Archives for September 2017

The S&R Member’s Treat is On!

I am standing in line waiting to checkout at the S&R Member’s Treat super sale which started today and will end on Sunday. It’s like standing in line at a popular amusement park, except with a cart! Since I got here later than I should have, the place is bustling with people like myself looking for the best buy 1 take 1 deals. There’s even a big crowd forming outside S&R as well, eager for their turn inside the warehouse. S&R doesn’t let too many shoppers inside to avoid turning the place into a madhouse. It’s certainly thoughtful of them. 


My personal learning is to come as soon as it opens next time, and to bring a household hold help or even Elijah to stand in line for me. I went solo today because I knew having five kids running around the store would drive me nuts. Thankfully, the staff are pretty efficient at managing the checkout counters as they usher everyone with a cart towards the exit. 
Here are some of the finds that caught my attention and a number of them ended up in my own cart! 

My girls need towels…


Many clothes are on sale!

Anyone need diapers? Big savings here.


Of course I was thrilled to find my kids’ favorite chips…


A good number of toy deals, too!


Stuff for the guys…



Huge pitchers are always helpful for our big family…(these are 1 gallon Rubbermaid Pitchers and only 249 for 2)


Bowls and plates for those who entertain guests a lot…



For those who have a lot of laundry!


If you are looking for Christmas gifts for company staff…





Lots of gifts for women…


These items are a mere fraction of what you will find at the Member’s Treat! 

Well, I am almost at the checkout. It’s taken me about thirty minutes to wait which I kind of expected given the circumstances. But as long as I had something to write on, I got to be productive! 

My advice is wear comfortable athletic gear if you come this week and bring a friend or family member to talk to in line for some nice bonding time.

Where I came from (all the way in the back and around the corner.)

Almost to the finish line…woohoo! 


I am in good company…everyone is patiently waiting 😊 

Family Exercise

Edric started a routine of early morning exercise with our sons about a month ago after we discussed their need for physical fitness. He took it upon himself to research a program and modify it for himself and our boys so they could participate in it together. So far, it seems to be working. Our sons are stronger. Elijah even has an eight pack! (This is also due to the fact that he is on the thin side to begin with.)

The daily routine encourages bonding time for the boys with Edric, and it helps to regulate the activities during the day. They need to sleep early to wake up by 6 AM, and it helps to kickstart their minds and bodies for the academic rigor that begins at 8:30 AM. Since we have been traveling this schedule has been affected but they will be getting back to it.

I appreciate that Edric followed through with his commitment to be on top of the boys’ physical development. One of our family values is to be good stewards of our bodies and that means healthy food, rest, and exercise, not just for Edric and me but for our kids, too. Because they get to be with their dad, the boys are motivated. Plus, they compete with one another. They do push-ups, use elastic bands, very light weights lifted many times (super light so they don’t affect their growth), ab workouts, and high intensity interval training.  One of the reasons why Edric initiated this exercise regimen was because our boys didn’t have a PE program or sport that they were doing daily. There was also a season when they were starting to get lazy as well as paying too much attention to screens rather than getting outdoors. One of our sons started to get soft in the middle, too. Thankfully, his belly is not so “jelly” anymore. 

I did take him to a pediatric endocrinologist just to check if he is on the right track for his height. The good news is he is fine so far, but what I most appreciate about her is that she confirmed how important it is that kids get daily exercise and good nutrition. She confessed to me that she gets discouraged when kids come into her clinic with adult issues — heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and hormonal imbalances even before the age of twelve! So she re-emphasized what we have been telling our kids…avoid lots of sugar, get good sunlight, exercise, drink lots of water, and eat healthy food. 

To supplement my kids diet as they workout, I let the boys drink Friso (which is more for my girls rather than for them), because of the protein in it.  My pediatrician also recommended Animal Parade Liquid vitamins from Healthy Options for Titus since it helps with weight gain. He is very thin.  I had to stop him from eating red and brown rice, and switch him to white rice to get more calories into him.  Well, I praise God that Edric has been on top of our sons’ daily exercise. I can’t do what he is doing for them.

