Strict but Sweet. Firm but Friendly 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She answered, “Because you love me.”

Exactly.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I Want A Three Kiss Wife

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

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

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

Hmm…why wasn’t I more encouraging? 

I will get to that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

A Culture of Contentment at Home


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

WAIT.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

STEWARDSHIP.

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

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

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

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

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

GIVE TO OTHERS.

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

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


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

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

VALUE SIMPLICITY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

WISELY EVALUATE INFLUENCES.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRAY WITH THANKSGIVING.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Kiddo TV

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hon, You Have to Be a Better Homemaker”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Does Your Child Know You Like Her?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grade 9 Materials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Electives:

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

Sports – Swimming and Tennis

Art – Painting with Teacher Camille Ver through Learning Plus

Music – Violin classes through Learning Plus

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

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




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

Don’t Judge Your Spouse

Before the weekend of our 16th wedding anniversary, it was fasting week for our church. As a result I was in a totally different zone mentally, emotionally, and physically. Having slowed down my activities significantly to quiet my soul and spend time with the Lord, I actually forgot about our anniversary!

The day of our anniversary, Edric and I had ended our fast, and we got ready to go to a homeschool event — Family Fun Day, not greeting one another that morning. It slipped my mind. (I assumed it slipped his, too, when I whispered to him in the later part of the morning, "Happy Anniversary.")

Honestly, the day didn't start out right for us. Edric nagged the kids and I to leave by 7 AM to make it to Family Fun Day by 8 AM. Note that this was supposed to be a FAMILY event and we were supposed to go TOGETHER. However, I left my phone and realized it three hundred meters away from our home, so we did a u-turn to go back and Edric was visibly annoyed.

After speeding home to retrieve it, I jumped out of the car and Edric insisted that the kids and me all ride in another vehicle with the driver. He quickly left us without saying goodbye and without giving me to time to comment about this plan. The kids and I stood in the driveway in shock as he took off hurriedly on his own.

FAMILY FUN DAY wasn't staring out to as a family thing or fun!

Inside I was peeved. I didn't want to mouth this out in front of the kids to disrespect Edric behind his back. So I messaged him instead…

"I don't know why you did that. The kids don't understand either. Do you think it was necessary? ESP since they wanted to ride with you?"

No reply.

When the kids and I arrived at the venue, I semi-ignored him until I realized that it was our anniversary! That's when I whispered, "Happy Anniversary" when I finally locked eyes with him. But I mouthed it out with a sarcastic look on my face.

I felt hurt by the way he dismissed us that morning, so I was nursing it, entertaining all kinds of thoughts like, "Why couldn't he have been more patient? Why does it seem like he can't be inconvenienced? If I had been in his shoes, I would have wanted the family to be together, on the way to a FAMILY fun day." (Let it be said that the reason why he was running late in the first place was because of the kids and me, so we weren't exactly innocent. And he made a commitment to the team to be at the event early so he could pray with them and check on things.)

Anyway, there I was, with Catalina on my lap at the venue, feeling like the "righteous," good mother of our five children…the one who was dutifully taking care of them while he attended to business concerns.

Well, it turns out I was the unrighteous, judgmental one.

When Edric sensed that there was tension between us, he pulled me close and said, "Fine, since you are being so difficult, I am going to tell you that I have a surprise for you, for our anniversary. That's why I have been so preoccupied. That's why I left you guys earlier. Don't ask anymore questions. Just know that I love you."

"Really?!!!" Big smile on my face, followed by an apology for being so reactive. Boy, did I feel stupid and childish for misinterpreting his actions.

Later in the afternoon, Edric got home ahead of the kids and me and set up this sweet surprise which involved me walking down the stairs with my eyes covered to the end of the hall beside the living room. He decorated the massive wall with all our kissing photos, scenes from various places of the world that we traveled to.

