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 ‭

Anya Resort

We spent the last two days at Anya Resort in Tagaytay. It was our first time to visit this place as a family thanks to our friends, Lou and Thea, whose wedding Edric had the privilege of officiating. They got us two Veranda Villa Suites to accommodate our family. (Thanks guys!)

What a beautiful resort! I just had to post photos and do this review because the kids thoroughly enjoyed our stay, and Edric and I were pleasantly surprised by our experience. 

Suites were very spacious with extraordinarily large bathrooms. I love big bathrooms! 

They also had a kitchenette area (but no stove). A generously sized living room area gives kids ample space to romp around.

The kids hung out in the living room before their swim…

There were nice decorative touches in the bedrooms. Edric noticed details like the Bticino switches, Samsung flat screen tvs, Koehler and Grohe bathroom fixtures, and Mitsubishi ACs. His comment, “Wow, they didn’t scrimp.” 


Each Viranda Village Suite has a balcony area as well. Although this place doesn’t have a view of the Taal Lake, it is a cozy and classy oasis of a resort, and it’s great for families. 

Service was quick, and staff were very attentive as well. They proactively asked if we were comfortable and needed anything. Upon arrival, a security guard greeted us with a big smile and said, “Welcome Home!”
The personalized touch is one of the reasons why I often prefer the smaller resorts to big hotel chains. They make you special and prioritized. Plus there’s the element of privacy which Edric and I appreciate. 


There were several areas to eat meals, but I didn’t get the chance to photograph these. The only meal we ate was the breakfast buffet. Yummy! 

Of course, Edric and I found time to check out their gym. It’s not a big gym, but it’s got a great selection of key equipment, like the kinesis one that Edric is using, which uses resistance cables that you can adjust to do a total workout. I used the weights and mat for floor exercises. 


One of my favorite places (as well as the kids’) was the library. Floor to ceiling shelves were lined with curated books arranged by color… always a good idea. We enjoyed lounging around. The kids checked out the books, played chess, colored, drew, and Edric busied himself with homework for his education course. 


Tastefully lit up at night…

We were sad to say goodbye but we hope to be back! 

Here’s my rating for the different aspects that matter to our family. I am going to start doing this since we do a fair amount of traveling:

Amenities (Considers kids’ interests and safety, well-maintained, encourages family time, has a nice pool, gym) – 4/5

Food (taste, priced well for families) – 4.5/5

Service (attentiveness and responsiveness) – 5/5

Accommodations (comfort, cleanliness, spaciousness, privacy, tastefully decorated) – 4.5/5

Price (family-friendly) – 4.5/5

Overall feel (I can’t explain this. It’s just that something special that makes you like a place) – 5/5

For more details, check out their site, Anya Resort

Mossimo Kids End of Season Sale 

Don’t miss this chance to get amazing deals on Mossimo Kids’ End of Season Sale which starts today, October 27! 

The themes revolve around superheroes for the boys. 


For the girls it’s all about adorable patches. Catalina especially liked the black dress with patches. She picked it out herself! 


Of course this was her “feeling rockstar walk” wearing her Mossimo shirt with stars on it and her shorts with patches…



I also got the black sweater above for my girls. They wanted to be matching. It’s lightweight and easy to throw into my mom purse when we travel or watch a movie.

While you are at the sale, you might want to check out their new collection #MossimoXPeanuts before it sells out! 


My kids regularly wear Mossimo clothing. The boys especially like their shirts which go through the wash many times over but still retain their vibrant colors, and they don’t get all stretched out. 


Mossimo Kid’s branches are located at…

Festival Mall Alabang

SM North Edsa

Glorietta 3

SM San LAzaro

SM Batangas

SM Lipa

SM Fairview

SM Marilao

SM Pampanga

SM Clark 

Limketkai CAgayan


It’s Not About the Status

Our church, spearheaded by my friend, Riva, challenged married couples to mentor singles through an intimate gathering called Truetorials. These are randomly scheduled, informal meetings where singles can connect with couples to ask them questions about life, love, work, and pretty much anything that a couple host is willing to answer. 

We had one such event at our place this past weekend, where we had the privilege of getting to know 20 somethings and 30 somethings, men and women (mostly women), who were curious to know about things like…

“Does the guy have to be a spiritual leader before I commit to him in a relationship?” 

“How do I tell a girl that I am interested in her and when should I tell her?

“What if the guy I like has a different perspective on certain convictions that are important to me?”

“What if it’s hard for me to be friendly to guys?”



As Edric and I listened to them, I realized how complicated being single can be at times because of societal pressures and expectations. There’s so much emphasis on the importance of being with someone, in a relationship, or headed towards marriage, that the amazing state of singleness and the options available to someone who is “free” are overshadowed by the idea that marriage is somehow a better status to be in. 

So let me tell you, from the vantage point of a married woman that if you are single, you have God-given liberties and opportunities that I cannot have. And in this sense you are better off to maximize your time, talents, and treasures for the Lord. I am tied down. Being a wife and mother necessitate that I consider, at all times, my husband and children’s needs. I cannot, for example, go to China on a mission trip for an indefinite period of time, something I once thought I ought to do. Who will attend to my husband and kids if I go? I cannot up and leave with girlfriends to go on a spontaneous beach trip, either. 

Similarly, I can’t invest as much time in relationships with people because this will sacrifice the time I have with my family. So there is often a ceiling to what I can offer and give to others as a married person because I need to focus on building relationships with my husband and children. 

