again to restore all things, the healing can begin if we care enough to tell people about Him. 

I hugged Beth before I left. She became a hero to me. I told her, “What you are doing here is the hard part. I came in to tell my story, but you will stay on to minister to kids who have been cast aside and forgotten.” 

Tiana and I headed back to Ortigas area and I pulled her close to whisper, “I am so happy to be your mom. I am so thankful you are my daughter.”

I went on to explain, “The kids in that school have fathers who hurt them because their fathers don’t know Jesus.”

She looked up innocently and remarked, “But not daddy, right? Daddy doesn’t hurt me because he knows Jesus.” 


As she fell asleep on my lap, I wept. On the one hand I was so grateful to the Lord that Edric and I get to love our kids, and that our kids have been spared from sexual violence. On the other hand, I felt renewed conviction to talk about Christ.  Jesus Christ is still relevant and always will be, especially to those who ache for hope, peace, and joy. When the broken come to Him, the veil is taken away, and they find purpose, meaning and the grace to forgive their offenders. 

“…But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:16‬ 

We may not be able to alter a person’s past experiences, but we can change the course of their histories by telling them that there is a God who loves them and inviting them into a relationship with Him. He gave His life for them so they can have new life! To someone who has lost everything a new life means everything! 

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