Tell Your Story

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

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

                Me as a fifteen year old

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To the Greater Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Enjoy Stillness and Quiet

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isn’t that so reassuring?! 

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

Novels for Voracious Young Readers

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

 

Motivating Kids to Learn

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philippine Homeschool Conference 2017

This post should have come earlier but it’s not too late yet! The Philippine Homeschool Conference is happening this Saturday at Treston College in Bonifacio Global City. Registration online is closed but there’s a walk-in fee of 1,000 pesos/person. 

Whether you are interested in learning about home schooling, already homeschooling, an educator, researcher, or an intentional parent, you will appreciate the line up of keynote speakers, breakout speakers, kids’ activities, as well as exhibitors that will be this event. 

I have taken this information from Educating for Life‘s website, the organizers of this event for your reference. 

The keynote speakers…

SEN. FRANCIS PANGILINAN


From his time as a student activist to being a senator of the Republic of the Philippines and an eventual cabinet member in the Aquino administration, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has had no qualms about being independent-minded, proving time and again that progressive ideas and principles have a place in Philippine politics.

His career in public service began over 20 years ago, when the young Kiko began his fight against human rights violations, corruption, and other social ills as Chairman of the UP Diliman Student Council. Eventually becoming a human rights lawyer, he later on became the youngest-ever Councilor of the 4th district of Quezon City and, in 1998, graduated with a Master of Public Administration as an Edward S. Mason Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University.

Aside from being a champion of the plight of the farmers in the country, Kiko is a staunch supporter of homeschooling and is the author behind the Senate Resolution declaring March 3 as National Homeschool Day in the Philippines.

 

EFREN PEÑAFLORIDA JR.


The middle child of a tricycle driver and a housewife, Efren Geronimo Peñaflorida Jr. completed his elementary and high school education through the hold of scholarships and financial assistance, and received several class awards and honors. In 2000, he graduated from San Sebastian College–Recoletos de Cavite with a degree in computer technology, receiving highest honors. He pursued a second course at Cavite State University Cavite City campus, graduating cum laude in 2006 with a degree in Secondary Education.

At 16 years old, Peñaflorida, joined by other classmates, formed “Dynamic Teen Company”. They eventually pioneered the idea of the “pushcart classroom”, wherein pushcarts were stocked with school materials such as books, pens, tables, and chairs, and then used on Saturdays to recreate school settings in unconventional locations such as the cemetery or trash dump.

In March 2009, Peñaflorida was featured as a CNN Hero as part of the news network’s program to honor individuals who make extraordinary contributions to help others. On November 22, 2009, he was named CNN Hero of the Year for 2009.

MARISSA LEINART


After suffering 3 miscarriages while being a morning news anchor in the a morning show, Marissa Leinart decided to stay home with her two children and candidly admits she often dreamt of the big, yellow school bus visiting her front door. Ironically, God had other plans. Like Abraham’s wife Sarah, Marissa laughed and thought she was hearing voices when God called her to what would absolutely, positively, surely NOT have been an option… homeschool. Now, Marissa says it’s her greatest lifetime achievement and beyond the 2 Emmys she won as a TV broadcaster.

Marissa’s recent role has been more of an encourager to her children, Will and Linzey, both of home are reaping the benefits of being homeschooled by their parents.

Marissa wants to share with parents how she used non-traditional homeschool education methods, including online learning, blended learning, enrichment programs, homeschooling, and early college to educate her two children successfully.

Marissa has been a workshop speaker at several Great Homeschool Conventions in the U.S. on “How To Homeschool for Free!” She was also the audiobook narrator for award winning Apologia Curriculum. You may have heard her narrating these books: Chemistry, Marine Biology I, Marine Biology II, Who Is God, Who Is My Neighbor and Who Am I.

Marissa started www.TheHomeschoolRevolution.com to connect, serve and lead homeschool families in the U.S. and the Philippines to a stress free and debt free journey to homeschool success.

For more information on speakers: Breakout Session Speakers

Philippine Homeschool Conference 2017 Program

9:00-9:30 National anthem, Welcome remarks, Introduction of speaker

9:30-10:15 Keynote 1 

10:15-10:20 Intermission 

10:20-11:05 Keynote 2 

11:05-11:20 Intermission 

11:20-12:05 Keynote 3 

12:05-12:10 Wrap up morning session 

12:10-2:10pm Lunch, Expo

2:10-2:15pm Intermission

2:15-2:45pm Plenary: Guest Speaker 

2:45-3:00pm Mobilize for breakout sessions 

3:00-4:00pm Workshops 

We Want to Homeschool! Now What? 

