Archives for August 2017

Strict but Sweet. Firm but Friendly 

I’m dealing with a snacking-in-between-meals issue with my youngest daughter, Catalina. She recently turned four and her opinionated-ness has also escalated in the last year. Thankfully, she’s learning to balance it with politeness, but this morning, she actually challenged me in the car. 

When she clamored for snacks from Tiana, I told her, “You can’t have any because you didn’t finish your breakfast.”

Very quickly she retorted, “Well you didn’t eat anything for breakfast.” 

Oh my. First, disrespectful. Second, how did she learn to deflect issues at such a young age?!

I addressed the disrespect by correcting her for speaking to me that way. Breakfast isn’t something I commonly skip out on but today, Tiana needed help getting ready for her achievement test and I only had thirty minutes to shower and change as well as pack her bag.

Furthermore, I explained to Catalina that she was still growing bigger and taller and mommy wasn’t growing anymore. She got this.
 
However, the issue of her snacking wasn’t to be dismissed.
 
“You cannot snack in between meals if you don’t eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” My statement was matter of fact and non-negotiable.

“Snacks,” I continued, “are allowed for children who eat their meals properly.”
 
I know this didn’t sit well with her and she tried numerous times this morning to negotiate and persist in her asking. 

It is totally annoying when my children pester me to death. I’m sure you can relate! And there are certain personality types among my kids that gravitate towards this method of wearing me down. 

Catalina, is at this stage of her character development. Yet, her personality should never intimidate me so that I give in at the expense of standing my ground on an important issue.
 
Over the years I’ve dealt with numerous eating problems in my kids – pickiness, distractedness, snacking, a sweet tooth, taking painfully long to finish a meal, detesting veggies, etc. With Catalina, it’s eating yoghurt, Yakult, milk chocolate drinks, Haw Flakes, gummy bears once in a while, and the like (okay, not super bad stuff) that make her disinterested in finishing her meals. So now the law is, NO SNACKING IF YOU DON’T EAT ALL THE FOOD ON YOUR PLATE FOR BREAKFAST, LUNCH OR DINNER.

The entire morning Catalina complained of starvation, hunger pangs, and the like. She even threatened, “I’m so hungry, I’m going to vomit,” complimenting her statement with dramatic body language. 

A part of me felt pity but the better part of me recognized that she would surely not starve for a few hours in between breakfast and lunch. If she did vomit, we would clean it up together, but I wasn’t going to budge. Sure enough, when she realized how immovable I was, she declared, “I can’t wait to go home…to eat!”
 
Well now, that sounds like the voice of wisdom to me! And she ate her lunch heartily. 
 
When I asked her, “Why does mommy want you to eat properly?”

She answered, “Because you love me.”

Exactly.


It’s easy to be manipulated by a dominant child like Catalina. Yet if I know what is best for her, especially in the area of something like eating, then I can’t let her dictate how and what she will eat as a four year old. She doesn’t quite grasp the food pyramid yet or the effect of junk food and bad nutrition on the body, so I have got to set the rules. 

Time and time again the food problems Edric and I encounter with our kids boils down to an issue of obedience. If we train our kids to obey us, then they ought to obey in all areas. To leave one area as an exemption is to communicate to them that it’s okay to defy us when they don’t like what we tell them to do. Hmm…This sounds like an effective way to teach our kids how to have selective obedience (which is really known as disobedience.) 

Therefore, willful children need strong-willed parents to exercise strictness and firmness that is balanced out by genuine sweetness and friendliness. Kids don’t need to be yelled at to understand that we mean business as their parents. Screaming at them may terrorize them into compliance but it’s going to lead to resentment and rebellion in the future. 

Therefore we need God’s wisdom to deal with the tension between strict and sweet, firm and friendly. Strict means that we dictate clear rules and boundaries. Firm implies consistent follow through to enforce these and to discipline when they aren’t followed. Sweetness and friendliness appeal to the hearts of our kids. 

I am not talking about being buddy-buddy with them — a form of unhealthy parenting. We are authoritative parents first, which needs to be obvious. But, we can certainly be warm and kind, and provide them with the security of knowing they are special and loved by us. 

When I told Catalina she couldn’t eat snacks, my tone was calm and placid as I explained the consequences to her. Nevertheless, I was resolute. In the end she conceded and very well remembered her lesson. 

