I Just Want to Be With You, Mommy

 Girls, girls, girls. I’m not used to dealing with the drama of daughters. For a good many years it was just boys and their havoc-wrecking testosterone. Yet now that my two youngest girls are moving past the baby-ish stage, it’s evident that I’ve got two “emotionals” on my hand.


Growing up, I wasn’t an emotional child. I was feminine and girly, but I leaned towards processing circumstances cerebrally. Plus, moodiness wasn’t allowed in our home. My mom emphasized this often. She modeled it, too. Furthermore, I compartmentalized my emotions as a post-trauma method of coping with what I went through as a teenager (for those of you who know.) So I always believed that a person should be able to switch off the emo-button.

This has been both a good and bad thing. It allows me to focus on tasks. Yet the down side is, it makes me less sensitive to people’s emotions, which can be problematic when you are a wife and mom, and a friend! Edric has told me numerous times that I need to improve on listening and hearing him out, and not dishing out unsolicited advice, quoting Bible verses and telling him how he should process what he is going through. By God’s grace, I’m improving but I have to make a conscious effort to be more tender and gentle as a wife.

I have to tell myself…Be a blessing. How can you minister to Edric? How can I meet his need?

As a mom, I’m having to balance firmness and softness with my girls. They feel things so intensely and for longer stretches of time than my boys do. Tiana goes crazy over fluffy toys and animals. When I see her clasp her hands and breathe in deeply like something is the cutest thing she has ever seen while squealing in delight, I just don’t get it. Sometimes, I admit that I would love to be able to remote-control my girls into toning down their hysterics.

I remember telling Catalina the other day, “Stop crying. That’s enough.” She wasn’t being fussy, she was just lingering in the sentiment of being slighted by someone. Can a three year old really do this? Switch off? Apparently it’s difficult to do. In between her sniffling, she struggled to say, “Buuut I I I I can’t ssstttooop.” The tears kept falling. And then she just looked terribly adorable. (She is a toughie but like Tiana, she’s emotional).

Thankfully, I have Edric to help me change in this area and a sister like Candy, who is amazing at relating to people. She goes out of her way to make others feel appreciated, loved, and important. She used to be the one to elbow me (literally), or pull me aside and say things like, “Hey, I think you need to call so-and-so and reach out to her.” Or, “Hey, I think that person wants to spend time with you. You should connect with her.”

And I would be like, “Yes, you are right. I should.” She was like my emotional conscience! Well, she’s gone back to the U.S. so I’m slightly handicapped.

Yet, God is using my wonderful, emotional daughters to transform me. Praise God! There’s hope! Just because it’s not in my personality to be tender and soft, I must consider their needs as more important than what’s comfortable for me. This might mean extra hugs and kisses, and a milder tone of voice. It may mean sitting on the bed to read princess stories for the nth time. Or, it may involve extended craft times together. Sometimes it may also mean patiently waiting for them to work through their feelings and then processing circumstances with them after they’ve been given an opportunity to air their thoughts and opinions. Whatever it is, I’ve got to remember that they long to have a relationship with me in a way that no other human person can fulfill and that’s a precious, precious thing.

Plus, it’s not wrong to be an emotional person. I told this to a lady I have been counseling for a couple of weeks. God uses sympathetic and empathetic people all the time. They tend to be great at understanding others which is badly needed in this world.

My girls happen to need more TLC and it’s my role (and privilege) to make them feel secure and special. So last night, when Edric reported to me that Tiana was teary-eyed when she said, “I just want to be near mommy,” as he tucked the girls into bed, a stimulus-response light bulb switched on in my head. Stop what you are doing, Joy, and go to your daughter.

I was in the middle of a big project that I was stressed out about but God encouraged me. Your daughter needs you. She’s your priority.

Tiana is entering into some sort of phase as a girl. The other day I attempted to articulate how I was feeling about it to Edric by saying, “You know, I’m struggling with my role as a mom to the girls, especially Tiana. It’s like she’s looking to me for her sense of identity and I’m not sure what to do. It’s a challenge.”

Well, it doesn’t matter that it’s a phase that confounds me. I have to develop better parenting skills with my girls and I have to adjust. After Edric delivered Tiana’s message about wanting to be near me, I slid the laptop off my lap, got off my bed and peeked into the girls’ room. Tiana and Catalina were snuggled up under their covers but still awake. I went over to hug Tiana and lay by her side.

“Are you okay?”

She shook her head.

“Is something wrong?”

“I just want to be with you.” She had tears in her eyes.

“Okay, I will stay with you.”

She was relieved.

Across the room, I heard a heard a whimpering Catalina who wanted to be noticed. So I picked her up, held her in my arms and brought her to Tiana’s bed where I sat for a while. I stroked Tiana’s head to calm her down and prayed with the girls. When I was pretty confident that they were emotionally settled, I returned Catalina to her bed and kissed them both good night. Tiana requested for an extra hug, which I gladly obliged to. They slept soundly and woke up as their happy selves this morning.

My productivity may have been disrupted yesterday evening but I should never think of my kids as an interruption. They are my priority. Sure, there are seasons when I have to get projects done and I can’t drop everything for them. But as much as possible, and because I control my time, I can certainly postpone things like finishing a keynote presentation if my kids S.O.S. me for attention. And it’s amazing how even little doses of attention and affection deposit big feelings of love in the hearts of my kids.

I was watching my girls jump around playfully this morning and I thought to myself, I’m so thankful and grateful for them. Each of my kids is a gift from the Lord not only because children are so delightful, but because God uses each of their personalities – Elijah, Edan, Titus, Tiana and Catalina — to humble me and teach me how to live and love.

Love is not about what’s easy or comfortable for me. It’s about sacrifice and commitment to meeting the heart-felt longings of others. It’s about seeking to change and improve in order to grow in love. It’s not about controlling others for my benefit. It’s about being a channel of Christ’s selflessness even when it’s so much easier to be self-serving. It’s about waiting for people to bloom in God’s time and in His way, and leading them gently into this becoming.

It’s impossible for me to be this person if Christ wasn’t present in me. Time and time again I see that I am a work in progress as a mom. I want to be and I strive to be better, but often I fall short and it can be discouraging to be confronted with my imperfections. However, my hope is in Jesus who doesn’t let me be, who sends me sweet angels in the form of daughters to show me beauty, to show me love in a form that I’m learning to appreciate and recognise as necessary in this world.

But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

 

 

 

God Finds Our Children

Our children have their own timetables when it comes to their faith journeys. We can do our best to raise them in the ways of the Lord and to teach them God’s word, but at the end of the day they have to make the choice to follow God themselves. Sometimes this reality frightens me. I have to fight the fear and the worry that plague my thoughts with questions like, What if they don’t follow God? What if they fall away from the faith?

Even if Edric and I do our best to model Christianity to our children and teach them biblical truth, it’s no guarantee that they will walk the same path. We can’t force them to, either. Choosing to make Jesus their Lord and Savior is a personal thing. It’s between them and the Lord.

We share the gospel with them as soon as they can understand it, which is usually about 3 or 4 years old. However, we don’t know EVERYTHING that is going on in each of their hearts. Even though we spend loads of time with them because we are homeschooling parents, there’s a lot to them that remains unseen.

This is one of the reasons why we started taking one kid at a time on trips out of the country. Earlier in the year, we brought Elijah with us to Dubai. During our last trip to Australia and New Zealand, we took our second son, Edan. Titus will be traveling with us soon as well.

Elijah and Edan appreciated having our undivided attention when they had their turns traveling with us. In fact, Edan admitted that he enjoyed feeling like an only child! Over the two weeks that we were away with Edan, we got to know him better…

  • The way he thinks – very methodical and concerned about time and details. He always wants to know what the plan is.
  • His favorite things – ice cream, plants, animals, games, good books, playing the piano
  • His fears – the dark, what others think of him
  • What makes him feel special – time with us, words of affirmation
  • His gifts – leadership, charm, bringing people together, responsibility, taking care of others
  • His weaknesses – pride, impatience, easily hurt, harboring grudges
  • What makes him frustrated – conflict with his siblings and blocked goals.

My favorite discovery about Edan happened in Australia, during the Hillsong Conference. Edan joined the kids’ events so he was away from us for most of the conference days. I wondered how he would cope since he was alone and outside of his comfort zone. Well, he did just fine. He made new friends and he enjoyed the services, games, and activities.

I asked him, “What did you learn during Kidsong?”

He was quiet at first (typical Edan) as he processed what he was about to say, and then he replied, “I realized I shouldn’t be ashamed to praise God…like raising my hands when I sing to him and singing with all my heart. I shouldn’t worry about what people think because I should be focused on worshiping God.”

Of coursed I teared as he told me this. Anytime my kids talk about their spiritual lives, I get emotional. It’s the most important aspect of who they are, and I feel so happy every time they trust me enough to tell me about their triumphs and struggles in the faith.

A few weeks after our trip, Edan also told me that he encountered Jesus in a special way during one of our Sunday services. He began by stammering, “I don’t know how to explain it, mom. Something happened. I was sitting in church and I felt God’s presence. I gave my life to Him again. It’s like I really understood what it meant to be a sinner, and that Jesus died on the cross for me, to save me.”

I was so excited, I grabbed him and pulled him close holding him in my arms as we both cried tears of joy. I said several times, “I am so happy, Edan!”

