Archives for December 2016

What Will it be Like to Live on Mars? 

On November 13, National Geographic Channel’s thought-provoking six-part series MARS premiered. MARS tells the story of mankind’s thrilling quest to colonize the Red Planet. 

This global television event redefines on-air storytelling by combining film-quality scripted drama and visual effects with a powerful documentary interviewing some of the best and brightest minds in modern science and innovation, including Elon Musk. (When I browsed through the website www.mars.natgeotv.com/hk I was like, wait, is this happening already?! Are we really creating a colony on Mars?!)


(Photo of Elon Musk. Source: Business Insider)

FOX Networks Group Asia’s SVP – Marketing & Communications for Asia Pacific and Middle East, Lucien Harrington says: ‘Living on Mars is an occurrence many think we won’t see in our lifetime, but the reality is actually very different. The show highlights the acceleration in thinking and technology on one side, and the need for a planet move in the future due to environment factors on earth, on the other. The experience that has been created brings certain elements of Mars to life, to educate particularly children, about what changes they will need to make and skills they will need to have. After all, they’ll likely be living there.’


FOX Networks Group’s National Geographic Channel encouraged me to ask my two older kids about what they thought it would be like for a colony to be realized on Mars. Since our kids enjoy Nat Geo’s channel often, we welcomed the opportunity as a privilege! Plus, it was a great way for them to think through their past Astronomy lessons.

Here’s what they said…

A Future Colony on Mars by Elijah and Edan 


I also asked them what past/present mistakes humans should avoid and their simple replies were…

1. Don’t use gas as a fuel source. Focus on hydrogen since its abundant and clean.

2. Don’t be selfish and use Mars for personal gain or glory.

3. Be conscious of proper waste disposal. 

4. Maximize resources like iron without abusing the planet. 

Here’s my personal opinion about colonizing Mars:

If we aren’t content with the earth that God gave us, we aren’t going to be content with the wonders of living on another planet either. And if we can’t take proper care of earth and rehabilitate it so that it is able to sustain life at optimum levels then we should be wise about the occupation of another planet. More space, more resources, and greater discoveries will not fix the main issues that face mankind. We are prone to selfishness and sinfulness, so we will take that with us to Mars, too. So as we celebrate the very real possibility that Mars can house a human colony, and applaud the science and technological advancements that have brought us to this point, let’s do our part. The scientists are making great sacrifices to create options for mankind, and we can dream with them and support their efforts by being responsible about the earth God gave us to live in. This will afford them the liberty and flexibility to explore space frontiers without being weighed down by the pressure of having to find solutions to humanity’s survival. 

For more about the show including the experts, actors and storylines, visit: www.mars.natgeotv.com/hk

The science and realism behind the series is fascinating! 

And if you’re up for learning more about your Red Planet readiness with your kids, visit www.makemarshome.com

Ludo Board Game Bar & Bistro

Board Gaming isn’t something that people may commonly associate with intellectual, emotional or social intelligence but after visiting Ludo Board Game Bar & Bistro for the first time today, I was convinced that is a healthy and worthwhile pastime for children and adults. 


For one thing, board games are a better substitute to online games and media. They aren’t bad for your eyes in the same way screen time is. Although some board games can be addicting, more often than not, it’s hard to get hooked on a board game that requires two or more players to make it fun. 

Unlike most online games, many board games require you to participate in a physical manner, where you actually use different body parts and not just your thumbs! 

The intellectual challenges vary depending on the type of game, and sometimes you will need to apply logical thinking skills, memory, strategy, cunning, language, science, history, math skills, or a mix of all to outsmart your opponent. 

However, one of the best things about board gaming is the way it brings people together. You have to socialize as you play with and against others. There’s a lot of interaction on a personal, face to face level. In the process you get to know the personalities of your family or friends and enjoy conversations as you compete against one another. Plus, there’s the laughing out loud part and screaming when any match becomes intense! 

“Ludoloy” is the discipline that studies games. Ludo has culled games from all around the world so that there’s something for every personality type and age. 

From the hard core gamesters who can play 8 to 12 hours, who like  complicated strategy games, to the attention-deficit people who prefer quick-paced, loud, and physical, everyone will find someone who is just like them to enjoy some healthy competition with. Or, you can make Ludo a regular barkada-bonding habit. Even if you lose, the food will be worth it! 