The Juggling Act: Home Management for Teacher Moms 

What I Learned From My Rookie Homeschool Year 

Raising Financial Literate Kids

Narration 101 

No Fear! Homeschooling Through High School 

The Treston Way: Excellent and Ethical Education in a Caring Community 

4:00-4:10 Mobilize for Breakout 2 

4:10-5:10 Workshops 

Homeschool for Free 

The Working Homeschool Mom Multi-purpose Hall

7 Tips for Teaching Multiple Age Students Without Losing Your Mind 

Technology in Your Homeschool 

Carving Out Me-Time for Busy Homeschooling 

That Thing Called ‘Gap Year’

The Treston Way: Excellent and Ethical Education in a Caring Community

5:10-5:30 Mobilize for closing remarks 

5:30-5:40 Intermission

5:40-6:00pm HAPI News, Raffle, Closing remarks, Multi-purpose hall
Kids’ Activities

There will be various activities for children of all ages should you want to bring your children along. These activities will all take place in the classrooms in the second floor of Treston International College. Please make sure, however, that they are with a trusted adult at all times. HAPI and Educating for Life will not be liable for any untoward incident that may happen to your child during the event.

ACTIVITIES AND SCHEDULE

PARKOUR by NINJA ACADEMY (Hourly classes from 9am to 5pm)

ART CLASSES by KIDZART (9am-5pm)

SANDBOX PLAY PROGRAM by THE LEARNING LODGE (9am-5pm)

AVIATION ELEMENTARY FOR TEENS by THE LEARNING LODGE (9am-5pm)

FREE COLORING by FABER CASTELL (9am-5pm)

PLAY AREA by TOPMnl (9am-5pm)

FENCING DEMO by EZKRIMA

ACTIVITIES by CRAFTED CRAFTS (9am-10am, 11am-12pm, 2pm-3pm, 4pm-5pm)

Create a Critter with Jean Castillo of Jinstitches – Have fun with yarns and turn them into critters you can love.
Jewellery-making with Genaline Gaspar of Craft Works – Learn the basics of making earrings and bracelets, with short lecture on how to choose the right materials and tools for your projects.

Crochet Along with The Happy WAHM of Crafted Crafts – Learn crochet basics, and complete a simple project you can wear. Handouts will be provided.

LIMITED SLOTS AVAILABLE.

FEES – There will be a flat fee of P500 per child to allow access to all the activities in the Activity Area, not including Crafted Craft activities.

Crafted Craft fee is as follows:

Choice of 1 – P300 per child

Choice of 2 – P500 per child

Guardian fee for the Activity Area is P50.

Sponsors and exhibitors

 

First, Middle, or Last Child…Everyone Is Special

Titus, my third son, said to me the other day, “I don’t like being in the middle.” 


I was caught off guard at first, because it seemed so uncharacteristic of him to express concern over his birth order. As I probed further I discovered that his statement was motivated by feeling left out somehow, sandwiched between two boys and two girls who had each other to play with. 

My heart went out to him. I never knew that he felt out of place, and I did my best to reassure him that he was in the middle because God elected for him to be third out of five. He was special, a bridge between the older kids and the younger ones. Furthermore, I added that his Angkong (my dad) and his Uncle Paul (my brother) were both middle children and they were great leaders. He managed a smile and seemed comforted. 

However, Edric and I had to do more to demonstrate just how special he was. So we convened about Titus to strategize what to do. I also talked to Elijah and Edan to remind them to include Titus, and to be encouraging towards him. They were eager to be on-board about this. (In fact, Elijah has been hugging Titus a lot which Titus appreciates as an affectionate person. He tells him, “You are my buddy!”)


As often as possible, I take note of what Titus accomplishes to affirm him as well. I also remind him that he has God-given abilities and personality traits that set him apart. 

Titus is thoughtful and caring. He serves others and appreciates people very easily. He shares and considers the needs of others. In the area of music, he has an amazing ear to hear harmony and correct pitch. When it comes to mathematics and mechanical ability, he excels. Furthermore, he likes to hug everyone, even people he doesn’t know very well, since that’s his language of love. He is smiley and friendly. 


Being a middle child doesn’t mean he is less than his siblings in anyway. He is just as unique and gifted. And having to adjust to older boys and younger girls makes him very flexible, patient, non-judgmental, and accommodating of personalities and gender differences.