My greatest joy as a mother is knowing that my children love God and want to please God. Someday they will be on their own to make choices without Edric and I around. My prayer is that they will find God and discover how much He loves them, that they will give their lives to Him not because we ask them to, but because they wholeheartedly desire to.

The comforting news is this: God is the one who finds our kids. He seeks them out one by one and reveals Himself to them. As parents, we need to do our part to condition our children’s hearts to be receptive to God when this encounter happens. This involves modeling a love for the Lord, being intentional about discipling them, and providing an environment that encourages them to seek after Him. However, it gives me peace knowing that God loves them more than I ever will. He is more concerned about their relationship with Him that I will ever be.

Therefore, I need to relax as His divine work takes place in their hearts. I can’t control my kids decisions when it comes to choosing to give their lives to Him, but God is in control. He is faithful. He is present. He is moving. He is speaking to our children.

Let’s pray that they will hear Him. Let’s pray they will see Him. Let’s pray that they will choose Him!

“I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” 3 John‬ ‭1:4‬ ‭

Too Scared to Homeschool? Try the Hybrid Version.

Many parents say, “I don’t know if I am cut out for homeschooling.” And I understand where they are coming from. It can sound daunting and intimidating to take on the responsibility of educating your own kids. My experience was a little different because I was homeschooled for a number of years. But for most parents, homeschooling implies too many unknowns. 

For many years Edric and I discussed the possibility of opening up a hybrid program that could give parents a “softer” break-in period to homeschooling. The idea was to have classes that homeschoolers could attend twice a week while a parents taught them three days a week. Finally, the option is here, starting with the K2 level (5 years old).

Hands-on Homeschool Hybrid offers a H3 Approach for families looking for a Kindergarten program that marries both “schooling” and home schooling. The 3 Hs are:

THE HEART
Focus: Character Development
Curriculum: Achieving True Success

THE HEAD
Focus: Reading and Comprehension
Curriculum: Bob Jones University Press K5 Beginnings and Wikahon (Filipino Language Program)

THE HANDS
Focus: Experiential, hands-on activites
Curriculum: Music and Movement, Arts and Crafts, Use of Manipulatives such as Lego, Magformers, and Roominate to teach math

This hybrid program will most probably appeal to entrepreneurial moms, those working part time or those who aren’t sure about taking on 100% of the teaching load because they may prefer to have an able teacher walking alongside them and sharing some teaching days for their children.

The H3 Teacher is an experienced/licensed teacher who will teach homeschoolers twice a week. Lesson plans will also be prepared by the H3 Teacher to give to the Parent-Teacher to implement at home.

Other benefits include:

– Interaction for children who thrive in social settings
– Learning through play
– Student assessments with feedback time/coaching to parents three times a year using competencies set by DepEd
– Access to Google Classroom for assignments, announcements
– Low teacher-to-student ration at 1:12 (max 15)
– Curriculum in a box
– Accreditation

Class Schedule:

Wednesdays and Fridays
Option 1 – AM Session – 9:00 to 11:30
Option 2 – PM Session – 1:00 to 3:30

Classes start on September 7,2016
Enrollent started on August 8,2016

Tuition: 35,000 Php + 286 Php per session for 70 sessions (Inclusive of Portfolio Binder and Year-End Test)

Portfolio below is just a peg of the actual. Source: notconsumed.com


Additional fees: 7,000 Php for Curriculum / Uniform (TBA) 

Venue: Homeschool Global, Fun Ranch, Tiendesitas

For more information, please contact:


You may also email Peej at peejcaguin@homeschoolglobal.com

Trusting God by Trusting Your Husband

Having my sister, Candy, here for the last year and a half was like a dream come true for the Tan-Chi clan. When my bother, Peter, moved back to the Philippines with his family four years ago, we hoped that Jeff and Candy would do the same so we could all be together. 

Candy lived in the US for a good number of years after graduating from University of the Pacific in San Francisco as a dentist. (And being honored as Valedictorian, too. So proud of her! I just had to add that). She married Jeff Mc Comb shortly after, a great guy who loves the Lord. Then they settled in Sacramento, practicing dentistry and raising their three sons.

Since we are all incredibly close, it was difficult to have Candy so far away. Often, she would express to the family how she longed to come back to Manila. We would tease Jeff and attempt to convince him to move out here (but it’s not easy to leave a dental practice). 

Jeff actually invested in trips to Manila, making sure to visit with Candy and the boys. So it wasn’t like Candy vanished for the last twelve years. Jeff very generously provided for these trips which we all appreciated.

Although Candy struggled in the beginning of her marriage, wishing she was back in Manila, she surrendered this desire to the Lord. She stopped bugging Jeff about it and came to a point of contentment and peace. 

Surprisingly, three years ago, Jeff talked to her about the idea of living in the Philippines for two years. After praying about it, Jeff was convinced that spending extended time with the family in Manila and learning from the leadership of CCF (our church) was something he felt called to do. We were all shocked in a good way! 

So they planned and saved enough income to last them two years. A few months before coming to Manila, they also sold their belongings in faith, with the possibility that they may not return to Sacramento if God should lead them in that direction. 

When Jeff and Candy arrived May 2015 with their suitcase and boxes, our family was ecstatic! Since they pretty much sold all their stuff prior to coming, we hoped and prayed that their two year plan would extend to forever! 

Candy and I spent countless hours catching up and hanging out. Our kids played together whenever possible, and family dinners on Sunday night were chaotically fun. Finally, we were a complete 29. These gatherings often happened in my parents’ place, where us siblings and our spouses sat around a huge table, conversing, eating, laughing, telling stories, sharing struggles and victories, and praying together. It felt a little bit like heaven to see each person in attendance. 

Throughout the rest of Candy’s time in the Philippines, it was like I had a new friend, buddy, and confidant. We had similar perspectives on marriage, raising kids, homeschooling, ministry, etc. Where we differed we sharpened one another.

Even if she is younger, I learned a lot from her and rediscovered what a special person she is — kind, thoughtful, generous, friendly, and loving. I could be honest and vulnerable with her knowing she would set me straight if my perspective or actions were wrong. I also knew she would understand when I shared my feelings, even if they were sometimes stupid and childish. Most important of all she encouraged me to love God more. 

However, my happy bubble burst about six months ago when Candy told me that their plans had changed. After much prayer once again, Jeff decided they should return to the U.S. by August 2016, cutting short their original two year plan. He was eager to resume his practice and take back what he learned from the discipleship ministry of our church. 

Waaah!!! Why?! My heart was crushed. To be honest, this turn of events was a big disappointment. Jeff is American so I totally get that he feels called to a culture that he can better identify with. And I respect him for the way he has sought the Lord through every major decision he has made for himself and his family. He is a man who walks intimately with the Lord so I don’t doubt that God impressed this on his heart. 

But…as much as I love Jeff as a brother, a part of me felt like he was taking Candy away again, and I felt troubled. (I already confessed this to him.) Candy’s perspective silenced my negative thoughts quickly.

She said something like this, “I really want to stay but I trust Jeff. I know God speaks through Him so I will follow. If God wants us to come back in the future, it will happen.” 

Candy is an opinionated and accomplished woman. She has no problems speaking her mind or airing her thoughts. But in marriage, she has learned to speak her mind to the Lord instead of forcing her way upon Jeff. She has learned to have a spiritual perspective on circumstances rather than rely on her own logic. 

Even if I am heartbroken, I am proud of her for having the faith to declare that she trusts God by trusting in Jeff. She lived her dream for the last 18 months — being complete as a family, her kids playing and homeschooling with their cousins and building memories, vacationing, bonding, and doing ministry along side one another as siblings and with our parents, and even having the bonus of house help! Now, she must release this dream once more, and probably more tearfully too because she lived it. 

It’s easy to say we trust God when we submit to our husbands because they aren’t asking us to give up something we really want, or to do something that is difficult. But Candy taught me anew that real faith is evidenced when we can say, “Lord, not my will but yours be done. Lord, I have longings and desires but I will look to you as I obey my husband and support his leadership.” 

In a week Jeff and Candy leave. I teared several times today just thinking about it, whispering to Edric during various moments, “I feel sad…” 

I am going to miss Candy’s cheery voice at the end of the line when we phone each other during the day, the random visits and sleepovers, her big smile when she comes through a door, her beautiful spirit and ever amusing quirkiness, the joy of seeing our children play together, and sigh…just being able to be sisters and do things as sisters like I always wished we could. 

I had a piece of that these past 18 months and it hurts to let that go. Yet Candy’s faith consoles me. She is a woman who trusts God by trusting in Jeff’s leadership. Therefore I too trust that she will be blessed, that her marriage and family will be blessed.

And perhaps someday, if God should will it, we will be together like this again, and there will be no more saying goodbye because the dream will have no end. For now, I too must say, “Lord, not my will be done. I want my sister and her family to stay but you have called them back to the U.S. So I will thank you and trust you even if it pains my heart to because you are loving and good, and your will is always better…better than any dream or hope that I have.”

“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.” Jeremiah‬ ‭17:7‬ ‭NLT‬

Big Rocks, Small Rocks – Time Management for Busy Moms

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I wear many hats as a woman. There’s being a wife, a mother, a homeschooling parent, a discipler to women, a counselor, speaker, writer, and every now and then I have “jobs” or projects that I accept for added income. Recently, I’ve been asked by other moms, “How do you manage your time?”

