Archives for July 2017

Don’t Judge Your Spouse

Before the weekend of our 16th wedding anniversary, it was fasting week for our church. As a result I was in a totally different zone mentally, emotionally, and physically. Having slowed down my activities significantly to quiet my soul and spend time with the Lord, I actually forgot about our anniversary!

The day of our anniversary, Edric and I had ended our fast, and we got ready to go to a homeschool event — Family Fun Day, not greeting one another that morning. It slipped my mind. (I assumed it slipped his, too, when I whispered to him in the later part of the morning, "Happy Anniversary.")

Honestly, the day didn't start out right for us. Edric nagged the kids and I to leave by 7 AM to make it to Family Fun Day by 8 AM. Note that this was supposed to be a FAMILY event and we were supposed to go TOGETHER. However, I left my phone and realized it three hundred meters away from our home, so we did a u-turn to go back and Edric was visibly annoyed.

After speeding home to retrieve it, I jumped out of the car and Edric insisted that the kids and me all ride in another vehicle with the driver. He quickly left us without saying goodbye and without giving me to time to comment about this plan. The kids and I stood in the driveway in shock as he took off hurriedly on his own.

FAMILY FUN DAY wasn't staring out to as a family thing or fun!

Inside I was peeved. I didn't want to mouth this out in front of the kids to disrespect Edric behind his back. So I messaged him instead…

"I don't know why you did that. The kids don't understand either. Do you think it was necessary? ESP since they wanted to ride with you?"

No reply.

When the kids and I arrived at the venue, I semi-ignored him until I realized that it was our anniversary! That's when I whispered, "Happy Anniversary" when I finally locked eyes with him. But I mouthed it out with a sarcastic look on my face.

I felt hurt by the way he dismissed us that morning, so I was nursing it, entertaining all kinds of thoughts like, "Why couldn't he have been more patient? Why does it seem like he can't be inconvenienced? If I had been in his shoes, I would have wanted the family to be together, on the way to a FAMILY fun day." (Let it be said that the reason why he was running late in the first place was because of the kids and me, so we weren't exactly innocent. And he made a commitment to the team to be at the event early so he could pray with them and check on things.)

Anyway, there I was, with Catalina on my lap at the venue, feeling like the "righteous," good mother of our five children…the one who was dutifully taking care of them while he attended to business concerns.

Well, it turns out I was the unrighteous, judgmental one.

When Edric sensed that there was tension between us, he pulled me close and said, "Fine, since you are being so difficult, I am going to tell you that I have a surprise for you, for our anniversary. That's why I have been so preoccupied. That's why I left you guys earlier. Don't ask anymore questions. Just know that I love you."

"Really?!!!" Big smile on my face, followed by an apology for being so reactive. Boy, did I feel stupid and childish for misinterpreting his actions.

Later in the afternoon, Edric got home ahead of the kids and me and set up this sweet surprise which involved me walking down the stairs with my eyes covered to the end of the hall beside the living room. He decorated the massive wall with all our kissing photos, scenes from various places of the world that we traveled to.

He also included a timeline of photos from courtship to marriage to one, two, three, four, five children, and the present. Of course I teared as I took in the sight of it all, and I was humbled, ashamed, feeling very small and unworthy, and just amazed at how thoughtful his gift was. Edric is an extremely busy man but he painstakingly sorted through thousands of photos, coordinated with our friends, Jessie and Mags David to print out the photos on canvas, he solicited the help of our older sons to edit and caption the photos, he rearranged furniture to create a wall space for the photos, and had someone drill holes into our wall so he could arrange all the photos.

As for me, what did I have to offer him for our anniversary…nothing. I hadn't prepared a single gift, not even a card, because I had been so wrapped up in being "spiritual" that I forgot all about the most important person in my life, next to the Lord — my husband. Nearly one week later, I ended up buying him an exercise program that he wanted. Yet it was a pitiful offering in comparison to his gift for me. The contrast certainly revealed the disparity between our heart conditions. He was thinking of me, and I was thinking only of myself.

When I reviewed the video that my son took of Edric and me I teared again. And when I asked Edric, "Why did you do this?", his reply was, "God reminded me during this fasting week, that I must love you like Christ loved the church, be 'all-in' as a husband, and keep the 'husband bar' high for myself."

He also added, "Christ has a lavish love for His church, I want to have a lavish love for you."

(Gulp. Oh, someone stab me now for being such an emotional criminal!)