I tell Titus all about these gifts God has bestowed upon him but it is Edric’s input and involvement in Titus’ life that probably counts the most. During our Singapore trip, when Titus wanted to go to the walkway at the Gardens of the Bay that joined the “trees,” Edric obliged him even if he was tired and preferred to go back to the place we were staying. In fact, Edric eagerly took Titus, along with Tiana and Catalina who also asked to go. He wanted Titus to know that he would go out of his way to accommodate him because he was important. 

I think the smile on his face in this photo says it all…


So far, our collaborative effort to make Titus feel loved and special seem to be working. He is chattier and more confident. When I asked him how he was feeling about being in the middle, he replied, “I am better. I know I am loved.” 

Whew. 

Every child is different and needs us to notice them. It doesn’t really matter whether he or she is first, second, third, oldest, youngest, or in the middle. While birth order may be a factor in the way a child develops a sense of self, we, as parents can let each of our kids know they are significant, special, valued and cherished so they don’t grow up to be insecure or wanting for attention and affection. We can also remind our kids to be thankful for the unchangeable aspects of their lives, birth order being one of them. God doesn’t make mistakes. 

Finally, even if children’s personalities may be shaped by the dynamic within a family and the way they relate to older and younger siblings, each child can be taught God-confidence, how to rely on the Lord for enabling and capacity. I also think we need to tell our kids that they are leaders and examples to those around them, regardless of their position in the family. They can all role model Christ-like love and character. They can all exercise wisdom in their decisions. They can all make a positive impact on this world. Birth order doesn’t determine future success. It is obedience to God that results in blessing…

“Study this Book of Instruction (God’s Word) continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua‬ ‭1:8-9‬ ‭

The S&R Member’s Treat is On!

I am standing in line waiting to checkout at the S&R Member’s Treat super sale which started today and will end on Sunday. It’s like standing in line at a popular amusement park, except with a cart! Since I got here later than I should have, the place is bustling with people like myself looking for the best buy 1 take 1 deals. There’s even a big crowd forming outside S&R as well, eager for their turn inside the warehouse. S&R doesn’t let too many shoppers inside to avoid turning the place into a madhouse. It’s certainly thoughtful of them. 


My personal learning is to come as soon as it opens next time, and to bring a household hold help or even Elijah to stand in line for me. I went solo today because I knew having five kids running around the store would drive me nuts. Thankfully, the staff are pretty efficient at managing the checkout counters as they usher everyone with a cart towards the exit. 
Here are some of the finds that caught my attention and a number of them ended up in my own cart! 

My girls need towels…


Many clothes are on sale!

Anyone need diapers? Big savings here.


Of course I was thrilled to find my kids’ favorite chips…


A good number of toy deals, too!


Stuff for the guys…



Huge pitchers are always helpful for our big family…(these are 1 gallon Rubbermaid Pitchers and only 249 for 2)


Bowls and plates for those who entertain guests a lot…



For those who have a lot of laundry!


If you are looking for Christmas gifts for company staff…





Lots of gifts for women…


These items are a mere fraction of what you will find at the Member’s Treat! 

Well, I am almost at the checkout. It’s taken me about thirty minutes to wait which I kind of expected given the circumstances. But as long as I had something to write on, I got to be productive! 

My advice is wear comfortable athletic gear if you come this week and bring a friend or family member to talk to in line for some nice bonding time.

Where I came from (all the way in the back and around the corner.)

Almost to the finish line…woohoo! 


I am in good company…everyone is patiently waiting 😊 

Family Exercise

Edric started a routine of early morning exercise with our sons about a month ago after we discussed their need for physical fitness. He took it upon himself to research a program and modify it for himself and our boys so they could participate in it together. So far, it seems to be working. Our sons are stronger. Elijah even has an eight pack! (This is also due to the fact that he is on the thin side to begin with.)

The daily routine encourages bonding time for the boys with Edric, and it helps to regulate the activities during the day. They need to sleep early to wake up by 6 AM, and it helps to kickstart their minds and bodies for the academic rigor that begins at 8:30 AM. Since we have been traveling this schedule has been affected but they will be getting back to it.

I appreciate that Edric followed through with his commitment to be on top of the boys’ physical development. One of our family values is to be good stewards of our bodies and that means healthy food, rest, and exercise, not just for Edric and me but for our kids, too. Because they get to be with their dad, the boys are motivated. Plus, they compete with one another. They do push-ups, use elastic bands, very light weights lifted many times (super light so they don’t affect their growth), ab workouts, and high intensity interval training.  One of the reasons why Edric initiated this exercise regimen was because our boys didn’t have a PE program or sport that they were doing daily. There was also a season when they were starting to get lazy as well as paying too much attention to screens rather than getting outdoors. One of our sons started to get soft in the middle, too. Thankfully, his belly is not so “jelly” anymore. 

