Archives for November 2017

Smile at Your Husband

I had a meeting in Edric’s office that he wasn’t aware of, so when I tapped on the glass of the conference room he was in to wave hello he looked pleasantly surprised. After both our meetings were done, he found me and pulled me close to him to say, “It made my day to see you!”

This is not a cheesy entry to the beginning of a sappy romance novel, but it felt kind of like one of those moments that made me gushy inside. I still get that. Sigh. I’m a secret romantic. What can I say? When my husband takes me in his arms and flashes his dimpled smile at me like I’m the best thing he’s seen all day, it doesn’t matter what kind of stress I’ve had. I feel safe, special, and loved.

I think we all need to smile at our spouses more often. Why? Communication, as we have so often heard, is primarily non-verbal. If we don’t smile, our spouse will naturally assume that we aren’t happy with our relationship or happy with them. When we do smile it changes the climate of our relationship and the mood of the moment.

Okay…let me be honest, although I enjoy being with Edric and he’s my favorite human (I have to say human because God is my favorite person), there are days when his personality and decisions frustrate me and it’s really hard to smile! So yes, sometimes I have to think positive thoughts about him to squeeze out that smile. However, more than that, I have to focus on my own relationship with the Lord.

Like today, in the car, on the way back from a talk that Edric and I gave on “Leading from the Home,” I reacted towards Edric for asking me to hand our oldest son, Elijah, a plastic bag for his trash. Elijah had finished his packed lunch in the van and he needed a place to put it. Edric turned to me and asked, “Can you help him?”

Since I was the middle of something and he was already holding the plastic bag, I replied, “I’ve been helping everyone with their lunch,” hoping he wouldn’t rely on me. It wasn’t a nice comment, and I let it out because I felt like he was in the better position to hand Elijah the plastic bag.

Well, Edric didn’t understand why my tone and statement sounded so self-righteous, and we went back and forth discussing my claim that “I was helping everyone.” So I definitely wasn’t smiling and neither was he. However, I praise God for the spiritual spankings he gives me when I’m in the wrong. He told me to humble myself and apologize. I resisted for a bit but then I did. And no surprise here…the smile came! Edric also softened up and forgave me.

Now, all is well. He’s on his computer and I’m here, typing this entry. In fact, I just told him, “I love this! You, men, together doing things we enjoy.” He did just say I was weird for finding this moment so pleasurable, but I’m sure he meant that in a good way. (Think positive thoughts.)

If we aren’t smiling at our spouses it’s because there is probably something misaligned in us, on the inside. And more likely than not, I am pretty sure it has to do with our focus being off. We are looking at our husbands and depending on them to make us happy. Naturally then, our smiles will be few and far between. The great news is that we can be happy because of God is the source of our joy!  I really like what Proverbs 31:25 has to say about a woman who fears the Lord. It declares, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.”

If our husbands got the privilege of being around wives who smiled at the future, think of the impact it would make on them!

For those of you who can remember the days when you were dating your spouse, you know that your smile communicated 1. You were happy to see your man. 2. You enjoyed his company.

I could charm Edric over with a smile when we were dating. But guess what? It still works! And I’m not saying that because I manipulate Edric with my smiling. Today, the same is still true. When I’m with Edric and I smile, it communicates 1. I am happy to see him. 2. I enjoy his company.

For example, when Edric comes home and I greet him with a big smile and a “Hi, babe,” he smiles generously back at me and his instinct is to spend time with me. The opposite is true. When he comes home and I act moody or disinterested in him, forgetting to smile, then he will, more often than not, quip, “I guess you’re too busy,” and avoid me.

If we want a more satisfying relationship with our husbands, let’s smile, ladies! It’s a natural face-lift to make us look younger, and you will really appreciate this…Ron Gutman, the author of Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act wrote that “British researchers found that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate.” (Source: Psychology Today) What a ridiculously wonderful amount of endorphins!

So try it. Right now. If you are with your husband, smile. Feeling generous? You can even add, “Hon, I really enjoy being with you.”

If you’re struggling, remember the golden rule for relationships, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:31) Do we want our husbands to smile at us? Then let’s smile at them!