He also included a timeline of photos from courtship to marriage to one, two, three, four, five children, and the present. Of course I teared as I took in the sight of it all, and I was humbled, ashamed, feeling very small and unworthy, and just amazed at how thoughtful his gift was. Edric is an extremely busy man but he painstakingly sorted through thousands of photos, coordinated with our friends, Jessie and Mags David to print out the photos on canvas, he solicited the help of our older sons to edit and caption the photos, he rearranged furniture to create a wall space for the photos, and had someone drill holes into our wall so he could arrange all the photos.

As for me, what did I have to offer him for our anniversary…nothing. I hadn't prepared a single gift, not even a card, because I had been so wrapped up in being "spiritual" that I forgot all about the most important person in my life, next to the Lord — my husband. Nearly one week later, I ended up buying him an exercise program that he wanted. Yet it was a pitiful offering in comparison to his gift for me. The contrast certainly revealed the disparity between our heart conditions. He was thinking of me, and I was thinking only of myself.

When I reviewed the video that my son took of Edric and me I teared again. And when I asked Edric, "Why did you do this?", his reply was, "God reminded me during this fasting week, that I must love you like Christ loved the church, be 'all-in' as a husband, and keep the 'husband bar' high for myself."

He also added, "Christ has a lavish love for His church, I want to have a lavish love for you."

(Gulp. Oh, someone stab me now for being such an emotional criminal!)

I messed up. I judged him and assumed the worst about him! The Lord dealt with me and my pride, and taught me through this magical anniversary surprise that I have a lot to work on as a wife, as a person. Deep inside, I can be this vicious person who entertains such negative thoughts about my husband and imagines these flame-throwing scenes where I scorch him with my words!

It's just wrong. So wrong. I desperately need God's grace to change me so I can be a better wife.

DO NOT JUDGE YOUR SPOUSE. That's what I learned. Do not judge people, for that matter.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)

Some weeks ago my husband made a statement after counseling a couple who seemed to misinterpret each other's words and actions which led to much conflict in their relationship. Edric surmised, "Out of the heart, the ears hear," and, I will add, "out of the heart, the eyes perceive."

In other words, if you and I have spiritual and emotional junk in our hearts, be it fear, anger, insecurity, and the like, we are going to manifest this in the way we interpret what people say and do. We will hear and see others negatively.

One of the tests of a heart that is pure-hearted and right with the Lord when we can choose to think well of others instead of judging them.

Well, I stand guilty!

The good news is that there is a remedy, and it is found in the rest of the verses after Matthew 7:2, "Don't look at the speck in someone else's eye. Pay attention to the log in your own! Don't be a hypocrite! Judge yourself first so you can perceive others properly." (That's my paraphrase of the next verses.)

Before coming to conclusions about Edric or any other person so rashly, I ought to examine myself to determine if my thoughts, my words, and my actions are innocent of selfishness and pride. Are they Christ-like, or are they self-centered? If Christ is my focus, then I can choose to believe the best about my husband and others.

What if people are so obviously awful and don't want to admit it. Here's something comforting to hold on to: God sees every person's heart, and as an all-knowing and all-powerful God, He can expose people for who they really are. Therefore, let's leave the judging to Him.

"For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all." (Luke 8:17)

"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

God-Confidence in Kids

I am not an advocate of getting kids into modeling at a young age because it can make them focused on their external appearance as well as derive their sense of identity and worth from the way they look and how others perceive them.  However, I also believe that carefully chosen modeling or acting opportunities can be beneficial for kids, to break them out of their shells so they can shine for the Lord. 

From time to time our family gets offered endorsement opportunities and I praise God that these normally involve all of our kids and Edric and me, or some of our kids and Edric or me. In other words, it’s usually a family endorsement and more importantly, a product or service that is aligned with our values and principles. 

The milk brand, Friso Four, which is for kids above the age of three years old (past the breastfeeding age) is one such product. Their cows are hormone and antibiotic free, and they are cared for by farmers who are personally invested in their farms. Farmers basically own Friesland Campina, the mother company behind Friso. So they love their cows! 

Our family’s contract with Friso involved our daughters and me engaging one another through outdoor activities and play, and promoting the importance of nature in the lives of our kids — eating healthy, good sunlight, exercise, and exploration. 