Here’s a Wednesday to Saturday sample of what the boys do. Edric had them write it down some time ago so the writing is faded 😊:

The Woman in the Elevator

Edric isn’t the type of guy to ogle at other women, but when we travel, he does notice attractive foreign women. Who doesn’t?! Even I do. At times, we even have conversations about beautiful women we see. “Did you notice her eyes?” Or, “Wow, she’s pretty!”

However, there are occasions when I know his eyes are drawn to women who exude sexiness, the kind of women who stick out in two prominent directions (front and back) and who like to flaunt their assets. You know what I mean…

(By the way, I have the permission of my husband to publish this very article. Please bear with me…this is a long one.)

A few weeks ago, Edric and I were out of the country in a restaurant having breakfast when a curvy woman walked into the buffet area. As wives we have special sensory organs for the sort of woman who attracts our husbands’ attention. My husband also has very big eyes so it’s always obvious when he glances in another direction, especially when we are engrossed in conversation. I saw him look over my shoulder so I quickly turned my head to see what distracted him. I didn’t need to gaze long to realize what he was looking at. Thankfully, he didn’t stare but I did ask him jokingly, “Were you checking her out?”

He looked reassuringly into my eyes and professed, “Don’t worry, baby, I have eyes only for you.”


It was a romantic and sweet pledge. But what did that sentence mean? Did the sentence “I have eyes only for you” mean that he would never use his eyes to notice another woman? Or did it mean that even if he noticed other women with his eyes, he had programmed them to desire me only?

Not wanting to latch on to his declaration with naïve gushy-ness, I cautiously accepted it with a smile and breakfast went on. We travel quite often and I knew better than to believe that this statement meant he would never ever look at the millions of gorgeous women in the world!

However, since I had been dealing with growing insecurity about my physical shape and form as well as Edric’s perceptions of me in the past few months (my secret has been revealed), I felt especially slighted when this disproportionately curvy woman kept distracting him. He claimed that she looked fake and that he wasn’t checking her out, but it certainly appeared as though his eyes kept being diverted in her direction. Maybe the word “check out” had a different connotation to him. (Men’s vocabulary can be very different from ours.) Whatever it was at the time, I felt like, in comparison to her, she was a spring chicken and I was, well, an autumn chicken.

What intensified my jealousy further was when Edric rushed to the elevator as we exited the buffet when that same woman entered into it. Sure, he hurried off to make sure we didn’t have to wait for another elevator, but it wasn’t characteristic of him to prefer an elevator that already had people in it when time wasn’t a factor. Both of us like to have lots of elbow room in enclosed spaces.

For the next twenty-four floors of our descent, I used my expert peripheral vision (which all women also have) to watch him closely. Had he not turned to notice the woman again, I would have jumped up and down inside and said to myself, “What a guy! Yes, he certainly has eyes only for me!”

Well, as you can probably guess by now, he still tried to look at her, albeit with as much discretion as he could apply, ahem…being the gentleman that he is. I kept my cool, ahem…being the lady that I am, not wanting to admit that I felt threatened in any way.

When we finally entered our hotel room to prepare for the series of talks we were scheduled to speak that afternoon, I casually asked, “Hey, so did you rush into the elevator because that woman was in there?”

There was no aggression in my tone…at first. Yet, when Edric replied, “No, of course not” just as casually as I had asked my question, I felt irritated, judging him as untruthful.

“Are you sure? Because you still looked at her while we were in the elevator, and you usually don’t try to catch an elevator that’s got people in it when we aren’t in a rush to go anywhere.”

Once again, he denied having any hidden agenda.

Since his response seemed inconsistent with his actions I persisted. Naturally, this annoyed him terribly so he became quiet. For the rest of the morning, as we prepared to speak on marriage and parenting, we stayed on opposite sides of the room and avoided speaking to one another. We busied ourselves with our notes and slides, but it was obvious that we hadn’t settled the issue.

When it was finally time for lunch, we were sitting in Nandos, a place we have enjoyed multiple times in the past for its South African deliciousness. I wasn’t too excited about eating in it this time around since Edric and I weren’t okay. On the outside everything seemed fine.


The waitress energetically placed one of Nando’s large, juicy chicken skewers on our table, oblivious to the tension between us. We thanked her politely, of course, not giving away the fact that this huge skewer, which obstructed our view of each other’s faces, very aptly symbolized our emotional divide.