I’m not writing this because I’m the best time-manager. But I have learned, through the years and with the help of my husband, to be more intentional about the activities that I commit to. My mom gave me great advice, too. She said, “Think of your activities as rocks – big ones and small ones. If you were to fill a jar with rocks, you would put in the big rocks first and then fit in the small rocks around the bigger ones. If you do the small ones first, then you won’t have space for the big ones.”

The reality is we are all in various seasons of our lives as women. Some of us are newly married, young mothers, raising older kids, or we are empty-nesters. Each stage comes with certain priorities and stresses. I am somewhere in between one end of the spectrum and the other. My fifth child is nearly 3 years old. She is no longer breastfeeding which means life is starting to feel easier and more “manageable.” Whew!

Whatever stage I find myself in, I have to identify the big rocks in my life (The things that only I can do, that I’m responsible for, that I can’t delegate to others):

  1. My walk with the Lord
  2. My husband
  3. My kids
  4. Homeschooling
  5. Home-management
  6. Exercise
  7. Discipleship / Ministry
  8. Writing
  9. Relationships with family – parents, brothers, and sisters
  10. Helping out with Homeschool Global

What are my small rocks? (The order doesn’t matter for these)

  • Speaking
  • Counseling
  • Jobs and projects that earn income
  • Relationships with friends
  • Hobbies

When my big rocks don’t come first (and in the order I wrote them above), I experience anxiety and stress. There may be occasions when certain needs are urgent – a crying infant who has pooped in her diaper vs. bringing my husband his butong pakwan because he asked for it. This is where both of us have to be flexible and understanding of one another.

I praise God that Edric was supportive through all my pregnant and breastfeeding years. He knew these stages weren’t easy for me, so he adjusted his expectations, too. The other blessing I want to praise God for is that I got to be a stay-at-home mom by the time our third son came along. I had to wait eight years, but it happened nonetheless, which alleviated me of the burden to contribute monetarily to our family. Whatever season I have found myself in, I’ve tried, as soon as possible, to revert to the order of priorities I listed above for my big rocks.

What are your big rocks? Every woman’s are different, but my strong suggestion is that you’ve got God, your husband and kids as first, second, and third. Some weeks ago, Edric and I were counseling a couple that was in bad shape because the husband was caught in infidelity. Although the woman is not to blame for her husband’s sinfulness, they both acknowledged that the demands of her work kept her from prioritizing his needs. Up till this day it’s a struggle for her to quit her job in order to look for one that is less hectic for herself and less damaging to her relationship with her husband. She is perpetually stressed out and exhausted but believes that her job is a “bigger rock” than her marriage. My heart goes out to her. 

I’m not saying that women have to quit their jobs. That’s not the point. The point is that we need to evaluate whether our jobs are worth sacrificing the priorities of spouse and children for. Is the corporate route the best option, for example? I’ve witnessed so many talented women direct their abilities and creativity towards income-generating businesses that allow them the flexibility and time to meet the needs of their husband and children. Therefore it’s not impossible to find something worthwhile to do that doesn’t take the place of our more important relationships.

After settling which rocks in our lives are the heavy-weights, we have to think through how we schedule our days and weeks around those rocks. It took me years to actually come up with a schedule that I could commit to. Thankfully, my husband, Edric, is a stickler for scheduling everything. So, his good influence on me finally rubbed off and I came up with a weekly routine that has been sensible and sustainable. I can’t share my exact schedule here for safety reasons, but I will give you an example of what my schedule generally looks like (the days may not match the actual):

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 7.23.40 PM

This schedule is my template for the week. Since homeschooling is like my day job, I safeguard my weekday mornings to get this done (except for the day when they have classes). I used to have my kids in music and pe classes on two different days, plus they attended a morning coop during a separate day of the week. Hardly any quality homeschooling got done as a result. My new schedule gives them one day out of the home for their classes. While they are busy, I take advantage of this day by doing errands (like going to the grocery) and meeting with people.

Some variations in my schedule may happen when there are urgent needs that must be attended to, when I have projects to complete, or when we have social events. But generally, this is it. Interestingly, when I don’t follow my weekly routine and have too many activities outside of the home (especially ones that end late at night), I tend to get sick. So having a schedule that isn’t too hectic keeps my body from breaking down, too. It’s actually necessary for me to keep to predictable cycles. Maybe it’s my age!

Edric and I also share one calendar that is updated everyday. His very able assistant intelligently manages this calendar for us. She is amazing! Keeping one calendar on our phones and devices has improved our communication as husband and wife. I used to get frustrated when he would book engagements and tell me about them the day of! Now I know what to expect and how to prepare myself. Furthermore, I also don’t confirm speaking engagements or appointments that eat into things like family time, meals together, evenings, or Sundays unless I refer to our calendar and run them by Edric first.

If you are involved in ministry, you may want to read on about the other tips that have helped me with time management:

  1. MINISTER ACCORDING TO YOUR LIFESTAGE.

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

We are called to evangelize and disciple others no matter what our lifestage as women. The question for moms, especially those with younger children, is how do I obey God’s purpose for me without compromising my priorities? How can I creatively integrate my lifestage with the call to minister to other women?

From the very beginning of our marriage, Edric and I had a discipleship group. We belonged to one and we started one, too. At one point the group we were handling got too big and people began to get married and have children. This is when their priorities started to change. As for me, I was often pregnant and/or breastfeeding, working part-time, and homeschooling.

At some point, I remember having a conversation with my mom where I said, “I don’t agree with the discipleship model of CCF (our church). It’s not right that young mothers are expected to disciple others when they are caught up with raising young children. Isn’t our primary ministry our kids?”

My mom, in her very gentle manner, listened and offered the best advice. She said, “Why don’t you disciple women in a way that incorporates your lifestage?” Brilliant, mom!

So I started a playgroup with the young mothers in my group. Since the moms could bring their children, they prioritized these playgroups. We would meet in the park and our kids would play while we had accountability and encouraged one another in the faith. This playgroup eventually evolved into a more formal cooperative of moms who now support each other’s homeschool journey. At present, we are on a break but will resume again in September. It has been a great way for me to reach out to the moms in our discipleship group and I’ve been so blessed by the moms who have stepped up to teach and handle classes for the kids.

Another challenge came when Edric and I moved into our new home. This geographic change affected the dynamic of our original discipleship group of men and women. Many of them found it difficult to trek all the way to our side of the metropolis. I felt very discouraged when this happened because our desire was to open up our home for ministry. But the traffic made it impossible to get people to our place in the evenings. Thankfully, I still got to see most of the women during our Homeschool Coop, but I did miss the old days, too, when we could gather as couples and cram together in our apartment.

Not wanting our new home to go to waste, Edric and I started another couples group for neighbors in our subdivision. We may have moved home locations but this didn’t mean that serving God by discipling others had to stop. Getting together with neighbors made it easy to stick to weekly meetings.

It has been almost two years since this group began. We rotate houses to give couples the opportunity to host and facilitate the sessions. The kids are welcome as well which means we don’t have to leave them behind every week.

  1. DO MINISTRY AS A TEAM

Another way to integrate lifestage and ministry is to mount events or speak at gatherings where Edric and I can serve as a team along with our kids. Edric and I share the burden of preparing singles for marriage, reaching out to young couples and families, and talking about homeschooling. Edric also feels called to educate people on financial literacy. So we help out with three big events in the year that are mounted by the Family Ministry of our church – Before and After I Do, Family and Finance, and Parenting — and other events that are related to these topics.

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Whenever our kids can be included in our talks, we let them prepare their own testimonies so they can experience ministering along side us. This simplifies our lives by allowing us to be together while we serve and direct our efforts toward the same things.

  1. DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY NO (IF YOU SAY NO FOR THE RIGHT REASONS)

Sometimes, saying “No” is necessary, even at the expense of disappointing others. I learned this from my father who has laser focus for what he does. As a result he has been very effective at time management and accomplishing much for the Lord. Although it’s hard to turn invitations down, Edric and I realized that there are many people out there whom God can raise up to do a better job that we can as speakers. Even though people may ask us to speak doesn’t always mean we are the most qualified or most prepared to do so. God’s work will never lack His resources, people being one of them. So turning down an invitation doesn’t mean that an organization will be disadvantaged just because we can’t say yes. On the contrary, God will supply the best person(s) for the task.

What’s the criteria for saying, No? Edric has a template with specific questions that his assistant asks the person or organization inviting him or us. Then this data is inputted into a spreadsheet which calculates a percentage rating. Anything below 65 or 70% is low priority. I know it sounds pretty nerdy but it helps to assess whether an invitation is aligned with his (our) goals and focus.

  1. SYNC YOUR PASSIONS AND YOUR PURPOSE

I shared earlier that all of us are called to evangelize and disciple others. However, life stages pose a challenge to this call because some of us are newly married, pregnant or breastfeeding, or raising young kids (and some of us are doing this without any household help). These seasons demand a lot from us.

After I gave birth to my fourth child, Edric encouraged me to start a blog. When Edric proposed the idea he also asked his dad to help me set up my site. Papa (my father in law) came up with the name, “Teach with Joy.” I thought the blog was a great idea! After all, I was feeling more homebound than ever and I wondered how I would be able to reach out to women to minister to them (outside of my discipleship group).