The Significance of Time (For Kids)

It’s amazing how a day spent with my girls, giving them my undivided attention and playing with them, can make such a big difference in their responsiveness to me. I am sure that the same applies to all other children who get quality and quantity time with their parents.

My daughters and I had a whole day’s shoot for Friso, a milk brand we are endorsers for, and the story boards revolved around bonding activities together. We did scrapbooking, food prepping, and dressing to frolic in the rain, and the girls thoroughly enjoyed themselves. It didn’t feel like work. More importantly, they felt like this was girls’ time. We engaged one another. I wasn’t distracted by my phone or other priorities. It was just the three of us having fun together since the boys were with their dad.

By the end of that long day, which I thought would have surely worn them out, the girls were still energized. They tailed me wherever I went. All they wanted to do was to be with me and hang out with me. I thought by then they would have had enough of me but the very opposite was true, especially for my older daughter, Tiana. She was like, “What are we going to do now, mom? Can we do more scrapbooking?”

The other sweet thing I noticed was how affectionate Tiana was that evening. (Catalina is naturally a hugger.) Tiana, however, tends to be more economized with her affections. Yet that night, she hugged and put her arms around me spontaneously, multiple times.

Although I have known the very obvious connection between time and influence for many years through experience and research (as many parents do), I too often ignore that time holds such power to unlock the hearts of our kids. I get busy, even as a homeschool mom who spends each day with her kids.

However, being around doesn’t count as much as being present in each moment with my kids. There is no substitute for it. Nourished and secure children have parents who are both physically and emotionally present.

When parents ask me, “What do I do about my child who isn’t listening? Or “How do I reach out to my son who doesn’t tell me what’s going on inside?” There are countless other questions similar in nature that basically speak of a parents’ desire to connect with their emotionally distant child. I can’t think of a better solution than to say…

Spend time with your child. Don’t have a secret agenda that makes your intentions for bonding with them suspect. Just enjoy their company and let them enjoy yours. Do this consistently over a period of time and a magical thing will happen. Your child will willingly give you his or her heart.

There Will Always Be Somebody Taller

When one of my sons heard a relative say, “You are so short!” he teared…not in front of her but in private. The comment picked at an insecurity that he had been struggling with for the past year. Compared to his older brother, who has gone through puberty, he is significantly shorter. He also has friends and cousins his age or younger who are taller than he is.

In September I finally took him to see a pediatric endocrinologist who was recommended by my pediatrician, Dr. Joy Ty-Sy, from Cardinal Santos. Her name

Is Dr. Siok Sua Cua, also from Cardinal Santos, and she had my son get an X-ray for his hand. She also measured his height and checked her charts. The most encouraging part was that she asked my son to list down ten things he believed he was good at. Together with him, she went over each of these items and discussed them, focusing on the many areas and talents he had to celebrate. This was her way of de-emphasizing the height concern.

The positive news is that he is still within the normal, acceptable range for his height. Edric does have short genes in his lineage so that may be a factor, but so far, there’s no major concern. Furthermore, Edric went through his growth spurt later on than his peers so he too was short at the same age.

I took my son to Dr. Siok Sua Cua for my own peace of mind, and for his sake, to allay his fears. Yet, even if she doesn’t think there’s anything to worry about at this point in time, and even if I try measures to prevent the possibility of height issues through diet, good sleep and exercise, my son may end up being, um, vertically-challenged. Deep inside, he has confronted this very probable reality, especially since people continue to make comments like, “I am much taller than you,” or “Why are you so small?”

Therefore, Edric and I have been processing this concern with him so that he can have the right perspective. In fact, all our kids have to embrace the proper outlook on themselves and the unchangeable aspects of who they are. We have to positively program their minds with thoughts like, Thank you Lord for who I am, even if I would like to change somethings about myself.

I don’t want to minimize the fact that my kids get verbally wounded. In fact, people often ask me if children who are homeschooled get exposed to “real” world experiences like bullying and learning to deal with difficult people. The answer is, “Yes! Of course!”