I messed up. I judged him and assumed the worst about him! The Lord dealt with me and my pride, and taught me through this magical anniversary surprise that I have a lot to work on as a wife, as a person. Deep inside, I can be this vicious person who entertains such negative thoughts about my husband and imagines these flame-throwing scenes where I scorch him with my words!

It's just wrong. So wrong. I desperately need God's grace to change me so I can be a better wife.

DO NOT JUDGE YOUR SPOUSE. That's what I learned. Do not judge people, for that matter.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)

Some weeks ago my husband made a statement after counseling a couple who seemed to misinterpret each other's words and actions which led to much conflict in their relationship. Edric surmised, "Out of the heart, the ears hear," and, I will add, "out of the heart, the eyes perceive."

In other words, if you and I have spiritual and emotional junk in our hearts, be it fear, anger, insecurity, and the like, we are going to manifest this in the way we interpret what people say and do. We will hear and see others negatively.

One of the tests of a heart that is pure-hearted and right with the Lord when we can choose to think well of others instead of judging them.

Well, I stand guilty!

The good news is that there is a remedy, and it is found in the rest of the verses after Matthew 7:2, "Don't look at the speck in someone else's eye. Pay attention to the log in your own! Don't be a hypocrite! Judge yourself first so you can perceive others properly." (That's my paraphrase of the next verses.)

Before coming to conclusions about Edric or any other person so rashly, I ought to examine myself to determine if my thoughts, my words, and my actions are innocent of selfishness and pride. Are they Christ-like, or are they self-centered? If Christ is my focus, then I can choose to believe the best about my husband and others.

What if people are so obviously awful and don't want to admit it. Here's something comforting to hold on to: God sees every person's heart, and as an all-knowing and all-powerful God, He can expose people for who they really are. Therefore, let's leave the judging to Him.

"For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all." (Luke 8:17)

"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

God-Confidence in Kids

I am not an advocate of getting kids into modeling at a young age because it can make them focused on their external appearance as well as derive their sense of identity and worth from the way they look and how others perceive them.  However, I also believe that carefully chosen modeling or acting opportunities can be beneficial for kids, to break them out of their shells so they can shine for the Lord. 

From time to time our family gets offered endorsement opportunities and I praise God that these normally involve all of our kids and Edric and me, or some of our kids and Edric or me. In other words, it’s usually a family endorsement and more importantly, a product or service that is aligned with our values and principles. 

The milk brand, Friso Four, which is for kids above the age of three years old (past the breastfeeding age) is one such product. Their cows are hormone and antibiotic free, and they are cared for by farmers who are personally invested in their farms. Farmers basically own Friesland Campina, the mother company behind Friso. So they love their cows! 

Our family’s contract with Friso involved our daughters and me engaging one another through outdoor activities and play, and promoting the importance of nature in the lives of our kids — eating healthy, good sunlight, exercise, and exploration. 

For the shoot today, Tiana was tasked to memorize many lines. When she first saw the script she felt nervous and concerned about her ability to memorize and execute what was required of her. However, we prayed together and dedicated the shoot to the Lord, and her courage increased. She got through each part so well, and without compromising her personality as a sweet and demure girl. 

I was so proud of her! As a younger girl, Tiana struggled with self-consciousness and she worried about what people’s opinion of her. Sometimes she still does. However through the years I have encouraged her to consider the needs of others and bravely attempt to make friends and reach out to people instead of focusing on herself. It’s taken some time but in the last few months, I have seen her grow and mature in this area. She is friendlier towards kids, like her ballet classmates and art class friends, and she has a better understanding of God-confidence. 

God-confidence, as opposed to self-confidence or self-esteem, is knowing that God is the one who gives us the ability and capacity to do things that are difficult or out of our comfort zones. Self-confidence or self-esteem is believing in one’s strengths and who they are to accomplish what they want and need to. A God-confident person relies on Him to meet the challenges He calls him or her to. 

For example, I don’t like speaking in public. It’s still stressful for me to prepare a talk and muster up the courage to stand before an audience even if I have been involved in public speaking for years. Yet this is something I do as unto to the Lord, giving seminars and talks alongside my husband on relationships, marriage, parenting, and homeschooling. I have to remember that it’s not about me, it’s about being a blessing to others, a vessel to communicate God’s principles on these topics in order to help people. But I have to depend on the Lord and not myself if I am to be effective. 