Of course, for homeschoolers like us, we see Ludo as an extension of our kids’ learning, where they can pick up new skills or apply what they know in a fun way. 


What you won’t find in Ludo are the kinds of games you can purchase in a local toy store like Monopoly, Chess, Uno, etc. If that’s the extent of your game knowledge, Ludo has game gurus who help to facilitate and explain board game rules to guests. And if you walk in alone, they try their best to find you people to play with. There’s also an option to purchase games they have on hand. 


We spent a few hours at Ludo as a family with friends from Cetaphil, and the owners, Crissy and Aaron. What surprised me about Crissy and Aaron is how personally and passionately involved they were in their business. They loved each game they introduced to us and even played with us! The experience felt short-lived for our kids who didn’t want to leave, but I am sure there will be a next time. 


http://www.ludogames.ph

QUEZON CITY BRANCH:

No. 26 Scout Torillo St. Corner Scout Fuentabella, Quezon City

Tel: +6327918634 (Reservations and Inquiry.)

(Please call during store hours)

Operation Hours:

Mon – Thu: 4:00 pm – 12:00 am

Fri: 4:00 pm – 2:00 am

Sat: 12:00 pm – 2:00 am

Sun: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am

Holidays: 12:00pm – 12:00am
MAKATI BRANCH

No. 38 Jupiter St. Corner Planet St. Brgy. Bel-Air, Makati City

Tel: +6328107125 (Reservations and Inquiry)

(Please call during store hours)

Operation Hours:
Mon – Closed

Tues – Thu: 5:00 pm – 12:00 am

Fri: 5:00 pm – 2:00 am

Sat: 12:00 pm – 2:00 am

Sun: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am
 

It Takes a Village

Edric, the kids and I usually head up to Baguio shortly before Christmas to be with family on my side. During our stay this week, my dad decided to resume the tradition of family bible studies. He led us through the Christmas story as the kids listened wide-eyed and curious, interjecting their questions and comments. 
What a delight to observe my kids and their cousins as they gathered around their “angkong” (grandpa). It reminded me of a scene from my own childhood, when my dad would open the Bible on quiet Sunday evenings to teach us Scriptural truth. 

In Baguio, he explained Matthew chapter 1 verse by verse, focusing on how the birth of Christ was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, and how the mention of women like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheeba in the lineage of Christ revealed the grace of God. 

Tamar committed incest with her father in law, Judah; Rahab prostituted herself; Ruth was a Moabite; and King David slept with the very married Bathsheeba. My dad’s point was that God used imperfect and unlikely candidates to make up the genealogy of Jesus Christ. 

This tells us that God’s plan of salvation is greater than our past mistakes. He redeems what is broken in us, and He offers grace through His Son to all people. 

Since God keeps His promises and offers us His grace in the most unprejudiced way possible, Christmas is a time of great joy! Yet this joy isn’t fully realized until we trust and obey Him as Joseph and Mary did. My dad proceeded to explain that Joseph and Mary had to believe and cooperate with God’s plan for their lives. He challenged the grandkids to do the same. It was a wonderful two-part series Bible study for the grandkids. 

These are moments when I especially appreciate the blessing of family. Edric and I need a “village” to help us raise our kids, and this means the involvement of our greater family — grandparents, uncles and aunts. Even though we intentionally teach and train our kids, there remain to be many areas where the input and wisdom from others whom we trust is of great benefit.

The other day, when we were in the Ben Cab museum, Catalina rudely challenged my brother, Paul. He explicitly told her not to touch a work of art that she wasn’t supposed to and she defiantly did so. Reporting the incident to me immediately, Paul gave me the opportunity to deal with her appropriately. 


I pulled Catalina aside and she cried knowing that discipline was to follow. I didn’t spank her during this instance because we were at the gallery but a very serious talk about how she is to obey authorities ensued. She apologized to her Uncle Paul. Very much aware of her mistake, she remained penitent the rest of the afternoon. 

This morning, she voluntarily approached my brother to tell him, “I am obeying now, Uncle Paul,” and he commended her. 

Had Paul not bothered to tell me what happened or had I sided with Catalina defensively, I would have missed out on a moment to instill the concept of obedience to authority as something that extends past the context of parent and child.

