Surrender And Wait

If there is a tech-lover and computer savant in our family, it is Elijah, our eldest. At eleven years old he understands programming and code, thanks to Khan Academy. When I am stumped by a gadget issue, I holler for him and he ably rescues me from my ignorance. He also enjoys
reading about the newest gadgets available.

Edric and I hold him back a lot. He doesn’t have his own cell phone, iPad or even a computer or laptop. When necessary, he resorts to borrowing my laptop or iPad.

However, this past year, Elijah earned more than enough money from stocks investments and speaking engagements to pay for his own IPad. So Edric thought it was time he be allowed to get one to use for his “work”. The plan was they would look for one during our vacation in the U.S. Of course, Elijah was thrilled.

A few days after we arrived, he did his research, checking online for the best deals and accompanying Edric to gadget shops. Elijah found a refurbished IPad on Apple’s online store and Edric thought it was a steal, so they decided to buy it. However, someone else beat them to it because they waited a day.

Elijah was disheartened. He had invested time looking for the deal and even chatted with the customer service personnel to clarify certain questions about shipping. We reminded him to keep praying. If it was God’s will, he would find something better. So he quickly snapped out of it and moved on.

Yesterday, he found another superb deal on EBay for an iPad Air First Generation that was close to 350 USD with shipping. He was so excited about it but another interested party outbid him! Once again he was crushed, but we reiterated that he should not lose heart but trust in God’s will.

I was so blessed by his attitude as he took to the defeat positively and processed the disappointment from a spiritual perspective. Of course I was hoping that God would reward him but I kept this to myself.

In the meantime, Edric and I went out with Catalina to shop at Bed, Bath & Beyond. During our trip away, we received a call from Elijah. He was happy to announce that he had come across an IPad Air 2 (16 GgB) for 420 USD with shipping, tax free. (It normally retails at Apple Store for 499 USD without tax.) Strangely, no one bid during the window when he gave his offer. After an hour and a half, the deal became his! My sister told me this was uncommon on EBay. But the seller checked out and the offer was guaranteed by EBay, so Edric and Elijah followed through with the purchase.

Elijah was practically jumping up and down with excitement. Apparently, he wanted the IPad Air 2 but he didn’t condition himself to expect it because it was costlier. So he had set his sights on a simpler model with acceptable specs. This new option was absolutely fantastic as it appealed to the “techiness” in him.

Elijah was going to pay the full amount but Edric said they would split. Still, Elijah asked to pay 75% instead of just 50%. I was so proud of him! This was an occasion for Elijah to “step up” as a young man.

I know his initial disappointment wasn’t easy. But God blocked those two previous selections to get him the best IPad, the one that he secretly dreamed to have.

Interestingly, the night before I attended a bible study led by my brother in law, Jeff, and he focused on James 5. In the chapter there was a portion that I highlighted again and it happened to be about the prophet Elijah!

“…The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.” (‭James‬ ‭5‬:‭16-18‬ NASB)

When my son, Elijah, was dealing with the unfavorable non-purchase, I shared with him the same line: the “prayer of the righteous man accomplishes much,” encouraging him to keep on presenting his longing to the Lord. I knew that Elijah loved God and honored him in his life so if the Lord willed for him to get an iPad deal, he would make it happen. And true enough, God answered Elijah’s prayer in his perfect way and time, even if he had to stomach the disappointment first.

When I asked him what his prayer was, he told me, “Lord, if it is your will, I know you will give it to me. If not, I will feel sad but I know it will be your will, so that’s what is best.”

As a mom, it’s hard for me to see my kids disappointed. It’s also a struggle for me to watch them go through the waiting process. Yet God uses instances like this one to demonstrate his personal involvement in the character development of my kids. Elijah got to experience first-hand what it is like to surrender a desire to the Lord and then receive the reward of his trust and patience.

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What Dog Are You Feeding?

I blew it in the car, on the way to a Christmas dinner with friends. Edric didn’t remember a discussion and agreement we had and it irked me. So I threw my phone against the back of the driver’s seat, and it fell to the floor with a thud. Even though I didn’t get the drama I intended because the padded seat cushioned the phone, the gesture broadcasted my anger, coupled by a statement I made that actually included a bad word!

Edric asked me if I had gifts for a group of people we were going to meet with and I reminded him that we were skipping the gift-giving this Christmas because we were going to be out of the country. Then he questioned my logic since I prepared presents for his office and ANC colleagues. My defense was, “You told me to have gifts ready for these groups.” Then came his famous line, “I don’t remember.”

“How can you not remember? This is how the dialogue went…” And I attempted to give the context and the phrases we exchanged. According to him bits and pieces were coming back to him but he still wasn’t sure that we had the conversation.

Edric and I are aging. Of course. That goes without saying. But sometimes this means we don’t have the best memories. He forgets our conversations and I forget people’s names. In this instance he didn’t recall our discussion about Christmas gifts. It really shouldn’t have been a big deal but I mountained it into a serious issue because he was disappointed with me for not having Christmas presents ready to give to the group of friends we were having dinner with. I was very upset with him for claiming he had no recollection of our dialogue and then refusing to believe me.

I don’t say bad words! But under my breath I blurted, “This —— annoys me!”

As soon as the sentence escaped from my lips I felt the remorse. There it was in bold letters, capitalized and italicized, lingering in the air — the noxious evidence of my angry heart.

Edric was quiet. He didn’t fight with me which escalated the guilt I was feeling. My outburst was very wrong and childish. I had lost my temper.

After apologizing for my attitude and behavior, Edric took my hand and held it. “Why are you doing that?” I asked, feeling undeserving.

“I love you.”