For the shoot today, Tiana was tasked to memorize many lines. When she first saw the script she felt nervous and concerned about her ability to memorize and execute what was required of her. However, we prayed together and dedicated the shoot to the Lord, and her courage increased. She got through each part so well, and without compromising her personality as a sweet and demure girl. 

I was so proud of her! As a younger girl, Tiana struggled with self-consciousness and she worried about what people’s opinion of her. Sometimes she still does. However through the years I have encouraged her to consider the needs of others and bravely attempt to make friends and reach out to people instead of focusing on herself. It’s taken some time but in the last few months, I have seen her grow and mature in this area. She is friendlier towards kids, like her ballet classmates and art class friends, and she has a better understanding of God-confidence. 

God-confidence, as opposed to self-confidence or self-esteem, is knowing that God is the one who gives us the ability and capacity to do things that are difficult or out of our comfort zones. Self-confidence or self-esteem is believing in one’s strengths and who they are to accomplish what they want and need to. A God-confident person relies on Him to meet the challenges He calls him or her to. 

For example, I don’t like speaking in public. It’s still stressful for me to prepare a talk and muster up the courage to stand before an audience even if I have been involved in public speaking for years. Yet this is something I do as unto to the Lord, giving seminars and talks alongside my husband on relationships, marriage, parenting, and homeschooling. I have to remember that it’s not about me, it’s about being a blessing to others, a vessel to communicate God’s principles on these topics in order to help people. But I have to depend on the Lord and not myself if I am to be effective. 

Therefore, I am also teaching Tiana how to exhibit God-confidence when she is asked to do something that is beyond what’s comfortable for her. There were several instances when she teared today, primarily because she didn’t like it when she couldn’t do an excellent job with her lines or with the acting. Catalina assisted by wiping her forehead and handing her tissues when she would tear. The crew and I assured her that she was doing a wonderful job and that it was okay to fail. That’s what retakes were for. Plus, I told her I loved her no matter what and I was there for her. We prayed together several times. 


When she finished the difficult takes, she felt a sense of accomplishment, which is also why I encouraged her to complete her job even if it wasn’t easy. I didn’t force her. I just gave her a pep talk to calm her nerves. We also chatted about how I used to get scared and cry and we had a good laugh about it. 

Kids need to be conditioned to do hard things. For as long as these “things” aren’t abusive, against God’s Word, or imposed upon them because a parent is trying to live out their dreams through them, then kids can benefit from positive pressure, healthy competition, real world challenges, and difficult character-building tasks. However, it matters how we process the experiences with them, reminding them that motivations, purposes out to be for the Lord, and empowering ought to come from the Lord. 

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”‭‭ 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭

When I asked Tiana, “How were you able to do all your lines and acting?”, her sweet response was, “I have Jesus in me…” 


He’s Not the Same Man I Married

I got that title idea from Rose Fres Fauto when she recently interviewed Edric and I for her Facebook page, FQ Mom. During the interview I shared that one of Edric’s endearing qualities was his willingness to change. She looked surprised and said with a smile, “Really? I always thought Edric was a stubborn person.”

This comment got Edric and I laughing, and I explained that he is stubborn about his convictions, which is a good thing. However, when he recognizes that there’s a valid area to change in his personality, he will do it. In fact, he declared this commitment in his vows to me when we got married. He didn’t promise to be the perfect person but to be willing to change and improve for the better.

Rose interjected, “So he’s not the same man you married…”

“Exactly! And what a great title for an entry! I will use that!”

Truly, Edric is a different man. Every year he has become a better version of the man I married. In the first years of our marriage, I used to get so annoyed at his temperamental personality…the irony, me getting temperamental about him being temperamental! We had numerous conversations about this, sometimes over frustrating tears from both of us as we struggled to understand and adjust to each other. (It’s never easy to change a personality trait.) Edric’s reasons for his temper were often due to the high standard he held for himself and then imposing high expectations on those around him, including me.

I had to come to understand this as a strength of his, but he also learned to lower expectations of others and raise appreciation, and to verbalize praise when people did a good job. However, the more compelling reason for his change was his love for God. He knew that as a husband, God called him to “live with his wife (me) in an understanding way.”