Last night my third son, Titus, nearly gagged as he dutifully swallowed each bite of an avocado salad he didn’t like. He even held his nose while he ate it to make the experience more tolerable. It was a comedic sight to behold as he squeezed his nostrils with the tips of his fingers and spooned each bite to shovel into his mouth. He is an older child so he obeyed because Edric and I told him he had to eat his vegetables. Afterwards, I commended him for his perseverance. 

The premise is that every child can be taught and trained for their good, even when it comes to eating. The question is are we willing to wrestle through the process of teaching and training them even when it’s inconvenient, exhausting, and difficult for us to do so? 

Here’s some encouragement for us from Galatians 6:9, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians‬ ‭6:9‬) 

The paraphrased version for us, as parents: Let us not grow tired of doing what is good for our kids (discipleship in all areas and discipline to produce obedience). At just the right time we will experience the blessing of our efforts if we don’t give up!

 

I Want A Three Kiss Wife

Edric whispered the statement, “I want a three-kiss-wife,” after he asked me to rate his preaching last week with three kisses on the cheek as proof that I really liked it, and I gave him just one. 

It was a wonderful message on de-materializing our lives and I know he prepared long and hard to deliver it. Still, instead of encouraging him by saying, “It was a great message!,” and smothering him with kisses, I blurted out matter-of-factly, “You went overtime.” 

To this he quipped, “I want a three-kiss-wife.” (In other words, where was my lavish praise and appreciation?) He went on to insinuate that he felt pressured to perform for me because I wasn’t “pleased” with him as of late. 

Hmm…why wasn’t I more encouraging? 

I will get to that.

Edric and I shared the exchange about three kisses right before my dad preached on a topic called, “entitle-litis,” or the prevailing “entitlement mentality” that most of us wrestle with. 

My dad explained that “Entitle-litis is a spiritual disease in which an individual believes that privileges are rights, and benefits are to be expected as a matter of rights.”

At first I thought, This is a great message for Edric! Something he needs to work on in our marriage! Yes! 

Yet, as I listened to my father speak, I realized I was acting like the entitled one, holding Edric to a set of unreasonable expectations such as, “You BETTER treat me with respect ALL THE TIME,” “You OWE IT TO ME to be considerate and less demanding,” “You OUGHT TO be mindful of your tone with me,” or “You SHOULD BE more positive.” 

On the one hand, these were honest longings from me as a wife. But entitlement gave birth to demands and expectations, sucking the joy out of our marriage. Since I felt like Edric wasn’t meeting up to my expectations, I was so ill-tempered and waspish towards him this past week. I simply couldn’t enjoy being with him since I was on the lookout for his negatives, like I had my radar set to identify each of his mistakes so I could point them out just to prove that he was the problem and not me. 

Here were some examples of how nit-picky I was…

I contended with Him about accuracy when he mouthed out supposed facts from the stage or with the kids, asking him to verify his sources. I contradicted his opinions at the dinner table. When someone on Facebook insinuated that I was like a dog to my husband (master) after I wrote the article on how I needed to improve on my homemaking, the observation poisoned my thoughts for a few days. Even though I initially shrugged it off as a point made my someone who had an inherently different worldview, I began to question whether Edric’s treatment of me could be likened to a master-slave relationship, which resulted in my attempts to resist being told what to do. The entertainment of such thoughts turned me critical of Edric, so that I questioned his motives and assumed many times that he was acting selfishly and not in my best interest. 

What an ugly road to walk down, resulting in offensive mannerisms and words on my part. I grew contentious and difficult, easily finding fault with him. It’s no surprise that within the short span of a week, I managed to hurt Edric terribly, forcing him to withdraw emotionally and distance himself to avoid my tempestuousness. 

We managed to have a break from this unhealthy atmosphere when we went on a date on Saturday night, using our GCs to enjoy a sumptuous and borderline gluttonous buffet at Shang-rila’s High Street Cafe, followed by the use of another set of GCs to indulge in Swedish massages at Villa 5 in The Spa. (All in all we only spent only P350 for our date!) 

The date somewhat repaired our problematic communication, giving me an opportunity to apologize for my behavior. However, it wasn’t until the next morning while sitting in church that I was able to identify the root cause of my antagonism towards Edric. It boiled down to Entitle-litis. 