I didn’t deserve that either!

The rest of the way I spoke very little. After our dinner I asked for an apology again for my disrespectful and un-Christlike response to him. Edric forgave me.

Just a week before I had stood before thousands of people and shared about my life testimony, talking about what God had done in my life. Many people came up to me to encourage me and tell me that they were blessed.

How is it that just days later I said something profane? From the very same mouth that glorified God, came a vile utterance intended to hurt Edric.

On the one hand I could make excuses. We had an engagement every night that week and multiple activities during the day that exhausted me. I was pushing the kids to finish their homeschool work before our vacation. Catalina fell ill. There were many last minute errands that needed my attention, and so on. However the reality was I simply gave in to my carnal self.

I chose to hurl my phone and give in to the rising anger that had cooked up a tempestuous storm inside of me. And then I chose to punctuate it with a curse word for emphasis. I made those choices. Wrong choices that revealed the more pertinent problem of my heart.

My dad and mom used to tell me, if you want to be spirit filled, then “feed the white dog and starve the black one,” in reference to the two antithetical natures that co-exist in all of us. The white dog represents who we are in Christ, the black one symbolizes the flesh — ever lurking, ready to pounce and take over.

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(Photo courtesy of car-memes.com)
The “white dog” version of myself had been starved as of late. In all my doings, I made little time to fill myself with truth and to pray. My spiritual reserves were depleted.

Thankfully, I have a long vacation to rest, relax, and recharge…to “feed” the white dog. In the meantime, let me leave you with this passage of scripture that convicted me and ministered to me…

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭16-17, 19-26‬ NASB)

Some ideas on how to feed the white dog:
– Meditate on God’s Word daily
– Develop the habit of conversing with God
– Listen and watch what is edifying / what encourages righteousness and holiness
– Surround yourself with people who will keep you accountable and help you grow spiritually
– Declare God’s goodness and gospel to others
– Get adequate sleep and rest
– Develop the areas God has gifted you in and use these skills, hobbies, or resources to bless others and minister to them

“American Dream” Vacation Week 1

The highlights…

The kids have to take care of themselves, especially when it comes to eating. If they don’t eat, they go hungry. Even little Catalina is learning to eat on her own. She makes a huge mess which I have to clean.

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Laundry. I still have a huge load to do and sort through. It’s never ending. The washing machine and dryer seem to be running all the time to accommodate the clothes of my sister’s family and ours!

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Sitting in car seats. (We usually stop using car seats in the Philippines after my kids are a few months old. The yayas are our car seats. I am not advocating this but when you have five kids, you need a bus if you use car seats, travel with househelp, and pack luggage.)

Catalina screamed for 45 minutes today because she couldn’t stand being strapped in hers. We broke out into song to entertain her which worked for a little while, until we figured out a better trick. Elijah now sits beside her so he can keep her entertained.

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Park visits almost every afternoon. Edric and I take turns pushing the younger ones on the swings. The older boys run off to explore.

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Simple joys. Like picking oranges and lemons outside then squeezing out the juice and covering the kitchen floor with sticky pulp. (I am just kidding about the latter, that is a complicated joy.)

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Christmas tree farming. We did that today. The boys got to take turns using the saw. I took advantage of the beautiful surroundings and snapped random photos.

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It was supposed to be closed but they let us in…

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No traffic. Needs no explanation.

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Eating Issues?

Is it a challenge to inspire your kids to eat? Are you running out of ideas that are healthy and reasonably simple to prepare?

I was sent a copy of Yummy Mommy a week before we left for the US. Although I haven’t gotten a chance to try the recipes yet I am excited to when I get back to Manila. Even my second son, Edan, picked some of the ideas he would like me to cook or bake in the kitchen. It is such a great book for moms who want to offer kid-friendly meals to their children. I am sure all moms can relate to eating-related issues with their kids and a lot of recipe books ala sneaky chef style don’t always recommend ingredients that are locally available. This one does.

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Here is Anvil Publishing’s write up on their book…

Anvil Publishing releases Yummy Mommy by Tricel De Guzman, a full-time mother and dedicated homemaker, who collected favorite recipes of dishes of her daughter who is a picky eater. Aside from the delicious recipes, Tricel shares tips on food preparation and proper feeding Celebrity Mommy Cheska Garcia-Kramer tried cooking these yummy recipes for her picky eater Kendra and raved about it on Instagram! What’s more, all the dishes can be enjoyed by other family members.

Mommies can try mouthwatering dishes like, Spinach Rice with Tofu and Kiwi, Nice and Gooey Chicken Wings, Popcorn Shrimp with Orange Dip, Salmon Broccoli Rice Bake. Make kids enjoy merienda with Banana Fritters with Cream Cheese Sauce, Jam and Cheese Grilled Sandwich, Fruit Sticks with Milo Dip. For busy working moms, the No-bake desserts such as Banana Ice Cream Burrito, Blueberry Cheesecake in a Jar, Milk Flan with Honey Prune Sauce, and Mango-Ginger Parfait are perfect meal enders.

Yummy Mommy is now in the BESTSELLER list of National Book Store and Powerbooks nationwide.

A Long Way to Get Away

We made it in 7 complete pieces. After 15 or so hours of traveling, Edric, our five children and I found ourselves standing outside the San Francisco airport, enjoying the chilly air while waiting to be picked up by my sister, Candy. The kids should have been physically tired but adrenaline was pumping through their veins, their faces lit with wonderment as they fathomed the reality of being half-way around the world from home.