I recall another occasion when my dad called out a character issue in Tiana, who ungratefully received a gift from him last December. She cried in disappointment, neglecting to say thank you for being given a gift at all. So my dad suggested that this year, our focus ought to be encouraging the kids to think about the needs of others. He tasked us to take the children to minister in underprivileged areas. 


It turned out to be a great recommendation. We brought the kids to Payatas where they got to look into actual homes and visually experience how little people have. Afterwards, one of our kids commented, “We need to do more for the poor! We need to find more ways to help them!” 

Early this year, my father in law lovingly corrected my mothering of Elijah. He cautioned me against doting on him too much. As a young man, Elijah didn’t need me to hover over him, micromanage his life or cripple him by doing for him what he can do for himself. Furthermore, I had to give him room to gravitate towards Edric, who could better mentor him during this transition into young manhood. This made a lot of sense but it wasn’t an easy reality to swallow. 

Edric and I continue to appreciate the correction and advice of the “village” people who surround our family. Sometimes it hurts to hear them point out flaws in our parenting or character areas our children need to improve on. Yet, their counsel is, more often the not, of great value to us as we grow through the different seasons and challenges of being parents to five kids. 


As the Bible so wisely puts it, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Proverbs‬ ‭11:14

At the same time, it’s important and necessary to filter through the counsel people give us so that it conforms to Biblical principles. Furthermore, recommendations from others that require major changes in the way we parent our kids have to be discussed by Edric and me so that we are in agreement that the change is necessary.

No parent has motherhood or fatherhood all figured out. So if you and I have people in our lives that can make up a village of godly counsellors to help raise our children then praise God! If we don’t, let’s pray for people to come along side us who can spur us on toward better parenting. There is gain to be had from the willingness to listen to the perspectives and insights of others. 

Here Comes the Knight 

After a hectic and action-packed two months, I crashed, emotionally and spiritually. All the speaking engagements, events, projects, ministry activities, and social gatherings ate into my homeschooling hours with the kids. As a result, the quality of our homeschool mornings was compromised. 

My relationship with Edric also suffered. Although we spent a lot of time together, our interactions weren’t tender or meaningful. Both of us had to focus on the tasks we were committed to. Like soldiers, we dutifully worked along side each other and accomplished our projects. However, we missed eight consecutive date nights which was a big deal for us! These had to be set aside to accommodate our busy-ness. 

I praise God for Edric’s intuitiveness when it comes to my personality. Since I am a closet introvert, no one really knows the internal struggle I deal with when I don’t have breaks in between activities. However, Edric can often tell when I am not exactly my self. He is sensitive to the slightest changes in my disposition. 

One afternoon when I was lying on our bed, listlessly fixated on the nondescript white paint of our bedroom ceiling, Edric opportunely sat down beside me. He turned my face to his and invited me into a conversation, attempting to gauge how I was doing emotionally and spiritually. After I articulated that I wouldn’t be able to survive another quarter like the one we were in, he reassuringly uttered the words, “Don’t worry, honey, I will take care of you.” 

With his full attention on me, coupled with his sincere attempt to offer comfort, I caved in to the strength he offered and let myself be weak in his arms. It felt like a safe place to display vulnerability, so I let the pressure spill out of me and the tears came freely. For the first time in weeks I enjoyed relief, as I remembered that God placed Edric in my life to watch over me. Afterwards, Edric stayed by my side until he was certain that I understood how committed he was to my well-being. 

His conclusion: I will protect your schedule. He agreed that the last two months were impossible to sustain in 2017 — the multiple conferences, out of town and out of country trips almost every week to speak and serve others, plus counseling, ministry, homeschooling, and parenting in between were too many good things crammed into an unrealistic time frame. When preoccupations shift the scale in the opposite direction of family, Edric is the first to recognize that something has to change. 

I am so thankful to the Lord that he gave me a husband who has risen up to the role of protector. Even though I didn’t think I needed him to be this for me when I got married, I have appreciated the way he has looked out for me (and our kids). It’s an undeserved blessing from the Lord. Plus, I have to admit that there’s a romantic bone in me that is attracted to Edric’s chivalry. 