“…The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭7:34‬ 

The kinds of friendships I have with others always have to factor in how I am bound to my husband exclusively. As a single woman, I had many guys friends, and I could enjoy these friendships. I hung out with male buddies on a regular basis and that was perfectly fine. Having guy friends was a super fun part about being single. Since I am now a wife, I have to set boundaries in my dealings with guy friends, and some of these friendships I have let go off, too. 

My pursuits are largely impacted by my roles as wife and mom. Instead of focusing on how I can make an impact outside of the home, I have to filter through what I will spend energy and effort developing in myself to better fulfill my roles. Will these contribute to my becoming a better wife and mom? 

In the past I was part of the music ministry. I actually sang with the prompters on stage many many years ago. As much as I enjoyed the fellowship with the team and band, as well as learning from expert musicians, I had to stop because of my priorities. 

Being a wife also means I am under my husband’s authority. I praise God that Edric is a wonderful husband who loves the Lord. Nevertheless, what he asks me to do, I am compelled to obey to honor his headship over me (even when I don’t like to.) It’s not easy to choose to obey Edric but I entered into marriage knowing that this was going to be the dynamic of our role. I can express myself and give my opinion, but at the end of the day, if we disagree on a matter, I can’t stage a coup to rebel against him. God tells me to obey and submit myself to his leadership. 

Finally, I am in this marriage for better or for worse. There is no exit. Edric and I are bound together for life. “For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.” (Romans‬ ‭7:2) I can’t just ‬leave him even when our differences seem irreconcilable. There must be a constant effort on both our parts to improve ourselves and make the marriage work. I praise God that Edric and I know Him so there is always a sense of hopefulness when we don’t like each other very much. But for those who are in very difficult and painful marriages, there is a sense of feeling trapped and suffocated.  

‭I am not trying to discourage people from wanting to be married because it is, when lived out biblically, an amazing thing. However I think our culture and society have elevated it to a point of making those who aren’t married feel that they are somehow incomplete or inferior in status. For example, if a person is single for a long time or not dating then the usual assumption is something must be wrong. At the same time, there is the other extreme which says, “I don’t need to get married because it’s so overrated and I want my independence.” 

Both of these make status the focus rather than giving preeminence to Christ and our relationship with Him. If you and I wholeheartedly seek after Christ and understand how loved and complete we are in him, both marriage and being single are equally beautiful states to be in, and both are right for us. Neither trumps the other. There is no need to compare or want what the other has (singles, the married life, and marrieds, the freedoms of single life). 

Let’s want the life we have right now! 

In Christ, the curse of sin which makes us a slave to wrong perspectives, desires, and behaviors has been broken! “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John‬ ‭8:36‬) We are free to enjoy the states we are in, single or married! God wants us to experience fullness of life just as he declared, “I came that you may have life to the full, a satisfying life!” (John 10:10 paraphrased)

I think we all need to do heart checks and ask ourselves, “If I feel unhappy and wanting now, why is this so? Is it my state in life as a married or single person dictating my happiness and feeling of wholeness, or is it my relationship with the Lord defining these for me?” It’s not about the status of being single or married. It’s about the direction my heart is pointing to. If it’s pointing in the right direction, seeking after Christ, then I will embrace the divine purpose of my status. 

—-

If you are interested in connecting with other singles, check out www.discovernewcircles.com for all kinds of events and activities that give you the opportunity to enjoy and maximize this season of your life. 

Tell Your Story

When my parents asked me to divulge how I was sexually assaulted as a fifteen year old, I felt very embarrassed. It was hard enough to say the word “rape” to them, how much more uncomfortable it was to reveal the details of each incident with the men who violated me. However, my parents insisted on excavating every memory so that I didn’t have to wrestle with the repulsive images alone.

Trusting their judgment, I expressed to them everything I could remember. Till this day I cringe at the various ways in which I was defiled. I know it pained my parents more than it probably pained me physically to hear about every act perpetrated against me. Yet looking back, it was a necessary part of my healing to be able to expose these deeds. They were no longer my sole burden to carry.

                Me as a fifteen year old

It was a blessing to have parents who were spiritually equipped to deal with the realities of what happened to me. I understand that not everyone can trust another person with this level of vulnerability. However, there are family and friends out there who will genuinely listen, counsel, and support victims of tragedy.

Furthermore, there are instances when seeking protection is an urgent need. If a victim is subjected to repeated abuse he or she is living in proximity to his or her perpetrator, then I suggest going to a church organization, a shelter, contacting Bantay Bata, the Department of Social Welfare and Development or the local police so the victim can be physically removed from the situation.

While I recommend that children go to parents as a first resort, there are cases when parents are not in the condition to offer protection. I counseled a woman who told her mother about her father’s sexual abuse only to be met with hostility. The mother could not accept the truth and this caused her to resent her own daughter. In turn, the daughter felt abandoned by the very person she thought she could trust.

If a victim senses that his or her parents don’t have the emotional, physical, or spiritual capacity to help him or her get out of their predicament then it may be wise to also tell someone who actually can. However, I would still advice children who live at home to consider turning to their parents or relatives first. In many instances, parents and relatives can and will come to the rescue. At the very least, they can refer a victim to an institution, organization, or person who can offer practical assistance.

Many churches also have counseling services that victims can avail of. Our church, Christ’s Commission Fellowship (CCF), has many counselors who make themselves available for free on Sundays to anyone who needs counseling. They willingly meet with counselees over coffee and cookies and help them get plugged into small groups where they will continue to receive spiritual and emotional support.

In CCF, we call this a D-group system, where people meet together on a weekly basis to encourage one another, keep each other accountable, and study God’s Word together. These groups become like families to people who are hurting and looking for meaningful relationships with others, or those who simply want to grow in their faith. Furthermore, they provide a safe context for people to open up and receive sound advice from others who sincerely care about them.