I did take him to a pediatric endocrinologist just to check if he is on the right track for his height. The good news is he is fine so far, but what I most appreciate about her is that she confirmed how important it is that kids get daily exercise and good nutrition. She confessed to me that she gets discouraged when kids come into her clinic with adult issues — heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and hormonal imbalances even before the age of twelve! So she re-emphasized what we have been telling our kids…avoid lots of sugar, get good sunlight, exercise, drink lots of water, and eat healthy food. 

To supplement my kids diet as they workout, I let the boys drink Friso (which is more for my girls rather than for them), because of the protein in it.  My pediatrician also recommended Animal Parade Liquid vitamins from Healthy Options for Titus since it helps with weight gain. He is very thin.  I had to stop him from eating red and brown rice, and switch him to white rice to get more calories into him.  Well, I praise God that Edric has been on top of our sons’ daily exercise. I can’t do what he is doing for them.

Here’s a Wednesday to Saturday sample of what the boys do. Edric had them write it down some time ago so the writing is faded 😊:

The Woman in the Elevator

Edric isn’t the type of guy to ogle at other women, but when we travel, he does notice attractive foreign women. Who doesn’t?! Even I do. At times, we even have conversations about beautiful women we see. “Did you notice her eyes?” Or, “Wow, she’s pretty!”

However, there are occasions when I know his eyes are drawn to women who exude sexiness, the kind of women who stick out in two prominent directions (front and back) and who like to flaunt their assets. You know what I mean…

(By the way, I have the permission of my husband to publish this very article. Please bear with me…this is a long one.)

A few weeks ago, Edric and I were out of the country in a restaurant having breakfast when a curvy woman walked into the buffet area. As wives we have special sensory organs for the sort of woman who attracts our husbands’ attention. My husband also has very big eyes so it’s always obvious when he glances in another direction, especially when we are engrossed in conversation. I saw him look over my shoulder so I quickly turned my head to see what distracted him. I didn’t need to gaze long to realize what he was looking at. Thankfully, he didn’t stare but I did ask him jokingly, “Were you checking her out?”

He looked reassuringly into my eyes and professed, “Don’t worry, baby, I have eyes only for you.”


It was a romantic and sweet pledge. But what did that sentence mean? Did the sentence “I have eyes only for you” mean that he would never use his eyes to notice another woman? Or did it mean that even if he noticed other women with his eyes, he had programmed them to desire me only?

Not wanting to latch on to his declaration with naïve gushy-ness, I cautiously accepted it with a smile and breakfast went on. We travel quite often and I knew better than to believe that this statement meant he would never ever look at the millions of gorgeous women in the world!

However, since I had been dealing with growing insecurity about my physical shape and form as well as Edric’s perceptions of me in the past few months (my secret has been revealed), I felt especially slighted when this disproportionately curvy woman kept distracting him. He claimed that she looked fake and that he wasn’t checking her out, but it certainly appeared as though his eyes kept being diverted in her direction. Maybe the word “check out” had a different connotation to him. (Men’s vocabulary can be very different from ours.) Whatever it was at the time, I felt like, in comparison to her, she was a spring chicken and I was, well, an autumn chicken.

What intensified my jealousy further was when Edric rushed to the elevator as we exited the buffet when that same woman entered into it. Sure, he hurried off to make sure we didn’t have to wait for another elevator, but it wasn’t characteristic of him to prefer an elevator that already had people in it when time wasn’t a factor. Both of us like to have lots of elbow room in enclosed spaces.

For the next twenty-four floors of our descent, I used my expert peripheral vision (which all women also have) to watch him closely. Had he not turned to notice the woman again, I would have jumped up and down inside and said to myself, “What a guy! Yes, he certainly has eyes only for me!”

Well, as you can probably guess by now, he still tried to look at her, albeit with as much discretion as he could apply, ahem…being the gentleman that he is. I kept my cool, ahem…being the lady that I am, not wanting to admit that I felt threatened in any way.

When we finally entered our hotel room to prepare for the series of talks we were scheduled to speak that afternoon, I casually asked, “Hey, so did you rush into the elevator because that woman was in there?”