“Why do you seem upset?” This was my dumb way of initiating conversation.

“I don’t like being treated like a child. You were treating me like a child,” he quipped, referring to how I badgered him about the woman in the elevator.

“I just wanted to know if you went into that particular elevator because she was in there, because you were checking her out.”

“Are we really going to talk about this? What’s the real issue anyway? Did I go into the elevator because she was in there? No. But was it more interesting that she was in the elevator? Yes.”

What’s the difference?, I thought. He is making this about semantics! So, I said, “Can’t you just admit that you have a problem, that you have an issue with disciplining your eyes. After you said that you have eyes only for me, you still kept looking at the girl. It seemed inconsistent, and I have experienced this during our other trips.”

“Okay, you know what this is? This is the devil trying to divide us before we do ministry this afternoon. This is not a big deal.” Edric tried to take the higher, spiritual plane as he uttered these words.

However, since I was choosing to linger on the lower, very carnal plane, I disrespectfully replied, “So don’t be the devil!”

Where did that come from? I don’t know. Oh wait, yes I do. I thought he was being the devil for being the source of my pain. I felt hurt and jealous. Had he just been consistent about having eyes only for me this wouldnt have happened! 

Needless to say, Edric felt very disrespected. This was the first time he had been called a devil by me from across the table, with the half-eaten chicken skewer still dangling between us. He was about to say something he probably would’ve regretted, but surprisingly, he breathed in deeply and closed his eyes instead.

What in the world?! Oh, my goodness, he was praying!

Not the prayer card! He’s getting all spiritual! (Can you believe I was thinking these things?!)

When he opened his eyes again his expression changed from defensive to humble, and he very sincerely said, “You know what, you are right. I do have a problem. I can improve. I can be more disciplined about my eyes.”

Wow.

Okay, obviously, the devil doesn’t do things like that! He wasn’t the devil. I was!

Out of guilt, I apologized to Edric for my disrespect. He dealt with our conflict with such spiritual maturity that I felt I needed to humble myself, too, but my heart wasn’t right with the Lord just yet. How do I know this? When Edric suggested that I pray for our event, I dismissed him. “You already prayed. I don’t have anything to pray about.”

Admittedly, my reaction to what transpired at the buffet and in the elevator was ridiculous, especially to people who may read this who actually deal with infidelity in their marriages. So Edric looked at a beautiful woman more times than he usually does when he sees someone attractive…big deal…so what?! It wasn’t like he was going to abandon his vow to me for this total stranger.

Why did the event make me so hostile? I was looking to Edric to affirm me and make me feel unparalleled and unrivaled in his eyes. Yes, I know it was such a self-centered desire, but for someone like me who has struggled with body esteem issues over the years, the pain felt so real. I actually had this achy feeling in my heart as I thought, This is so NOT Disney anymore! Things have changed…the romance, the undying love and affection, and eyes-only-for-you-professions! Blah, blah, blah. Whatever!”

How could I have been thinking these thoughts before a talk about biblical marriage and parenting?! This was the sadder part of it all. I was so broken over a trivial episode when so many people in the audience were actually hurting from real problems in their marriages and families!

Edric proceeded to the venue to set up his computer and I took a detour by stopping at the toilet. I knew that I couldn’t walk into that hall with all the emotional and spiritual junk I had in my heart. I couldn’t possibly face all the people and speak with integrity, knowing that I hadn’t settled the restlessness in me.

In the women’s restroom cubicle, I teared in frustration for acting like the kind of wife I never wanted to be – distrusting, insecure, demanding, and unpleasant to be around. Thankfully, the toilet was so private, like a prayer cell that was walled in on all sides. I stood in that toilet, in the quiet, thinking I was all alone in my ridiculous pain, when I heard God’s voice in my head say to me, Why are you so upset? Do you not know how much I love you? Don’t you know that I am the only one who will ever love you the way that you want to be loved, the way you long to be loved? I love you more than Edric ever will. What you want from him only I can give you.

Instead of assuring me that Edric loved me, God reminded me that HE (GOD) loved me. That’s all He had to whisper to me. For the first time in a very long while, I recognized that my disappointment with Edric wasn’t due to him looking at another woman. It was due to a flaw in my focus. I wanted Edric to make me feel beautiful, cherished, and important.