On the one hand, we can share our story in order to seek counsel and advice, but there is a more profound reason to share our stories. We have the unique opportunity to give God the glory and reconcile the broken to Himself.

When the disciples asked Jesus as they passed by a blind man from birth, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?”, Jesus insightfully replied, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:2-3) In other words, God intended for this blind man’s life story to point people to Him, just as He purposes for our life stories to draw people to Himself.

When my book got published I didn’t anticipate the impact it would have on people who came across it. I’ve received countless messages from readers through Facebook, Instagram, my website, email, and even handwritten notes, from all over the world, that spoke of how this book blessed their lives. The receptiveness of people has been overwhelming and encouraging. As a result, my healing continues to this day as I see the good that God promised to me in Romans 8:28, extending far beyond my own life as He allows me the privilege of ministering to others.

Truthfully, when I was younger, I had fears about being open, namely being judged and swimming in a fishbowl while people scrutinized and curiously observed me. (This may not be the case for every person who experiences rape or abuse, but this was my personal struggle.) I did not want to convey need or to invite pity. I also wanted to spare people from having to grieve or fret over me, especially in the first few years after the rape. Many times I tried to be strong in order to protect the people I loved from feeling my pain. However, I learned that it was okay to be vulnerable. Vulnerability ushered in the blessings of prayers and words of comfort from family, friends, and church communities, something that my family and I desperately needed to get through that trying season.

Honesty is not weakness. Jesus wept when Lazarus died. He made his feelings manifest. King David wrote the Psalms with candidness. He purposefully broadcasted his feelings to the Lord. “But I am afflicted and in pain; may your salvation, O God, set me securely on high.” (Psalm 69:29)

I had to learn to acknowledge my pain, to embrace it, and grow through it. It wasn’t a sin to struggle with confusion, loss, or to ache deep inside and be vocal about it. The question was, how would I respond? My initial methods for coping with the memories and feelings were to write, paint, and listen to music. Eventually, I learned to be purposeful about sharing my testimony to others, and to ask myself, “How can this story bless others?”

The receptiveness of people to our life stories is often dependent on our motivations for why we share what we do. Whether it is before a large gathering of persons or a handful, if our purpose is to bring attention to ourselves, to slander those who have hurt us, to recruit allies to defend our perspective, or to use others for personal gain, then we will be disappointed by the responses of people.

Just a few years after I was raped, I opened up to a guy I had a crush on, hoping that my honesty would inspire him to cherish me and protect me. It was an attempt to heal myself, perhaps to replace what was taken away, or to feel valued. Yet, the plan backfired because the guy began to withdraw from me. In fact, he insinuated that I should avoid telling people what happened to me. He wasn’t a follower of Christ and he didn’t know how to process the narrative. From then on I realized that my reasons for sharing my story had to be for God’s purposes and not my own.

I didn’t own my story. It wasn’t something to be put on public display self-servingly. God allowed the tragic occurrence to point people to Him. Answering the question of intent clarified my place and purpose in the story – to be a messenger. Therefore, my three-fold message became simple and clear.

First, God is good, loving, and sovereign. Unfortunate and tragic circumstances don’t alter His character. Second, everyone is sinful and falls short of His glory. Therefore forgiveness is possible because all of us have received His forgiveness. Finally, our stories are meant to bring honor to the Lord, to bless and impact others positively, for the cause of the Gospel.

Once I recognized that I was elected to proclaim God’s goodness and faithfulness I shared my story whenever He prodded me to. I carefully evaluated when the circumstances were appropriate to bring my past to light, and conferred with my husband to get his approval before doing so. As my spiritual authority, I trusted that God would speak through him.

Whether in the thousands, a few persons, or even one-on-one, I’ve used this story to connect with others with the intent of introducing them to Christ or passing on to them a biblical perspective on tragedy. Emotionally painful as it is for me to relive the experience by telling it over and over again, I focus on how it will benefit someone else who is hurting, someone who needs encouragement.  It is 2 Corinthians 1:3-6 that comes to mind: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for our comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort…”

Ironically I hoped that this book would spare me from having to give my testimony in public, but where God has opened more doors to declare the gospel, I’ve submitted to His leading. Like I said, this story belongs to Him.

In the first part of 2017 I was at a gathering for families in Nairobi, Kenya, where I spoke about the rape as a culmination to my father’s message on leaving a legacy. He spoke on why it’s important to teach our children who God is. Edric and I were with my parents on this trip, and he was all for me giving my testimony to illustrate my dad’s points on anchoring children with truth.

So many Kenyan women suffer from sexual abuse and many families are broken because of sexual sin. Therefore, the choices that I made to trust God, forgive, and use my story to bring glory to the Lord resonated with the audience. It was a beautiful opportunity to speak to the hearts of the men and women who were gathered at this event. Many people came up to me afterwards to thank me or to tell me how God spoke to them through my story. What a privilege it was for me!

It doesn’t matter what culture we hail from or what race we are when it comes to suffering. Brokenness is an equalizer. All people have a collective understanding of pain. It has visited and will visit all of us, which is why each of our stories can be a powerful tool for the gospel if we are willing to see what happened to us with spiritual lenses and ask the Lord how we can use it for His purposes.

I can tell you first hand that the benefits of sharing the experience with others made a tremendous difference in my healing journey. God did not design us to shoulder our burdens alone. Instead He put us in community with others so we can emotionally and spiritually walk along side each other. Furthermore, there is something about bringing dark things into the light. When we expose the devices of the devil to destroy God’s people, his plans loose their power.