Here’s where that principle comes from: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” 1 Peter‬ ‭3:7

When the Bible says “weaker vessel” it is referring to the physical frame of a woman versus that of a man. It’s not saying that we are less important. This is not to say that women can’t develop muscles or even be more “fit” than a man either. Yet genetically speaking, most men are larger in bone structure than women. This is one of the reasons why it’s not fair for women to challenge men in Olympic sports, for example.

Given that a woman is the “weaker vessel”, God calls a husband not to look down on her but to honor her as a fellow recipient of His grace.

Considering that the text was written during a time when women were treated as second-class citizens, this tells us that God’s heart has always been turned towards us. And he required husbands to treat their wives with respect and to value them.

In fact, God blesses the husband who treasures his wife, who considers her vulnerabilities, and her need for care. Not all husbands may realize that this is God’s mandate but I am glad that Edric discovered this for himself as he walked with God. I couldn’t, after all, preach this passage of scripture to him to force him to change. I had to utilize the secret weapon — prayer! I prayed for him and gave the Holy Spirit room to work in his heart instead of standing in the way by being contentious and demanding.

Honestly, it was hard and there were occasions when I failed miserably. I, too, needed to improve as a wife, with my respectfulness and tone. God also worked in my own heart over the years to show me that I was called to respect and honor Edric. (This is something I need to re-learn and apply over and over again.)

I want to encourage women who are praying for a future husband and give madried women hope. When I look at Edric today, sixteen years later, I think to myself, God gave me the greatest husband in the world! Whatever disappointment I felt at the beginning of marriage has been replaced many times over by a renewed appreciation for him and for the man he continues to become.

I know many women who are waiting for the perfect guy to come along. Well, the bad news is there is NO perfect guy. No one guy can fulfill every hope, expectation, need, and dream of a woman he marries. The good news is you can look for a guy who has the seed of potential. That’s what I saw in Edric.

Pray for eyes to detect the seed of potential in a man, someone you can come alongside to support so that he can reach his fullest potential. For example, he doesn’t have to be rich, but he should be hardworking and willing to do what it takes to support a family. He doesn’t have to be a bible teacher, but he should be someone who loves God with all his heart as evidenced by his convictions and the fruit of the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t have to have everything figured out yet but does his internal compass point in the direction of pleasing God? Does he have a general idea of where he wants to go, at least a five year plan? He doesn’t have to be the smartest person in the world but he should be humble enough to listen to wise counsel and surround himself with people who will encourage him to make right choices.

A few days ago, a guy emailed me asking if he should pursue a girl who is from a wealthy family when he is just a simple guy. I included Edric in the response and told him something like this, “If she can’t see you for who you are inside and will base her judgements on what you can give materially then she isn’t worth it. There’s so much more to you as a man who loves God than your economic status.” (He was someone who was also working very hard and doing his part to earn what he could do bravo for him.) Edric encouraged him to “be himself” since he had nothing to prove. I totally agree!

When God made Adam he had much to do and much to accomplish to become all that God planned for him to be. He was still “in the raw.” God elected for him to have a helpmate and strong supporter to rule the world and subdue it. He created Eve. Similarly, there is a guy out there for you who may be a diamond in the rough at present, to use the cliché, but God is molding and shaping him into someone who will do amazing things for God’s glory, who will be an amazing husband, and an amazing dad. So you can pass him by because he doesn’t sparkle yet or you can be there as an enabler in his life and be witness to the transformation.

To us married women, there’s a gem of a man in every husband, too. Had I focused on the layers I didn’t like, that buried my gem of a husband and hid him from view, I wouldn’t have had the privilege of seeing him shine for the Lord now. Edric is not the same man I married. By God’s grace, he’s a better man every year because of the Lord.

It takes faith to wait on the Lord’s transformative work in a spouse. Edric, too, chooses to be patient as God changes me. We are sticking around, that’s for sure, to be present for the process in each other’s lives and in our own. There’s a wonderful reminder from Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”


Do we have faith to believe that God can do mighty things in our spouses and in our marriages? That God can take our imperfect selves and change us into someone completely different, someone more like Him? 