Bullies and insensitive people aren’t found in classrooms and schools only. They can be present in your own family, among relatives and friends, and even in places like Sunday School or random social settings.

So, yes, my kids definitely have to deal with self-worth issues and overcoming negative messages about themselves when these are pointed out by others. However, the good news is that we are here to help them see themselves and their worth in Christ through spiritual lenses. They can’t control what others will say, or avoid being compared to others, measured against “standards”, and pressured to conform and meet up to the expectations of people. However, they can control how they will respond. We can teach them to receive these hurtful statements with grace and faith. Grace that doesn’t retaliate with anger, and faith to believe that God has a plan for who they are and will use the hurt for their good.

(Please note, when the hurt is beyond verbal jabs and goes into the physical realm, well, that’s a different story. We need to teach them self-defense!)

Recently, over lunch, Edric also reminded all our kids that they are special. They don’t need to perform or do things to impress us or others, we love them no matter what. They are special because they are our children, and more importantly they were fearfully and wonderfully made by God.

“I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:14

“The fastest way to kill what is special,” Craig Groeschel explains, “is to compare.”

When we compare ourselves with others, contentment ends. He warns that “comparison either makes us feel superior or inferior and neither of these honors God.”

When we look at what we don’t have, we neglect the gifts that we do have. This lesson isn’t just for my kids but for me, too. I have insecurities I still battle with regularly. There are days when circumstances or people highlight how I fall short and fail to measure up to a standard of perfection or success that the world likes to elevate.

However, the focus ought to be on Christ, to run the race He called all of us to, not weighed down by a comparison mindset, the sin of discontentment and covetousness, as well as a-poor-me-mentality.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…” Hebrews 12:1-2

Edric and I need to tell our kids (and ourselves) that there will always be someone wealthier, taller, faster, better looking, more talented, and more popular than them (and us). It’s not in the chasing after these things that we will finish our race well, but in the faithfulness of our daily pursuit of God and our obedience to Him. Groeschel encourages, “Don’t seek to be important. Instead, be faithful. If you remain faithful, then what you are doing will become important and bring glory to God.”

In my son’s case, if you remain faithful to God, walking in daily obedience to Him, it won’t matter how tall or short you are. You will have His favor and His blessing. I love you, son!

The Gifts of Pain

For the last six months I have dealt with excruciating monthly periods, something I never experienced in my teenage years or adulthood. When it first happened, I had to be brought to the hospital, fearing that appendicitis was the cause. Edric took me to the ER at about 3 AM only discover that there was nothing wrong with me apart from the fact that I was probably dealing with extreme dysmenorrhea. After that month, the pain recurred and my personal research pointed to endometriosis. This was confirmed by doctors as well after two ultrasounds.

For those of you who suffer from the same, you know what it’s like to be bedridden and on painkillers to alleviate the feeling of one, never-ending contraction. The pain heightened to such severity last month that I threw up and felt like I might collapse.

As I have wrestled with this new reality, praying countless times for relief and healing, and being prayed over by others, God has taught me many lessons as the symptoms persists. I would like to call these the gifts of pain in my attempts to see its divine purpose. Of course, I still pray and hope for healing, but in the meantime, here are my reflections…

The gift of empathy. Since I was healthy for most of my life, there was only so much I could grasp about people’s physical pains or their dealings with debilitating conditions or sicknesses. Even today, my physical struggle isn’t likened to those who agonize on a daily basis in their fight against cancer or a life-threatening disease. (What strength these people must have to battle their pain day in and day out!) Yet my pain issues, the monthly ones and the random ones, do give me greater comprehension of how difficult it must be for those who suffer without relief. Now, I can sincerely tell people, “It must be so difficult for you. My heart goes out to you,” and really mean it!

The gift of humility. I consider myself to have a pretty high tolerance for pain. I birthed five children with no anesthesia. However, the discomfort I feel every month is so debilitating that I can’t attend to Edric or my kids, and fighting the pain exhausts me. Homeschooling happens on my bed, as the kids bring their books to my room and do their work around me. Eating and exercise have to be foregone, especially on my second and third days of menstruation. It’s humbling to know that I am not that strong after all. Whatever health, wellness, and physical abilities I have are the grace of God and nothing I can take credit for.