I decided to make this site a venue to connect with the hearts of women all over the world with the gospel of Christ. My desire was to give people a glimpse of what it is like to be a wife, mother, and family that follows Christ. My prayer was that women would respond positively and with openness to the honesty (my mistakes and failures) and to the joy they read about.

Ever since I was young, writing was a passion of mine. My old writings were dark and emotional. However, as I matured in my faith, I wanted to write about what God is doing in our family and share practical insights and tips that can help women be the best version of themselves. As I merged my passion to write with the purpose of ministry, God blessed the effort. I’m humbled to be able to receive countless private emails and messages from women all over the world who want to know more about Jesus, thank me, or connect with me and tell me about themselves. Each email and message is a delight to read and respond to.

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The great thing about blogging is that I’m still accessible to my husband and kids. Furthermore, it has opened doors that I never would have anticipated – to endorse products that celebrate family and to be given the privilege of greater influence.

Recently, Lifestyle TV taped a series of interstitial shows to be aired in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. It’s a show called Joy of Living where I get to interview women about their life journeys. The project came as a surprise. I never expected to receive this opportunity!

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When the producer pitched the idea to me I had two requests. One was that I get to tape at home for most or all of the shows. I didn’t know if they would say yes. But I was willing to let the project go if they refused because I didn’t want to compromise my time with the kids. Well, they approved this request! I was overjoyed! The second request was that I be given the voice to speak about my faith. They let me do so for as long as I didn’t come across as preachy. That was fine with me.

God has given each one of us women abilities and capacities that are unique to us. Some of you have talents that are out of this world amazing! You may wonder if these are going to waste as you prioritize your spouse and children. My encouragement to you is to trust in God’s timetable. Put Him first, your spouse and kids next, and then let Him reveal to you what other aspects of your life need to count as “big rocks.” That’s where good time management begins – by asking the Lord what really matters, seeking to know what His will is, and then obeying it. As you do so He will not waste the gifts or dreams He has given you. They come from Him after all. In His beautiful time and way He will welcome and encourage their emergence for His glory!

If you feel lost because good time management eludes you at present, don’t be discouraged. Don’t lose hope. You are probably a young mom whose got one hand attending to a toddler, another arm breastfeeding a newborn, and you’ve got to cook a meal for your family tonight, and maybe you have a job that you are juggling, too. I’ve been there…It gets easier…Trust me.

Isn’t it a relief to know that God doesn’t expect perfection from us? Instead, He wants us. A deep, intimate relationship with us where we experience His presence, grace, enabling and peace.

In the meantime, let’s do what we can to identify our big and small rocks, exert our best effort, and trust that God will multiply our capacities. He will supply us with the resources and abilities we need to accomplish what He wants us to at this stage in our lives. We need to believe that He wants us to succeed at being good time managers and He will surely help us!

 

Australia Trip Highlights

imageOur short trip to Australia, specifically the region of New South Wales, left me wanting for more! I can’t wait to go back with the rest of our kids in the future to explore more of this amazing country.

We stayed in the Paramatta area in the Paramatta hotel. Some people say it’s not super safe but we were fine! We walked around at night and had no problems. Plus our hotel was close to the grocery, 7/11 and Mc Donald’s (where we would grab our breakfasts because they had healthy wraps), and I found discount pharmacies where they sell good vitamins for kids for very inexpensive.

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Chinatown (Reasonable shopping if you are a cheapo like me!)

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Yummy Mamaks! Malaysian food.

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Central business district

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Easy to get around with an Opal Pass. We bought our passes at 7/11 and used them the entire time to ride the trains.

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Maybe our train system can be like this someday…

Ran into some suspicious characters…good thing Edric was there to save us…

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One of the most beautiful malls I have seen. Queen Victoria Mall. 


Attending Hillsong Conference with church mates, Sophie, Leyz, Charles, the Davids and Ongs.

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Bondi Beach with Ateneo friends, Randell and Karen, who graciously took us around and treated us to an amazing lunch!

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We walked around Sydney Harbor and visited the market at the Rocks.

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What a treat to eat dinner at the revolving restaurant of the Sydney Tower Eye courtesy of CCF Sydney  friends.

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We visited Sea Life for Edan’s sake

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On our last day we went to an Aboriginal cultural show, Blue Mountains, and Featherdale

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Too cute! 

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Best tour group for Blue Mountains! 

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Messina Gelato. The best! Edan gained a couple of pounds eating ice cream every day!

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Spend an evening at Cockle Bay Wharf for some hot chocolate and waffles courtesy of CCF friends once again.

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Sydney has them, too. Not sure if this was a legit need but Edric gave anyway just in case.

We took a quick trip to Kinokuniya bookstore. Wow. An awesome selection of books. Edan was in heaven. 

Edric spoke at CCF Sydney. What a joy to serve here and meet Filipinos who love God and want to be in community with one another. 
Not to be missed…Chocolateria San Churro!


 In the end…there’s no place like home! 

Teaching Kids About Healthy Sexuality

The question “When and what do I teach my kids about sex?” comes up in parenting huddles, where moms gather together and air their concerns about how difficult it is to protect our children from the sexually-charged world we live in. It is seemingly impossible to completely shelter our kids from the images and messages that blatantly celebrate sexiness and sex outside of marriage.

Moms have opened up to me about their children being exposed to pornography at ridiculously young ages. My own kids constantly feel the need to turn their eyes away from magazine racks that exhibit half-naked women on their covers in places like groceries, hardware stores, and bookstores. These places are supposed to be family-friendly places! However, our children’s eyes are hardly “safe”. It’s also difficult to sit through television programs because the ads between shows aren’t always wholesome for kids.

Let’s take a realistic look at how challenging it is to raise our kids with healthy views and convictions about sex and sexuality:

– Nearly 60 percent of sixteen to eighteen year olds have had sexual intercourse.

– Nearly one third of thirteen to fifteen year olds have had sexual intercourse.

– Nearly 60 percent of sexually active teenagers do not use a method of birth control, and the same number of kids have never once talked with their parents about birth control.

– Ninety percent of kids surveyed believe in marriage, yet 74 percent say they would live with someone before or instead of marriage.

– Thirty-one percent of teen girl virgins say they have felt pressured by a guy to go further.

– Sixty-seven percent of teens who have had intercourse wish that they had waited.

– Over half of the young people in America claim to have had oral sex by the age of twenty-two.

– The average age of the first Internet exposure to pornography is eleven years old.

– Three million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur each year among teenagers.

– In the summer of 2000, Twist magazine did an online survey of ten thousand girls, over half of whom were under fourteen. Amazingly, 24 percent of the girls who said they were virgins responded that they engaged in oral sex.

– There are fourteen thousand acts of intercourse or sexual innuendo on primetime TV. (Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality by Jim Burns pg. 17 – 18)

Even if our kids are growing up in a morally toxic world, the good news is we don’t have to resign to this reality. There are several ways that we can be part of the solution to help our children grow up with healthy views and convictions about sex.

First, we need a mindset change. Sex is an amazing thing! Sex is God’s beautiful design for creation, intimacy, and pleasure in marriage. Why have we let the media, wrong experiences and inherited perspectives distort this truth so that we are ashamed and embarrassed to talk to our kids about it?

Unfortunately, this means that most kids don’t have conversations with their parents about healthy sexuality. They also hear confusing, negative messages about sex from their peers, role models or media. When it comes to the “sex talk”, many parents simply avoid the discussion, wait too long before educating their kids on the topic, or they simply tell them, “Don’t do it!” The message that religious organizations often pass on is that sex is a BAD thing so don’t do it outside of marriage. As for the rest of the world, it’s all about safe sex practices — how to do it without getting pregnant or STDs.

We need to have positive conversations with our children about sex, letting them know that it is neither ugly or dirty. It is wonderful! So wonderful it’s worth protecting and safeguarding for marriage.

After having five children, I realized that all kids, at some point wonder how they physically arrive into this world. Some kids are curious at younger ages, others at later ages. By the age of 7, our kids pretty much understand what sexual intercourse is and why it is beautiful in the context of a husband and wife relationship. Edric and I have this conversation with them early.

We answered (and continue to answer) their questions without substituting cutesy names for their private parts. Here’s a summary of what we cover…Girls have a vagina. Boys have a penis. There’s nothing immoral with those words. The two parts fit together according to God’s design so that a husband and wife can express their love for one another in the most intimate and special way. When sperm comes out of the man’s penis and goes into a woman’s vagina, one of the sperms will meet the egg inside the woman to form a baby. When you get to a certain age, you will start to find a girl beautiful or a boy handsome, and you will want to share this experience with them. But God wants you to save this for your husband or wife because it’s such a special thing.

Whew. That wasn’t too tough, was it?

We try to have these dialogues in a straightforward, non- squeamish way. Edric is better at this than I am. Sometimes I get uncomfortable going through the details. But I praise God that we are on the same page about educating our kids on sex in marriage early. If they hear unbiblical views on sex from friends or media, they can cross-check this info with the truth we’ve told them.

It’s also important to explain gender differences early. Because we’ve helped our kids to properly identity their body parts and the differences between female and male anatomies, they understand gender distinctions as early as 2 years old.