Therefore, I am also teaching Tiana how to exhibit God-confidence when she is asked to do something that is beyond what’s comfortable for her. There were several instances when she teared today, primarily because she didn’t like it when she couldn’t do an excellent job with her lines or with the acting. Catalina assisted by wiping her forehead and handing her tissues when she would tear. The crew and I assured her that she was doing a wonderful job and that it was okay to fail. That’s what retakes were for. Plus, I told her I loved her no matter what and I was there for her. We prayed together several times. 


When she finished the difficult takes, she felt a sense of accomplishment, which is also why I encouraged her to complete her job even if it wasn’t easy. I didn’t force her. I just gave her a pep talk to calm her nerves. We also chatted about how I used to get scared and cry and we had a good laugh about it. 

Kids need to be conditioned to do hard things. For as long as these “things” aren’t abusive, against God’s Word, or imposed upon them because a parent is trying to live out their dreams through them, then kids can benefit from positive pressure, healthy competition, real world challenges, and difficult character-building tasks. However, it matters how we process the experiences with them, reminding them that motivations, purposes out to be for the Lord, and empowering ought to come from the Lord. 

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”‭‭ 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭

When I asked Tiana, “How were you able to do all your lines and acting?”, her sweet response was, “I have Jesus in me…” 


He’s Not the Same Man I Married

I got that title idea from Rose Fres Fauto when she recently interviewed Edric and I for her Facebook page, FQ Mom. During the interview I shared that one of Edric’s endearing qualities was his willingness to change. She looked surprised and said with a smile, “Really? I always thought Edric was a stubborn person.”

This comment got Edric and I laughing, and I explained that he is stubborn about his convictions, which is a good thing. However, when he recognizes that there’s a valid area to change in his personality, he will do it. In fact, he declared this commitment in his vows to me when we got married. He didn’t promise to be the perfect person but to be willing to change and improve for the better.

Rose interjected, “So he’s not the same man you married…”

“Exactly! And what a great title for an entry! I will use that!”

Truly, Edric is a different man. Every year he has become a better version of the man I married. In the first years of our marriage, I used to get so annoyed at his temperamental personality…the irony, me getting temperamental about him being temperamental! We had numerous conversations about this, sometimes over frustrating tears from both of us as we struggled to understand and adjust to each other. (It’s never easy to change a personality trait.) Edric’s reasons for his temper were often due to the high standard he held for himself and then imposing high expectations on those around him, including me.

I had to come to understand this as a strength of his, but he also learned to lower expectations of others and raise appreciation, and to verbalize praise when people did a good job. However, the more compelling reason for his change was his love for God. He knew that as a husband, God called him to “live with his wife (me) in an understanding way.”

Here’s where that principle comes from: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” 1 Peter‬ ‭3:7

When the Bible says “weaker vessel” it is referring to the physical frame of a woman versus that of a man. It’s not saying that we are less important. This is not to say that women can’t develop muscles or even be more “fit” than a man either. Yet genetically speaking, most men are larger in bone structure than women. This is one of the reasons why it’s not fair for women to challenge men in Olympic sports, for example.

Given that a woman is the “weaker vessel”, God calls a husband not to look down on her but to honor her as a fellow recipient of His grace.

Considering that the text was written during a time when women were treated as second-class citizens, this tells us that God’s heart has always been turned towards us. And he required husbands to treat their wives with respect and to value them.

In fact, God blesses the husband who treasures his wife, who considers her vulnerabilities, and her need for care. Not all husbands may realize that this is God’s mandate but I am glad that Edric discovered this for himself as he walked with God. I couldn’t, after all, preach this passage of scripture to him to force him to change. I had to utilize the secret weapon — prayer! I prayed for him and gave the Holy Spirit room to work in his heart instead of standing in the way by being contentious and demanding.

Honestly, it was hard and there were occasions when I failed miserably. I, too, needed to improve as a wife, with my respectfulness and tone. God also worked in my own heart over the years to show me that I was called to respect and honor Edric. (This is something I need to re-learn and apply over and over again.)

I want to encourage women who are praying for a future husband and give madried women hope. When I look at Edric today, sixteen years later, I think to myself, God gave me the greatest husband in the world! Whatever disappointment I felt at the beginning of marriage has been replaced many times over by a renewed appreciation for him and for the man he continues to become.

I know many women who are waiting for the perfect guy to come along. Well, the bad news is there is NO perfect guy. No one guy can fulfill every hope, expectation, need, and dream of a woman he marries. The good news is you can look for a guy who has the seed of potential. That’s what I saw in Edric.