There was no aggression in my tone…at first. Yet, when Edric replied, “No, of course not” just as casually as I had asked my question, I felt irritated, judging him as untruthful.

“Are you sure? Because you still looked at her while we were in the elevator, and you usually don’t try to catch an elevator that’s got people in it when we aren’t in a rush to go anywhere.”

Once again, he denied having any hidden agenda.

Since his response seemed inconsistent with his actions I persisted. Naturally, this annoyed him terribly so he became quiet. For the rest of the morning, as we prepared to speak on marriage and parenting, we stayed on opposite sides of the room and avoided speaking to one another. We busied ourselves with our notes and slides, but it was obvious that we hadn’t settled the issue.

When it was finally time for lunch, we were sitting in Nandos, a place we have enjoyed multiple times in the past for its South African deliciousness. I wasn’t too excited about eating in it this time around since Edric and I weren’t okay. On the outside everything seemed fine.


The waitress energetically placed one of Nando’s large, juicy chicken skewers on our table, oblivious to the tension between us. We thanked her politely, of course, not giving away the fact that this huge skewer, which obstructed our view of each other’s faces, very aptly symbolized our emotional divide.

“Why do you seem upset?” This was my dumb way of initiating conversation.

“I don’t like being treated like a child. You were treating me like a child,” he quipped, referring to how I badgered him about the woman in the elevator.

“I just wanted to know if you went into that particular elevator because she was in there, because you were checking her out.”

“Are we really going to talk about this? What’s the real issue anyway? Did I go into the elevator because she was in there? No. But was it more interesting that she was in the elevator? Yes.”

What’s the difference?, I thought. He is making this about semantics! So, I said, “Can’t you just admit that you have a problem, that you have an issue with disciplining your eyes. After you said that you have eyes only for me, you still kept looking at the girl. It seemed inconsistent, and I have experienced this during our other trips.”

“Okay, you know what this is? This is the devil trying to divide us before we do ministry this afternoon. This is not a big deal.” Edric tried to take the higher, spiritual plane as he uttered these words.

However, since I was choosing to linger on the lower, very carnal plane, I disrespectfully replied, “So don’t be the devil!”

Where did that come from? I don’t know. Oh wait, yes I do. I thought he was being the devil for being the source of my pain. I felt hurt and jealous. Had he just been consistent about having eyes only for me this wouldnt have happened! 

Needless to say, Edric felt very disrespected. This was the first time he had been called a devil by me from across the table, with the half-eaten chicken skewer still dangling between us. He was about to say something he probably would’ve regretted, but surprisingly, he breathed in deeply and closed his eyes instead.

What in the world?! Oh, my goodness, he was praying!

Not the prayer card! He’s getting all spiritual! (Can you believe I was thinking these things?!)

When he opened his eyes again his expression changed from defensive to humble, and he very sincerely said, “You know what, you are right. I do have a problem. I can improve. I can be more disciplined about my eyes.”

Wow.

Okay, obviously, the devil doesn’t do things like that! He wasn’t the devil. I was!

Out of guilt, I apologized to Edric for my disrespect. He dealt with our conflict with such spiritual maturity that I felt I needed to humble myself, too, but my heart wasn’t right with the Lord just yet. How do I know this? When Edric suggested that I pray for our event, I dismissed him. “You already prayed. I don’t have anything to pray about.”

Admittedly, my reaction to what transpired at the buffet and in the elevator was ridiculous, especially to people who may read this who actually deal with infidelity in their marriages. So Edric looked at a beautiful woman more times than he usually does when he sees someone attractive…big deal…so what?! It wasn’t like he was going to abandon his vow to me for this total stranger.

Why did the event make me so hostile? I was looking to Edric to affirm me and make me feel unparalleled and unrivaled in his eyes. Yes, I know it was such a self-centered desire, but for someone like me who has struggled with body esteem issues over the years, the pain felt so real. I actually had this achy feeling in my heart as I thought, This is so NOT Disney anymore! Things have changed…the romance, the undying love and affection, and eyes-only-for-you-professions! Blah, blah, blah. Whatever!”

How could I have been thinking these thoughts before a talk about biblical marriage and parenting?! This was the sadder part of it all. I was so broken over a trivial episode when so many people in the audience were actually hurting from real problems in their marriages and families!

Edric proceeded to the venue to set up his computer and I took a detour by stopping at the toilet. I knew that I couldn’t walk into that hall with all the emotional and spiritual junk I had in my heart. I couldn’t possibly face all the people and speak with integrity, knowing that I hadn’t settled the restlessness in me.