It was pretty obvious that Satan acted with the intent to destroy the work of God in the budding ministry of our church, of which my father was the founding pastor. He aimed to discourage my parents from following Christ. However, the evil one did not succeed because of the supernatural grace of God that my family and I received through the prayers, support, and presence of people whom He sent our way. Had we chosen the route of secrecy, refusing to talk about what happened, I believe we would have missed out on His grace.

Therefore my encouragement to the hurting who are reading this is not to hide. That’s exactly what the evil one wants you to do, to deal with your loss and your pain alone. He wants you to believe that no one will understand, no one will accept you, listen to you, or benefit from what you have been through or what you are going through. However, you need to believe there is at least one person out there who loves God, who is strongly anchored in Him who can be a comforter to you. Pray that you find that person and seek them out. On the flipside, there is at least one person out there who will be blessed by your courage to speak up, who will resonate with your story and identify with what you went through. One day, as God brings healing to your life, you will “Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion; (and) declare among the people His deeds.” (Psalm 9:11)

To the Greater Things

Five years ago, Edric guested on Tina Palma’s show, “Talk Back with Tina Palma”, where he answered questions about home education. After the show, he was asked by ANC if he ever considered being on television. Surprised, he quipped, “Maybe in a former life.”

However, the executives of the network were serious about recruiting him to host a personal finance show they were cooking up, called “On the Money”. When they mentioned the concept, Edric laughed and acknowledged that this wasn’t his professional background. Although he felt very unqualified, they actually weren’t looking for an expert in finance. They needed someone who would be able to engage guests on the show, someone who could simplify financial literacy for Filipinos.

Realizing this offer was a serious one, Edric and I prayed for God’s leading on the matter. This wasn’t a career path that had been on his radar at all. His main preoccupation was leading the homeschool organization, The Master’s Academy (now called Homeschool Global). As a businessman, he could set aside time to do the TV show, but he had to know if it was from the Lord or just a distraction from his priorities. 

After seeking counsel from several men who mentor him, as well as those outside of our church, who could offer their objective opinions, the answer was a yes. Finally, we prayed that the show would be pre-taped since traveling all the way to ABS-CBN every day would be impractical. Edric’s main focus was still running the homeschool program. In a matter of days Edric was informed that the show was going to be pre-taped! Hoorah! 

Just like that, Edric became the lead anchor of ANC’s On the Money show, which aired daily for the first four years that he was a part of it. At the beginning, he was terrified, knowing very little about the industry, the guests, and the environment of a studio. However, I’m proud to say that he adapted quickly on the job. God helped him to adjust to the culture of ANC, where he developed great friendships with the people he worked with. He also enriched his learning by acquiring an RFP (registered financial planner) certification. 

Although anchoring the show was a job, he often said it felt like an amazing education. He got to interview bank presidents, various finance and insurance executives, the stock exchange president, a number of Commissioners (like BIR, Customs, Insurance Commission, and SEC), tycoons, Ambassadors, fashionistas, Miss Universe winners, pop stars, former President Fidel Ramos (one of his favorites!), and countless others. He would often tell me, “If only I had learned all of this when I was younger! I could’ve have made wiser financial decisions!”

Of course, there were a lot of fun perks for him as a TV personality, too. People would ask him to speak on personal finance for companies and organizations around the country and in various parts of the world. He was paid to do endorsements (although ANC had to approve them first because they had strict rules for their talents.) Clothing brands sponsored his outfits, some of which were so expensive I can’t even discolose their amounts for prudence’s sake! 

What I appreciated observing in him during this journey was that he stayed the same in character. He was still the simple, down-to-earth guy I married. In many ways, he even became an improved version of himself. The show trained him to be a better listener and communicator, how to ask the right questions to draw out a person and make them comfortable. 

Beyond this, Edric grew in God-confidence since he had to deal with all kinds of people, from all walks of life. He depended on the Lord for wisdom and enabling in order to overcome his insecurities and lack of tenure as a tv anchor.

Throughout the years, I praise God that he stayed spiritually grounded, too. Even though he became the busiest he had ever been, he remained present as a husband and father. There were seasons when all of his commitments to different organizations, the business, as well as the show would converge in an overwhelming way, but God provided the grace to get through these. I always felt like he re-ordered and re-calibrated when necessary to avoid neglecting his relationship with the Lord, the kids, and me. 


We did have to deal with flirty fans every now and then, especially when he won awards like “cutest news anchor” by Spot.ph! However, I praise God that Edric and I talked openly about setting boundaries. He took Elijah, our oldest son, with him on trips when he was invited to speak out of town so he wasn’t alone. (This also became a homeschool opportunity as Elijah learned about investing early on and started to speak alongside his dad when he was nine yrs old.) 

As much as possible, he avoided selfies with attractive women who requested photos with him. He would pull in other people or grab Elijah to be in the photo with him. Of course, he couldn’t do this all the time, but he was careful about the way he related to women fans. He told me he had to be. He was vulnerable just like any other guy and needed to be intentional about protecting himself. (Of course I had to do my part, too, as a wife to meet his needs! But more on this in another post.)

Someone once asked me, “How do you deal with Edric being on tv?” I had never been asked that before, but I was glad to answer the question. “He’s the same guy,” I said with a smile.  


If, at the core, you know who you are in the Lord, circumstances shouldn’t alter you in a negative way. But if you are seeking for importance through what you do then the tendency is to compromise. It’s only by God’s grace that Edric’s core person didn’t grow ugly when he became a public figure. Did he struggle with pride issues and was he tempted to get his sense of self worth from being on tv? From time to time he did, which is why I said it was only by God’s grace that he survived with his spiritual person intact! 