My dad shared that the effective antidote for this spiritual problem is gratitude. Expounding on gratitude, he shared that we need to count our blessings versus complaining, have a positive perspective, and recognize that we are recipients of grace so we can surrender our rights to the Lord. While listening to him, I knew I was 0 for 3 from this list. Edric may have had his areas to change, but the more obvious offender had been me. (And to think that I just wrote about what it means to be content and thankful! Ay!)

When we had family accountability with my parents and siblings last night (something we do weekly when my parents are in Manila), my dad asked us how we would apply the message on entitlement. As we went around answering this question, I admitted that I needed to improve on being more positive towards Edric, and raising my appreciation of him. Edric smiled at me knowingly. The wonderful bonus was that he also shared that he wanted to be less critical of others, especially me. So it turned out to be a win-win for our marriage last night! 

After being convicted about what an ungrateful person I had been towards Edric, I also started reflecting on all his resoundingly positive traits — his godliness, wisdom, faithful love for the children and me, humility and the willingness to change, generosity, leadership, integrity, hard work, and being loads of fun. (I could go on and on.) 

During his message, my dad challenged every married person to think of 10 things to appreciate about their spouse. This practical exercise in gratitude changes one’s perspective on their spouse very quickly! 

When I focus on what an amazing husband, father, and person Edric is I don’t want to be a three-kisses-kind-of-wife to him, I want to be a ten-thousand-kisses-kind-of-wife! And I want to be sweeter and more smiley around him, and someone whom he thoroughly enjoys being around! 


“It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.” Proverbs‬ ‭21:19‬ ‭

A Culture of Contentment at Home


For this past Sunday’s message, Edric was tasked to speak on the pitfall of materialism, so he asked me to share some practical ideas on how we try to instil contentment in the hearts of our children. I have to say that we are a work in progress as a family and we keep learning what it means to be content in the Lord, but here are some tips that have working so far…

WAIT.

There’s no surprise here, but wait, there’s more!

Waiting is something children ABSOLUTELY NEED to learn early. We have this symbol that we do with our kids, especially for our younger ones. It’s called “the hand.” We calmly say, “Wait,” when they want something and want it now, and we give them the hand symbol, palm facing towards them.

If anyone of our kids doesn’t receive this positively or they act up, like our youngest daughter used to do (and sometimes still does), then we tell them, “If you fuss, you will not get it at all.”


She now knows that the correct response is a respectful and cheerful, “Okay, mommy” Or, “Okay, daddy.”

It could be a snack, a toy, a gadget, anything that our kids feel they are entitled to at that moment, but if their attitude is demanding or we sense that it can be a training opportunity, we encourage them to wait.

One way we have done this is by practicing delayed gratification with Christmas presents and birthday presents. Since we have five kids, they get a ton of presents from relatives and friends. Although we let them unwrap each one, they don’t get to play with all of them. They can choose one or two and then the rest get put away for the next week or the weeks after.

Since I homeschool, it also works to my advantage because I use their gifts as motivational prizes. I say, “If you get your work done, you can play with a new toy!”

For our older kids, we challenge them to save up to buy a gadget or earn an app (virtual possession) that’s important to them instead of handing them the latest device or paying for a game that they want.


When our oldest son, Elijah, was eyeing an IPad some years ago, Edric gave him jobs to do like speaking in public during road shows or seminars. So he earned and saved up enough money to pay for 75% of his Ipad Air. He also had to canvas for the IPad and find the best deal himself. By the time he bought the IPad, it was after months and months of hard work, saving up, and researching.

Our second son, Edan, is one of those people who can obsess about something he likes. Last year he had his eyes set on a certain board game called Sushi Go Party. We made him wait for many weeks, maybe even months because the game wasn’t available locally. He wrestled with the waiting, but God knew he needed the lesson. Edan admitted that the desire for the game was so intense in a bad way that it was healthy for him NOT to get it right away. The protracted amount of time it took for him to wait for the board game taught him that he could be perfectly happy without it.

Because our older kids don’t like toys anymore and gravitate towards educational apps, books, and strategy board games, we have created guidelines such as, “Will this help you to grow in wisdom, stature, favor with God and men?” (This is based on the passage in Luke 2:52 that describes how Jesus Christ matured.)

This verse enables our children to filter through their emotions and excitement so they can discern whether a game (a virtual possession) will be profitable for them intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.

STEWARDSHIP.

To weed out the tendency of our kids to be selfish, we remind them that God owns everything. We are entrusted with blessings as His stewards. So when they are given a material possession, we tell them, “You are a steward of this. You are assigned to take care of it. You don’t own it.”