Contrary to expectation, our journey was a smashing success. Of course I am saying this relative to what I imagined would happen. My nightmarish vision of traveling with five children involved loud, extended periods of wailing from Catalina, a lot of requests for assisted trips to the lavatory, clogged sinuses accompanied by complaints about ear pressure, an asthma attack for Catalina, possible vomiting, and losing one of our kids to curious wanderings.

There was some vomit at the Hong Kong airport when Catalina had a bout of coughing, and Titus did spill apple juice on Edan and orange juice on Elijah during the flight to the U.S. (I had to launder Catalina’s jacket in the restroom.) Otherwise, we managed just fine.

I am thankful that Catalina is still breastfed. Everytime she fussed I offered to nurse her and she would comply. This made the 12 hour stretch from Hong Kong to San Francisco a lot easier. We didn’t need to give her cough syrup or an antihistamine to calm her down. (I have never had to do this with any of my kids yet. Whew. God is good.) She slept 70% of the time, too.

Edric and I also tried to keep it practical and efficient when it came to luggage. Even though we were allowed 14 suitcases and 7 carry-ons, we fit all our clothes and shoes into 5. As for hand-carry luggage, we took two — one for the kids with some toys, extra clothes, and activities in them, and another for Edric and I with our laptops and gadgets. I also brought a backpack/purse that doubled as a diaper bag.

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Catalina was shuttled around in an easily collapsible, light-weight stroller which was allowed all the way up to the gate. Everytime we disembarked the stroller was brought back to us.

To keep track of all the bodies, Edric assigned a buddy-system. The pairs were Elijah and Tiana, and Edan and Titus.

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We traveled Cathay Pacific and I was quite pleased with their service. They were proactive and concerned about our kids. It probably made a difference that we were the only family traveling with that many young children. Go homeschooling! When I was feeding Catalina, one of the attendants thoughtfully asked if I needed extra pillows to prop up my arm. Another one volunteered to take our photo. They also asked a lady who was sitting in between Edric and I to move elsewhere so our family could sit together.

There were other pluses. Cathay has yummy airplane food and that’s saying a lot because I never like airplane food. In fact most of the flights I have taken in my life involve me skipping the food parts. The other highlight was an uncrowded plane. For the kids, their favorite aspect was the touch screens in front of their seats. Those kept them preoccupied and entertained. Even Catalina was gleefully banging on one.

“This is the best plane ever!” They cried out with excitement.

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Our first order of business when we arrived was to drive through In-N-Out Burger. Candy treated us to five animal style cheeseburgers which the kids and Edric feasted on at 9 PM. Not a good idea for overcoming jetlag! Those meat patties kept everyone up until about 2 AM. Catalina struggled until 4 AM which wiped me out the next day.

But so far, I am loving this vacation. It’s exactly what I was looking forward to this Christmas. Nothing touristy. A slice of suburbia without the stress of homeschooling. The kids finished two quarters worth of work with the exception of World History, so I am totally relaxed. We left the books at home, as well as our harried pace of life. Okay got to go…I have to put my infant to sleep but more to come on this “American Dream” Vacation.

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Respond With Grace

It’s unusual for our driver not to pick up our calls. However, last night, after a dinner in Tao Yuan, Resorts World, he was unreachable. Edric and I must have phoned him 12 times. Desperate to contact him, we walked around each of the 7 parking floors, suspecting that he might have dozed off. After unsuccessful attempts at car-hunting, we returned to the mall. This must have been 45 minutes later.

Walking up and down and around the parking…

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Uncertain of what to do, we meandered around the shops for a bit, killing time in the hopes that our driver would at some point see our text messages or registered missed calls.

The next plan was to survey the parking building adjacent to the mall. Edric suggested that I find a coffee shop to sit comfortably in while he looked for our car. (I was in heels and my feet were beginning to throb.)

Thankfully, we ran into friends who offered to shuttle us all the way home if necessary. At least we had an option. Edric and I were seriously considering their offer when I made one last attempt to get in touch with our driver. Five rings and then he picked up! Wow, it felt like a miracle when he did!

“Ma’m, I am sorry I fell asleep,” He confessed with humility. I could tell he was embarrassed as he waited for instructions, probably expecting a scolding, too. I requested that he meet us right away at the mall’s entrance.

In a few minutes, he pulled up the car and we hopped in, relieved to be able to head home. While I appreciated our driver’s honest admittance about falling asleep, I knew he might receive a lecture from Edric for his inefficiency. But I praise God that Edric responded the opposite of what I expected.

I know Edric wasn’t happy that we had to wait when he already had a tiring day of meetings and two weeks of pre-Christmas season busyness. But he sought to understand our driver’s tiredness. After all, he chauffeured Edric everywhere and into the late evenings the days and nights prior. Instead of lashing out at him, Edric calmly asked, “What happened? interested to hear our driver’s side of the story. He also expressed concern about our driver’s well-being and added that it wasn’t like him to be unreliable.

Years ago Edric might have vocalized his disappointment in a harsher manner and I would have sat there embarrassed to be present during the conversation. But last night he provided me with a Christ-like example to emulate. I really appreciated this.

The bible says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church, to “sanctify her,” “cleansing her by the washing of the word,” and “presenting her in all her glory without a spot or wrinkle, that she would be holy and blameless.”(‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭25-27‬ NASB) This sounds a lot like discipleship to me — a husband being charged with the responsibility of his wife’s spiritual well-being. A very effective way for Edric to do this is to model Christlikeness to me. His spiritual maturity encourages me to be spiritually mature, too.

Lately, I am ashamed to say that I have been snappy with the kids and Edric, and easily annoyed when inconvenienced. Edric’s understanding and kindness towards our driver blessed me with a model to follow — to respond with grace and quiet strength when circumstances are stressful and disappointing, and to speak with gentleness but honesty when correcting a person’s mistake.