Protectiveness comes in many forms. Here are some of the ways that Edric has protected me (and the kids.):

He exerts strength to shield the kids and me from physical harm. Sometimes this is as simple as putting us on the safe side of the pedestrian lane when we are on it. Or, it’s bringing a night stick when we go walking so he can use it to ward off aggressive dogs or intimidate rude bystanders. He is perpetually on the look out for us when we are in public places, mindful of where we are so he doesn’t lose any of us. If we were in an actual battle, I don’t doubt that he would sacrifice himself on the front lines to fight for us, too.

Meeting my need for emotional security is also an act of protection. This alleviates any fears I may have about losing his love or his attraction to me. It liberates me to give herself freely to him, especially in the area of intimacy. 

Edric also takes charge of our finances so that I don’t have to worry about playing the role of provider. When I do earn money, it becomes a bonus. Another wise thing he did was to invest in insurance options that would meet our monetary needs should something untoward happen to him. 

There’s protection in the form of spiritual leadership as well. This is what I value most. When Edric is gatekeeper of the home and stands as its guardian, he keeps out demonic and negative influences that can seduce the hearts and minds of our family. He does this by establishing guidelines about what we watch, see, and listen to. 

Sometimes Edric also needs to filter through the activities that I participate in to help me discern whether these are aligned with God’s purpose and will for my life. (He does this with our kids, too.)

Since Edric intentionally disciples the kids and me, this preserves our unity in the faith and places us in a position to receive the blessing of the Lord. His prayers to the Lord on our behalf are a means to spiritually cover against harm. Furthermore, his example of godliness and love for the Lord establishes the credibility of his authority, and inspires us to deny sin and follow God’s will. When we make wrong choices, Edric helps us to review what we could have done better to safeguard us from the pain of future mistakes. 
There’s a special blessing upon the family of a man who honors God. Psalms 128:1-4 declares, “How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you. your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.” 

While no husband is perfect, and this includes Edric, there is a wonderful atmosphere of calm and peace in our home because we know that there’s a godly and trustworthy man in charge of our welfare. (Ephesians 5:23)

If you are married and want a great article on the protective role of husbands, here’s one written from a man’s perspective, by Tim Challieshttp://www.challies.com/christian-living/leadership-in-the-home-a-godly-man-protects

Relax, Mom. It’s All Part of the Grand Plan.

On the flight to Dubai, after five hours of insufficient sleep, I decided to watch the movie, Bad Moms. Contrary to what its title implies, there were some insightful principles in it about motherhood. I don’t necessarily recommend the movie because of its immoral elements but I do think it had something to say about how we try to be so perfect as mothers that we kind of drive ourselves crazy living up to this expectation of ourselves. We stress out!

Sometimes we need to just chill and remember that God is in control. We need to rest in Him. 

This message came at just the right time for me. Recently, I have felt very inadequate as a mom. Elijah is going through puberty and Edan is dealing with doubts about faith and truth. Plus I still have a rambunctious toddler, Catalina, who attaches herself to me like glue. In between, are Titus and Tiana who still need me to be very hands-on as a homeschool parent. So on some days I want to find a rock to crawl under.

Of particular concern to me lately has been Edan. He is swimming in questions about theology and faith, struggling to understand mysteries like the Trinity, predestination, the sovereignty of God, the inerrancy of Scripture and its divine inspiration, and I am not always able to allay his doubts. Who can explain the Trinity?! 


Sometimes Edan ends up crying and confused, wondering how he can believe in truths he cannot fully grasp. It hurts to watch him on this journey because I cannot force him along or hurry him. The battle is inside, beyond where I can see and go as a mother. I have cried to the Lord in prayer for Edan. And there are moments when my heart turns critical, maddened by his inability to connect dots and reason sensibly, or apply faith when necessary.

In Ecclesiastes it says, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven- A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.”

It goes on to read, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart…” (Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-8, 11a)

Even though I have read these passages numerous times, they ministered to me in a new way by reminding me of the following:

– There is an APPOINTED TIME for everything. 

– There is a TIME FOR EVERY EVENT under heaven.

– He (God) has made everything APPROPRIATE in its time.

– He has also SET ETERNITY IN OUR HEARTS. 

An appointed time implies purpose, intentionality. There is nothing accidental or chance-like about what happens in our lives, or in the lives of our children. Even if this juncture in the timeline of my history as a mom may feel out of control and chaotic, it’s a designated season. It is God-ordained. The same is true for Edan’s endless spiritual questioning and struggling. This is part of God’s plan for him.