The juggling act of wearing many hats had its stresses but Edric managed to do everything with a supernatural energy that came from the Lord. Yet, on year five of the show, he began to deal with some major crises in the homeschooling movement and on the personal front. The Department of Education grew difficult about policies and permits, and he had to make appeals, meet with them, and work with them to protect homeschoolers’ right to home educate their kids. 

Not many people may have known how stressful a time this was for him as he balanced the demands of the business and an impending merger, anchored for the tv show, preached, led our couples’ group, gave talks around the Philippines and even abroad, and attempted to write a book (besides being a husband and father). With all of this going on, Edric actually disappointed a number of people. He had people verbally mudslinging the Homeschool program he was leading for certain changes he made. He was personally criticized many times, too. Even some of his closest friends were frustrated with him for being too busy for them. 

Thankfully, the kids and I were fine! We still got to spend loads of time with him, but I knew he was weary and discouraged. He tried to repair relationships and correct the wrongs that were brought to his attention. Yet he was doing too much to be on top of everything in the excellent way he aimed to be. He did tell me several times how lonely it often felt being at the helm of things, too. We processed this all together and I encouraged him that he needn’t be overwhelmed by what was beyond his reach. For as long as he was walking with the Lord, obeying Him, and doing his best to serve others, as well as humbling himself when he made mistakes, then he was doing what mattered. 

In the midst of this trying time, Edric wondered if he had to cut back and focus. (Between Edric and I, he’s the one with the capacity to do many things. I can’t do what he does and it’s always been one of his impressive traits to have such boundless energy.)  Feeling the strain of juggling too much, he asked the executives of ANC if he could take a six-month leave, which they very kindly agreed to. This allowed him to channel his energies towards the demands of the homeschooling movement.  

Here is a point I must bring up about ABS-CBN’s news channel. Edric spoke very highly of ANC and had great respect for the people he worked with. From his co-host, Salve Duplito, to Executive Producer, Patrick Pascual, and Segment Producers, Aiza Lumbuan and Julian Cirineo, as well as News Head, Ging Reyes, and COO of ANC, Cilette Liboro-Co, Edric held them all in high regard. He was blessed to be part of a super team that cared for each other and were very understanding about what was important to him. What he valued, they also valued, such as family and relationships, and they were as flexible as they could be when these priorities were compromised. 

By January of 2017, the homeschooling movement regained its momentum as issues were solved. As committed, Edric was back on the show. Thankfully, God resolved a lot of the problems and issues (some still remain), but the major ones like working with the DepEd and business merger concerns were sorted. Once DepEd had a clearer grasp of home education, they were very accommodating and eager to find ways to help homeschoolers. 

Despite the positive turn of events, Edric never felt at peace when he went back to his regular tapings for On the Money. He enjoyed anchoring a lot, but he felt like it was no longer aligned with where God was leading him. He felt strongly called to zone in on the needs of the homeschooling program, and found that having to do his tapings and prepare for them side-tracked him from giving his best. He couldn’t do his best on the show, and likewise couldn’t give his best to the homeschooling movement. For a while, he vacillated and struggled, repeatedly asking for prayers and wisdom from mentors, family, friends, and me. 

It wasn’t a choice between a bad thing and a good thing. That would have been easy and obvious. Instead, he needed to know with certainty that God wanted him out of something good like TV anchoring and all-in with something also good like homeschooling…two good things, but what was the greater priority in this season? 

It took several months to arrive at the point where he finally decided to speak to the network heads to end his time at ANC. The journey to this moment was a hard one. Edric agonized over the pros and cons, what he would be giving up — the relationships, the extra income, the influence, and what he would have to face — the unknowns and the fears. 

A part of him admitted that he would also miss hearing viewers say, “Hey, I watch your show. Great job!”  

In fact, he shared in recent speaking engagements that he was beginning to derive a sense of self-worth and confidence from being a public figure and the respect that came with that. Subtle as it may have been, the recognition appealed to his desire, as a man, for significance. Since this struggle was real, it gave him added reason to consider leaving the show. He told me, “I need to find my identity solely in Christ.” 

From a worldly standpoint, where fame, fortune, and power are prized, it didn’t make sense for Edric to say goodbye to the show. What about the platform and influence that came with it? Wasn’t that a good thing? It was. It certainly was. What about the blessing of extra income? That was good, too! How about the relationships that he established with his colleagues and the connections with prominent people? That was amazing! These were all wonderful plusses in favor of pressing on as a tv anchor. Yet God’s Word reminds us, “His (God’s) thoughts are not like our thoughts, and His ways are far beyond what we can imagine.” (Isaiah 55:8)

As Edric’s wife, and for those who knew the wrestling he was dealing with, we understood why he finally decided to close this chapter of his life. His desire to order his God-given priorities was a great thing…the greater thing. There are many who can champion personal finance, but homeschooling in the Philippines doesn’t have many champions. It may not be glamorous to be an advocate of homeschooling, but Edric’s heart is for families. His mantra is to “change one family at a time for Jesus Christ,” and he believes that parent-led education is one of the best ways to do this. Furthermore, his conviction to walk away from a profession that detracted him from getting his self worth in Christ alone was another considerable factor.  

Sometimes he would ask me, “Did I do the right thing? Did I make the right decision?” 

My response often was, “Hon, I see your life. I know you love God and you walk with God. So if this is what He called you to do, I don’t doubt that He will bless it.”