On the one hand this desire was a natural consequence of giving myself wholly to him in marriage. I gave my heart to him, after having evaluated that he was the safest person on this planet to give my heart to. However, it came with an unspoken expectation – Edric, you better make me feel special. I better be the most special woman to you. I think it was short of saying, “Worship me as the queen of your heart.”

Yikes.

For as long as I enjoyed the attention of Edric, for as long as I was certain that he had eyes only for me as he claimed to have, then I felt good about myself. Since the foundation of my peace was built on something so fragile and so easily stolen, I got upset with a minor incident that made me feel like I wasn’t the most special woman to him when it came to physical attractiveness. The reality of aging, feeling like an autumn chicken compared to this perky spring chicken of a woman made feel dethroned in my husband’s eyes, and it was so injurious to my ego that I absolutely needed to hear what the Lord said to me in the toilet.

Here’s my paraphrase of what the Lord was basically telling me…Joy, just stop it! Stop being so needy for the love and adoration of your husband. I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, SO PERFECTLY, JUST AS YOU ARE, FLAWS AND ALL, AND I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU COMPLETELY AND NEVER MAKE YOU FEEL COMPARED TO ANYONE.

After this moment with the Lord, I just had to tell all the women in the audience the same message! Before doing so, I spoke to Edric in private and asked him for forgiveness (a real sorry this time) and I got his permission to share what happened between us. Many women came up to me afterwards thanking me for telling the story.

Whether single or married, all of us women need to find our worth in the Lord, not in people, circumstances, beauty, or achievements. Possessions, fame, the way we look, and our accomplishments will always be trumped by another person eventually. Yet God’s love for us will never change. It won’t change when we fail, make mistakes, get cast aside, forgotten, or even when we grow old.

The very next day, on the plane ride home, God gave me a special verse in Isaiah which read, “…I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. ‘To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?'” Isaiah 46:3-5 NLT

What a tender image of God’s fatherly love for His children! For me! For you!

For the last two weeks, I have dwelt on this passage and let it wash over my heart and mind to renew my perspective on Edric, myself, and my marriage.

Who can love me like the Lord can, like the Lord does? No one. Until I embrace this truth, I will always be striving to feel good enough, to feel worthy, even in my husband’s eyes. My comfort is that God doesn’t love me because I have something special to offer Him. Instead He makes me special because He loves me. He gave His life for me as proof that He does. There is no guy, no Edric on this earth who has the power or the perfection to do that for me.

In his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller writes, “He (Jesus) loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely.” (pg. 109)

He also explains, “Each of us comes to marriage with a disordered inner being. Many of us have sought to overcome self-doubts by giving ourselves to our careers. That will mean we will choose our work over our spouse and family to the detriment of our marriage. Others of us hope that unending affection and affirmation from a beautiful, brilliant romantic partner will finally make us feel good about ourselves. That turns the relationship into a form of salvation, and no relationship can live up to that…If I look to my marriage to fill the God-sized spiritual vacuum in my heart, I will not be in a position to serve my spouse. Only God can fill a God-sized hole. Until God has the proper place in my life, I will always be complaining that my spouse is not loving me well enough, not respecting me enough, not supporting me enough…” (pg. 72 – 73)


My conflict with Edric ended when I stopped focusing on what I wanted him to do for me to make me feel good about myself, and when I started focusing on what God has done for me so I could do good to others, especially to Edric. Edric has made his own resolutions with the Lord about guarding his eyes, which I appreciate, but that’s between him and the Lord. If he does his best to have eyes only for me even as I age then what a wonderful bonus! If he struggles here and there, my hope is in God as 1 Peter 3 reminds me… “This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God…” (v.5)

I don’t know where you are at in your marriage, or whether this entry resonates with you somehow, but I hope you will answer the question, Who is God in your life? What you and I think about Him will profoundly impact how we view ourselves, as well as our relationship with our spouses. We can’t love our spouses unconditionally if we don’t understand how deeply and perfectly loved we are by God. And, we won’t be happy in our marriages if we keep replacing God with our spouses, ourselves, and other things.

Celebrate VS. Compare 

I was in the bathroom when Tiana rushed in excitedly, looking for a bandaid for her brother, Titus. She seemed anxious when I asked her why she needed it. “He has a wound on his toe. It’s bleeding!”