Secondly, since there is a time for every event under heaven, this tells me that this season is important and necessary. And whew, it also implies that it’s temporal. Edan won’t linger in this state forever. 

Some seasons are easy, some are hard and painful, others are devastating, and still others, hopeful and joyous. This season of motherhood is painful for me…not in a tragic sort of manner but in a sobering sense. My two older sons are moving past the age of childhood. It’s a transition accompanied by emotional and spiritual complexities and I have to quit panicking! I can’t dwell on the changes they are going thorough (especially the changes in Edan), and think, I am losing my sons. 

Ecclesiastes continues by revealing that He (God) has made everything appropriate—a word which sounds so comfortingly like “customized and personalized.” In other words, God’s sovereign hand directs the course of every event in our lives and our children’s. His wisdom decides when the length of a season is enough, and what sort of season we need to walk through in order to build our character. 

My kids are growing in character, and I often think that they need to. But guess what? I need to grow in character, too! 

In the early months of this year, I kind of felt like I hit a good groove as a mom. My homeschooling was going well. The kids seemed behaved and “manageable.” I no longer had an infant, and breastfeeding came to an end. To be honest, I slacked off with my prayer time and switched to cruise control. 

However, when Edan began bombarding me with difficult questions and Elijah’s hormonal changes started to impact his moods and lower his threshold for frustration, I was jolted out of my complacency. Suddenly I felt insecure and lost as a mom.

Yet God used this for my good. Confronted by the reality that all my efforts at teaching, training and modeling cannot force my kids to desire God or His will drove me to pray fervently and tearfully for my children. My ambitions for my kids were whittled down to the most important of all—that they might grow up to know, love, obey, serve, and worship God. 

I know this, right? I have said it over and over again in my posts. But wow, this is when the rubber hits the road. 

Edan’s conversation with me a few weeks ago made me realize that my greatest longing as a mom is that my kids enter into eternity, to be welcomed by their Heavenly Father with the words, “Well done.” Wealth, power, fame, worldly accomplishments and accolades pale against this highest goal, especially when I consider the possibility that my kids’ souls are at risk. 

Mark 8:36 begs me to ponder, “For what does it profit a man (my child) to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” ‭

As Edan and I carried on a lengthy and exhausting dialogue about whether Jesus Christ’s claims were real, I delved into the wonders of faith-filled living, excited to illuminate for him the uncommon peace and joy that mark the lives of those who follow Christ. Beyond historical and prophetical evidence for the existence of Christ, this was another way for me to prove to Edan that Jesus is real. I thought it was a solid pitch.

Contrary to my expectations, Edan’s eyes welled up as he replied to me, “Mom, those are your experiences. I have yet to experience those things for myself.” 

My bubble of enthusiasm burst as I recognized, for the first time, that Edan’s main issue with truth was that it had been “secondhand” for him since he was a young boy. He needed to encounter Christ personally. 

Of course my heart collapsed at that moment when the sincerity of his tears and my inability to comfort him met each other. It was at this point that I surrendered to the reality that God has to be to be the one to open Edan’s eyes. Only God can cause the years of Bible reading, family devotions, the memorization of Scriptural truth, parental instruction and training, and the example Edric and I displayed for Edan to come to a point of convergence so that he sees and understands who God is. The decision to know, love, obey, serve, and worship God must be Edan’s. It can’t be something Edric and I impose on him. 

So where lies my hope?

Like Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus, I am praying that the “God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to EDAN a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of EDAN’s heart may be enlightened, so that he will know what is the hope of His (Christ’s) calling, what are the riches of the glory of His (Christ’s) inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His (Christ’s) power toward those who believe…” (Ephesians‬ ‭1:16-18)‬ ‭

The day when it all makes sense to Edan will come at its appointed time. Till then, I am learning to relax as a mom. Everything that is happening in our family at present is part of God’s grand plan. And my kids going through difficult changes and seasons in their lives doesn’t mean I have been a bad mom — neglectful, hypocritical, or ill-tempered. By God’s grace I haven’t been those things. However, there’s much room for character improvement in me still. This is an appointed time in my life for me to embrace humble dependence on the Lord, to acknowledge that I don’t have it all together, that I am insufficient and incapable of performing the greater heart work that only God can do effectively in my kids. 

So this is me…relaxing…or at least, trying to! 