I remember asking our sons one time, “How do you know you are a boy?”

One of them blurted out, “Huh? I have a penis!” Like, hello, mom, did you intentionally ask a dumb question? Of course he didn’t say this. But I loved that his answer was so confident and uncomplicated.
On a comedic note, when we moved into our home and our 4-year old daughter walked into her bedroom, she announced, “No boys allowed. This is the vagina floor!”

Edric and I busted out into laughter. Basically she meant, “This area is for girls only!”

Beside teaching our children gender distinctions, we also need to tell them that their sexual organs are to be treated as sacred and private, educating them on what is appropriate and inappropriate when it comes to being touched. 

So many kids today become victims of sexual abuse, molestation and even rape. Tragically, most of it happens in their own homes and they get confused about whether it is wrong or not. If these is anything that makes me angry, heartbroken, and terrified at the same time it is that children are so commonly violated in this way in this country. About 60 to 70% of the people who come to me for counseling can recall at least one instance when they were abused by someone, and usually it was a relative. And they aren’t coming to me for counseling for these past experiences per se. However it comes up during the session as I ask questions or as the person opens up to me about their history.

My struggle as a mom is not to live in fear and pass on this fear to my kids because of my own past trauma as a rape victim. Yet at the same time, I want them to be aware that this can happen to them. So they need to protect themselves.

Edric and I tell them, “Don’t let anyone touch your private parts. These are private parts. Other people aren’t supposed to see them or touch them. And if anyone ever does that and tells you not to tell anyone, you can always tell mommy and daddy and we will protect you.”

Here’s a great book that teaches kids how to protect themselves. Available through @belugadreams


We also tell our household help not to touch our children’s private parts, unless they are bathing the little ones. (By two or threeyears of age children can be taught to wash themselves.) We teach our little daughters to dress modestly and cross their legs, too, so they aren’t exposing their underwear. We tell them, “Sit like a lady.”

As parents, we also have to model for our children how a woman and man interact with one another, relate to each other, and how we fulfill our roles within the family.

Furthermore, dads should spend time with sons to mentor them and moms should spend time with daughters to mentor them. Edric took Elijah to Mt. Apo when he turned 13 so he could have a rite of passage into young manhood. During their climb they were with a seasoned mountaineer and his son, too.

After four days, Elijah came home scruffy, stinky, and weathered! He learned how to have grit, to push himself and survive difficult weather conditions. He also watched Edric very closely. On the mountain, they spent time worshipping the Lord, sharing the gospel with other climbers, and reading Elijah’s letters from family members for his 13th birthday.

Not too long after this event, Elijah wrote a touching letter to Edric that included these lines, “Dad, thank you for teaching me what it means to be a man because I need you to be my role model. I really look up to you and I want to be like you…” With happy tears, Edric and I glanced at one another and smiled. What a privilege to meet this need in our kids!

Our children’s first concept of gender identity comes from us. Whether we acknowledge it or not, they are observing us and looking to us to understand what it means to be a man or woman according to God’s design.

At the same time, we need to affirm their worth in the Lord because relationships at home have a significant effect on the choices our children make and will make, especially when it comes to sexual purity.
My dad used to tell my sisters and I something like this: Each of you is like a “Rolls-Royce.” Think of a common car versus something like a Rolls-Royce. Everyone gets to drive a common car. Not a Rolls-Royce.

What he meant to say was, “No test-driving allowed! Don’t let guys treat you like a common car because you aren’t!”
Granted, it was totally a guy thing for him to compare us to cars, but the principle behind his advice was important. He wanted us to realize that we are special, that HE THOUGHT WE ARE SPECIAL, that guys should treat us as special. More importantly, he demonstrated what it means to be treated as special by being available, encouraging, and discipling us. (My mom was the same way.)

Very recently I was counseling a beautiful lady who suffered the after-effects of a painful breakup and bad relationship with a guy who was controlling and manipulative. When I asked her about her family culture, she told me she never felt good enough or important to her parents. So she thought it was normal for a guy to treat her badly, too. After all, she was brought up in a family where she had to prove her worth in order to be loved. Her father also made her feel incompetent and incapable. She tolerated her unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend for a miserably long time until God opened her eyes to see that marrying this guy would have been a huge mistake. Up till this day, as an adult, she longs to have a loving relationship with her parents but she feels misunderstood and rejected so often by them so she finds it difficult to ask them for advice when it comes to boyfriend-girlfriend relationships.

As I listened to her, I was convicted to put extra effort into strengthening my relationship with my kids. They need that security from Edric and I, and they need to be able to trust us with their hearts so we can influence them to make wise choices.

In her book, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, author Meg Meeker writes that parent connectedness is the number-one factor in preventing girls from engaging in premarital sex and indulging in drugs and alcohol…Girls with good fathers are less likely to flaunt themselves to seek male attention…76% of teenage girls said that fathers influenced their decision on whether they should become sexually active…

It’s only by God’s grace that my parents met this need for affection and the desire to be valued in my siblings and me. As a result, we weren’t as eager to seek out this need in the opposite sex. Okay, so I floundered the most in this area because I actually had one boyfriend in high school and it wasn’t a very healthy relationship. But my sisters and brothers, wow. My youngest sister’s first kiss was at the altar! She made it very clear to her boyfriend (the only guy she had a serious relationship with) that she had strict boundaries. No kissing before marriage!

Maybe you were more like me and made mistakes. And maybe you are a parent reading this and you know that your child is not staying pure. I hope this bit will give you hope, as you come alongside your child to pray for them and restore them back to the Lord.

If you’ve been a follower of my blog, you know that I had two serious boyfriend relationships before marriage. I didn’t have sexual intercourse with my boyfriends, but I did everything else. So I tell people that I struggled with sexual impurity to call it what it is.

Even if I was raised in a good home, I made the choice to go against God’s standard of purity by going “too close to the edge.” The fact that I was a victim of rape and sexual abuse probably made it easier for me to rationalize my choices but that wasn’t an excuse.

I remember my mom calling me long distance one evening while she was away on a trip, and she gently asked, “How are you and your boyfriend doing? I dreamt about you guys last night and you were doing something you weren’t supposed to.”

I knew what she was alluding to and I must have turned five shades of pale. God had spoken to her through a dream! Can you believe it?! I was so convicted and bothered. I admitted to my mom that my boyfriend and I were indeed doing something inappropriate. This wasn’t the only time I had to make a confession to my mom or my dad.

However, their emphasis was not on lecturing me, embarrassing me, or judging me. Were they hurt? Yes. Were they concerned? Yes. Did they have to set restrictions? Yes. But they did these things in a manner that was redemptive. There was grace and forgiveness in the context of an existing love relationship with me. This inspired me to please God because I knew that my parents wanted what was best for me. They had proven this for many years prior to me ever being in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.

Author Jim Burns said that as parents we need to convey to our kids that “God created sexuality, and in the light of marriage, He sees it as very good. Our children need to know that God wants the best for each of them in this area of their lives. He is not the great killjoy but rather the creator and sustainer of life.”

Unless our kids are convinced that we are for them, that we are on their side and want what is best for them, they won’t listen to the values we want them to internalize when it comes to their sexuality. So let’s start investing in our relationship with them from the very beginning so that the truths we pass on to them about safeguarding purity will sink deep and take root in their hearts. They might not make perfect choices (like me) but may their relationship with us and with the Lord, through the power of prayer, hook them back and get them back on track.

Here are some facts that tell us why sex is best reserved for marriage: (Source – Ray Short)

Fact 1 – Premarital sex tends to break up couples.
Fact 2 – Many men do not want to marry a woman who has had intercourse with someone else.
Fact 3 – Those who have premarital sex tend to have less happy marriages.
Fact 4 – Those who have premarital sex are more likely to have their marriage end in divorce.
Fact 5 – Persons and couples who have had premarital sex are more likely to have extramarital affairs as well.
Fact 6 – Having premarital sex may fool you into marrying a person who is not right for you.
Fact 7 – Persons and couples who have premarital sex experience sexual satisfaction sooner after they are married. HOWEVER –
Fact 8 – They are likely to be less satisfied overall with their sex life during marriage.
Fact 9 – Poor premarital sexual habits can be carried over to spoil sex in marriage.

As I end this, I want to propose that committing to purity is a family thing. When Edric and I were a younger couple, we watched a bunch of cool TV series on certain evenings to relax and unwind. These shows had great plots but they also had scenes in them and values that blatantly celebrated unbiblical perspectives on sex. We would close our eyes through those parts or press fast forward to avoid watching the “unholy” stuff. But after awhile we were like, What are we doing? This is a waste of time and it is not honoring to the Lord.

We realized that if we can’t sit through programs like these with our kids because we don’t want their minds polluted, then why do we think our minds are exempted from being corrupted as well?

We are all called to holiness. Furthermore, it’s easier to encourage the entire family to pursue purity if we all use the same filtration standards. Here’s a great passage that gives us guidelines for what we should watch and listen to: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭

There’s nothing inherently wrong with media. But the evil one uses these channels to influence and infiltrate our minds. Therefore we must be discriminating as a family about the kinds of shows, programs, music, and movies we entertain ourselves with. Everything that we take in shapes our values and perspectives. 