As they get older, this reality sinks in and they are more likely to share and not utter statements such as, “No, this is mine!”

If our kids fight over an object, toy, book, or food and refuse to share, we take it away and explain, “Since you are fighting over this, no one gets to have it.”

Most of the time, they will apologize to one another when the source of their conflict is removed and they come to their senses. Suddenly, their capacity to share kicks in and they say to one another, “Okay, you can have it.”

Since the Lord owns everything, we also encourage our kids to give by tithing. Our kids don’t get an allowance as homeschoolers so they have to tithe from jobs we give them, garage sales, or gifts. It’s not always easy. In fact, I remember an instance when they barely made money from a business idea they had, but they still chose to tithe. Their faithfulness ministered to me because they struggled to make the money they did. He wonderful bonus was that God allowed to sell all of the stocks that remained after their event so they ended up making much more! (And they tithed from that amount, too.)

GIVE TO OTHERS.

Besides tithing, we do periodic clean-ups at home where we ask our kids to comb through their belongings and give away or garage-sale their stuff for dirt cheap. Edric and I do the same. It’s like a massive exodus of items from the home that go out in boxes and large bags. The purging experience always has a positive effect on our entire family. We realize that we can be content with less and be a blessing to others, too. Plus, it keeps us from accumulating and hoarding, as well as getting overly attached to material things.

Tiana and me…going through my side of the closet.


When there are opportunities to participate in ministry outreaches to the less fortunate, we also get our kids involved so that their focus and giving can be directed outside of themselves. When they recognize how destitute other people are, it encourages them to contribute to the lives of others rather than mere takers.

“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.” (1 Timothy‬ ‭6:17-19‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

VALUE SIMPLICITY.

I grew up with parents who didn’t buy luxury brand clothes, shoes, or watches which protected my siblings and I from developing an appetite for these things. They also taught us not to develop a sense of identity or worth from what we had or owned. Observing their spending decisions encouraged me to be conscious of mine as well, and challenged me to find my identity in Christ, not in what I possessed.

I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy shopping or buying things. However, I learned, from their example that clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, make-up, while fun to have, don’t bring lasting joy. Neither do they define who I am.

“Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” (Luke‬ ‭12:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Since I have two girls, I have to be mindful about the way I spend on myself or even for them. With my three boys, it’s easy. They aren’t into fashion and they could care less about pretty things. However, with my girls, it’s a little more challenging.

In the car ride the other day, my daughter asked me when we were going to decorate her room and I answered, “Tiana, let’s wait, okay.”

I also added something like, “Why? Are you excited?” to which she replied with a big grin on her face, “Yes, because girls like things, right!?”

At first I laughed because she said this so honestly and innocently, but I realized that I need to be especially careful with her because, she DOES LIKE THINGS. When she sees sparkly, beautiful or cutesy thing, she gushes and exclaims, “Ooohhh, that’s so nice! Can I get it mommy?”

If she witnesses me being extravagant, it would be difficult for me to say, “No, or not right now..” However, I try my best to curb my own appetite so that I can exemplify simplicity for her and for my youngest daughter.


When I talk of simplicity I don’t mean neglect, or not trying, or being a plain Jane, or abandoning all forms of adornment. Simple in the beauty sense can mean elegant and tasteful, celebrating natural beauty versus the contrived, overly made-up, and flashy. Simple in the attitude sense can be about being appreciative rather than demanding, the ability to be content with a little rather than perpetually looking to stuff and material upgrades for happiness. 

While fashion and beauty, as well as pretty things aren’t sinful in and of themselves (for example, we should try our best to look our best at whatever season we find ourselves in), it’s the focus and emphasis on these above the more important aspects of a person such as character and love for the Lord that can be spiritually dangerous.

1 John 2:15-17 very clearly states, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

It is also the motivations that drive our purchases and the acquiring, such as lust of the eyes (the incessant coveting) or the boastful pride of life (the desire to prove oneself and promote oneself), that we ought to guard our hearts against. The issue isn’t about whether we are lavish spenders or do bargain shopping, rather the weightier question is what is our purpose for the material things we spend our money on?

Working hard and striving for excellence are part of being stewards of the talents, opportunities, and abilities God has given us, and Proverbs tells us that God makes rich and adds no sorrow to it, but it’s also necessary to consider the reasons behind our lifestyle choices. 