As my husband, Edric, advised, “Let’s continue to do our part and be faithful. Beyond that, don’t worry, hon. God is in control.” 

I hope this comforts you today, moms! 

Enjoy Christmas Feasting the Right Way

I know it’s so tempting during this time of the year to eat every wonderfully delectable thing set before us. Eating a lot comes with the Christmas season, and it’s common think, “I will give myself a break and diet when the New Year begins.” 

Well, this is the sort of mindset that gets us into trouble. It’s not worth it to load our bodies with bad calories that will make our fat cells happy but get us depressed when we try to fit back into our jeans when the New Year comes around. Plus, unhealthy binging makes us vulnerable to getting sick, too.

So how do we strive to achieve a balance? After all, we can’t go to Christmas gatherings and be party-poopers about the food when family and friends have thoughtfully prepared the spread for us to enjoy. At the same time, we need to be more conscious and exercise a greater amount of self control to make it through all the festivities without compromising our health or our kids’. 

For example, I used to eat a generous slice of cake anytime it was served to me at parties, but as I got older and came to terms with how horrible sugar is for my body, I had to curb this habit. I would ask for sliver of a cake instead of a huge slice and then share that portion with Edric, who was of the same mind to avoid eating the whole thing by himself. This way I got to enjoy a little bit of sugar without suffering from the guilt afterwards. 

One of the wisest perspectives on eating I have ever learned was from my grandfather who lived to be 96. His health philosophy boiled down to this: everything in moderation. Don’t overeat, don’t under-eat, don’t neglect exercise, and don’t harbor bitterness, anger or worry. My grandfather passed away a happy, contended man, by God’s grace. I would like to think his ability to exercise self-control without being legalistic had something to do with this. 

So how do we enjoy Christmas food this season WISELY?

Eat and drink smart:

1. Never skip a hearty breakfast. When I don’t eat breakfast, I tend to eat bigger lunches and dinners when parties usually happen. Breakfast also regulates metabolism so it’s important to stick to the habit of eating a good breakfast so you and I, and our kids, aren’t starving when it’s time for that Christmas buffet. Plus it’s easiest to burn the breakfast calories. If you are rushing out the door in the mornings, grab a banana and put some peanut butter on it. Then pack some almonds or granola to munch on in the car. 

2. Load up on veggies and fruit to quell the craving for sweets. I praise God that my kids like carrot sticks, apples, and oranges. Even Catalina has been brainwashed to like carrots. Yey! When their tummies are full of the good stuff, they don’t look for the bad stuff. As for me, I make my Nutribullet drinks made up of fruits and veggies. (I need a transformer to run it because I bought it from the US and it’s a 110 volts appliance.)


3. To flush out all those heavy meals, eat prunes and brown rice…and other colon-cleansing foods. Our younger kids don’t always like brown rice so we mix white rice into it so it’s softer. But, they still benefit from the fiber from brown rice. As for prunes, these are a sure-fire way to flush out the intestines. They work for me! Try eating six to eight prunes for a snack and you will see what I mean. 

4. Take bite-sized portions of desserts at parties and don’t keep sweets in the refrigerator or pantry. The more sugar you and I eat, the more addicted we get to it. It is actually as addicting as cocaine! (This is according to my doctor sister, Carolyn.) And if it’s accessible, we are vulnerable to sneaking up to the fridge or pantry to indulge ourselves. In our family, we give away the sweets we receive. We don’t recycle them as gifts; we simply pass them on after tasting them by bringing them to other gatherings to share or we let our household help, driver and their friends and family enjoy them. It’s called spreading the calories across more people. 

5. Drink lots of water and avoid sugary juices or pop. Instead of ordering a soda or juice at a resto, ask for water. It’s cheaper and better for you and me. As for our kids, they need to drink milk twice a day on top of their diet. I started using a brand called Friso lately after I discovered that it’s prescribed by pediatricians for kids who easily get constipated or suffer from upset stomachs. 


6. Use alternatives to sugar. We hardly use sugar in our home to sweeten drinks or food. Our sweetener of choice is honey…raw wild honey or Manuka Honey
Keep immunity levels strong. 

1. I let my kids take Manuka Honey for their immunity and to fight off colds, but it also allows them to satisfy their desire for something sweet in a healthy way. 