Last month, while groaning on my bed, trying to maneuver to a comfortable position without success, I eventually prayed out loud and said, “Thank you, Lord. You are my strength, you are here with me.”

When pain weakens me, it’s an opportunity to remember just how dependent I am on the Lord.

The gift of joy. Amazingly, God gives joy in the midst of pain. Although I get deeply frustrated about not being in control, and at times worry that there could be more serious things wrong with me, I fix my eyes on the Lord and the fears and discouragement dissipate. I do not have to make my joy dependent on my pain. As author and pastor Stephen Furtick said, “Will your chains break your praise or will your praise break your chains?”

This past week I was anxious because my daughter, Catalina, had five days of strange, fluctuating fever. It was gone in the mornings and returned in the afternoons and evenings. However, God spoke to my heart with this word, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

I started to tear as I read this passage because my thoughts were clouded with fear, and I was restless with worry. Yet, the Lord assured me that He is ever in control and ever on His throne, and there was joy.

I don’t rejoice in my problems because I like them, I rejoice because I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and has a plan for every circumstance in my life, as well as the lives of those whom I love. He may not always cure a disease but this doesn’t change His character or downgrade His power.

The gift of gratitude. When I first found out that I had adhesions in my pelvis as well as a suspected cyst-like structure in my right ovary due to Endometriosis, I felt discouraged and down. I try to be healthy, eat right, and exercise. I never had operations in my abdominal area to cause the adhesions. Furthermore, I really wanted to have another child, but the Endometriosis contributed to fertility issues. In the past, one try and it was like, boom, baby! Not this year for me…

Well, of course one of the obvious answers was age. The other, more medical reason was that I may have hormone imbalances (to be confirmed soon by a test I’m doing with Life Science). I will do another post about all the natural ways I am trying to “fix” my Endometriosis, but let me see if they work first!

Initially, I battled self-pity and a victim-mentality but then I was like, hey! There’s so much to be thankful for! I still get to walk, run, read, write, sing, eat, teach my children, spend time with my loved ones and friends, serve the Lord, appreciate and explore the world He made, and delight in knowing and loving Him. That’s a lot to celebrate!

The gift of perspective. In the midst of the pain I tell myself, this body will be replaced by a new and perfect one someday. I think of what heaven will be like when all agony and crying will be gone. This promise makes me look forward to eternity. It also prevents me from getting too comfortable on this earth. My body’s health problems point me to the hope of my eternal life with the Lord. They lesson the grip of this world on my heart as I remember that it is passing away.

“We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life…Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:2-4, 8

As I close, allow me to end with this insight…I did not choose my pain, but Jesus Christ willingly entered into your pain and my pain when He gave His life for us so that we might be healed of our greatest problem – the problem of sin. That’s our real disease. “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

When people ask me if I believe that God heals, my question is what is the healing that we seek? Is it merely to be liberated from physical pain? If that is the case, then isn’t that failing to understand the more important reason for Christ’s wounds? He gave His life “so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” as the passage explains above. Since our earthly existence is a dot in comparison to eternity, His priority is to heal our relationship with Him first. Mark 8:36, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

If we read verse 25, following 1 Peter 2:24, it says that we were straying like sheep (our real problem…turning away from our Creator) but now we have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (a picture of our spiritual healing, being reconciled to God).

So while I believe that God has the power to heal us from ailments and diseases and we should pray in faith for physical healing, I also believe that He may not always alleviate our physical suffering if it accomplishes a greater purpose in our lives and the lives of others, namely our spiritual healing and the spiritual healing of others. So here in lies the greatest gift of pain…when it reconciles us to God or draws us into a profoundly deeper relationship with Him.

I am still claiming healing in Jesus’ name for my Endometriosis and doing my part to make lifestyle changes. But even if God doesn’t make my life problem or pain-free, I still consider it a blessed life because He is my sustainer and provider. His grace and love never fail. His heart is for me and for my good. He is and will be with me through all the seasons of my life!