Proverbs 16:32 is a great passage to meditate on when it comes to self-control: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty. And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.”

We Are Brothers

When I shop for my kids, I like to get them matching outfits. It’s easier when you have to buy clothes for five kids. Plus, I think it’s adorable when they all sport the same look in a Sound of Music sort of way. It wasn’t until a friend asked, “So you still dress them alike and they don’t mind it?” that I began to wonder if it was totally corny of me to make them look uniform.

I decided to ask my kids what they thought of wearing matching clothes, and the response I got was, “It’s fun. We like being matching because we are brothers.”

“Yah, we like it! We feel sad when we are not matching.” Another one piped in. (Sometimes I can’t buy three versions of one item.)

“What if other people think it’s silly?” I probably shouldn’t have inserted this but I was curious to know their perspective.

“Why is it silly? We like it, that’s what matters. It’s a brother thing.” Elijah replied with conviction while the others concurred with him. The three of them were sitting in the back of the van wearing orange t-shirts they picked out together, smiling at me.

I don’t know how long my boys will approve of their coordinating outfits. Perhaps at some point they will gravitate towards particular styles that are varied from one another. In the meantime, they will be looking matchy-matchy. It may not be the “cool” way to dress but I am so glad my homeschooled sons don’t care. What they do care about is being associated with one another because they are brothers…they are a team…they are united…they are each other’s best friends.

Thank you to their Tita Danie for these outfits…

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Asthma?!

At 2:30 AM yesterday morning, Catalina’s labored, fast breathing, and wheezing troubled me. Concerned, I nudged Edric to verify my observations. He noticed that she was struggling but wasn’t as panicky as I was.

I’ve never had a child with asthma so I didn’t know that this was characteristic of children who have it. Since she was able to fall back to sleep, I waited until 6 am to suggest that we take her to the village clinic. (We have a 24 hour clinic in the village since there aren’t too many hospitals close by.) The nurse who attended to her suggested we consult with the general practitioner who was scheduled to arrive at 9 AM. Catalina seemed to be managing so I waited until early afternoon to see our ever reliable pediatrician, Dr. Joy Ty-Sy.

She noticed that Catalina’s diaphragm heaved in and out strenuously, and her shoulders rose and fell like she was compensating for the lack of air. So she called her doctors in the ER and had them take her vitals to get a baseline reading. Catalina was doing nearly 60 breaths per minute which is too many for a one year old. (Normal is 30 to 40 per minute.)

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After three rounds of nebulization her breathing stabilized, and her oxygen levels rose closer to 100%. She was treated as an asthma case which surprised me because neither Edric or I are asthmatic. Edric used to have eczema which can be connected to asthma but he never experienced difficulty breathing.

Her breaths normalized to a count of forty or so, and the wheezing stopped. The stethoscope revealed bibasal crackles in her lungs (probably due to phlegm from a cough she has), but since she lacked the appearance of malaise and had no fever, she was permitted to go home. We were prescribed a schedule for nebulizing with two medicines. One every four hours and the other every eight hours.

We were out of the ER after two hours with Catalina waving goodbye and insisting on leaving. “Go! Go!” She said, pointing towards the door that led to the reception area. She was back to herself. Praise God!

Whenever my kids get sick, I get my own form of spiritual asthma! My tendency is to worry and fret about their well-being. It’s only when I look to Him, thanking and praising Him in faith that I am calmed by the rest and peace he affords. The spiritual gasping stops.

God doesn’t lose a foothold of control, nor is he caught off guard by the problems that beset us. He remains sovereign and present, willing all things for his good purpose. Unless we embrace this truth it’s not easy to breathe easy as a mother.

Let God be our oxygen when we are tempted to panic. And the best way to receive his life-giving, panic-eliminating air is to maintain a disposition of dependence on Him, on our knees, praying faithfully for our children and entrusting them into his hands.

Exocus 33:14 And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”

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I Love This Chick

Edric and I locked ourselves in the bedroom this morning to share a private conversation. He sat on one end of the bed and I sat on the other. The kids attempted to knock their way in and Titus spied on us from the balcony. (He peered through the blinds, grinning mischievously. Typical Titus.) But Edric was adamant, “Mommy and Daddy have to talk,” shooing them away gently.

We needed this conversation.

Lately, our relationship felt functional and our intimacy waned. Concerned about my unresponsiveness and general indifference, Edric insisted that we identify why I was emotionally distant. He invited me to psychoanalyze myself as he propped himself against a pillow and folded his hands, looking very much like an attentive psychologist.

I mouthed out all kinds of superficial issues that skirted the deeper longings of my heart…

I feel blah. I need intellectual and spiritual feeding…

You and I have been so pragmatic with one another. We are together often but I haven’t felt connected to you…

Sometimes I feel tired of following God’s principles for marriage. Like I’m trying to imagine how I can keep on submitting as a wife and resisting the tendencies of my personality and it’s tiring to think of what the next years will be like…

I also feel like I am disappointing you as a wife and homemaker, like there’s always a detail that I miss and fail at…

Edric was silent. Unusual for my intense and talkative husband. He motioned to me to come lay on his chest. “Come here, I know what you need…” His voice trailed off.

At first I didn’t want to be vulnerable, but Edric was persistent, so I relented and inched toward him, resting my head against his arm.

It was his turn. “I want you to know how much I appreciate you, as a wife, as a mother to our kids. Lately, I have been so self-absorbed and selfish. Will you forgive me? Of all the people in the world, you are the most important to me. And I think you are feeling a lot of the things you are because I haven’t affirmed you enough. I could counteract every statement you made but all you need to know right now is that I love you so much. I don’t know what I would do without you.” He held me closer.