2. Don’t neglect the vitamins. For example, Vitamin C. My four older kids have gotten used to taking non-acidic vitamin C pills. They taught themselves to swallow these as a challenge and now it’s a habit. Doctor-sister, Carolyn, also says to take multivitamins, probiotics, and fish oil regularly. (For one of my future articles I am going to pick her brain about functional medicine so I can share her insights here.)

3. Avoid being out too many late nights in a week, which means that you and I have to strategically select which parties are worth attending. My kids (as well as Edric and I), tend to get sick when we don’t stick to our regular routine for bedtime. So we have to say no to certain events or request that these occasions start earlier in the evening if possible. And at times, we have to check out early and excuse ourselves in favor of a good night’s sleep. 

4. Go outdoors to exercise when there’s good sunlight. December weather is getting so nice for family walks, runs or biking sessions. The trick is to engage in these activities as a family so that the kids are excited about exercise. Our kids are more motivated to exercise when it’s a shared activity. 

There’s no need to panic about holiday eating for as long as we practice moderation for high-calorie foods and apply the tips above. Eating great food is a wonderful tradition during Christmas. But, since we live in the Philippines and the social activities go on and on during this time of the year, we also need to apply self-control. Enjoy but don’t over-indulge. If we do this, we will get to have our cake and eat it, too, (for as long as we don’t eat the whole cake!) 

One of the Hardest Things About Being a Parent

One of the biggest challenges that Edric and I face daily is that our kids see us up close and personal everyday. This requires us to be extra conscious about the values, attitudes, and perspectives we role model to them.

I remember a few weeks ago, I asked my kids, “What do you think mommy is passionate about?” I hoped they would answer, “You love God and follow God.” But to my surprise, they unanimously agreed that I was passionate about MY CELLPHONE!

Goodness, gracious!

To defend myself, I explained, “You know that my Bible is on my phone, and I blog and minister to others through my phone.” But they didn’t seem convinced.

The reality is I do read my Bible using my phone and it is a tool for ministry, but apparently, they perceived it more as an addiction of some sort. So I had to apologize to them and take their answer to heart. (And I’ve decided to dig up my Life Application Bible so they see me holding it, instead of my phone!)

Growing up I remember that my parents were convincingly passionate about loving God and serving Him. They remain the same way today. My mom is the type of person who shares the gospel with anything that lives and breathes. It’s top of mind for her when she gets on an airplane and someone sits next to her. She’s constantly praying for an opportunity to insert the good news of God’s love.

As for my dad, he pours over God’s Word for hours each day. He spends a good part of his morning in communion with the Lord up in his study room. (It’s a blessing that my brothers run the family business so my dad has time to study the Bible and busy himself with ministry. I know not everyone has the same set of circumstances.)

The point is this: our children need to connect what we are passionate about our love for God. If we can’t live contagiously as Christians, then our children aren’t going to get infected by us.

One of the most effective ways to be a good model to our kids is to model humility. Very recently, I appreciated how Edric demonstrated this to our children. (I am sharing this with his permission.)

We traveled to Baguio for a conference two weekends ago, and the morning of our event, Edric’s hair brush magically disappeared. He’s particular about his stuff and it’s unusual for him to lose an item like this. So he assumed that the kids took it and put it somewhere in the hotel room. None of us knew where it was and none of us were guilty. However, due to his agitation over the missing hairbrush, he saidgl, “You guys BETTER find it or someone is going to be in trouble.”

At that moment, I wanted to speak up in defense of our children, and call him out on his irritated tone. But God reminded me to be silent and pray instead. (This is often the precursor to Edric coming to a point of conviction because the Holy Spirit softens his heart. My blabbing and reactiveness don’t work.)

In the process of looking for the brush, the kids began to sound annoyed with one another. To correct this, Edric called their attention and gave a quick lecture on speaking to one another in a kindly manner. Once again, I had to subdue my own critical spirit. To me it looked like our kids were copying the tone Edric previously used with them when he got upset about his hairbrush.

The kids and I finally trooped down to get breakfast as we needed to hurry along to catch our call-time at the event venue. We waited for Edric who came down to pray with us, and the first thing he humbly said was, “Kids, will you forgive me for my tone? Will you forgive me for being a bad example and getting annoyed about my brush? I told you all to speak to one another in a nice way and I didn’t do that myself. Please forgive me.”