During his last taping in July, Edric invited the kids and I to watch him. It was my first and last time to see the On the Money studio. Prior to this, I had never visited him on set or seen him at work in front of the camera. 


The kids and I hung out in a corner eating pancit which the crew thoughtfully handed to us. We tried to be as quiet as possible as Edric and Salve taped their final show together. Afterwards, there was a short ceremony to bid him goodbye. I could sense the sadness in Edric’s posture and expressions, even as he tried to crack jokes to keep things jovial. I also spied Edric’s eyes tearing up as hugs and well-wishes were exchanged.

We took a few shots on the set but I know Edric didn’t want to prolong the agony of saying his goodbyes, so we exited shortly after. 

The walk down the hallway from the studio was quiet as I held his hand. We both knew there was no way to end this season of his life without feeling the sting of it. He was going to miss everyone he worked with and his friendships with them, the camaraderie of pushing the show’s advocacy, building a brand together, seeing it through its difficult birthing stages to reveling in its successes, learning to get along despite each other’s differences, and appreciating each other’s strengths. How do you walk away from all of that history without feeling like you left a part of yourself behind and wounded a part of those who thought you were in this together, as a team, for the long term? 

The answer is you can’t. There will be hurt. There was. There still is at times. This is why important life decisions can never be made without much consultation and prayer. We have to walk intimately with God when it comes to choosing between good things in order to discern the greater thing, because good things will get sacrificed. So the greater thing at that particularly season of your life must be revealed clearly by God through prayer and the confirmation of His Word, circumstances, and those in authority over you, as well as your mentors and confidants who walk with the Lord, those who are informed about your weaknesses, strengths, and calling. 

When the answer is apparent, then take courage! Obey God’s voice. Do not be afraid to make a hard choice. These occasions when you and I are refined for God’s purposes by the stripping away and letting go of what hinders us from the trajectory He wants us to be on is for our ultimate good. 

First, the right decision made after much prayer will produce a peace that transcends understanding. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭

Furthermore, there will be clarity of purpose, renewed vigor and strength from the Holy Spirit to pursue it, and an excitement for what God has in store even if it is yet unseen. In the past few months, I have witnessed this in Edric. Being able to focus has made him more effective and available to institute systems and positive changes for Homeschool Global. He’s even enrolled in an online course on education with Harvard, eager to equip himself. 

God’s desire for all of us is fruitfulness…Fruit to more fruit to greater fruit. Saying farewell to ANC was a pruning experience for Edric, but the reassurance we both have is that this decision will amount to more fruitfulness, just as John 15 explains. “He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing…When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” John‬ ‭15:2-5, 8‬ ‭

Very often, Edric shares with me, “I love what I am doing. I look forward to work!” When he says this I know it’s God’s affirmation — the blessing of obedience. 

When his final episode aired two weeks ago and people asked what happened to him, there was no official statement made. So this is my informal and personal way (with Edric’s persmission) of explaining the story behind his exit. Will he ever return to television? Only God knows. In the meantime, let me leave you with this thought… 

The greater things God prods us to choose may not always lead to more prosperity and more popularity — images of success that often compel us to do what we do and make our choices. Instead, God calls us to leave a legacy, to do things that will outlast us and count for eternity, to live for the age to come. For Edric and our family, my prayer is that we will be used by God to transform hearts, families, nations, and the world for His glory. May we have the courage to abandon pursuits that compete with these.  

“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.” Psalms‬ ‭25:4‬ ‭

 

Enjoy Stillness and Quiet

It’s a real sickness of our day and age to have almost zero time for stillness and quiet, except of course when we are asleep, and some of us don’t even get a good amount of it. I see this tendency to want constant activity, stimulation, and entertainment not just in me but in the lives of my own kids.

On some days, my kids will come to me in the afternoon when there isn’t much going on and ask, “What Am I Going to Do?” My reply sounds something like this, “I don’t know. I’m sure you will figure it out.” (Smiley face.)

Here is what my kids need to understand. I am not responsible for entertaining them or thinking up activities to fill their day, everyday. While I take charge of their homeschooling in the mornings, and remind them about their responsibilities, what they do with their discretionary time afterwards ought to be their look out. If they get bored because they don’t get to use a gadget, watch a program, or have their friends over, I don’t make it my problem to keep them busy. It’s their problem. And it’s a good problem.


My kids need to deal with down-time… “screenless-ness,” quietness. They can invent, create, build, do pretend play, read or even just sit and think! After all, they have supplies, toys, games, objects in their environment, a ton of books, as well as each another to stay preoccupied.

And guess what? Whenever I tell them that they can figure out how to entertain themselves, they usually do, anyway. Tiana was the one who asked the question about what to do today. After thirty minutes of leaving her alone, she came back and presented to me a miniature model of a room using the top of a cardboard box. There were three pieces of furniture in the room – a bed with a blanket and donut pillow, an area rug, and a table. It was adorable! (She’s also just pulled out her paintbrushes and told me she will be doing art.)
Titus, my nine year old, finished a five hundred plus page book over the last few days which was kind of a miracle! He’s just started to get into novels so I was so proud of him for persevering and using his discretionary time wisely. 

Kids need a little boredom sometimes to become un-bored and productive. I reckon it’s the same for us, as adults, too. We don’t always need to default to our phone to mindlessly surf through social media feeds or sites, or to install a new app to entertain ourselves with. 