“Do you really mean that?” I asked, latching on to every word and hungry for more of this tender interchange.

“Of course!” He cradled part of my face and smiled. “I love this Chick!”

And just like that I felt a renewed inspiration to be Mrs. Edric Mendoza. Before this day, I evaded Mr. Mendoza, announcing excuses each time he wanted to be alone with me. I would say, “Okay but I have to take care of such and such first.”

I am pretty easy. Just give me a concentrated dose of positive words and I perk up immediately. It’s like Edan’s bean plant experience. When he noticed it languishing, with its withered leaves drooping low and sad, he transferred it to a place where it could receive a softer version of the sun. The next day he declared with pride, “Mom! My bean plant is okay now! Look at the leaves! Come see!” Sure enough, it was standing up tall.

Like the bean plant I deteriorate without encouragement from Edric. This past week, I felt like he was nitpicky and easily agitated. Admittedly, I did have my shortcomings. On Thursday, I packed him lunch so he could eat on the way to his ANC taping because he was running late, but I forgot to put cutlery in the bag. I apologized profusely when he called me befuddled by my forgetfulness. The poor guy had to find a spoon and fork at a gasoline station, which delayed him further. So yes, I will not make false claims about myself and say that I am always on top of things. But, everyday this last week, there seemed to be a failure to highlight and after a while, I retreated to activities and busyness so I could avoid interacting with Edric.

In contrast, when Edric affirmed me this morning, it was like being injected with an adrenaline shot of love. I stood tall once again!

The Bible says, “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does this church…(Ephesians 5:28-29)

Previously, the passage of Ephesians highlights that a man is to be the head of his marriage. Verses 28 and 29 expound on what it means to love his wife. I interviewed Edric so he can teach about this part (in case you wives hand this article to your husbands!)…

To nourish, he began, is enabling a wife to maximize her potential. It is placing her in an environment where she can bloom into the woman God wants her to be. This means equipping and enabling her with the tools and opportunities to develop her gifts and abilities.

In our marriage, Edric studied me well. (He still does.) He knew I gravitated towards writing and enjoyed it, so three years ago he provided the means to start a blog site. When we moved into our home, he kept prodding me to do acrylic painting again. He bought me large canvases to paint on so I could resurrect this hobby.

Edric has reiterated on many occasions that one of his responsibilities is to help me grow and mature as a person. (He actually has a spreadsheet where he indicates yearly, 5-year, and 10-year goals for each person in the family!)

The word, cherish, he expounded, is to make a wife feel convincingly loved and valued. Does my wife feel secure in my love and affections? Does she believe that her concerns are important to me? Do I treat her with kindness and patience, seeking to understand her?

Interestingly, Edric and I were at an event today where we were one of the guest speakers. At the end of our talk, we were asked, “How can a husband prioritize his wife when he is so busy?”

Here are some tips that we shared (and more)…

  • Block off date nights where you can talk heart-to-heart, address issues in your relationship, and enjoy one another.
  • Put the gadgets away when you are spending time together, especially at the dinner table.
  • Learn your wife’s language of love. Edric knows that words of affirmation matter to me. Gary Chapman names four others – time, touch, gifts, and service. A woman whose language of love is met by her husband is an inspired woman eager to fulfill her role as wife and mother!
  • Remember special events – birthdays, anniversaries, mother’s day, etc. Edric writes me long letters that I’ve kept through the years. He doesn’t always give me extravagant gifts, but his gestures are extravagant and these matter more to me.
  • Be a gentleman. More often than not, Edric opens the door for me, pulls out my chair before I sit down, makes me walk on the safe side of the road, and carries my shopping bags. I hope he does these things forever!
  • Make sacrifices that communicate concern and thoughtfulness. Early in the morning, when Catalina wakes up, Edric takes her down to our househelp so I can rest. I know other husbands who give bottles to babies and change diapers in the middle of the night so their wives don’t shoulder the burden of caring for an infant. These small acts of kindness are exclamatory statements of love.
  • Compliment your wife in public. My dad is a businessman but he also preaches the Bible. During worship services when he is giving a message, he singles out my mom if the context makes sense and declares how much he loves her and appreciates her. Edric does the same when we are with others. He will compliment me when we are with friends and family. He will say things like, “My wife is the best…My wife is amazing…” I don’t want it to seem like I’m tooting my own horn here. The point is that he finds ways to make me feel special.
  • Be generous. I don’t shop that much because I really don’t need to. I’m at home most of the time. However, when I want to get something and it is out of my budget, Edric will usually say, “Sure. I want to bless you.” (I think the key for the wife is not to be extravagant either! My sister rarely shops for clothes so her husband actually tells her to go shopping!)
  • Listen to and acknowledge your wife’s feelings. This is a challenging one. Women can be dramatic and emotional. Edric listening to my morning rant about nonsensical issues was not pleasant for him but he made me feel like I could tell him anything.
  • Say I love you everyday. I once heard a speaker say “Tell your wife you love her before someone else does!”
  • Pray for your wife. Wives need prayer! We can’t manage everything we have to without supernatural enabling by the Lord. When Edric prays for me, I feel empowered by the Holy Spirit.

It may take time for a husband to change and learn what it means to nourish and cherish his wife. But take heart. The Bible says, “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it whoever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1 NASB) A husband’s heart is not so out of reach that God cannot minister to it or direct it. Edric and I have counselled many couples and seen God transform husbands from insensitive, selfish, and unloving to the complete opposite!