Psychology Today tells us that “Today, children are being sexualized earlier and earlier, in part because they are exposed to sexual material in movies, television, music and other media earlier than ever…A 2012 study shows that movies influence teens’ sexual attitudes and behaviors as well. The study, published in Psychological Science, found that the more teens were exposed to sexual content in movies, the earlier they started having sex and the likelier they were to have casual, unprotected sex.” (Psychology Today)

When our oldest son, Elijah, started using an IPad he purchased, he installed restrictions on it to protect himself from going on sites or accessing media that could be pornographic. I praise God that he was convicted to do this on his own, as a child. Now that he is entering the crazy hormonal phase of young adulthood, my prayer for him is that God will continue to keep him pure hearted. I pray that for all my kids.

Even if Edric and I try our best to raise our kids with healthy sexuality, it’s no guarantee that they will stay pure in heart and mind. However, I believe they have a better chance of doing so if we start teaching them young. As the Scriptures say, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.” Psalms‬ ‭119:9‬ ‭

I really like what Paul said to his young disciple, Timothy: “But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭3:14-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I don’t know what your perspective on sexuality has been. Maybe you are a young parent, trying to figure out how to raise your kids right. Or maybe you have older kids who are interested in the opposite sex or already dating someone and you are worried about the choices they have made or will make. Or maybe you are a person who is struggling with gender identity or sexual promiscuity. Or you didn’t grow up in a home where you saw healthy gender roles modeled by a mother or father, or you experienced sexual abuse.

Whatever your life state may be, I want you to know that God has a plan for you, as the man or woman that he designed for you to be. Everything that you have been through He can redeem and make beautiful. If no one has ever valued or treasured you and if you don’t feel like you are not worth much because of your choices, you need to know that God sees you. He knows you. He wants to have a personal relationship with you. He loves you and He died for you because you are so precious to Him! He can purify you and me and restore whatever sexual brokenness we have gone through.  

“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalms‬ ‭51:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

TMA Homeschool Becomes Homeschool Global

TMA Homeschool has upgraded its identity with a new name — Homeschool Global (HG). After nearly 17 years of serving homeschool families, this rebranding better encompasses the plethora of TMA Homeschool’s support systems for homeschoolers.

As I write this, I may sound a bit biased because I’m directly connected and invested in this program. My kids are enrolled under HG and my husband is the President of this company. So let me just get that out there to be forthright.

 

IMG_0629It’s not a perfect program but it’s definitely a pioneer of the homeschool movement in the Philippines on many levels. It was the first-ever accredited home education program of the Philippine Department of Education back in 1999 as TMA Homeschool. It was also the first to offer high school accreditation for homeschoolers and U.S. accreditation for families who plan to send their children abroad for university. Students under HG have transitioned to top schools all over the Philippines. Furthermore, it offers an open curriculum system that gives parents the flexibility to customise the education of their child.

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HG was also the first homeschool provider in the Philippines to develop a portfolio system for evaluating children’s progress. Another plus is that HG has a host of advisors, both Academic and Family Advisors, who are homeschooling or have homeschooled, who are committed to helping parents successfully teach and train their children. At the end of each year, HG also implements achievement testing to cull data and provide parents with valuable information on areas of strength and weakness in their children, as well as comparisons to global norms.

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Since 1999, HG has served thousands of families both here and overseas. Through the years of dealing with all kinds of families HG understands that families need more than just accreditation and curriculum to homeschool their children well. They need to belong to a community, receive academic support, attend relevant trainings and events, get connected to other homeschool parents through cooperatives and playgroups, and have access to enrichment classes, testing services, as well as group learning opportunities for their children. They also benefit from being a part of a program that can represent their concerns to the Department of Education. These are some of the support systems that HG makes accessible to families.

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My kids will be having their portfolio reviews with HG very soon as we close our homeschool year. To be honest, these seasons can be stressful because I have to look through the work my children have done and make sure they’ve complied with the requirements for their level. Not every parent likes these reviews and some choose to homeschool with other providers who have a more cookie-cutter approach to evaluating children’s progress. Some parents still prefer the more familiar school-ish methods of testing and assessing kids given their own experience with conventional models of education.

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Personally, I believe that the portfolio method of evaluating student progress is a superior way of gauging a child’s total development. During a conversation with an official of the Department of Education a few years back, she acknowledged that portfolio reviews are the way to go and lauded TMA Homeschool for implementing this.

Pen and paper evaluations, although simpler to use and standardize, can only tell so much about what children know and do not know, while portfolios show things like projects, life experiences, research, compositions, applied learnings, and the unique creations of students. Kids are encouraged to present their work and talk through the highlights of their year, as well as synthesize their learnings, which is so much more like what they will be doing as professionals or business owners in the future.

Here are sample contents from the portfolio of my fourth grade son, Edan:

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Portfolios aren’t always displayed as physical folders, too. Older children often decide how they will put together their own portfolio. Many times this is in electronic form and they get to present to their peers as well as an advisor. (Elijah is busy finalizing his portfolio on the computer.)

I’m personally thankful for all the advisors from HG who have walked along side me in this homeschool journey and given me greater insight into my children’s personalities, strengths and weaknesses. The feedback from these porfolio reviews has been vital because it has challenged me year after year to think through how to better teach and equip my kids.

Beyond the personalised support, I suppose what HG really gives me is peace of mind. It’s assuring to know that my family is under the umbrella of an organization that has a long-standing relationship with the Department of Education and gets the real essence of homeschooling. HG is unique in the sense that it’s not just comprised of educators but of people who were homeschooled by their parents, people who successfully homeschooled their kids, people who are still in the trenches of homeschooling, and people around the world who are part of global homeschooling initiatives. In short, I’m pretty confident that HG knows homeschooling more than any other program in this country.

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HG Website: HOMESCHOOL GLOBAL

Facebook: HOMESCHOOL GLOBAL

Yet like I said earlier, it’s not a perfect program. I remember instances when Edric (aka the President) would ask me, “Is it worth it? Should I keep pushing the cause of homeschooling. I am tired.”

He would get discouraged when parents were disappointed with services or the organization made mistakes that compromised the homeschooling experience for families. But the feedback through the years whether good or bad has been beneficial, both to humble Edric and the team, and to make them revisit their motivations and evaluate the systems that HG implores to help parents.

By God’s grace, I have seen HG improve every year and I can vouch for the heart of the people behind this program, especially the President’s (wink, wink). I know that Edric and the team remain committed to changing what needs to be changed in order to help parents successfully homeschool their children.

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Okay, so let’s get real. At the end of the day, it’s not a program like HG that’s going to make your homeschooling the amazing experience it ought to be. It’s your commitment to the goal and vision God has put in your heart for your children. If that means God has called you to homeschool your kids, then choose a homeschool provider that will best enable you to pursue that goal and vision. For our family, this happens to be HG. But, you have a number of providers to choose from today versus 10 years ago. It’s a great time to homeschool!

Let me end this by saying that even if I highly recommend HG for personal and idealistic reasons, I’m first and foremost an advocate of homeschooling and I’m here to encourage you and equip you in whatever way I can. So whatever provider you settle with, may God enrich, empower, and bless you on your journey as a homeschooling parent!

 

 

 

 

Money & My Honey

When I married my husband, Edric, I knew that we weren’t starting off with a lot of money. It wasn’t an issue for me. I was a starry-eyed bride caught up in the romance of our relationship. Furthermore, his good work ethic and his desire to be a good provider made me feel pretty confident that money wouldn’t be a problem for us. Maybe we wouldn’t be rich but I was certain we would have enough. More importantly, Edric loved God and honored Him. God would surely bless Edric if he kept seeking Him first. This was the hope I clung to.

Well, reality set in within the first year of our marriage. It wasn’t easy having just enough. Admittedly, coming from a family with means felt like a big contrast to what we had. Enough didn’t quite feel enough. I couldn’t travel. I had to stick to a budget. Even if I didn’t grow up seeing my parents spend on luxury goods because that wasn’t a value of theirs, I was used to living pretty comfortably.

When I compared my state in life to my siblings and parents, jealousy and disappointment would settle in. God had to deal with my wrong perspective because the discontentment infected me with worry, stress, and frustration.

I didn’t want to be the kind of wife who made my husband feel like he wasn’t good enough, or a nagging woman who pressured him to be a better provider. After all, he was trying his best. Together, our incomes didn’t amount to a whole lot of money but he was certainly doing his part to “bring home the bacon.” So I had to learn to be quiet and turn over my fears and concerns to the Lord. Thankfully, God also used the years when we struggled to teach me valuable lessons about money.

BE A “THANKER” NOT A COMPLAINER. Although we didn’t have a lot when I compared myself to wealthy people, we certainly had everything we needed. God didn’t fail us. We always had food to eat and we didn’t have health issues back then. Our children were born strong and without complications. We could even afford to household help. So how could I complain?!

I’ve come to realize that whatever financial state my family and I are in is God’s will for us at that juncture in our lives. Therefore whether there is abundance or lack, rejoicing is in order!

LET MONEY ISSUES STRENGTHEN YOUR RELATIONSHIP. I’ve told this story before. As a young couple, we had one of those unreliable second-hand cars. It would break down and be a pain to get started when it was nearing the end of its life. However, Edric and I were able to laugh through these moments of car trouble. God allowed us to see the humor in our predicaments and enjoy them as romantic memories.