Setting Yearly Goals for Our Children Part 1

With the New Year fast approaching, it’s time to think through setting yearly goals for our children. This post is divided into two parts to make it more “digestible.”

Our family likes to use the Luke 2:52 approach, which states how “Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, favor with God and favor with man.” In this passage, we see four areas to consider for our children. The first is the mind (wisdom), followed by the body (stature), then spirit (favor with God), and relationships (favor with man).


Edric has a spreadsheet for our kids that includes columns labeled with each of these areas. At the beginning of the year, he and I will discuss our goals for our children, and he will fill in the columns and target dates.

This may sound like a nerdy way to set goals for our children, however, it has helped us to be purposeful. Some families may not opt to set goals in this manner. They may want to use a simple list that covers the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual development of their children.

Whichever method they implore, the key is to be purposeful. Successful companies have annual planning meetings to assess where their companies are at, project profits, and to determine direction. As parents, we ought to be as intentional and even more so about the way we raise our children.

Many giants of the faith were faithful followers of God who performed miracles, prophesied, and influenced cultures and nations. However, they neglected their first ministry – their families. Take for instance, Samuel, a judge and prophet who was personally called by God in his sleep to serve Him. It is said of Samuel that “the Lord was with him and let none of his words fail. All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 3:19-20)

He advised the first king of Israel, Saul, and anointed the great King David. Yet, we know from the Scriptures that Samuel’s sons were not godly men. “And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel…His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.” (1 Samuel 8:1,3)

How is it that one of the most faithful messengers of God to His people failed in his fathering?

On the one hand, he had a bad example in Eli, who played the role of a pseudo dad as he mentored Samuel. Samuel lived with Eli when he was weaned from his mother, Hannah, who had dedicated him to the Lord. From a young age, Samuel’s ideas about fathering were modeled by Eli. Eli, while succeeding at raising Samuel, failed as a father to his own sons. His sons were described as “worthless men who did not know the Lord.” (1 Samuel 2:12) Their sin was very great because they “despised the offering of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 2:17) Though Eli tried to speak with them to correct their behavior, it was too little too late. His sons “did not listen, and the Lord intended to put them to death.” (1 Samuel 2:25)

There are other clues to Samuel’s father issues. In 1 Samuel 7, there is an insert about Samuel’s ministry, explaining that he “used to go annually on circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and he judged Israel in all these places. Then his return was to Ramah, for his house was there, and there he judged Israel, and he built there an altar to the Lord.” Traveling these distances every year naturally consumed much of his time, besides executing the duties of judge to the people. No doubt this took away opportunities to disciple his own kids.

Perhaps Samuel also had a tendency to look at appearances rather than the heart. We see this when he was tasked to go to the house of Jesse to look for a successor to King Saul. His instinct was to choose based on appearances and God specifically told him to look at the heart. It’s possible that as a parent, he didn’t do his due diligence in seeing the hearts of his sons. His focus may have been on the appearance of goodness in his children while failing to recognize unchecked character issues that blossomed into dishonesty, bribery, and perversion of justice.

It’s sobering for us to consider this reality as we raise up our own kids. If great men of God can fail at parenting, how much more susceptible are we to do the same! This is why we need to think through what our children will grow up to be like. A thriving ministry, as well as workplace and business success cannot compensate for lack of intentional discipleship in the home. We can’t assume that our faithful service to God will, by virtue of osmosis, be embraced by our children. Neither should we content ourselves with our kids finishing college and getting good jobs or starting up businesses. While these are important, the greater measures of success are whether they will turn out to be men and women of integrity who know how to serve others, stay faithful to a spouse, raise godly children, and make a positive difference for Christ in this world.

Therefore, let us not be shortsighted as we set our goals, assuming that our job is done when our kids complete their schooling years. Luke 2:52 is included as a description about Christ when he was at the age of twelve. After this time, he makes his appearance in public ministry at the age of thirty. Up until this point, he continued to grow in wisdom, stature, favor with God and favor with man. Similarly, every year, we ought to envision and plan for our children to do the same.