“And Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” (Matthew 19:26) This passage was given right after Jesus’ disciples asked how anyone can possibly be saved. If we look to people only, change seems implausible. Therefore we must hope in Christ to do the unimaginable work in our hearts and the hearts of others!

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Assume the Best About Your Spouse

I ran over my littlest toe with a grocery cart Sunday afternoon while I was in a mad rush to prepare for a party in our home. We were hosting the yayas and drivers Christmas event for the Tan-Chi side of the family. Nearly forty people were coming over in three hours and I hadn’t prepared my part of the food contribution, finalized all the game mechanics, or finished decorating. My toe was the unfortunate causality of my flurry.

During the party, I was the game master by default. Naturally, after two hours of standing on my feet yelling out instructions, my toe swelled uncomfortably. I actually thought I might have broken it when I began to feel the pain and it turned black and blue.

Edric came down to check on the party, and I showed him my toe. He was very sympathetic and concerned, asking if I was alright. Even though I appreciated his pity, there was no time to baby my toe because I had to head to the kitchen. We had another set of guests arriving for dinner, around thirty people, and I didn’t want to take my househelp away from their party.

While Edric shared a short bible study with the yayas and drivers, I cooked a pasta dish, put a salad together, and made dip for the chips with my mom. (My sisters-in-law and my mom helped with food as well so it wasn’t like I had to do everything.)

The yayas and drivers with their families after the games…

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By 7 PM, the guests were settled in and dinner was served. The party had come to a close downstairs and our househelp could finally assist me in the dining room. My toe had been throbbing so I resorted to limping to alleviate the pain. It felt great to be able to sit down after so many hours and relax with our company. Finally, I can enjoy myself, I thought.

However, shortly after I was engaged in an interesting discussion with the women at the table, Edric asked me to serve him. This really annoyed me. Even though I didn’t manifest it, I emphasized my displeasure by hobbling more obviously. He didn’t notice because he was equally engrossed in a conversation with the men, at the other end of the table. Our table is fairly huge so he was a significant number of feet away. But still…I grumbled to myself…I told him earlier that my toe was in bad shape, and he knew I had been on my feet for a good number of hours hosting the party and getting dinner ready. How could he be insensitive like this?! If he was really mindful of me, he would serve himself.

My mom was at the “buffet” table and I made the mistake of whispering, “I’m annoyed because Edric asked me to get him something when my toe is in bad shape.” Wrong, wrong, wrong. Edric and I tell couples not to do this! It’s a good thing my mom isn’t the type to take sides just because I am her daughter. She will set me straight by offering another perspective. In fact she said, “It’s okay. He works hard all day.”

I knew that she was trying to be encouraging, but the judgemental thoughts began to percolate in my head and I felt hurt by Edric. I didn’t bring it up that evening because I was dead tired and crashed when the guests left. But last night, over an unimpressive slice of carrot cake at an unnamed coffee shop, while Edric and I killed some time before a dinner engagement, I commented, “I think if I contributed income to our family, you will be more reasonable about me serving you.”

Edric had no idea what I was talking about. He gave me a scowl that translated into the statement, “Whoa, whoa, what do you mean by that? We need to talk about this.”

I don’t know why I drew the conclusion I did but I suppose my main point was I wanted to be treated with more respect and courtesy. And as illogical a connection as I had made, I thought there might have been some merit to saying if he knew that I worked hard everyday because I had a desk job that he esteemed instead of housework, homeschooling, parenting, and hosting dinner parties, then perhaps it would increase his mindfulness of me. Perhaps he wouldn’t ask me to get up during dinner when my toe is hurting to bring him a bowl and spoon for his ice-cream!

So it was just a bowl and spoon but the timing of his request made me feel like he was totally inconsiderate of me. Of course, Edric requested that I clarify my ill-stated observation. I finally blurted out, “You asked me to serve you when you knew my toe was hurting me.”

With sincerity, Edric replied, “I’m so sorry hon, I totally forgot. I was so caught up in the conversation that I didn’t think about it when I asked you. You should have signaled me somehow or reminded me about your toe and I would have gotten the bowl myself. I hope you realize that I am not that much of jerk…that I would not knowingly ask you to serve me if you were in pain. You don’t think that about me, do you?”

My reply was, “I guess you left me no choice because I had just informed you about my toe and then you still asked me to serve you. So to me, even the forgetfulness was hurtful.”

“Okay, there’s no excuse for my forgetfulness either. Will you forgive me for that?”

This was part one of our dialogue. I’ve rephrased some of the statements but this was the gist of it. The next part continued while we were running this morning…

I began with, “So let’s just be clear…What if I was very tired because you knew that I was busy with preparations for a dinner event or activity in our home, would you still expect me to serve you? This question was posited as we ran up a hill.

His reply was, “Yes. I’ve equipped you with an army of household help and a driver so the answer is yes. It’s not like we are living in the U.S. where you and I have to do everything. Our circumstances are very different. Managing the home is your department, so you need to be on top of these things.”

“Wow, it’s like there’s no margin of error with you. Isn’t marriage also about teamwork? Like we are a team and we help one another out?” I countered.

“Give me some credit. When we were first married and didn’t have househelp I was in charge of the dishes.”

“You would leave the dishes for days in the sink.” I snickered.

“Still, I did them.” Edric said.

It’s amazing how much physical fuel you get from a marital discussion. I felt like each exchange pumped energy into my muscles to run!

“I suppose I just want to know that you will respond positively if there is an exemption. Like that night when the yayas and driver were enjoying a party? What about those instances?” I was looking for some reassurance.

“Well then tell me ahead of time so I can adjust my expectations, because in my mind, this is your department. So you need to manage parties we host in our home. But yes, I will rescue you.”