She voluntarily came to his aid and located the antibacterial cream that was in my closet, too. I watched her with pride as I thought of how sweet she was to help her older brother. It’s not uncommon for her to come to the rescue of siblings who aren’t well or who have injured themselves. Instinctively, she reacts with genuine concern.

Two days ago, Catalina battled a fever. Tiana was the first to recognize that she wasn’t feeling well, and suggested that Catalina rest in the guest room, which she transformed into a “hospital room.” When I went in to check on Catalina, Tiana had spread a blanket on her, turned on the AC, and put snacks and water on the bedside table. She hovered over Catalina mindfully and sang her a short lullaby. When Catalina decided to watch tv for a little bit, she walked her over to the family room where Catalina fell asleep. Tiana struggled to pick her up (she’s three fourths Tiana’s size!) Then she carried her to the bed to make sure she was comfortable.

In the afternoon, Tiana also wrote a note for Catalina and handed it to her. It read, “I love u, Cat.”


Catalina brought it everywhere she went. In the evening, I found it on her bed beside her. I asked Catalina why she kept it with her, she said, “Because Tiana gave it to me.”


I got teary-eyed as she gripped the letter in her hand while fighting her fever.

Edric and I affirmed Tiana for her servant-heart and love for Catalina. We praised her for being so sweet and compassionate.

Observing the way Tiana cared for Catalina gave me a renewed appreciation of her personality and strengths. She is an empathizer. Maybe someday she might go into social work or become a doctor (if that’s what God has in store for her.) Whatever it is, I am pretty sure it will have something to do with rescuing others and serving them.

In the past three years I’ve gotten stressed by Tiana’s ability to cope with academic subjects such as math and language arts. It’s taken her a while to develop numeracy and reading skills. At the age of seven she struggles with abstract reasoning and spelling. Yet she is a tender-hearted, kind, and thoughtful child who is emotionally mature and full of joy! In light of eternity, I do believe these are the faculties of a person that ought to bear greater weight. I am so proud of her!

Her academics will follow. I don’t doubt it, and I must remember to be patient and positive when learning goals aren’t achieved. In the meantime, I am affirming her in the areas where she excels.

In today’s world there is often an overemphasis on academic performance. Even homeschoolers can get suckered into this mindset — where we want our kids to be high achievers and better than everyone else. However, this pressure leads to performance-based learning and living, where a child’s self worth is based on how they fair academically. Of course, this also causes us to be stressed out and impatient when our kids don’t meet our expectations.

Instead, we ought to celebrate whom God made our kids to be, liberating them to “run their race” in life without comparing themselves to others or feeling like they fall short of our expectations. After all, God gives accordingly not sparingly. He isn’t stingy with the gifts he bestows upon our children. He is purposeful! Whatever abilities or inabilities they have are not hindrances to His power to accomplish His plan for their lives. Let’s not be a hindrance by forcing them to be what they aren’t meant to be. Let’s remind them to be thankful for their limitations, their uniqueness, and to do all things for His glory!


“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” Psalms‬ ‭139:13-14‬ ‭

Walk in Love

 Titus, my third son has been wearing expanders for his upper and lower teeth for a good part of the year. He has large front teeth and his jaw is narrow, so his dentist, Dr. Marla Valenzuela, suggested that he get expanders to enlarge his jaw. These expanders are not cheap. They have also seen many adventures as Titus has, on different occasions, left them in places where he shouldn’t have, broken parts of them accidentally, and gotten them dirtied. During our recent trip to Singapore these expanders ended up in the trashcan of a Chinese restaurant, but I will get to that in a moment.

My husband, Edric, spoke on a series of topics during a retreat while we were in Malaysia on the theme “Radical Love Begins at Home.” 


His culminating message was preached at CCF Worship Service in Singapore with the challenge to “Love More.” Our kids spoke with us during different messages of the retreat and the day that Edric spoke at church, we spent time with the leadership team over lunch at a Chinese restaurant.

Titus, along with my four other kids, occupied tables with children of the leaders’ where they merrily engaged one another and played games. As for Edric and myself, we were caught up in conversation with the rest of the adults, exchanging stories about our faith journeys, marriage, parenting, and ministry. Since Titus forgot his expander’s case, something I’ve repeatedly reminded him not to do, he placed his expanders on a wad of tissue next to his plate before eating his lunch.