“For the covetous heart, stuff always comes first. In a consumer culture, the obtaining and maintenance of stuff can determine our job choice, our leisure pursuits, our friendships, our house size, our local church. It can actually dictate the course of our lives…Covetousness chains the heart to things that are passing away.”  (God, My Heart, and Stuff by Dave Harvey)

WISELY EVALUATE INFLUENCES.

Edric and I find that being selective about whom we follow on social media, as well as paying attention to what we watch and listen to helps with cultivating a contentment culture at home.

Since we don’t want our children to have sub-cultures that compete with the values we are trying to instill in them, we don’t expose them to the social media phenomenon at early ages, too.

Till this day, our older sons don’t have social media accounts, and they don’t feel like they are missing out on an essential part of their youth. Eventually, they may need to connect with people online, but for now, they prefer to spend time with people face-to-face. Since they are homeschooled, we know most of their friends (and their friend’s families) very personally, and we know that they share similar values to us. Therefore it isn’t as difficult for us, as a family, to stick to our convictions on matters such as money and spending. We are on the same team. 

Many parents tell me that the pressures their children feel to acquire more and have the latest of everything are partly due to the peer exposure they have. Whether it’s online peer pressure or relationships with classmates and friends, we need to instruct our kids to filter through these influences wisely, and help them choose the friends they want to surround themselves with as close confidants. 

Let’s not discredit the fact that the TV shows, online programs, and music they watch and listen to also become a source of “peer pressure.” Young people glorifying materialism through their music videos, lyrics, and shows will inevitably influence our children and program their value system.

The same goes for us, as parents. If we are constantly watching, listening to, and filling our minds with images and/or having frequent interactions with people who tempt us to keep grabbing for more, then how can we expect to have the courage and conviction to live simply and model this to our kids?

When I was regularly entertaining myself with visits to fashion sites, or following people who promote physical beauty and the latest trends, I started to feel like my wardrobe was outdated and that it needed continual upgrades. This is one of the reasons why I subscribe to very few people and organizations on Instagram. I don’t want my account flooded with images that make me feel like I need more material things to be happy and fulfilled. (Edric only follows one person on Instagram. Oh, that’s me! Yey!)

I would caution restraint when we do online shopping, too. Amazon is my Waterloo. If I am scrolling through deals everyday, chances are I will buy most of the stuff I keep adding to my cart! Online shopping is amazing but there’s no end to what we can buy. Plus, there is such minimal effort involved in clicking the checkout symbol! So I have to flee the urge to window shop on Amazon by keeping myself from having too much idle time on my phone. 

I don’t want all of this to sound legalistic. The point is that we need to positively challenge ourselves and our kids to be discerning about what we continually expose ourselves to, whether it be through media or friends, because they will profoundly impact our value system. 

PRAY WITH THANKSGIVING.

Last year, our family was approached by an ad agency that proposed an endorsement deal guaranteeing we would be flown to Europe as a family. We signed with the company they represented in good faith. However, as the months progressed, we discovered that the trip, though approved by the local company, wasn’t approved regionally. As a result, the trip didn’t push through. Of course, the kids were disappointed.

Yet, I told the kids, “If God wants us to go, we will still get to go. If not, He has something better and we can trust Him.”

After all, just getting the endorsement deal was wonderful and something to be grateful for. Therefore, the trip, though implied throughout the preliminary discussions, would be a bonus if it ever happened.

Well, we didn’t get to go on the Europe trip in the month that we hoped to, however, it was a blessed year still. As we prayed for God’s will and trusted Him, we learned to be thankful and grateful for the many other opportunities and experiences He allowed us to share as a family.

God doesn’t always reward us with an amazing material blessing when we choose to trust Him. What He does reward us with is the gift of His presence, His joy, and His peace…infinitely better things. God’s greater will for us as found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is that we would experience what it means to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks all the time!

There are still instances when it’s tempting to compare what we don’t have with what others do. I struggle with this and I’m sure Edric and the kids do, too. However, we are all growing in area of trusting that God’s will is always what’s best for us. 

This also means that God’s will is what is best for others, too. When our kids notice that their cousins or friends have more possessions than we do because they have greater financial flexibility, we tell them, “Let’s rejoice for them!”

After all, God loves each person so much and so personally that He knows exactly when to give and when to withhold. This perspective liberates us to quit comparing and to rejoice when others are blessed.