“I’m not sure I believe you.” I was skeptical.

“Well if you are going to think that way, we aren’t going to make any progress.” He began to sound annoyed. (I was being kind of annoying.)

“How come it seems like your tone is antagonistic?” This was unnecessary but I’m allergic to harsh decibel levels. We were now headed back home.

“So I have to say this in a sweeter tone for your to believe me?”

I was quiet. My thought was, YES.

In a sweeter manner Edric announced, “I-WILL-RESCUE-YOU.”

We smile at each other and he raced me home. He beat me.

At home, the third part of our dialogue ensued while working out our abdominals on the floor.

He was lying on his gray yoga mat and I was sprawled out on my purple one when he proposed, “We have to practice what we preach. What do we teach other couples about roles?”

“Do your part.” I must confess that I said this without too much enthusiasm!

“That’s right. So don’t worry about my responses. You do your part. I will worry about my role.”

I’m going to cut the story here because I’ve covered the most essential parts of it. My preconceived notion was HE KNEW about my toe. His honest confession was HE FORGOT. My interpretation of his forgetfulness was HE WASN’T MINDFUL OF ME. His sincere explanation was HE WAS DISTRACTED. My argument was WHAT IF I AM REALLY TIRED will you be reasonable about your expectations for service? His response was, generally, NO BECAUSE WE’VE DELINEATED ROLES AND I’VE EQUIPPED YOU WITH THE PERSONNEL TO HANDLE THE DIFFICULT WORK SO YOU CAN FOCUS ON ME. However, he did add that if I really needed him to be flexible, of course HE WOULD UNDERSTAND AND RESCUE ME, especially if I managed his expectations by communicating my need before hand.

So that was the end of the tale of my injured toe and the ice cream bowl and spoon, and here is what I learned/re-learned about marriage:

My initial inability to receive Edric’s confessions as true – that he had simply forgotten about my toe and he was distracted — told me that I had pent-up notions about Edric that assumed the worst rather than the best of him. I had judged him without hearing his perspective. Overnight, I cooked up some pretty destructive emotions.

Yes, Edric can have a bad memory. Yes, he can be insensitive. However, I’m accountable to the Lord for the thoughts I entertain. Edric’s uncommendable behavior (which isn’t frequent by God’s grace!) cannot be an excuse for me to harbor resentment towards him, leading me to forgo my desire to serve him and meet his needs as a wife. In the future I must be careful of poisonous presuppositions that begin with, “If Edric loves me he won’t…If he loves me he will…”

Edric loves me. Period. There’s no need to fill in the blanks.

Is it always a perfect love? Certainly not. I can’t promise him a perfect love either. But in marriage, he and I must begin with the assumption that we love one another and we mean well. To assume the best and not the worst is to hope in the heart transforming work that God is doing in Edric’s life and in mine. Christ is causing us to love one another the way we should.

Furthermore, I would like Edric to believe that when I make a mistake as a wife and he is the unpremeditated victim, I don’t will-fully want to injure his heart. Similarly, Edric would like to believe that when he messes up as a husband and I get hurt in the process, it’s not because he wants to be unloving towards me. It’s when he or I formulate judgmental conclusions based on appearances that we develop hostile feelings which eclipse our love and trust for one another.

“Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:24

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned.” Luke 6:37

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What if a spouse makes wounding choices consistently? Wouldn’t it be logical to assume that this spouse doesn’t love her husband or his wife? Might I propose a different perspective? When a spouse thinks, acts, or speaks in habitually hurtful ways it’s not because they don’t love their husband or wife. It’s because they haven’t experienced the love of Christ, nor do they love him in return. Love’s starting point is not Christ but the self. A love whose source is the self will miss the mark — the higher standard of Christ-like love.
A husband and wife must therefore strive to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength first (Matthew 22:37), after which they can love their neighbor (Matthew 6:38), also known as one another!

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The Braces Marriage Lesson

It must have been about 10 years ago when I mentioned to Edric that I would like to get braces. At the time, our expenses were diverted to other concerns so we didn’t have a lot of flexibility. He did say that I could have them eventually but there was no specific time frame.

Admittedly, my teeth weren’t in bad shape. There was slight crowding which Edric thought wasn’t a big deal. However, every year, when I would run my tongue across my front upper teeth, I noticed that the ridges in between my teeth were beginning to feel more pronounced. I really believed that it was best to get braces put on in my twenties. However, since Edric assessed my case as a non-priority, everytime I asked him, “Can I get braces?” he would tell me to wait.

This bothered me. I didn’t feel like I was asking for much. I wasn’t the type of wife who expected designer jewelry, bags, watches or shoes from her husband. In fact, my perspective on the braces request was, “I’m not a high maintenance wife. I just want to fix my teeth.” Even though I didn’t verbalize this, I began to develop a sense of entitlement about getting braces. In fact, I kept a corner of resentment in my heart for a number of years.

As God began to bless us more financially, I thought Edric would accede to my desire. Yet he remained convinced that I entertained phantom issues about my teeth. Eventually, I surrendered the wish to the Lord. I was convicted to trust that if God really wanted me to get them, he would soften Edric’s heart towards the idea. So I parked the braces issue and moved on. Afterall, imperfect teeth didn’t debilitate me. I could live and function just fine without them. It was spiritually healthier for my ego, too, not to make the pursuit of physical beauty my source of joy or happiness.