Of course the children did and I smiled knowing that it was the Lord who touched Edric’s heart.

It’s not easy for a father to admit his mistakes to his kids, but what an amazing effect this kind of authenticity has on them. It’s also a great reminder for me to do the same.

Children are allergic to hypocrisy. A sure-fire of turning them away from loving and following God is to expose them to parents who preach these values and do the opposite at home. So Edric and I must have a heightened awareness for the attitudes, perspectives, and actions we display. Our children are watching us and forming conclusions about the kinds of attitudes and perspectives they will internalize, and the actions they will exhibit when faced with difficult circumstances, people-problems, and challenging choices. What will they copy in us? I pray we can say with confidence and grace what the Apostle Paul did in 1 Corinthians 11:1 when he told the church ag Corinth, “Copy me, as I copy Christ.”

And, let’s face it…we are going to make make mistakes, so let’s learn to model humility. Children easily forgive when we don’t let their heart-wounds pile up. I have seen this over and over again in our family.

The same is true for marriage, too! Let’s model humility to our spouses by asking for forgiveness when we make mistakes…the big ones and the small ones. We can also add the bonus question, “How can I improve?” This line works wonders to repair hurt in a relationship.

Finally, let me end with this: Good role models inspire positive change in those who watch their lives closely. If those who watch us are becoming more like Christ, then praise God, we must be modeling something right! 

 
 


When the Driver Runs Over Your Child’s Foot

One of the things our kids have “lovingly” corrected Edric for is his reactive-ness when situations are highly stressful. He’s changed so much through the years because of Christ in Him that the kids have noticed a remarkable difference in his capacity to restrain his emotions.

Today our driver accidentally ran over Elijah’s foot as we left the Conrad Hotel in Pasay. Our family gave a parenting seminar and as we exited the hotel, our kids piled into the vehicle one by one. 


Our driver absentmindedly released the breaks and Elijah’s toes were helplessly pinned under the rear wheel. 

Aghast, Elijah hollered out, “My foot!!! My foot!!!”

In his bewilderment, our driver panicked and didn’t know what to do, which created even more of a scene in front of the hotel. Elijah couldn’t move as he panicked, and we didn’t know which part of his foot was trapped. Edric jumped out of the vehicle to rescue him and then finally, our driver’s wits returned and he adjusted the car so Elijah’s foot was set free. 

Thankfully, Elijah wore sturdy shoes which protected his toes. The tire left a mark across the top of Elijah’s shoe, but upon checking his feet, no permanent damage happened. He could still wiggle them with ease. Whew. 

Nonetheless, the incident roiled us up into a frenzy and we were all emotionally charged. No one yelled, except for Elijah, who of course had every right to announce his pain. 

What impressed me most during the commotion was that Edric remained calm.  I know he wanted to castigate our driver. Yet, he assessed the situation, discerned a course of action and instructed our driver so he could back up to free Elijah’s foot. He also remained unusually tranquil after he returned to sit in the front seat. Afterwards, I asked him in private what he had been thinking and he planned to speak to our driver at a later time to address what happened.

Edric’s emotional self-control mattered a lot to our kids (and to me) who anticipated a possible outburst from him. What father wouldn’t want to yell and scream at a driver who foolishly put his child at risk like this?! 

My father used to say, and I have mentioned this before, “People are like toothpaste tubes. When they are squeezed during stressful moments, their honest person comes out. If a person is spirit-filled then it ought to be ‘minty toothpaste’ that comes out (something pleasant). And if he isn’t, then it’s dirt that surfaces.”

This illustration is a parallel to Luke 6:45 which says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

When our driver ran over Elijah’s foot, our human tendency would have been to get angry. And I am not saying that Edric and I didn’t feel that anger surging inside of us. Yet at the same time, I am so grateful to the Lord for allowing the moment to be a display of His grace for the sake of our kids, our yaya and our driver. They witnessed Christ-likeness in action, especially in their dad, who affirmed for them that a person can be self-controlled in stressful situations because of Christ. Anger management is possible when we let Christ take over our hearts, minds, and lips!  

Now our challenge is what do to about our driver! We are praying for wisdom. He apologized profusely but this mistake was also a serious one. I am praying that Edric will make the right call on this. Our driver is a nice guy and he has a good heart, but absentmindedness can be a costly thing, especially in a driver.