Pray for eyes to detect the seed of potential in a man, someone you can come alongside to support so that he can reach his fullest potential. For example, he doesn’t have to be rich, but he should be hardworking and willing to do what it takes to support a family. He doesn’t have to be a bible teacher, but he should be someone who loves God with all his heart as evidenced by his convictions and the fruit of the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t have to have everything figured out yet but does his internal compass point in the direction of pleasing God? Does he have a general idea of where he wants to go, at least a five year plan? He doesn’t have to be the smartest person in the world but he should be humble enough to listen to wise counsel and surround himself with people who will encourage him to make right choices.

A few days ago, a guy emailed me asking if he should pursue a girl who is from a wealthy family when he is just a simple guy. I included Edric in the response and told him something like this, “If she can’t see you for who you are inside and will base her judgements on what you can give materially then she isn’t worth it. There’s so much more to you as a man who loves God than your economic status.” (He was someone who was also working very hard and doing his part to earn what he could do bravo for him.) Edric encouraged him to “be himself” since he had nothing to prove. I totally agree!

When God made Adam he had much to do and much to accomplish to become all that God planned for him to be. He was still “in the raw.” God elected for him to have a helpmate and strong supporter to rule the world and subdue it. He created Eve. Similarly, there is a guy out there for you who may be a diamond in the rough at present, to use the cliché, but God is molding and shaping him into someone who will do amazing things for God’s glory, who will be an amazing husband, and an amazing dad. So you can pass him by because he doesn’t sparkle yet or you can be there as an enabler in his life and be witness to the transformation.

To us married women, there’s a gem of a man in every husband, too. Had I focused on the layers I didn’t like, that buried my gem of a husband and hid him from view, I wouldn’t have had the privilege of seeing him shine for the Lord now. Edric is not the same man I married. By God’s grace, he’s a better man every year because of the Lord.

It takes faith to wait on the Lord’s transformative work in a spouse. Edric, too, chooses to be patient as God changes me. We are sticking around, that’s for sure, to be present for the process in each other’s lives and in our own. There’s a wonderful reminder from Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”


Do we have faith to believe that God can do mighty things in our spouses and in our marriages? That God can take our imperfect selves and change us into someone completely different, someone more like Him? 

Love Your Sibling(s)

My kids learned to love one another better this year. It probably sounds funny to put it that way…love one another better…but there’s always room to grow in the area of love in our home. Previously, they spoke harshly with each other when annoyed, and they had conflicts over inane things — toys, things, and personality quirks. 

About two months back, my second son, Edan, was assigned to lead our family devotion night, and he asked his siblings to memorize the passage, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians‬ ‭4:32‬) He asked each of his brothers and sisters how they would apply the verse and they were all honest about the need to be more considerate and accommodating of one another. 

I want to applaud Tiana and Catalina for choosing to get along in a much friendlier manner as of late, as well as Elijah and Edan for minding their words and attitudes towards each other. Titus, who is in between the two pairs, has always been the easy-going guy, never really ruffled by anyone and very forgiving. 

Today, at the dentist, I witnessed the kids’ concern for one another played out, especially by Catalina for Tiana. Tiana needed to have a tooth extracted since her permanent one was growing behind her milk tooth. While she sat in the chair fretting, Catalina told her not to worry, that she would hold her hand while the anesthesia was injected into her gums. Even if Catalina is three years younger, she’s a little toughie. 


Edan and Elijah also came over to encourage Tiana. Edan talked her through what to expect since he had the same procedure done before. Tiana teared a little but she bravely endured the ten minutes that it took to pull her milk tooth out. 

Dr. Marla Valenzuela, who has been our family’s dentist since Edric and I got married, let the kids hover around her. She’s such a wonderful dentist and always lets them play in her clinic and watch her work. In fact, Catalina expressed to her that she wanted to be a dentist someday. We shall see…


Tiana, feeling the love and support…


Elijah, my eldest, finally got his braces, too! It was a big day for our family’s teeth! 

He’s doing Turbo Braces, a new braces technology which will take less than a year. Woohoo! It requires visits to see Dr. Marla twice a month but it’s so much more efficient than traditional braces. (In case you have a teenager who needs braces…here’s Dr. Marla’s assistant’s number: Nicole: +63 922 848 3776. Her clinic is in Bonifacio Global City.


Anyway, people often ask me if socialization is a problem for my kids who are homeschoolers, and my reply is, “If parents can teach their kids to love the people in their home, then their kids can love people outside of the home. Forgiveness, unconditional love, thinking about the needs of others, sharing, being flexible and thoughtful, these are difficult to apply at home, amongst siblings. Children aren’t born with these instincts. But if kids can be taught to internalize these principles when dealing with their brothers and sisters then they will be able to carry these over into their other relationships.” 
Until some months ago, Catalina used to tell her siblings things like, “You are ugly. I don’t like you. You aren’t my brother (or sister) anymore!” Where did she learn to speak such painful words?! 