Fast forward to 2014. I was probably too old to get braces, but one day I was at Dr. Marla Valenzuela’s clinic for a prophylaxis, when she broached the idea of Fast Braces. As the official distributor of Fast Braces in the Philippines, she was offering a significant discount for them. Through the years of taking such wonderful care of our family’s teeth, Dr. Marla knew I had wanted braces for a good long while. She presented me with a flyer from her office.

Without insisting, I asked Edric again if it was alright for me to get braces. This time he said, “Sure.”

What?! Sure?! I was thrilled! Furthermore, my brother and my two sisters-in-law were going to get Fast Braces, too! It became a family affair.

Last April, Dr. Marla cemented the initial four brackets on my incisors. Three weeks later, all brackets were completed on my upper teeth. After an interval of three more weeks, the lower braces were done, too. They were painful but not unbearably so. Usually the pain would subside after the first week of adjustments. Plus, I needed to lose post-pregnancy weight anyway. For those who know what bracket adjustment discomfort is like, eating isn’t too exciting.

Results were immediate. Every week, I saw an improvement in the spacing of my teeth. The physics of Fast Braces allow them to move teeth optimally without compromising the roots. According to Fast Braces’ website, it is a “patented bracket design that is triangular in shape so that the crown and the root of the teeth can move at the same time. This gives patients the results with less sensitivity, in about a year, and in some cases, just 3 months.”

Furthermore, Fast Braces don’t require extractions so teeth aren’t forced to deviate far from their original positions. I do have to say that the results may be different than conventional braces in the sense that conventional braces fit every tooth beside each other so they are flush. I’m not an expert but this is probably due to the space extractions afford. To learn more, Fast Braces’ site gives comparative results and findings between conventional braces and their own: http://www.fastbraces.com/how-it-works/research-technology

I’m very happy with the results of my teeth. At the end of the day, I was comfortable with Fast Braces because I trusted my dentist. Furthermore, since Fast Braces is new in the Philippines, there is strict accountability. Dr. Marla was in continual contact with Fast Braces in the U.S. to update them on my progress and get feedback. Every check-up I had with her, she took photos and emailed them to the U.S. so she could consult with the dentists there. I also had to get pre and post panoramic x-rays to verify that my roots were just fine.

This experience was a 10-year-in-the-making-lesson for me as a wife. Had I forced Edric to afford braces for me earlier on, I would have worn traditional ones for at least a year and a half. Maybe even 2 years. Plus, it wouldn’t have been as easy for us to pay for them. Since I surrendered my yearning to get my teeth fixed to the Lord, he worked it out so that ten years later…

  1. Edric gave me the go signal without feeling hostage to my demands.
  2. I got a significant discount on my braces.
  3. I wore my braces for just 6 months!
  4. The retainer I was given was super cool. It’s a clear mold that fits my teeth! No awkward wire!

I am wearing my retainer in this photo…

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I must admit that there are times when I don’t like Edric’s decisions. When he denied me braces years ago, I wasn’t happy at all. But I’ve learned too many times in life that God speaks through Edric. This braces story was yet another reminder to wait on God. Sometimes I am tempted to coerce Edric or force him to give into what I want, when I want it. But God’s timing is always better and he uses Edric to guide me to the right person, place, and circumstance for my greater good. When I have issues with obeying and following Edric, it’s not because Edric is the problem, it’s because I don’t trust God. I don’t want to embrace God’s will for me as a wife, which is to listen to Edric. So it’s worthwhile to meditate on passages like Jeremiah 17:7. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord.” If I want to be blessed, I need to honor God’s principles, and honoring God’s principles as a married woman translates to obeying and following Edric.

Now that my braces are off, we are celebrating together! Edric is very glad to have the metal out of my teeth!

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It’s Your Mess: Deal with It Darling

By the end of our homeschooling morning, our “classroom” usually looks like someone threw a grenade into it. I’ve tried to manage the mess by cleaning up as we go along, but there’s no better way to keep this room straight than to have the kids take responsibility for it.

Today they wanted to dye eggs as an art activity, but I told them, “If you want to do art, you have to clean up the room.” So they pulled out a broom from the hallway closet, picked up markers and colored pencils, and wiped the paint off the floor.

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My kids can get presumptuous about our househelp cleaning up after them so I have to remind them to straighten their own rooms, organize their toys, and mop their spills. They aren’t always motivated but a helpful trick is to tell them they can’t move on to the next activity until they straighten up their clutter.

Yesterday, they wanted to watch the Muppets movie. They were all plopped in front of the television enjoying themselves when I went upstairs to check on their rooms. Titus and Tiana had pulled out blankets and re-arranged furniture. They also had stuffed animals thrown around. Elijah and Edan had played with Citiblocks and constructed “trees”.

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I went back down, turned off the television and told them that their rooms had to be spotless if they wanted to continue watching the movie. They complied and got to work. After ten minutes, Elijah and Edan bounded back down the stairs. Titus and Tiana struggled to restore the girls’ room to what it looked like before they messed it up. I told them they were responsible for the disorder and had to fix it.

Elijah, Edan, and I finished the movie but Titus and Tiana never came down. I went looking for them, wondering what ever became of their commitment to put their mess away. And I found them lying on the couch in the study room, ASLEEP! They must have gotten tired trying to figure out what to do.

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Well, they resumed their clean up duties and got the job done after they woke up.

I want my kids to understand that they are responsible for their things. It’s easy to make a mess. In fact, it’s pretty fun to do so. But if my kids get into the habit of letting others inherit their mess, it’s going to have a negative effect on their character. They have to learn faithfulness in the small areas, like putting away toys or wiping up spills, so it will carry over to bigger areas in the future. If they “mess” up relationships, or make wrong decisions, they need to own up to the consequences and do what is honorable – deal with the mess and do their best to fix what they can.