Love Your Sibling(s)

My kids learned to love one another better this year. It probably sounds funny to put it that way…love one another better…but there’s always room to grow in the area of love in our home. Previously, they spoke harshly with each other when annoyed, and they had conflicts over inane things — toys, things, and personality quirks. 

About two months back, my second son, Edan, was assigned to lead our family devotion night, and he asked his siblings to memorize the passage, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians‬ ‭4:32‬) He asked each of his brothers and sisters how they would apply the verse and they were all honest about the need to be more considerate and accommodating of one another. 

I want to applaud Tiana and Catalina for choosing to get along in a much friendlier manner as of late, as well as Elijah and Edan for minding their words and attitudes towards each other. Titus, who is in between the two pairs, has always been the easy-going guy, never really ruffled by anyone and very forgiving. 

Today, at the dentist, I witnessed the kids’ concern for one another played out, especially by Catalina for Tiana. Tiana needed to have a tooth extracted since her permanent one was growing behind her milk tooth. While she sat in the chair fretting, Catalina told her not to worry, that she would hold her hand while the anesthesia was injected into her gums. Even if Catalina is three years younger, she’s a little toughie. 


Edan and Elijah also came over to encourage Tiana. Edan talked her through what to expect since he had the same procedure done before. Tiana teared a little but she bravely endured the ten minutes that it took to pull her milk tooth out. 

Dr. Marla Valenzuela, who has been our family’s dentist since Edric and I got married, let the kids hover around her. She’s such a wonderful dentist and always lets them play in her clinic and watch her work. In fact, Catalina expressed to her that she wanted to be a dentist someday. We shall see…


Tiana, feeling the love and support…


Elijah, my eldest, finally got his braces, too! It was a big day for our family’s teeth! 

He’s doing Turbo Braces, a new braces technology which will take less than a year. Woohoo! It requires visits to see Dr. Marla twice a month but it’s so much more efficient than traditional braces. (In case you have a teenager who needs braces…here’s Dr. Marla’s assistant’s number: Nicole: +63 922 848 3776. Her clinic is in Bonifacio Global City.


Anyway, people often ask me if socialization is a problem for my kids who are homeschoolers, and my reply is, “If parents can teach their kids to love the people in their home, then their kids can love people outside of the home. Forgiveness, unconditional love, thinking about the needs of others, sharing, being flexible and thoughtful, these are difficult to apply at home, amongst siblings. Children aren’t born with these instincts. But if kids can be taught to internalize these principles when dealing with their brothers and sisters then they will be able to carry these over into their other relationships.” 
Until some months ago, Catalina used to tell her siblings things like, “You are ugly. I don’t like you. You aren’t my brother (or sister) anymore!” Where did she learn to speak such painful words?! 

Edric and I had to train her and discipline her for unkindness. There was a point when she would even say, “You are sooo ug, ug, ug…” because she knew she wasn’t allowed to say the word “ugly.” Ay! 

I praise God she’s changed so much! Now, she tries to get along with her siblings and control her tongue. She’s turning out to be such a sweet three year old to her brothers and sister. 

It’s taken some years for Edric and I to instill relationship principles in all of our children and they are still a work in progress (so are we), but moments like today, in the dental clinic, were an encouraging reminder that brothers and sisters can genuinely care for each other if they are taught to do so. 

Teaching Bodily Discipline to Kids 

Growing up, I appreciated the weight my parents put on physical fitness and healthy eating. They encouraged my siblings and me to play outdoors everyday and they got us into sports. As a result, all of us excelled in our sport of choice in college. I played UAAP soccer (football) and my other siblings were on the UAAP basketball teams.

Some of the benefits that athleticism produced in my life were the ability to tolerate pain and to push myself to the limit. I believe this is one of the reasons why I was able to have five Lamaze births despite the death-like pain I had to endure. Of course, I ultimately credit the grace of God for making it through each birth. I would call out to him at the height of the excruciation and he would always come through for me. However, I also believe that I had to do my part, and being a sporty person made me physically, mentally, and emotionally strong.