In the women’s restroom cubicle, I teared in frustration for acting like the kind of wife I never wanted to be – distrusting, insecure, demanding, and unpleasant to be around. Thankfully, the toilet was so private, like a prayer cell that was walled in on all sides. I stood in that toilet, in the quiet, thinking I was all alone in my ridiculous pain, when I heard God’s voice in my head say to me, Why are you so upset? Do you not know how much I love you? Don’t you know that I am the only one who will ever love you the way that you want to be loved, the way you long to be loved? I love you more than Edric ever will. What you want from him only I can give you.

Instead of assuring me that Edric loved me, God reminded me that HE (GOD) loved me. That’s all He had to whisper to me. For the first time in a very long while, I recognized that my disappointment with Edric wasn’t due to him looking at another woman. It was due to a flaw in my focus. I wanted Edric to make me feel beautiful, cherished, and important.

On the one hand this desire was a natural consequence of giving myself wholly to him in marriage. I gave my heart to him, after having evaluated that he was the safest person on this planet to give my heart to. However, it came with an unspoken expectation – Edric, you better make me feel special. I better be the most special woman to you. I think it was short of saying, “Worship me as the queen of your heart.”

Yikes.

For as long as I enjoyed the attention of Edric, for as long as I was certain that he had eyes only for me as he claimed to have, then I felt good about myself. Since the foundation of my peace was built on something so fragile and so easily stolen, I got upset with a minor incident that made me feel like I wasn’t the most special woman to him when it came to physical attractiveness. The reality of aging, feeling like an autumn chicken compared to this perky spring chicken of a woman made feel dethroned in my husband’s eyes, and it was so injurious to my ego that I absolutely needed to hear what the Lord said to me in the toilet.

Here’s my paraphrase of what the Lord was basically telling me…Joy, just stop it! Stop being so needy for the love and adoration of your husband. I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, SO PERFECTLY, JUST AS YOU ARE, FLAWS AND ALL, AND I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU COMPLETELY AND NEVER MAKE YOU FEEL COMPARED TO ANYONE.

After this moment with the Lord, I just had to tell all the women in the audience the same message! Before doing so, I spoke to Edric in private and asked him for forgiveness (a real sorry this time) and I got his permission to share what happened between us. Many women came up to me afterwards thanking me for telling the story.

Whether single or married, all of us women need to find our worth in the Lord, not in people, circumstances, beauty, or achievements. Possessions, fame, the way we look, and our accomplishments will always be trumped by another person eventually. Yet God’s love for us will never change. It won’t change when we fail, make mistakes, get cast aside, forgotten, or even when we grow old.

The very next day, on the plane ride home, God gave me a special verse in Isaiah which read, “…I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. ‘To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?'” Isaiah 46:3-5 NLT

What a tender image of God’s fatherly love for His children! For me! For you!

For the last two weeks, I have dwelt on this passage and let it wash over my heart and mind to renew my perspective on Edric, myself, and my marriage.

Who can love me like the Lord can, like the Lord does? No one. Until I embrace this truth, I will always be striving to feel good enough, to feel worthy, even in my husband’s eyes. My comfort is that God doesn’t love me because I have something special to offer Him. Instead He makes me special because He loves me. He gave His life for me as proof that He does. There is no guy, no Edric on this earth who has the power or the perfection to do that for me.

In his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller writes, “He (Jesus) loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely.” (pg. 109)

He also explains, “Each of us comes to marriage with a disordered inner being. Many of us have sought to overcome self-doubts by giving ourselves to our careers. That will mean we will choose our work over our spouse and family to the detriment of our marriage. Others of us hope that unending affection and affirmation from a beautiful, brilliant romantic partner will finally make us feel good about ourselves. That turns the relationship into a form of salvation, and no relationship can live up to that…If I look to my marriage to fill the God-sized spiritual vacuum in my heart, I will not be in a position to serve my spouse. Only God can fill a God-sized hole. Until God has the proper place in my life, I will always be complaining that my spouse is not loving me well enough, not respecting me enough, not supporting me enough…” (pg. 72 – 73)


My conflict with Edric ended when I stopped focusing on what I wanted him to do for me to make me feel good about myself, and when I started focusing on what God has done for me so I could do good to others, especially to Edric. Edric has made his own resolutions with the Lord about guarding his eyes, which I appreciate, but that’s between him and the Lord. If he does his best to have eyes only for me even as I age then what a wonderful bonus! If he struggles here and there, my hope is in God as 1 Peter 3 reminds me… “This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God…” (v.5)

I don’t know where you are at in your marriage, or whether this entry resonates with you somehow, but I hope you will answer the question, Who is God in your life? What you and I think about Him will profoundly impact how we view ourselves, as well as our relationship with our spouses. We can’t love our spouses unconditionally if we don’t understand how deeply and perfectly loved we are by God. And, we won’t be happy in our marriages if we keep replacing God with our spouses, ourselves, and other things.