We would say, “Imagine if we had everything all at once, what would we have to look forward to?” Because we didn’t start off ultra comfortable, we got to dream together and encourage one another to keep hoping in God’s plan for our lives, including our finances.

Having a thankful attitude also enabled me to celebrate the blessings of others. I remember an instance when one of my kids told me that their cousin made a big deal out of their new SUV. A part of me felt annoyed at my nephew for bragging, especially because Edric and I needed a new vehicle. But then I realized it was a prideful thought. So I turned to my son and told him, “Tell your cousin, ‘praise God, I am so happy for you.'” I meant it with all sincerity, too.

Today, I still have to practice this perspective. When people around me succeed or increase in their wealth, I have to remind myself, “Be happy for them!” It doesn’t mean God loves me less when He prospers others materially. Whatever I have is God’s allotment for me and I can choose to be miserably envious or to be richly content in Him!

BE A CHEERLEADER. Edric invested so much effort and time into being a provider for our family. It was a burden he gladly chose to bear but it was a burden nonetheless. When he would open up to me about his defeats and fears as a man, God taught me how to speak life to his heart (something I had to improve on as a wife!). I built him up and communicated to him my confidence in his abilities. I cheered him on, reminding him that God would surely bless the work of his hands. I could say this truthfully because I knew Edric loved God and obeyed God’s will in His life. Yet even during seasons when Edric made mistakes God trained me to trust that He would redeem and restore Edric and be merciful to us.

Recently, I was speaking to a group of single ladies and I told them, “There’s no perfect man out there. He doesn’t exist. But you and I, as women, have the unique capacity to encourage and build up the man God has called us to marry and love. And our affirmation transforms him and empowers him to be the man God has called him to be.”

When the realities of our less than ideal financial situation sunk in early on in our marriage, I had to decide whether I was going to be a cheerleader to my husband or a discourager and life sucker. By God’s grace I chose to be the former. And to this day, when business stress inflicts Edric, I whisper to him, “It’s going to be okay, hon. God will take care of us. I know you are working hard and doing your best. I don’t doubt that He will bless the work of your hands.”

It still matters to Edric to hear this, as it probably matters to all men out there who need a hopeful boost when their thoughts begin to darken and their outlook turns bleak.

  IT’S NOT YOUR MONEY. God owns everything as the Psalms declare. “The earth is the LORD’S and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.” Psalms‬ ‭24:1‬ ‭

Therefore every spending decision must consider God’s values and priorities. When women ask me about whether it’s okay to buy designer bags, I don’t guilt trip them by saying that it’s a sin. Rather, I encourage them to consider whether this is how God wants them to use their money. Designer bags and luxury items are not sinful things. Instead it’s the motivation behind their purchase.

Why do we buy expensive products? Sure, they can be distinctively prettier and yes, maybe the quality is a factor, too. However, can we say with 100% certainty that God would applaud us for spending tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands, even millions on luxury items? Especially when we do so to ascribe worth to ourselves and convince others that we are somehow more special because we can afford to buy these superfluities?

It may not even be the extravagant things. Yet, we’re driven by a compulsion to acquire material possessions. They may not be expensive when placed in the realm of luxury, and yet we derive pleasure and joy from accumulating and hoarding. It could be toys for our children, clothes, gadgets, even groceries! (The grocery is where I go crazy!)

SURRENDER YOUR DREAMS TO GOD AND FOCUS ON SEEKING HIM. If there is one person who can keep our longings and dreams safe it’s the Lord. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present which assures us that He knows what is best for us. If a longing or a dream in in contradiction with His good purpose for our lives, then He will change these to something far better.

I wanted a home for our family at the 10-year mark of our marriage. This was my dream. It didn’t happen. As the walls of our condominium seemed to close in on our growing family, I entrusted the desire for a home to the Lord. Edric was convicted to give to the building fund of our church and he wrote a check that spelled goodbye to our house plans. Yet, God’s leading to him was so clear. “Build MY house first.”

In tears, Edric wrote, “God owns everything” behind the check and in faith, deposited the check in the offering box. Three years later, we moved into a home that God miraculously and supernaturally provided the money for! However, He intended for us to exercise faith with our money before He supplied for our dream.

“True humility and fear of the LORD lead to riches, honor, and long life.” Proverbs‬ ‭22:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God’s economics are often counterintuitive to human reasoning. When we question our financial circumstances we must believe that His character will not fail us, even if His will may unsettle us.

No matter what season we have found ourselves in and continue to find ourselves in when it comes to finances, God has proven himself faithful. It’s never really about whether the money is enough, but whether we come to the point of recognition that God is ALWAYS enough and MORE than enough! ‬‬

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

If you want more practical tips and lessons on how to handle money so it doesn’t handle you or cause issues between you and your honey, consider attending the upcoming Family & Finance conference this July 30. 🙂 To register: Family and Finance

Your Kids Are What You Eat

We binged on junk food when we got back from our trip to New Zealand and Australia. It was a good and terrible thing. I was bloated and lethargic after one night of joyous gluttony.

Normally, we don’t eat this way as a family. Growing up, I didn’t either. My mom fed us raisins, home made popcorn, and fruit for snacks. We hardly drank fruit juices, too. It was basically water. So I never acquired an appetite for coffee, tea, soft drinks or juice.

I am a water girl and I drink chlorophyll powder and turmeric. That’s about it. But once in a while I will eat a piece of cake, gobble down M&Ms, and Jalapeño Cheetos. Yet I try to avoid doing this on a regular basis, especially because I am aging. It’s doubly hard to get rid of fat and build muscle.

The challenge is training our kids to eat nutritiously and make wise choices when it comes to taking care of their bodies. At the beginning it’s about teaching them to obey, which includes finishing what is on their plate. By the age of 4 (I wish it was earlier), our kids eat what we give them and ask them to. Praise God. That’s His grace.

Another aspect is setting boundaries and being a positive example as parents. If we don’t make healthy choices we can’t expect our kids to do the same. It’s a family thing. Our kids are what we eat becauase they tend to eat what we eat.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or unrealistic either. I am not vegan or someone who eats only organic food. Sometimes I wish I was, and I applaud those who are this disciplined. But it’s not that easy to be organic about everything in the Philippines. Plus, focusing too much on what we can and can’t eat can cause our children to be paranoid and legalistic. Our kids pick up on what Edric and I talk about so quickly, so the older ones get overly concerned about their sugar intake and they look at labels for preservatives in food because they hear us converse about these things.

However, there are some non-negotiable about our diet. First, minimal refined sugar. Take soft drinks for instance. Soft drinks are hands down bad for your body. So we don’t let our kids develop a palate for it. They don’t see Edric and I drinking it either. Sometimes Edric will buy a Coke when we are at a Chinese resto but that’s about it. And the kids will give him a hard time and say, “Why is dad drinking a Coke?!” Like its a mortal sin!
Thankfully, because we talked to them about the badness of soft drinks early, they have no liking for it. Even when they go to other people’s homes or parties where pop is served, they avoid it on their own.

With the exception of my chocolate chip cookies, we use honey, muscovado or coconut sugar to sweeten food. And we don’t do powdered juice drinks either.

Secondly, we look at labels when it comes to the food we eat. Anything with preservatives like sodium nitrate and MSG are red flags. Unfortunately, this means that we can’t eat yummy stuff like corned beef and Spam. I miss those days! Although I am ashamed to admit we haven’t quit the bacon yet (this is a tough one for Edric and our kids) and Knorr Sinigang Mix, for the most part, we avoid canned goods and the anything with a label that sounds too technical to understand.

Once again, we aren’t dogmatic. Sometimes I serve hotdogs to guests. But they won’t be the red ones!

Third, we don’t like to eat a lot of fast food. It’s a last option for our family. Like…when we are desperately hungry. Otherwise, it’s home cooked meals for us. Brown rice, fish, and veggies are a favorite combination for my kids and me. With Edric we have to give him more options but we tend to veer away, in general, from pork.

When it comes to snacks, I have to improve on the selection I provide for my kids. Thankfully, there are amazing options for healthy snacks these days. I am also writing this so I can think through a better plan for the snacking part of our day.

I was thrilled to be sent samples from a company called The Honest Crop.


My kids consumed these in one day! Now they are asking for more! Look at how pretty the chips are! I ate an entire bag of these myself. They also have Taro Chips and Sweet Potato Chips. Both so delicious!


Besides giving them fruit, carrot sticks, cheese, and nuts, I am hoping to add these to our snack menu, too. Woohoo!

Here is The Honest Crop’s price list:

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Highlights of New Zealand Trip

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New Zealand is officially on my list of favourite places that I’ve been to.  Clean air, nature, a laid-back culture, friendly people, multi-cultural, family-oriented, a great Filipino community, and almost every establishment closes by 5 PM! It’s definitely a country I want to visit again with the rest of our kids. I can’t include all the photos we took but here are some highlights of our trip:

The Auckland Museum. We learned about the Maori people who were the first inhabitants of New Zealand.

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We took several trips to the grocery (something we like to do in every city we travel to!) I loved the options for children’s vitamins! Took a number of boxes home for our kids.