Edric and I had to train her and discipline her for unkindness. There was a point when she would even say, “You are sooo ug, ug, ug…” because she knew she wasn’t allowed to say the word “ugly.” Ay! 

I praise God she’s changed so much! Now, she tries to get along with her siblings and control her tongue. She’s turning out to be such a sweet three year old to her brothers and sister. 

It’s taken some years for Edric and I to instill relationship principles in all of our children and they are still a work in progress (so are we), but moments like today, in the dental clinic, were an encouraging reminder that brothers and sisters can genuinely care for each other if they are taught to do so. 

Teaching Bodily Discipline to Kids 

Growing up, I appreciated the weight my parents put on physical fitness and healthy eating. They encouraged my siblings and me to play outdoors everyday and they got us into sports. As a result, all of us excelled in our sport of choice in college. I played UAAP soccer (football) and my other siblings were on the UAAP basketball teams.

Some of the benefits that athleticism produced in my life were the ability to tolerate pain and to push myself to the limit. I believe this is one of the reasons why I was able to have five Lamaze births despite the death-like pain I had to endure. Of course, I ultimately credit the grace of God for making it through each birth. I would call out to him at the height of the excruciation and he would always come through for me. However, I also believe that I had to do my part, and being a sporty person made me physically, mentally, and emotionally strong.

This morning, as I was running on the treadmill, the passage in 1 Corinthians 9:27 came to mind, “But I buffet (discipline) my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

I kept chanting in my head as the pace of the treadmill increased, “Buffet my body! Buffet my body!”

It’s not just about physical fitness which can be an idol in the lives of so many people, including mine, if I am not careful about its proper place. The real reason why it’s necessary to discipline the body is because we train ourselves to accommodate pain, to wait for results, to say no to the wrong things, and to persevere. In our spiritual lives these abilities are very important which is why Paul told his disciple Timothy, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness…for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8) Since I don’t have loads of time to dedicate to exercise, I stick to a regimen that keeps me healthy and able-bodied.

However, I want to focus on the higher purpose for fitness, which is something that all of us need to pass on to our kids as well. Admittedly, Edric and I have been less intentional with our own kids when it comes to their athletics. We agreed that the academic side of the homeschooling would be handled by me and Edric would take over the kids’ sports’ programs. However, Edric’s busy-ness has prevented him from giving their physical development the focus that he would like to give it (apart from the kids playing outdoors and signing them up for random PE classes).

This was an area of our parenting that we discussed recently because it disappointed me that our sons’ athleticism wasn’t his priority. Edric was also a varsity athlete in his highschool and college years. Given that we were both athletes, having kids who weren’t into competitive sports concerned me. We experienced the amazing benefits of working with teams, pushing our bodies, and dealing with the failures and successes of the games and tournaments we participated in. I wanted our sons to experience the same things to help them grow in character.

However, I couldn’t keep nagging Edric about this. After all the kids were excelling in other areas and they did have exercise time. Plus, they tried a number of sports – basketball, swimming, tennis, football, etc. They did pretty well in tennis and swimming, but over the summer they took a break and we haven’t re-enrolled them. Well, I figured that as they got into the high school years, Edric would direct our sons to sports that they could focus on (since that’s when it will matter in preparation for college.)

Thankfully, my parents spent a good two weeks with our kids while Edric and I were in Australia. Being the very purposeful grandparents that they are, they had our kids swim every morning and they signed up our two older sons for a basketball camp. The best thing that came out of this was that my dad spoke to Edric after we got back and emphasized that he should prioritize the boys’ training in sports. Hallelujah!

Edric really respects my dad and has a great relationship with him. So he received the suggestion positively. Just a few days before we got back to Manila Edric also showed me his revised yearly plan for our kids, which included him being more hands-on with the boys in the area of their physical development. So God was already speaking to Edric’s heart about this.

This is one of the things I appreciate about my husband. When he recognizes an area that he needs to improve on, he will do something about it. It may not always be right at the moment when the issue is brought up to him, but he will eventually take action.

Since we arrived home, he has lovingly forced our sons to exercise and he intends to involve them in his daily workouts. The boys are excited and so am I! This will provide our sons with great bonding time with their dad, and they will acquire traits like perseverance, hard work, as well as mental and physical toughness. He’s also thinking through what sports to enrol them in again.