When we choose to be content in the Lord, less becomes more! We grow MORE in our character, in our faith, in our dependence upon the Lord, and in our capacity to empathize and relate to other people’s struggles. We also have MORE opportunities to experience God’s abounding faithfulness and grace!

“When covetousness seeks to chain our hearts to things passing away, grace empowers us to enjoy the One who is not only necessary, but enough.” (God, My Heart, and My Stuff by Dave Harvey)
 

 

 

 

 

 

Kiddo TV

Do you have kids who enjoy music, art, science, and magic? I can’t think of a child who doesn’t like at least one of these things. My kids like all four!

 

When I was asked to review Kiddo TV, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they have episodes for a range of ages and shows that appeal to different learning needs and interests.

 

Younger children will enjoy the nursery rhymes and the Fitzy Monster show, where a lovable character named Fitzy teaches toddlers and early elementary-aged kids skills like how to brush their teeth, table manners, exercising, and much more.

 

Catalina sat on my lap and watched a couple of these. These videos were super short, and they were easy to watch.

 

Older kids (aged 6 to 10) might gravitate towards Easy Magic, where Max demonstrates how to dissect tricks that kids can wow their family and friends with.

 

There are also Art Lessons by Teacher Miki who is an energetic artist! She explains to a group of kids how to do simple but fun artwork with easy to find materials.

Then there’s Stroosh, who came from another planet and needs to be educated about the earth and how humans relate with one another. During each video, his friend Luca explains concepts to Stroosh that can scientific in nature or historical in nature, or he talks about values.

 

The only red flag I saw in the Stroosh shows was the one episode where Luca promoted meditation (not as a religious activity) but as a means to focus and relax. Luca was well-meaning and wanted to help Stroosh get a grip of his emotions. However, I did spy a miniature Buddha on his table as a prop. It was subtle and would probably miss this.

The great thing about Stroosh is that he is very teachable, proving to be a good example to kids. He is mild-mannered and wants to learn, receiving correction humbly.

There's also a cartoon Halloween video that might have some scary images for little kids but other than that, KIDDO TV is one of those channels that promotes safe edutainment for children and it is appropriate for their developmental ages. Easy Magic and Art Lessons take about fifteen minutes per episode since they cater to older kids and they are instructional, but the rest of the shows are short to keep little kids engaged. (Catalina is watching one of the nursery rhymes right now and thoroughly enjoying it!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hon, You Have to Be a Better Homemaker”

When my husband, Edric, told me I had to be more involved in the home as a “homemaker,” meaning, “to put my whole heart into it,” I felt offended. He didn’t intend to put me down, but I reacted to his correction, primarily due to pride.

By my estimation, I was doing a decent job. Although I wasn’t a Martha Stewart or the kind of wife that put a whole lot of effort into making her home look Pinterest-worthy, our home was clean and our household help had a schedule that they followed, I had a meal plan, the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator were stocked with food, and there was a system in place for the day to day affairs. Plus, much of my personal time was consumed by home schooling, child-rearing, ministry, my writing, and projects/work commitments, so it wasn’t like I was lazing about as a woman.

However, Edric’s expectation for my homemaking went beyond the practical management. He hoped that I would put effort into beautifying our walls, making it feel “homey” by giving it a more lived-in look and adding personal touches, plants, paying more attention to details and upkeep issues, and finishing projects like my paintings and woodworking with the kids.

Although I didn’t agree with his perspective when he first made the comment, God convicted me that there was A LOT of room for improvement in this area of my life.

Edric is my leader. If he sees an area that I ought to better myself in then why not gladly receive it? I lose nothing by responding positively to what he asks me to do, especially since becoming a good homemaker is a means for me to be a greater blessing to him and my kids, as well as people who enter our home. I remember an insight I got from my very wise mother, “God uses our husbands to mold our character and prepare us for heaven.” Her spiritual perspective often ministers to me.

Edric and my dad are similar in the sense that they are teachers and like to help people be their best by pointing out areas they can improve in. Well, when I react to Edric’s teaching personality it’s usually because I’m proud and don’t like him telling me how I should change. However, he is almost always right. The issue is, when it comes to his correction (and only his for some reason), I get defensive. Yet, if God is using him to prepare me for heaven, then hallelujah, I should listen! After all, Proverbs 26:12 warns, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”

Furthermore, mediocrity isn’t becoming of a follower of Christ. I should be faithful at everything I do, everything that falls under my scope of responsibilities, which includes home-managing and home-making. Not every wife has the opportunity to stay at home so I understand that some of us have time constraints. Yet in my case, there really is no excuse. God has gifted Edric and me with a wonderful home to steward. How can I expect the Lord to entrust me with more important responsibilities if I’m not being faithful with what he has laid in front of me?