Celebrate VS. Compare 

I was in the bathroom when Tiana rushed in excitedly, looking for a bandaid for her brother, Titus. She seemed anxious when I asked her why she needed it. “He has a wound on his toe. It’s bleeding!”

She voluntarily came to his aid and located the antibacterial cream that was in my closet, too. I watched her with pride as I thought of how sweet she was to help her older brother. It’s not uncommon for her to come to the rescue of siblings who aren’t well or who have injured themselves. Instinctively, she reacts with genuine concern.

Two days ago, Catalina battled a fever. Tiana was the first to recognize that she wasn’t feeling well, and suggested that Catalina rest in the guest room, which she transformed into a “hospital room.” When I went in to check on Catalina, Tiana had spread a blanket on her, turned on the AC, and put snacks and water on the bedside table. She hovered over Catalina mindfully and sang her a short lullaby. When Catalina decided to watch tv for a little bit, she walked her over to the family room where Catalina fell asleep. Tiana struggled to pick her up (she’s three fourths Tiana’s size!) Then she carried her to the bed to make sure she was comfortable.

In the afternoon, Tiana also wrote a note for Catalina and handed it to her. It read, “I love u, Cat.”


Catalina brought it everywhere she went. In the evening, I found it on her bed beside her. I asked Catalina why she kept it with her, she said, “Because Tiana gave it to me.”


I got teary-eyed as she gripped the letter in her hand while fighting her fever.

Edric and I affirmed Tiana for her servant-heart and love for Catalina. We praised her for being so sweet and compassionate.

Observing the way Tiana cared for Catalina gave me a renewed appreciation of her personality and strengths. She is an empathizer. Maybe someday she might go into social work or become a doctor (if that’s what God has in store for her.) Whatever it is, I am pretty sure it will have something to do with rescuing others and serving them.

In the past three years I’ve gotten stressed by Tiana’s ability to cope with academic subjects such as math and language arts. It’s taken her a while to develop numeracy and reading skills. At the age of seven she struggles with abstract reasoning and spelling. Yet she is a tender-hearted, kind, and thoughtful child who is emotionally mature and full of joy! In light of eternity, I do believe these are the faculties of a person that ought to bear greater weight. I am so proud of her!

Her academics will follow. I don’t doubt it, and I must remember to be patient and positive when learning goals aren’t achieved. In the meantime, I am affirming her in the areas where she excels.

In today’s world there is often an overemphasis on academic performance. Even homeschoolers can get suckered into this mindset — where we want our kids to be high achievers and better than everyone else. However, this pressure leads to performance-based learning and living, where a child’s self worth is based on how they fair academically. Of course, this also causes us to be stressed out and impatient when our kids don’t meet our expectations.

Instead, we ought to celebrate whom God made our kids to be, liberating them to “run their race” in life without comparing themselves to others or feeling like they fall short of our expectations. After all, God gives accordingly not sparingly. He isn’t stingy with the gifts he bestows upon our children. He is purposeful! Whatever abilities or inabilities they have are not hindrances to His power to accomplish His plan for their lives. Let’s not be a hindrance by forcing them to be what they aren’t meant to be. Let’s remind them to be thankful for their limitations, their uniqueness, and to do all things for His glory!


“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” Psalms‬ ‭139:13-14‬ ‭

Walk in Love

 Titus, my third son has been wearing expanders for his upper and lower teeth for a good part of the year. He has large front teeth and his jaw is narrow, so his dentist, Dr. Marla Valenzuela, suggested that he get expanders to enlarge his jaw. These expanders are not cheap. They have also seen many adventures as Titus has, on different occasions, left them in places where he shouldn’t have, broken parts of them accidentally, and gotten them dirtied. During our recent trip to Singapore these expanders ended up in the trashcan of a Chinese restaurant, but I will get to that in a moment.

My husband, Edric, spoke on a series of topics during a retreat while we were in Malaysia on the theme “Radical Love Begins at Home.” 