I get our kids to go running with me but it’s different when Edric pushes them. He is able to connect with their masculinity and draw it out as well.

As for our girls, they do ballet pretty consistently. I’ve already seen the benefits in their own lives. They’ve become more confident with making friends and performing in front of others during their recitals, and they are more graceful and coordinated. Should they choose to do a more competitive sport then that would be wonderful, too. In fact, I’ve told my girls, “We need to be fit and strong as women. God has called us to care for the needs of our families. And someday, you may become moms, too. Moms need to be strong!” (Of course, women have to be physically strong for many other reasons!)

Tiana, my fourth child, echoes this to me now. When we are running around the village and I begin to see signs of fatigue in her, I ask her if she wants to rest but she will usually reply, “It’s okay, I want to become strong!”


That’s my girl!

I’m really praying that this year Edric and I will be much better at instilling bodily discipline in our kids. And beyond this, I also hope that Edric will consistently come along side our sons and guide them in the area of athletics. There are so many present and future benefits to be had, especially in the areas of their emotional, mental, and spiritual development that we have to give it importance as parents.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three A’s in Parenting

I have been sitting through the seminars at Hillsong Conference in Sydney, Australia, sorting through all the insights that I have been picking up. Every session has taught me something worthy of a blog entry but I will begin with the one that struck a parenting chord with me.

During one of the leadership workshops, not expecting to hear any points connected to motherhood or fatherhood, I leaned in very attentively when the speaker, Chris Hodges, zoned in on the biblically recorded words that God the Father declared to His Son in the gospels. According to Him, there were only two instances when we hear the verbalized words of God directed towards Christ and these bore the same message in both passages: THIS IS MY SON. WHOM I LOVE. IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED. (Matthew 3:16-17 and Matthew 17:5)
What do we see here? 

1. This is my son (child): Acceptance

2. Whom I love: Affection 

3. In whom I am well pleased: Affirmation 

According to Hodges, these three A’s will create a culture in the home that will produce leaders. 

Every child desires to belong, to know their identity in the context of family, to feel unafraid to fail and make mistakes because they are unconditionally loved and accepted. Hodges shared about how he dealt with an under-aged drinking instance that his son was busted for. His son tended to be the type who kind of went with the flow without thinking through the consequences too well. 

As Hodges picked up his handcuffed son at the precinct, he relates that he had two options in that moment. The first was to berate, lecture and scold his son for his stupid mistake. But the more important second option was to tell him, “I have never loved you more than I do now. And I know you have never needed me more than you do now. What you did was wrong, but this is not who you are.” 

Edric and I have found ourselves in similar predicaments with our kids, especially Titus, who, at times, tended to act before thinking when he was a younger child. Although the circumstances he got himself into deeply frustrated Edric and me, we would remind him, “We love you no matter what. Nothing will change our love for you. But because we love you we will help you to change for the better.” 

By God’s grace, he has changed a lot! (He just chipped his front tooth the other day by diving into a shallow part of the pool but we love him anyway!)

Our children also need our affection — physical demonstrations of love. Each of our kids is different, but they all appreciate hugs from us. My fourth child, Tiana, will ask for a hug and kiss every night after I pray for her. Peaceful sleep follows when I complete this nightly routine. It matters to her. 

Amazingly, my children become more responsive to homeschooling when I pepper their mornings with spontaneous hugs. There is something about generous doses of affection that energizes them. 

The third thing our kids need from us is affirmation. Some weeks ago, I walked into my bedroom and Elijah was busily reading a new book. I told him that I enjoyed his company so much and that he and his siblings were my favorite people to hang out with (besides Edric, of course.) He looked up from his book and said, “I really need to hear that still, mom.” 

This surprised me because he is such an independent and confident young man, by God’s grace. In fact, I thought that if I compliment him too much it might make him proud since he is gifted in many ways. Yet, like my other kids, he longs to be told that he is important, valued, and special. 


I wanted to end this post with a nugget of wisdom my mom passed on to me. “See people for what they can become (in Christ).” As we communicate to our children acceptance, affection, and affirmation, they may not always obey, respect, or honor us. However, who they are today doesn’t have to determine who we can help them to become tomorrow. With God’s supernatural grace, they can grow up to make a positive difference for Jesus on this earth. 

Hodges challenged us to prophesy great things over our children. He would declare to his kids every day, “You are a leader. You are an influencer, you will not be influenced by the world.” 

Let’s remind our kids of the same!