Truthfully, my home can use some attention, MY attention. (It’s different when a wife and mom personally sees to the details of her home rather than delegating these to household help.)

I can start by taking care of the small issues that I’ve been ignoring…left-over construction materials hidden in the backyard…a disorganized storage room…a broken kitchen clock (just fixed this)…lightbulbs that need replacing…family photos that need to be hung (did this yesterday! Woohoo!)… (As I make this list, I’m realizing how pathetic it is that I’m not attending to these things!)

Lastly and most importantly, I’m supposed to be my husband’s strong supporter, his Ezer Kenegdo, his “helper” as Genesis 2:18 puts it. By not embracing what he is asking me to do as a homemaker wholeheartedly, I’m not fulfilling my role as God has called me to.

Three months ago I borrowed a book from my mom, Becoming, which had an amazing chapter in it about a woman’s role written by Chrystie Cole, titled We Are Ezer. The word, Ezer, as found in the Genesis text was used a descriptor for Eve and Chrystie Cole explains that it meant "ally, aid, someone who brings support and relief" (the same word used to describe the Lord twenty-one times in the Old Testament).

It is adjoined to the word, Kenegdo, which means "corresponding to or suitable to." The two words together reveal that women are supposed to be the essential counterpart, indispensable companion, or corresponding strength to the people in our lives. Whether single or married, this is a God-given identity to us as women, fully realized in the context of our relationships with others. We were designed to strengthen and support the people in our lives with our talents, gifts, abilities, and encouragement. Since I am a wife and a mom, I am to be an Ezer to Edric and my kids.

According to Chrystie Cole, “A good illustration of this strength can be drawn from a 12th-century architectural innovation known as the flying buttress. Commonly used in Gothic architecture, a flying buttress provides essential support hat preserves the architectural soundness and integrity of a building. These buttresses bear weight and relieve pressure from the walls, allowing for higher ceilings, ornate latticing, and extra windows. Like these powerful structures, a woman provides an undergirding strength within the context of relationship that empowers others to become and achieve things that might have otherwise been impossible. She is an essential counterpart providing necessary, load-bearing support.”

Is that a beautiful example or what?! I nearly teared when I first read this! Thank you Chrystie Cole!

When I asked my husband earlier this year, “How can I support you as a wife?” (Be warned…this is a dangerous question to ask your husband if you aren’t ready and willing to humbly receive the answer!) His response was, “Take care of the home and do the things I ask you to.”

Even back then I knew that he wanted me to delight in being at home and managing our home wholeheartedly, but I would get distracted and fill up my calendar with other things to do, and simply delegate the homemaking to my household help. Now I better understand that he notices the difference between my full engagement and presence as a homemanager, and my convenient detachment from it.

I started this article a few days ago, but yesterday, when Edric came home, he found me using a power tool (oh yeah), a drill, to make holes in our wall to hang our family photos in the hallway upstairs. I also hung up one of my paintings, which had been stored in the linen closet for over a year. Elijah ably assisted me with the drill, too.

Together with the kids, I started a garden project in the yard, which is something Edric wanted me to be on top of. The kids and I also kickstarted their story-book writing for the seven character books that Edric’s been asking us to do for the last two years, Plus, I spent about an hour trimming all the bamboo that was overgrown and looking hideously neglected instead of waiting on Edric to do the gardening. During my mad-bamboo-cutting-spree, I got bitten at least twenty times by red ants. Yet after a day of wholehearted homemaking, I felt very fulfilled! The kids enjoyed helping me as well, which was a wonderful bonus, since it got them outdoors and encouraged them to be productive and learn new skills.

I didn’t mean to brag in the last part by talking about everything I did yesterday, but I didn’t want to end this article by “preaching” about things that I need to apply myself. So I got crackin’ on my home-making!

There remains a list of things to do that will probably never end, and I’m still not a Martha Stewart by any measure, but I’m thankful that God is using my teacher-husband to refine me in the very best way. Without his corrections and suggestions about how to be better I would stagnate as a person and never achieve my fullest potential as an Ezer to him, my kids, and to others.