This morning, as I was running on the treadmill, the passage in 1 Corinthians 9:27 came to mind, “But I buffet (discipline) my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

I kept chanting in my head as the pace of the treadmill increased, “Buffet my body! Buffet my body!”

It’s not just about physical fitness which can be an idol in the lives of so many people, including mine, if I am not careful about its proper place. The real reason why it’s necessary to discipline the body is because we train ourselves to accommodate pain, to wait for results, to say no to the wrong things, and to persevere. In our spiritual lives these abilities are very important which is why Paul told his disciple Timothy, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness…for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8) Since I don’t have loads of time to dedicate to exercise, I stick to a regimen that keeps me healthy and able-bodied.

However, I want to focus on the higher purpose for fitness, which is something that all of us need to pass on to our kids as well. Admittedly, Edric and I have been less intentional with our own kids when it comes to their athletics. We agreed that the academic side of the homeschooling would be handled by me and Edric would take over the kids’ sports’ programs. However, Edric’s busy-ness has prevented him from giving their physical development the focus that he would like to give it (apart from the kids playing outdoors and signing them up for random PE classes).

This was an area of our parenting that we discussed recently because it disappointed me that our sons’ athleticism wasn’t his priority. Edric was also a varsity athlete in his highschool and college years. Given that we were both athletes, having kids who weren’t into competitive sports concerned me. We experienced the amazing benefits of working with teams, pushing our bodies, and dealing with the failures and successes of the games and tournaments we participated in. I wanted our sons to experience the same things to help them grow in character.

However, I couldn’t keep nagging Edric about this. After all the kids were excelling in other areas and they did have exercise time. Plus, they tried a number of sports – basketball, swimming, tennis, football, etc. They did pretty well in tennis and swimming, but over the summer they took a break and we haven’t re-enrolled them. Well, I figured that as they got into the high school years, Edric would direct our sons to sports that they could focus on (since that’s when it will matter in preparation for college.)

Thankfully, my parents spent a good two weeks with our kids while Edric and I were in Australia. Being the very purposeful grandparents that they are, they had our kids swim every morning and they signed up our two older sons for a basketball camp. The best thing that came out of this was that my dad spoke to Edric after we got back and emphasized that he should prioritize the boys’ training in sports. Hallelujah!

Edric really respects my dad and has a great relationship with him. So he received the suggestion positively. Just a few days before we got back to Manila Edric also showed me his revised yearly plan for our kids, which included him being more hands-on with the boys in the area of their physical development. So God was already speaking to Edric’s heart about this.

This is one of the things I appreciate about my husband. When he recognizes an area that he needs to improve on, he will do something about it. It may not always be right at the moment when the issue is brought up to him, but he will eventually take action.

Since we arrived home, he has lovingly forced our sons to exercise and he intends to involve them in his daily workouts. The boys are excited and so am I! This will provide our sons with great bonding time with their dad, and they will acquire traits like perseverance, hard work, as well as mental and physical toughness. He’s also thinking through what sports to enrol them in again.

I get our kids to go running with me but it’s different when Edric pushes them. He is able to connect with their masculinity and draw it out as well.

As for our girls, they do ballet pretty consistently. I’ve already seen the benefits in their own lives. They’ve become more confident with making friends and performing in front of others during their recitals, and they are more graceful and coordinated. Should they choose to do a more competitive sport then that would be wonderful, too. In fact, I’ve told my girls, “We need to be fit and strong as women. God has called us to care for the needs of our families. And someday, you may become moms, too. Moms need to be strong!” (Of course, women have to be physically strong for many other reasons!)

Tiana, my fourth child, echoes this to me now. When we are running around the village and I begin to see signs of fatigue in her, I ask her if she wants to rest but she will usually reply, “It’s okay, I want to become strong!”


That’s my girl!

I’m really praying that this year Edric and I will be much better at instilling bodily discipline in our kids. And beyond this, I also hope that Edric will consistently come along side our sons and guide them in the area of athletics. There are so many present and future benefits to be had, especially in the areas of their emotional, mental, and spiritual development that we have to give it importance as parents.