According to research, sensorial overload on the brain burdens the prefrontal cortex which is responsible for high-order thinking, decision-making, and problem-solving. This leads to mental fatigue, focus and problem-solving issues as well as the inability to generate new ideas. However, the brain can restore itself when stimulation is removed, and it is allowed time to rest. (Source: Huffington Post)

Silence also regenerates brain cells. Hmm…there’s hope for me!

A study done on mice who were exposed to two hours of uninterrupted silence versus mice who were exposed to noise, experienced the creation of new brain cells. “The area affected was the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is responsible for encoding new memories.” (Source: Why Silence is Good for the Brain )

No wonder why I have short-term memory problems! What’s this article about again?!

The truth is many of my eureka moments for articles and entries come to me when I am not overpopulating my mind with external stimuli.

This is me trying to look like I am thinking about something profound…
Quiet isn’t just about detaching from our phones or avoiding Netflix. It is also about saying no to too many activities. I got a horrible cold because Edric and I traveled four times in September, and we had late evenings in the past week with people. Most of these nights were about ministry, but they took a toll on my body. If there’s one predictable cause for body-breakdown for me, it’s disrupted routines. I’m recovering now and thankfully, the rest of October should be less hectic for Edric and me.

Edric and I also decided to turn down invitations for speaking engagements that weren’t previously scheduled for the balance of the year because we need a season to learn and enrich ourselves. Our plan is to benefit from the quiet by growing in wisdom and physically recharging through rest so we can ready ourselves to give more to others next year.

The most valuable thing about quiet which I pray my kids eventually internalize is enjoying God’s presence and His truths. King David was a great example of this as many of his Psalms speak of him meditating on God’s principles and who God is.

“Tremble, and do not sin; meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still.” Psalms 4:4

“I will meditate on all Your work and muse on your deeds.” Psalms 77:12

My inward being as well as your inward being needs to be nourished and watered. Since we aren’t one dimensional but body, soul and spirit, we aren’t healthy when we are neglectful of our inner persons. If we are always moving about, jetting from one place to another, consumed by our work or activity-centered lifestyles, as well as defaulting to entertainment and stimulation via media, apps, the internet and social media platforms, the part of us that really matters doesn’t get fed and doesn’t grow. 

The counterintuitive thinking that God’s word also demonstrates is that the Lord can accomplish much on our behalf and for us when we trust Him by resting in Him. I have said this before but I will say it again. When I don’t carve out time to soak in God’s Word and pray, I run on limited energy and capacity. In fact, on days when I forget to read my Bible because I am rushing here and there, I am a bad version of myself — irritable, harried, anxious, and reactive. My focus is not spiritual. Instead it is about what is material and in front of me. Yet, it’s amazing how giving the Lord the first part of the day positively affects every part of who I am and what I do. God fights my battles for me.

I am reminded of the story of Moses and the Israelites who were overwhelmed by the pursuing Egyptians. But here’s what Moses told the people. “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” ‭‭(Exodus‬ ‭14:13-14‬)

Paraphrasing the last part: “Joy, I got you. You need only be still and quiet in my presence.”

Isn’t that so reassuring?! 

So enjoy the stillness and quiet, and let’s teach our kids to be able to do the same. Our minds and inward persons need a break to recharge, to grow, and to be more productive. And in the moments when we feel like nothing is happening, God is always doing something in us and for us! 

Novels for Voracious Young Readers

These are the top picks of my son, Elijah, who enjoys fantasy and mystery novels that echo Biblical themes or that are morally “safe.” Most of these books are actually for adults. He’s read these over the last year and a half besides classics. My younger boys are also starting to read some of the fantasy books as well. 

I am sharing these titles because I feel there is a shortage of good, spiritually-enriching books for young people. A lot of what’s popular today revolves around witchcraft and sorcery, as well as vampires, or they prematurely awaken romance in the hearts of children. (Most of these books were purchased through Christianbook.com or Amazon.) 

Here are Elijah’s personal reviews of the books…
Elijah:

Randy Alcorn writes about multi-dimensional plots with well-rounded characters. His vocabulary and imagery are vivid. These books can be read alone but when read together as a whole, the script is richer. Each of the books centers around a different character in the author’s city who investigates a murder. In each case the protagonist is on a faith journey to understand truth in his own life. Alcorn shows what the murdered person’s experience is like in either heaven or hell, compelling readers to choose to know God and follow Him.


Lee Strobel’s murder-mystery has several plot threads and interesting dialogue in this book. It was a captivating read and I blazed through the pages quickly because I was so riveted! 


Author Jerry Jenkin’s takes the reader through two plots. The first is the journey of a theologian who is a professor traveling to Rome to help protect secret manuscripts written by the Apostle Paul. As the story unfolds, there is a parallel to the plot of Paul’s life in prison before his execution, where he writes the manuscripts. Jenkins is more about dialogue rather than description in his stories. 


These are fantasy books where Chuck Black creates an allegorical world that is set in medieval times that captures the lives of Bible characters through knights and kings. These books read like The Chronicles of Narnia. It was fun to interpret the Biblical counterparts that the characters were portraying. 


I am about to read these next books by Chuck Black…


Shadow of the Mountain by Cliff Graham is an imagining of Caleb’s story, who supposedly did not begin as an Israelite but then chooses to follow God. It depicts his life as a warrior in Egypt. It’s purely fictional and isn’t based on actual Biblical text about Caleb. Although very entertaining, it has violent parts.


This is a fantasy re-write of Pilgrim’s Progress designed for younger readers to understand. It’s filled with suspense and there are some scary parts but I liked it’s very happy ending.