Caught up in his interactions with new friends, he didn’t notice that the waitress innocently swept his expanders (and the wad of tissue in rested in) off the table onto a tray that was cleared into a trash bin. Edric and I had no idea either as we were seated separately from him during the meal. As the lunch came to a close for us we excused ourselves from the gathering to rush off to a bookstore before our flight home to Manila. We had promised Edan a trip to Kinukoniya, his favorite bookstore, to buy a science book. Intending to keep our commitment to him before leaving for the airport, we collected our children and bid farewell to everyone.

It was at this time that Titus whispered to me that his expanders had vanished.

“What happened?!” I asked, dumbfounded, that he didn’t realize this earlier.

“I left them on a tissue, on the table, and then now they are gone…maybe they were thrown away by the waitress.”

I glared at him for a moment, unimpressed by his simplistic deduction of the situation.

“Hon, this is serious. How could you have lost your expanders?”

Titus, looking clueless and helpless at this point, made it difficult for me to be upset. He obviously needed a solution, not a lecture. Yet, I feared that Edric would react in an irate way when I passed the problem on to him. After all, we were in a rush and tight schedule before our flight home. I was going to propose that we leave the expanders buried wherever they were. I wasn’t about to go digging through the trash with my bare hands to sift through all the used tissue, dirty food, and mysteriously sticky goo! Most certainly Edric wasn’t going to do it either, not dressed in his Sunday shirt, and especially because he gets more disgusted by icky things than I do (or so I thought).

Amazingly, Edric level-headedly assessed the situation, spoke to the waitress and asked to be directed to the trash. Without hesitating, he dug his hand into it and felt for the retainers, pulling napkins and objects out of the trash to examine them one by one.

Was this my husband who was bent over the trashcan, sorting through the waste without making a single comment about how inconvenienced he was?!

It most certainly was! What a dad!

I suppose he saw what was really going on. This was a divinely appointed moment to apply four straight days of speaking about Christ-like love, and how it ought to impact our relationship with the family first. This was love in action.

After five minutes of consistent digging, he got one expander, then the other, as our friends looked on and cheered. Titus smiled in relief, almost too happy to realize that he shouldn’t put his expanders back on right away before disinfecting them!

I’m sure the experience profoundly affected Titus. Over the years he has gotten himself into a number of predicaments that required our intervention and problem-solving. Sometimes these occasions have been deeply aggravating because of how ridiculous they are. From getting his head stuck between rails so that we needed to carry his body and push it through in order to free him, to snipping his hair off so that his forehead was grossly exposed and exaggerated, to destroyed different electronic equipment in the home because he wanted to examine what was inside of them, to locking himself in a storage room so that the door had to be broken down, to swallowing a marble so that his intestinal area had to be x-rayed and I was told to examine his poop everyday with a stick to anticipate the exit of the marble, well, let’s just say that God has used him to teach Edric and I patience and grace. 


We do love him immensely and nothing will ever change that (something we’ve repeatedly told him), but these occasions do tempt us to react with irritation.

He knew that losing his expanders was a big deal. However, Edric’s gracious gesture quelled whatever stress he might have been feeling. (It certainly alleviated my anxiety, too! I didn’t want to have to pay for new ones!)

As we walked to the train station, Edric put his arm around Titus to let him know that everything was okay. He was forgiven.

If we want our children to be loving, they have to know what love is, to experience being loved, especially when they make mistakes. When the temptation to get annoyed, to be reactive, to lash out, to inflict pain with our words is strongest because we are disappointed, frustrated or angry, then we must tell ourselves, “This is the best time to demonstrate to my child what love really is.” 

I’m not saying that we should ignore our responsibility to discipline them. But there will be times when instead of a lecture, they may need us to listen. Instead of making them feel guilty, we can remind them that God gives grace. Instead of harboring hurt or bitterness against them, we ought to unconditionally forgive them and hug them. And rather than acting selfishly, we can imitate our Savior as Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
 

Blood, Sweat, Tears and Snot on Day 1

BLOOD. Our homeschooling year 2017 – 2018 commenced on Monday with Titus waking up to a nose bleed. It’s happened before, but this was the fourth consecutive day that he had one causing a measure of alarm. (Thankfully, the bleed didn’t recur following Monday.)