His culminating message was preached at CCF Worship Service in Singapore with the challenge to “Love More.” Our kids spoke with us during different messages of the retreat and the day that Edric spoke at church, we spent time with the leadership team over lunch at a Chinese restaurant.

Titus, along with my four other kids, occupied tables with children of the leaders’ where they merrily engaged one another and played games. As for Edric and myself, we were caught up in conversation with the rest of the adults, exchanging stories about our faith journeys, marriage, parenting, and ministry. Since Titus forgot his expander’s case, something I’ve repeatedly reminded him not to do, he placed his expanders on a wad of tissue next to his plate before eating his lunch.

Caught up in his interactions with new friends, he didn’t notice that the waitress innocently swept his expanders (and the wad of tissue in rested in) off the table onto a tray that was cleared into a trash bin. Edric and I had no idea either as we were seated separately from him during the meal. As the lunch came to a close for us we excused ourselves from the gathering to rush off to a bookstore before our flight home to Manila. We had promised Edan a trip to Kinukoniya, his favorite bookstore, to buy a science book. Intending to keep our commitment to him before leaving for the airport, we collected our children and bid farewell to everyone.

It was at this time that Titus whispered to me that his expanders had vanished.

“What happened?!” I asked, dumbfounded, that he didn’t realize this earlier.

“I left them on a tissue, on the table, and then now they are gone…maybe they were thrown away by the waitress.”

I glared at him for a moment, unimpressed by his simplistic deduction of the situation.

“Hon, this is serious. How could you have lost your expanders?”

Titus, looking clueless and helpless at this point, made it difficult for me to be upset. He obviously needed a solution, not a lecture. Yet, I feared that Edric would react in an irate way when I passed the problem on to him. After all, we were in a rush and tight schedule before our flight home. I was going to propose that we leave the expanders buried wherever they were. I wasn’t about to go digging through the trash with my bare hands to sift through all the used tissue, dirty food, and mysteriously sticky goo! Most certainly Edric wasn’t going to do it either, not dressed in his Sunday shirt, and especially because he gets more disgusted by icky things than I do (or so I thought).

Amazingly, Edric level-headedly assessed the situation, spoke to the waitress and asked to be directed to the trash. Without hesitating, he dug his hand into it and felt for the retainers, pulling napkins and objects out of the trash to examine them one by one.

Was this my husband who was bent over the trashcan, sorting through the waste without making a single comment about how inconvenienced he was?!

It most certainly was! What a dad!

I suppose he saw what was really going on. This was a divinely appointed moment to apply four straight days of speaking about Christ-like love, and how it ought to impact our relationship with the family first. This was love in action.

After five minutes of consistent digging, he got one expander, then the other, as our friends looked on and cheered. Titus smiled in relief, almost too happy to realize that he shouldn’t put his expanders back on right away before disinfecting them!

I’m sure the experience profoundly affected Titus. Over the years he has gotten himself into a number of predicaments that required our intervention and problem-solving. Sometimes these occasions have been deeply aggravating because of how ridiculous they are. From getting his head stuck between rails so that we needed to carry his body and push it through in order to free him, to snipping his hair off so that his forehead was grossly exposed and exaggerated, to destroyed different electronic equipment in the home because he wanted to examine what was inside of them, to locking himself in a storage room so that the door had to be broken down, to swallowing a marble so that his intestinal area had to be x-rayed and I was told to examine his poop everyday with a stick to anticipate the exit of the marble, well, let’s just say that God has used him to teach Edric and I patience and grace. 


We do love him immensely and nothing will ever change that (something we’ve repeatedly told him), but these occasions do tempt us to react with irritation.

He knew that losing his expanders was a big deal. However, Edric’s gracious gesture quelled whatever stress he might have been feeling. (It certainly alleviated my anxiety, too! I didn’t want to have to pay for new ones!)

As we walked to the train station, Edric put his arm around Titus to let him know that everything was okay. He was forgiven.

If we want our children to be loving, they have to know what love is, to experience being loved, especially when they make mistakes. When the temptation to get annoyed, to be reactive, to lash out, to inflict pain with our words is strongest because we are disappointed, frustrated or angry, then we must tell ourselves, “This is the best time to demonstrate to my child what love really is.” 

I’m not saying that we should ignore our responsibility to discipline them. But there will be times when instead of a lecture, they may need us to listen. Instead of making them feel guilty, we can remind them that God gives grace. Instead of harboring hurt or bitterness against them, we ought to unconditionally forgive them and hug them. And rather than acting selfishly, we can imitate our Savior as Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”