If you have a husband like me or persons in your life who challenge you to grow and improve, let’s praise the Lord together! This is going to be good for us! We need this!

 

 

 

 

 

Does Your Child Know You Like Her?

Most kids know that their parents love them, but they may not always feel like their parents LIKE them or LIKE being with them. This is an area of my own parenting that I have tried to work on, especially with my daughter, Tiana, who really looks up to me.

We just came from Niqua's Factory where both of us attended their bag making workshop with other friends and relatives and their daughters. What a fun activity!

Tiana did the wristlet bag (leather) for P950 and she thoroughly enjoyed the experience! It wasn't very easy but she persevered and she was very focused. I was so proud of her.

Edric has activities that he does with our three sons to bond with them and I am finding it necessary to be intentional with Tiana, too. Catalina is only four, and she naturally demands my attention, but Tiana is more soft-spoken. With her, I need to initiate building a relationship with her by engaging her through activities she enjoys.

Recently she expressed that she would like to do more arts and crafts which is why I jumped on the opportunity to go to Niqua with her after learning about their workshop from my friend, Mich. On the way to the workshop, Tiana spontaneously revealed, "I like being with you, mom."

She said this while sitting beside me in the car, with her legs crossed like a little lady. What a sweetheart!

Many years ago I learned about the principle of magic moments — spontaneous, unplanned moments when your child opens up his or her heart to you. These occasions happen when kids know that you find joy in being with them, participating in the activities that are important to them. During magic moments, kids believe their parents genuinely like them so they respond with trust and the willingness to be open and vulnerable.

Tiana feels liked by me when we do art together. That's when she comes alive and let's me into her world. Today, she worked diligently to finish her bag, which I thought she made for herself. Yet in the car, after the morning ended, she handed it to me. "I made this for you, mom."

I know how hard she labored to assemble the bag and hammer in the studs. Her fingers got sore at one point so it was very special when she offered the bag to me. When I asked her why she insisted on me having it, her response was, "Because I love you."

The older my kids get, the more convinced I become that raising kids isn't that complicated. Oh, I get how kids can get very complicated. When my children's needs aren't met, when they don't feel loved, important, or cherished, and when there isn't consistent discipline and discipleship from Edric and me, they act up, disobey, have bad attitudes, and antagonize each other. They are also susceptible to negative peer influence and ungodly media influences (which is also why we homeschool.) However, when Edric and I spend quality time with our children so we can invest in teaching, training, and building relationships with them, they are such a delight! They act very differently, in a positive way, when they experience what it means to be liked by us.

We can take a cue from Christ. When the disciples were preventing the parents from bringing their children to be blessed by Jesus, he stopped the disciples. Instead of seeing the children as an interruption or a bother, he gladly received them into his arms. (Mark 10:13-16) He honored them and gave them significance.

This is one of those tender passages about Christ that demonstrates how we, as parents, should treat our own kids. No matter how busy or hectic our lives may get, our kids need us to bless them. They need us to LIKE them and LIKE being with them.

Grade 9 Materials

My balikbayan box finally arrived and it was like Christmas in July for our homeschooling! There were specific materials that I couldn't get locally so I sourced them from the U.S. for my kids. Plus, they are so often my guinea pigs for experimental material so that I can also give recommendations to others.

Here's what Elijah's 9th grade homeschool year is going to look like:

Bible: Continue daily bible reading. Use I Don't Have Faith to Be an Atheist Curriculum three times a week.

Language Arts: Fundamentals of Literature by Bob Jones University Press for reading three times a week, and Student Writing Intensive Continuation Course Level C by Institute for Excellence in Writing for writing and grammar twice a week.

Math: Algebra 2 with Khan Academy four times a week.

Science: Exploring Creation with Chemistry by Apologia three times a week.

History/Geography: World History Observations and Assessments from Creation to Today by Master Books four times a week.

Electives:

Computer Technology Node.Js by Udemy for building servers and AI Deep Learning by Udemy for creating artificial intelligence and exploring its applications. We got these courses for just 10 USD each! They were majorly discounted.

Sports – Swimming and Tennis

Art – Painting with Teacher Camille Ver through Learning Plus

Music – Violin classes through Learning Plus

Others: Local social studies using books I sourced on my own and Filipino using Rosetta Stone.

Books to read: Fantasy novels with Christian themes for Elijah's leisure reading time. He really enjoys this genre.




It's going to be a full year! I will post about my other kids' materials soon!