SWEAT. Catalina ran around the room, climbing furniture, and tumbling wherever she could like she had been injected with adrenaline. She appeared periodically at my side to get my attention with her hair matted to her face by sweat. Eventually, I asked Edan to keep her busy, which he did very effectively.


SNOT. Every five minutes Tiana had snot exiting her nostrils in a very unsightly manner which was uncharacteristic for her usually feminine and put-together self.

TEARS. About an hour into the morning Elijah had a meltdown when he couldn’t figure out the answers to certain binomial problems. He vocalized his exasperation and tore up his notebook page. (Hmm…sounds like something I once did with Tiana’s math book! Ayayay!)


To talk things over in private, I invited Elijah into my bedroom. I let him relax on the bed so he could have a break from his math work. It took a while to calm him down. I asked him if there was something deeper troubling him inside since his reaction over binomial problems seemed extreme. At first, he rejected my appeal to talk it over, but after using a soft and gentle tone with him, hugging him, and assuring him that I loved him no matter what, he started to respond. (Hoowee! The things we have to do to get our kids to open up!)

Although he initially argued that Algebra was irrelevant to life and he went on and on in an irate manner about it’s “pointlessness,” he eventually admitted that the real issue for his frustration stemmed from pride. 
At this season of his young adulthood, Elijah is learning to wrestle with failure and blocked goals. This is a good thing for someone who is very capable. Normally, he breezes through tasks with ease and confidence, which is great for me as a homeschooling mom of five. This means I don’t have to micromanage what he does every single day. He pretty much educates himself. However, Algebra 2 is proving to be challenging which is humbling for him.

He also shared that he needed to grow in intimacy with the Lord. Instead of treating his walk with Christ as a checklist of things to do – like reading His Bible, praying, etc – he recognized that greater intimacy with the Lord ought to result in the right perspective when it comes to homeschooling and self-control over his temper.

So that was my first day of homeschooling for our 2017 – 2018 year. It felt like a mess! It was emotional, trying, and we didn’t get as much of the academics done as I hoped we would. 


However, the kids and I are now a month into our 2017 – 2018 year. We’ve adjusted to the rhythm of our morning schedule, starting between 8:30 AM and 9:00 AM and ending by 1 PM (sometimes later for the older kids). I’m happy to announce that the stress has greatly minimized since the first two weeks. The kids are enjoying themselves and so am I. It’s a miracle! 

Elijah recently told me, “Mom, I realized that the logical thinking that Algebra requires you to do is actually helpful for my computer programming.” He actually appreciates Algebra 2 now and is doing splendidly in his math! Another miracle! 

My encouragement to homeschool moms who may read this is don’t give up when the day to day gets challenging. It is not easy to homeschool our children. However, through the years I’ve observed that the problems my kids encounter while homeschooling such as bad attitudes, laziness, and uncooperativeness, are rooted in spiritual issues. On the one hand, I can take the despotic approach and command them to “get their work done,” ignoring their heart conditions for the sake of accomplishing my learning goals for the day, week, month, or year. However, homeschooling gives me the time and opportunity to address what’s going on beneath the tears, grumbling, negativity, or slumped postures.  Homeschooling affords me (and Edric) the privilege of instructing their hearts. 

I believe that a proper education for our children goes beyond the shaping of their intellect to the molding of their character. While knowledge and thinking skills are important, the greater determinant of success will be their character. So when a morning of “school work” in the home is interrupted by issues such as bad attitudes, wrong perspectives, and lackluster motivation, I must welcome these interruptions graciously and treat them as important teaching moments. It’s not easy to do so when I want to plow through the day and get the academics done, but in the long run, it’s these moments of investing in their spiritual lives that turn my children into better students and better people.

So press on! God provides the grace and God will give us the wisdom to handle the different obstacles and trying situations we will face as we homeschoolers. And, the reward of children who  love God, who are strong in character, who push themselves to learn even when they don’t feel like it, who persevere through the hardships of achieving their goals, and who do their best for the Lord, will be well-worth the blood, sweat, tears, (and snot)!  