Land of Stories is a series that isn’t written by a Christian, but for the most part the values are okay. Occasionally, the characters do make statements that I am not comfortable with such as OMG. This series depicts well-known fairy tale characters in a new way by adding new plot layers and dimensions to their personalities. It describes a pair of twins’ adventures in their world. The language it is written in is easy to read as well as humorous. There is wizardry in it so read with caution. 


These books are very interesting to read but some secrets are kept hidden throughout the three books. Only at the end of the third book does the protagonist realize the truth, but at that point very little has been revealed to the reader about the secrets which can feel frustrating. However, there is redemption which makes the books worth reading. 

 

Motivating Kids to Learn

To keep my kids motivated and excited about learning, I sometimes add little changes and incentives to our daily routine. Today, I let my younger kids study outside while the older boys were in charge of lowering and raising their books through a pulley system. Elijah and Edan used a rope and basket, and Titus, Tiana, and Catalina had to ring a bell when they needed new books delivered, or finished work raised back up. 



I sat outdoors with the younger kids who enjoyed being with the bunnies and sitting on a mat on the grass. It felt like an adventure. Plus, it was my secret way of getting them some healthy sunlight, too. 

Titus, who is kinesthetic, really liked the set up today. He accomplished his work faster than usual. (Since he tends to get distracted, I also use a timer for him. He sets it and tries his best to beat the timer.) 

I once heard a homeschool veteran and speaker say that motivation is what keeps a child learning. On the one hand, I want my kids to demonstrate the capacity to sit for extended periods of time in order to accomplish their tasks. Yet, I also believe in making adjustments when necessary to keep kids interested in learning. 

When learning is a joy, my kids are engaged and willing to put in the time to finish a task. I have observed that my kids’ desire to learn is fanned by five things. 

The first is purpose. My kids, more notably the older ones, know that learning is part of God’s plan for their lives. A foundation of skills, knowledge, and experiences is being built to equip and prepare them for God’s kingdom-building work. 

When we go off course in our homeschooling and head in the direction of high stress, I know we are losing sight of the purpose and focusing too much on performance. So I have to take my kids aside and have meaningful conversations with them that revolve around the why of our homeschooling. 

The second thing the motivates my kids is the freedom to explore their interests. Whether their interest be in the form of a topic, activity, or object (and provided these interests aren’t detrimental to their emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health), I give them freedom to pursue these. 

For example, Elijah likes building apps and coding which requires him to be good at math and logic. So he pushes himself to learn math concepts that are beyond ninth grade requirements. I don’t force him to study trigonometry, for instance, but he tells me he has to learn a bit of trignometry to do coding. So that’s what he is doing. 

Titus still likes to play. So being outdoors for him and using that pulley system felt like playing to him. He told me several times how much fun homeschooling was today. 

The third aspect of motivation is experiencing success. It’s discouraging for my kids to deal with repeated failure or the inability to understand a concept. So my job is to address learning gaps, slow down, or repeat lessons until they are ready to tackle more challenging levels and work. Sometimes I have to change the material I am using or make it more developmentally appropriate. 

Tiana can’t always write down sentences as a seven year old, primarily because she’s not yet spelling well. So there are occasions when I ask her to tell me what her sentence is and I write it down for her. Or, I write down sentences for her to copy. At times, I also assist her as she tries to think of the words and letters. Titus used to be the same way, but as he became a better reader, he became a better speller. 

My role is to help my kids learn, not to make them feel like they can’t learn. Sometimes this means many baby steps to get them to a point of confidence and independence. Thankfully, Elijah, Edan, and Titus are, more often than not, able to study without me hovering over them too much. Tiana and Catalina will get to that point eventually as their capacity to read improves. In the meantime, experiencing mini victories as we plod along together encourages both of them to keep going. 

The fourth thing what motivates my kids is our learning environment. The relational climate between us can positively or negatively affect their desire to learn. When I am irritable and impatient, they are scared to make mistakes or to disappoint me. This is unhealthy because learning becomes about pleasing me and avoiding conflict. Worst of all, my bad example can be perceived as hypocrisy, nullifying my attempts to teach them about the Lord and what it means to have a relationship with Him. Therefore, I must always be careful about my tone and my interactions with them. Am I exuding the joy of the Lord? Am I enjoying my time with them? Am I affirming them even as I help them identity their mistakes and correct them? Am I allowing them to express their frustrations and processing these with them from a spiritual perspective? 

Lastly, kids must internalize that obedience brings blessings. When my kids don’t feel like exerting effort to learn something I ask them to, especially the older ones, they remember the importance of obedience. It may not seem like fun to obey when it’s inconvenient for them, yet the choice to do so translates to a change in their attitudes. 

It’s like my dad used to say, “Motion before emotion.” Make the choice to do the right thing and the emotions will follow. Very often, their resistance is replaced with a smile and softeness of heart, and they apologize for their bad attitude (if this is present). The blessing is that God supplies the motivation and rewards their efforts. 

When these five elements of motivation are present — a clear, God-centered purpose, interest-led experiences and pursuits, success, a positive environment, and obedience, homeschooling is a delight for my kids and me. Remove any one of these factors and the motivation suffers. 

When the purpose isn’t God-centered there is pressure to perform. When interests aren’t acknowledged or accomodated then kids tend to get bored. When success isn’t there, children feel like lessons are unreasonably hard or they feel insecure about their abilities. When a parent gets angry easily and the learning environment is tense, kids are controlled by fear. When children haven’t internalized obedience, they may comply on the outside but develop resentment on the inside.  

The good news is that God gives us the ability and the wisdom to provide these five motivating elements. So let’s tap into His daily grace and ask Him for help! 

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”‭‭ Matthew‬ ‭7:7‬