For those of us with older children, goal-setting may involve asking them what they are interested in and what they would like to accomplish in the year. Encouraging them to be involved in the planning also makes them more committed to achieving yearly goals.

We would like to share with you some of the ways our children are growing in wisdom, stature, favor with God and favor with man. Since these examples are personal, may God help you to think through what can apply to your own children and family context.

Growing in Wisdom

Wisdom is the ability of a person to apply knowledge and make right choices. Ultimately, we want our children to have godly wisdom. When they are out of our sights or when they eventually leave our home, will their decisions honor God and please Him?

Knowledge and wisdom have to go together. Solomon asked of God, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10) He knew that knowledge in the sense of facts and information was not enough to make him a good leader. He needed the combination of wisdom and knowledge.

As our children acquire knowledge through the study of subject areas, we need to balance this out with an understanding of who God is and what His principles for living are. A brilliant mind that doesn’t fear God or have a conscience can be a dangerous weapon!

Take for instance, our son, Elijah, who has always been interested in and become very capable in the area of technology. At the age of twelve, he was tinkering with gadgets and figuring out how to jail-break old Ipads and phones. We allowed him do so and paid for online programs so that he could learn programing. A year later he was building apps and websites. At a certain point the idea of hacking interested him as well as the ability to circumvent restrictions so that he didn’t have to pay for apps or movies. We told him to stop doing this because it wasn’t legal. Thankfully, he is a young man who fears God so he exercised restraint and self-control!

He is learning to channel his knowledge to worthwhile pursuits. Very recently, he created a forum for homeschooler friends where they discuss math problems, science, and exchange ideas. It’s a much wiser application of the knowledge he has acquired! He isn’t aspiring to hack anymore. Whew.

Considering our child’s interest is also a good starting point for planning out goals because it’s an integrative approach to learning. For example, instead of our kids studying math or reading as separate subjects, why not give them opportunities to exercise the usefulness of both?

Last year, Titus wanted to start his own stock portfolio as an eight-year old. His older brothers had already done so when they each turned nine, but Titus expressed the desire to get involved in investing earlier to compete with Elijah and Edan. It was a great way for him to apply math, reading, research, and critical thinking skills. So Edric included this goal in our yearly plan for Titus. Before the end of 2016, Titus attended a three-hour seminar by COL Financial where he learned the basics of investing in stocks. Edric asked him to think through which companies he would like to invest in, and he got his portfolio up with stocks from Pure Gold, Ayala Corporation, Rockwell, and SMPH. He now knows how to go online to research and purchase stock options on his own, too.

Our second son, Edan hopes to travel the world someday and talk to people about Jesus, so he asked if he could do foreign language studies this year. At present, he uses apps and travel books to teach himself Spanish and Chinese. During the day when he wants to work on his language studies, we set aside time for him to do this as well. He’s still at the beginner levels but his motivation keeps him going. Lord willing, this desire to share the gospel around the world will be fulfilled in the future. 


Growing in wisdom may often supersede yearly subject area requirements. While it’s beneficial to cover minimum learning competencies as outlined by the Department of Education, these do not have to restrict us from identifying loftier goals for our children that take into account their gifts, interests, and dreams.

Stature

We want our kids to develop their physical abilities such as their artistry, musicality, and athleticism, and we want them to be healthy and fit. Since each of our kids is at different stages of ability and capacity, we have to be specific about what activities we expose them to.

This past year, one of our aims was to help our sons find sports they wanted to focus on. Elijah let us know that he was open to training on a swim team and continuing with tennis. Our four other kids are also doing tennis. Since paid classes are usually once a week and our boys need more physical activity, Edric revised the specifics of our yearly stature goal to include an exercise regimen for our sons. Edric also participates in this fitness program with them as a way of bonding with our boys. The girls, on the other hand, are pressing on with their ballet.

As for music and art, two of our kids play violin, and two others are doing piano. All of them are enrolled in a painting class. We also make time for art at home.  Since their preferences may change as they discover what they are really good at, we ask them at the beginning of each year if they are open to sticking to the same music and art classes or switching to something else.