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans‬ ‭5:3-5‬

When homeschooling gets tough, let’s remember that God loves us and He has empowered to stay the course through the Holy Spirit! 

 

 

Elijah Shares About Gratefulness 

In Singapore, Edric and I got our kids to share testimonies with us. This is the one Elijah gave to illustrate the passage in Ephesians about gratitude:

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”‭‭ Ephesians‬ ‭5:17-20‬

Elijah: 

I am growing up in a world where everything is so easily accessible and instant. As an example, my Dad wore his braces for eight years because he did traditional braces (but also because he never went to his appointments). In contrast, my braces are called turbo braces and they only take six months to straighten teeth…but it still feels like a very long time to me.

To be honest, I struggle with being patient and not getting what I want when I want it, but I praise God for my parents who are intentional about teaching my siblings and me how to be content and grateful.

Here are some practical ways they try to teach us this value (please forgive me if this is stuff you have heard before).


Typically, we receive several gifts from our relatives and friends during Christmas and birthdays. Because our parents do not want us to get tired of all our gifts quickly, they only allow us to open one gift at a time.

They want us to learn to wait. For the last two years, Catalina my sister was not allowed to chew gum because my Dad wanted her to wait. She would ask almost everyday and my parents would tell her, “when you turn four.” When she was finally allowed to eat gum just this month on her birthday, she was so happy and grateful, but the downside was she ate almost twenty pieces on the day of her birthday. Thankfully, gum is illegal in Singapore so this will be good for her.

Growing up, if we wanted something and we were fussy about it, our parents would tell us to stop fussing or else we wouldn’t get it. Continued fussing meant we would be disciplined. Instead of fussing, we were encouraged to say okay mommy or okay daddy with a good attitude. When we didn’t get to go to Kinukoniya bookstore the other day and one of my brothers was so disappointed because he researched how to get there and we had walked halfway. But my dad said we would be late to our meeting with the Ccf organizers of the retreat so we had to walk back. My brother started to tear but then he chose to change his attitude and chose to smile despite his bad mood. I know it was hard for him and I was blessed by his good example.

We were also taught by my parents not to be entitled about things like gadgets. When we want to have a gadget, our parents will either give us an old, half-broken hand-me-down or they will make us pay for it ourselves. Once, I asked my parents if I could get an iPad. They said that I would have to use my saved money and money from jobs I did with my Dad, like speaking engagements. After several months of hard work and hard research, I finally saved enough money to pay for 75% of the total price because Dad was gracious. Paying hard earned money for the device taught me that money doesn’t grow on trees. It helped me to learn to appreciate the things I have.

To further teach me about hard work and responsibility, and how to be grateful, Dad took me mountain climbing for four days out in the wild. I had to live with little and life was hard. We climbed over different terrains, like farms, forests, boulder trails, and 87 degree cliffs up the tallest mountain in the Philippines, Mt. Apo. No showers, toilets, and I even learned how to kill a chicken so I could have something to eat. These experiences taught me how to be thankful for everything, even the roof over our heads. After three days of climbing, some kind villagers offered their home for us to sleep in. It felt so nice to have a real roof over our heads and a little more leg room. When I got home it felt like coming back to a five star hotel!

My personal conviction is that gratitude is a byproduct of our perspective on God. If we trust that he loves us and wants what is best for us then we won’t complain if we don’t get what we want.

When I was six, riding in the car with my Mom, I pressed my face against the window because I had a hard time reading the billboards. My mom and dad took me to the doctor and my eyesight was 250. I felt so discouraged. But my parents reminded me of the passage in Jeremiah 29:11, which I also had read in my quiet time. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.

This really comforted me because I knew that even if God didn’t bring healing to my eyes, he had a good plan for me. Today my eyesight has gotten even worse. It’s like 500. Sometimes I get anxious that I may go blind and I feel bad because I keep praying for my eyes and God doesn’t answer with a yes to heal them. But God does remind me to rejoice. Someday I will see clearly in heaven.

If we are followers of Christ, our best life is in eternity and our lives here are so short. So I am looking forward to having perfect eyes in heaven! (And Lord willing, laser surgery when I am old enough.)

I am still learning gratitude and how to be thankful in all things. So please pray for me to always have the right perspective and not be entitled or a complainer.