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Oh, Hobbiton! This is an absolute must-see! For all the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans out there, you will not a regret a plane trip just to see this place. Edric got really into character. He bought the Ring to rule them all and elf ears. The record number of photos ever taken in Hobbiton = 3,000! I don’t think we even reached 250. But when you get there, you will want to take so many!

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The Auckland Zoo was a special treat for Edan, who is an animal-lover. He took charge and mapped our way through the place. Seeing a Kiwi bird up close was pretty special.

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Glowworm Caves in Waitomo…


Lunch at the boardwalk with our friends and amazing hosts, Ryan and Lei…It’s always such a special thing to meet with followers of Christ in other parts of the world. Ryan and Lei pastor CCF Auckland. They are a great team!

God gave us a blue sky despite the unpredictable winter weather…

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Speaking for the singles, marrieds, and parents…

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Visiting the Sunday market. If you want to see what New Zealanders are like, don’t miss the markets! 

Serving at the CCF church. Edric preached and I gave a talk on managing stress.

Leaving with our hearts full and eager to come back!

Rest is a God Thing

In our fast-paced, performance-driven, results-oriented, and pressure-filled world, many of us neglect to rest. During our trip to New Zealand (which was amazing!), I conversed with a lady in her 50s who confessed to feelings of guilt every time she takes a break from her work.

She struggles to give herself time to be still and activity-less. As a business owner of a catering and food company she is doing very well financially, but she is also addicted to her work. First, she loves what she does. Second, she is an activity-driven person (she likes to be busy). Third, she’s got a big heart to serve others. Put all those elements together and you have a person who doesn’t know how to switch to “off” mode even when she should.

In a very comedic way, she even admitted that one of the causes for the absence of sexual intimacy in her marriage was that she habitually rushed her husband through the act! Why? Because she was always thinking about the next task she had to get done instead of enjoying their special times together. They remain committed to one another to this day but it’s a marriage sordidly lacking in the affection area.

So I told her, “Rest is not a sin. Rest allows you to be a better wife, mother, and a more productive worker. Even God rested!”

She smiled. As a long-time follower of Christ, she knows this, but I suppose it assured her to hear it again. Will she actually apply what I told her to? I don’t know. At the end of the day, she has to look deep inside to assess why activity is so important to her that she feels the compulsion to keep going to the point of absolute exhaustion.

None of us are built like the Energizer Bunny that I used to see in commercials as a child. This bunny demonstrated the longevity of the Energizer brand. As human beings we aren’t wired the same way. We can’t keep going, going, and going like a mindless battery. We have a body, a soul, and a spirit that benefits from rest. 

There at three kinds of rest that I would like to talk about. The first is the Sabbath. On the 7th day of creation, God rested. “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from His work which God had created and made.” (Genesis 2:3)

There are several things that stand out to me in this passage: 

  1. Rest came after God’s creative work was done. It was not an act of laziness.
  2. God blessed the 7th day. It was His idea. He made it special and important.
  3. He sanctified it. It is a holy day, set apart.
  4. He exemplified what it means to rest. He did not take a break because he couldn’t continue working. He’s God! He’s all-powerful. The Hebrew word for rest in this passage is shabat which means “to cease or stop.” (gotquestions.org) In Exodus 31:17, it even says that God was refreshed by His rest. 
  5. Another insight I gleaned from the Genesis passage is that God must have spent time with Adam and Eve on the 7th day when He rested. They were created on the 6th day. On the 7th day, God set aside the work to give them His full attention. What an amazing father God is! He delights to be with us. He wants us to know that we are His priority. I can imagine God conversing with Adam and Eve as they walked through the garden, as they reveled in the wonder of His creation. Similarly, the 7th day is a time for us to be in God’s presence, to reflect on His goodness, provision, and to cease from our striving and doing.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. Genesis 20:8-11

Besides the 7th day, I believe there’s a second kind of rest that we ought to consider. It’s the mindset of rested-ness in the Lord

When I was in the U.S. with my family for a month, I saw how difficult it was for moms who do everything (love your husband and your kids, teach and train the little ones, breastfeed an infant, work, clean, cook, and do laundry). I didn’t even have to work! I was on vacation, but the daily chores were absolutely maddening!

Since I couldn’t stomach the mess, I found myself exhausted every night trying to tidy up after my five children. I refused to take breaks because I felt guilty ending the day without the laundry done, the kitchen impeccable, and everything put away.

At the same time, I thought to myself, this is horrid. I am not cut out for this, but I can’t stop myself from going in and out of every room like a policewoman/obsessive compulsive-house-keeping-attendant. As a result, I was too tired to wholeheartedly enjoy Edric or the kids. I saw them as the cause for my fatigue and I felt irritated when they weren’t considerate about their mess. What about time with the Lord? That suffered too. The first thing I thought about in the morning was cooking breakfast.

When I revisit the motivations that were driving me at the time, they were actually rooted in pride. I felt like I needed to prove that I could do everything, that I was somehow “super” as a mom. I pushed myself to maintain order for my own sake, because it mattered to me to be able to say that I had it all under control. I liked the control.

Did my husband care that I fluffed the last pillow and arranged it neatly on the couch after smoothing out the creases that made it look bunchy? Did my kids care that I picked up their shoes and lined them up beside the doorway before the day came to a close? Of course not. What they cared about was having me engaged and all-present in the moments we shared together.

To be honest, I wasn’t. My mind drifted towards each crumb that littered the kitchen floor, each stain that smeared the upholstery, and each unwashed item of clothing that had to be sorted and thrown into the washing machine. I had relaxation issues. Perhaps, given enough time I would have learned to chill and be realistic about how much of the mess is tolerable…what can be left to clean up the next day in favor of the more important relationships that need me.

However, I never quite got to that point because the vacation ended after a month, and we all returned to Manila where I once again delegated these sort of duties to our househelp.

Somehow, when our househelp is tasked with the cooking, cleaning, and the laundry, I pay less attention to the details of managing our home. But when it’s all on me, I notice every wrong thing in the home and feel like a failure when I don’t do something about it. And that’s why I know it’s a pride thing. When I’m in charge of something, I tend to get my sense of self-worth from what I do. And I am robbed of peace when my performance is mediocre, and I feel annoyed or disappointed when it’s not appreciated.

During the plane ride to New Zealand, I read a book by Becky Harling entitled Freedom from Performing: Grade in an Applause-Driven World. A performance driven person is someone who…

  • Is a slave to the expectations and demands of others
  • Compares herself with others, measuring her success against theirs
  • Exhausts herself trying to keep up
  • Defines her identity in terms of accomplishments
  • Lives to please others and becomes disillusioned when the affirmation isn’t there

What a refreshing read this book was for me! It allowed me to recognize that I can be a performance-driven person, forgetting that life is not a rat-race, it’s a grace-race. It’s not about trying to beat everyone to prove that I’m the best at what I do. It’s not about pursuing perfection for the sake of my self-esteem. Neither is it about comparing my worth to others. Rather it’s about…

…growing more and more like Christ in the way I think, act and speak everyday.

…recognizing that my strength and capacity come from the Lord, therefore all glory for any good that I do goes to Him.

…focusing on what really matters – loving God and loving others (starting with Edric and the kids).

…sticking to a routine that is a healthy kind of busy. For example, avoiding too many nights out of the home away from the kids, or planning meetings or activities that are in conflict with my priorities of being a wife and mom during the week (also known as learning to say, “No, I am sorry but I’m not available,” or “I can’t commit to that.”)

…being purposeful about time spent on things like social media and the Internet.

…carving out time for myself during the day or week (besides Sunday for me) to feed my mind with wisdom and truth, fill my emotional tank, strengthen my body, and listen to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes this means writing an article, reading a book, connecting with girl friends, exercising, being still and reflective, or taking naps! Even Jesus encouraged rest! “The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.'” (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)” Mark‬ ‭6:30-31‬ ‭NASB‬‬

…surrendering what I cannot control to the Lord and embracing His plans with an attitude of thankfulness and praise.

Daily rested-ness matters because it reveals our perspective on who God is and who we are in relation to Him. Are we striving and struggling emotionally, physically, and spiritually because our priorities are off and our focus is on worldly success rather than pleasing God? Are we stressed and anxious as we work because we do not trust that God is in control? 

Jesus says, “Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy-ladden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) True rest is found in Him. It’s not about laziness. It’s not about the absence of work or hardship. We have to work and do our best. That’s a given. There will be days when the work feels bitter and difficult, and the outcome of our labor is imperfect and disappointing. But we can rest in the reality that our success is in the hands of the Lord, and our success is dependent on whether we are WITH the Lord.

“For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun? Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity…For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him (God)?” Ecclesiastes 2:22-23,25

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

The third kind of rest is eternal. “Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭14:12-13‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Whether it is rest on a Sabbath, daily rested-ness, or rest in heaven, I believe God designed rest to remind us that life isn’t about endless work, performance, or toil on earth to earn money, enjoy luxuries, gain fame or power or derive our sense of self-worth from our accomplishments. Striving after these things doesn’t give us real rest. They can give us a false sense of it at times. But they cannot replace the rest found in knowing we are loved by God, that His presence is with us, and that we can trust in His plans for us. 

So take a break from whatever you are doing right now (even reading this) and just bask in that reality. Give the Lord your stress and your worry, and let His peace wash over you. He loves you dear friend.