Edan used to take violin but didn’t develop a love for it. We really hoped he would stick it out, imagining a future when our three boys would be “jamming” on their violins together. However, he emphatically told us he would like to take up piano instead. Allowing him to let go of violin to focus on piano was one of the best decisions we made. After one year of piano playing, Edan progressed quickly. From simple pieces, he tackled compositions like “Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Since he was so excited to learn an instrument that he actually enjoyed, he pushed himself to practice and work hard.

To continue, read: Setting Yearly Goals for Our Children Part 2

 

Setting Yearly Goals for Our Children Part 2

This is the second part of Setting Yearly Goals for Your Children. Previously, we covered Growing in Wisdom and Stature. If you haven’t read about these yet, please start here: Setting Yearly Goals for Our Children Part 1

Favor with God

Favor with God means that our kids seek to know, love, serve, and obey God. In pursuit of this, we encourage our older children to finish reading their Bibles every year, or at least attempt to do so. Elijah is re-reading his Bible for the seventh time, while Edan is on his second round. Titus has yet to finish but he’s on his way. Tiana is starting to but she still needs a lot of help with big words. Catalina just began reading so she merely pretends to understand what’s going on when she’s holding a Bible. A few days ago, she mouthed out her own rendition of Genesis, combining some parts with the story of Solomon, making it completely inaccurate. She’ll get there eventually.

Another important goal is that our kids develop Christ-like character. Each year comes with it’s unique challenges. This past year, our kids had to grow in kindness towards one another. They tended to use harsh words when they were frustrated and didn’t like to share.

During our weekly Bible studies with our kids, Edric included lessons on how to relate to one another in more loving ways. They memorized Bible passages and shared how they could improve and what they could apply. For the older boys, Edric challenged them to take charge of a study once a month so they got to practice teaching their siblings. His secret agenda was to get them to think through what they needed to work on.

The other night, Titus’s verse was Hebrews 13:16. He asked us all to memorize the passage: “Don’t forget to do good and to share with others. These are the sacrifices that please God.”  Afterwards, we talked about how the passage applied to us. Each of our kids admitted that they can be better at treating one another kindly.

We also provide our children with opportunities to serve with us in ministry as much as possible. Since Edric plans out most of our speaking engagements, ministry trips, and activities at the beginning of each year, he can determine when our kids can participate as he plots out our schedule. Most of the talks will fall under the categories of marriage, parenting, or financial stewardship since Edric and I have a shared burden to minister to families. Therefore, we find ways to integrate our children into our seminars so they can experience being a blessing to and serving others.



During our trip to Singapore last August, where we were invited to facilitate a family retreat, we asked our boys to prepare testimonies that we could include in our talks. At the end of the family retreat, our kids also sang a hymn for the audience to close the retreat. Exposure to ministry at young ages allows them to see how they can serve God, too, even while they are young and make a difference for Him.

Recently, we also added sharing the gospel to thirty-three people from now till December as part of our goal for the year since our church challenged us to do so. Our kids got excited about the commitment and have been passing out gospel tracts whenever they can. We still have to practice one-on-one evangelism with them since passing out tracts doesn’t really count!

Favor with Man

Our children also need to grow in their relationships with others. Favor with man is the ability of a person to relate to and reach out to others, to be a positive influence. It’s more than socialization, which is how a child conforms to the social group he is in. Our children have to be trained to look out for the needs of others.

The family context often provides a great training ground to do this since it can be difficult to unconditionally love and forgive one another, as well as get along with siblings. However, relationships with other children outside of the home are also significant. These teach our kids how to accommodate people from different backgrounds and cultures, as well as how to communicate, understand, and influence. 

Early this school year, we realized that our sons were looking for more opportunities to interact with friends. It was especially important to our second son, Edan, who enjoys connecting with others. As a natural leader, he benefits from opportunities to exercise this gift. Of all the days in the week, his favorite ones are often the days when he gets to be with his friends. He directs their play, organizes activities, and comes up with fellowship ideas.

As for Elijah, who tends to be very content being alone and on a computer or with a book, we recognized that he had to look outward and invest in developing relationships with others. So we enrolled him in art class and an Algebra 2 tutorial class in order for him to interact more with other high schoolers.


Here are some other ways we get our kids to connect with other children: We created a culture in our couple’s bible study group that encourages kids to come with their parents. During the week, we set aside a day for them to be at the Homeschool Global office so they can hang out and play with their friends in between their art, music, and pe classes. Apart from this, we open up our home so friends can come over in the afternoons. Or, we schedule visits with their cousins and friends.

We used to think that our kids would do fine without too much social interaction apart from family, relatives and a few close friends. However, our perspective changed a year ago when our second son declared, “I’m a social person. I like being with friends.” In response to this, we’ve tried to be more creative about providing opportunities for our kids to spend time with other kids. Although they enjoy their relationships with one another and with us, they also benefit from being with friends of all ages.

The goal isn’t so that they will have many friends, but that they would learn how to reach out to and be a blessing to others, and to apply character traits and relational skills like deference, forgiveness, kindness, cooperation, etc.  

In summary, the Luke 2:52 framework of wisdom, stature, favor with God, and men is one way to accomplish yearly homeschooling goals. It’s certainly not the only way since all families are unique. The point is to have a plan and to follow through with it. There may be revisions as the year progress, too, which is perfectly fine. We need to flex according to the needs of our children as they grow, develop, and encounter challenges. May God give us all the insight to craft our yearly goals and align them with his purposes for our kids. And may He supply us with the ability to commit to these! In the meantime, let us “Commit our ways to the Lord, and trust also in Him…” (Psalm 37:5)


 

 

Just Say Sorry

Lately, I have been practicing how to say sorry when I make mistakes, especially in marriage. I often expect my husband, Edric, to humble himself first and apologize to me. My stupid reason is, well, he’s the spiritual leader. So being the one to initiate reconciliation is not my default mode. I assume that it should be his.

Edric is a very good apologizer, too. There is no such word as apologizer but I couldn’t think of another descriptor. Usually, he will recognize that he is wrong soon after (when he is in fact in the wrong), and ask for my forgiveness soon after he wounds my feelings or does something to offend me. This convicts me to ask for his forgiveness, too, for my ugly responses and negativity.

However, waiting on him to make the first move allows me to get away with pride. It’s the selfish way of saying sorry. I don’t want to budge until he does because I keep thinking, he should repair this as the man.

I praise God that He is a loving Father who is committed to changing me everyday. So His recent character project is teaching me how to say sorry as immediately as possible versus letting me get so comfortable with my hostile silence.

Take for instance a few nights ago, after a meeting with friends, where Edric corrected me for cutting him off and contradicting him in front of others. At first I over explained myself and pointed out his errors, trying to avoid the root issue of my disrespect. Finally, God told me, “Just say sorry. Why do you have to excuse your behavior and try and shift the blame to him?”

He was right.

So I turned to Edric in the car ride and asked for his forgiveness. “Will you forgive me for my disrespect?”

He accepted my apology, but he wasn’t sweet towards me right away. I had to wait for his emotions to settle which annoyed me initially. Then I thought, Why should I be upset? Since I already apologized, I am liberated. Whether or not he says sorry to me for what he can improve on, and whether or not he treats me with kindness afterwards is no longer my problem. I am free! I did my part.

By the evening, however, our relationship was back to normal and we went to bed at peace before God and toward one another. Edric also identified areas that he could change in himself. There was no residual bitterness. Thankfully, our conflict was resolved pretty quickly, which is also why I believe I need to say sorry as soon as possible. It ministers to Edric’s heart when I do so and the hurt doesn’t linger into the next day. 

It’s still hard to say sorry first but once I manage to utter the words, “Will you forgive me,” it’s like unplugging a stuck up drain. The rest of what I need to say follows, and that release feels so spiritually cleansing and so right for our relationship.


I used to think that saying sorry before Edric does was the weak thing to do. But it’s not. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit manifested in us. Although Ruth Graham once said, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers,” I also think a happy marriage is the union of two good apologizers. Forgivers and apologizers similarly require humility and both are necessary for healthy communication, conflict resolution, and intimacy in marriage.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