First Homeschool Conference in Dubai

If you have friends and family who are interested in home education, please invite them to this first-ever homeschool conference in Dubai! This is one of the reasons why Edric and I are presently in Dubai with our kids. For more information please visit: http://homeschooling.ae/



Extreme Patience Required (EPR)

I have a son, who will remain unnamed in case he reads this someday, who likes to take his time…all the time. He has little sense of urgency. This becomes a source of frustration for each family member when we are rushing to an event or have to honor a commitment and are pressed for time. 
Whether it’s eating, dressing up, homeschooling, or finishing responsibilities, his tendency is to delay, be distracted, and lose focus. Over the years, Edric and I have disciplined and trained him to be otherwise but it continues to be a challenge. Edric even got him a watch so he could use it to track his time but he lost it! 

Extreme patience is often required of us as we teach and train our son. Furthermore, we have to carefully consider the positive side of his personality type. Because he is such a chill person and so easy going, he isn’t a reactive, easily angered person. He doesn’t make demands on others, harbor bitterness, and his default disposition is joyfulness. So Edric and I have to manage the tension between training him and encouraging his God-given uniqueness. 

These past few days we have been in Dubai. Edric and I are here for a series of talks and business activities and we took the kids with us. Almost every meal, our son who likes to take his time is the last to finish. Before we head out the door, he is putting a shoe on, using the toilet, looking for a jacket, or in the middle of something he should have completed thirty minutes earlier. 

During one of these occasions when everyone was out the door and he hobbled out of it with one shoe on and a sock and a shoe in his hand, I asked him what he was doing for the last hour and his reply was, “Umm…I was swiveling around in the chair of the room.” 

Seriously, he can do absolutely nothing for stretches of time and find this deeply gratifying. He’s a stop-to-smell-the-roses kind of person…”stopping” being the key word. 

Like I said, this personality type comes with its strengths. However, Edric and I move about so quickly that it’s tiring to wait for this son of ours to mobilize. This trip has magnified his character flaw, so it has been a real lesson in patience for both of us. 

I nearly failed as a parent when this son lost a piece of his expanders (it’s like a retainer for the mouth to open up the jaw). The accident happened after he forgot to be ready at the hour we agreed upon and Edric and I had to get to the venue of a seminar we were speaking at. Edric couldn’t be delayed so he went ahead to set up his laptop while I tried to hurry our son along.

Unfortunately, a very important piece of his expanders flew out of its container and landed on a tiled floor that had patterns which completely camouflaged the piece. So I nearly cried in aggravation as this accident required me to get down on my hands and knees while in my heels to comb through each surface area of the tiled floor to feel for the piece. 

This is ridiculous!, I thought to myself. Why does __________________ do these things?! Ahhhh!!!! 

Meanwhile my son showed no distress whatsoever which kind of irked me! I reminded him, “You can’t do this…make everyone wait for you. It’s inconsiderate. It’s something you have to change and improve on, okay?”

I am glad the annoyance came out of me in that way rather than shouting at him like I felt compelled to do. My patience had reached its limit and it took the grace of God to contain my irritation! Thankfully, I was about to do a ministry activity with Edric which kept me mindful of my responses. But if I hadn’t been in prayer that day, or spent a good chunk of it preparing for my talk and being in the Word of God, I am sure my emotions would have taken over in a very ugly manner. 

We didn’t find the piece after about ten minutes of searching which was all I could spare before my seminar. So the kids and I left the hotel room and hung a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door knob so we could resume our search later on in the evening. At the end of our day, our son did his best to find the piece and recover it which was good news. (These expanders are pricey!) 

Edric and I have considered how to help him after our speaking engagement. I believe the root problem for him is discipline. He has to train his mind to plan wisely and resist the impulses he feels to move on to something else when there is a task at hand. He also needs to discipline his body so that it follows the dictates of his mind. 

Here are some solutions that Edric and I intend to apply:

1. Don’t stop training him until he develops a sense of urgency, proactive-ness, and responsibility. As tiring as it may be to keep telling him the same thing over and over again, the burden is on us to do so until he internalizes and applies these things on his own. 

2. Stay beside him when he homeschools and eats his meals so we can monitor him. Yesterday evening, I sat beside him and he downed his soup and pasta in a fraction of the time it usually takes him. This is because I got to remind him constantly and reach over to rub his back every time he got distracted. 

3. Commend him when he puts effort into quickening his pace. Because he gets corrected a lot, we don’t want him to grow up with insecurities or feel like he is compared to his siblings who don’t have the same issue. So we have to balance out our training with affirmation, too. This also means communicating to him that he is unconditionally loved and accepted, too. 

4. Correct him in private. His siblings tend to feel the same annoyance that we do towards his mannerisms and personality, so it’s unhealthy for them to hear us correct him in front of them. This will only fuel their aggravation. 

5. Edric intends to spend more focused time with him. After all, he’s a boy and there’s nothing like the attention and mentoring of a father to a son. 

6. Extend grace. This son of ours makes mistakes quite often and as tempting as it is to lose our tempers with him, we absolutely cannot as it will destroy the seeds of faith that have been planted in his heart. Our greater desire for him is that he loves and obeys the Lord. If we do not respond to him in ways that are spirit-filled, and if we do not ask for forgiveness when we fail in this area, we will push him farther away from us and this goal. 

7. Thank the Lord for Him. His personality is a blessing and his life is a beautiful gift. Does he need to keep improving in certain areas? Of course. But it doesn’t make him less special or important to us or the Lord. So we need to thank the Lord for being intentional about giving us a son with his unique traits.

8. Pray. Edric and I need to remember that we can’t control our kids. We may be able to train them and discipline them, but their hearts are another matter. This is God’s department. He is the one who causes real transformation of the heart so that the behavior follows. Prayer acknowledges our dependence on Him to make this happen. 

I don’t know if this son of ours sounds like one of your kids. But if he does, be encouraged. Faithful discipleship always produces fruit. 

“All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Hebrews‬ ‭12:11‬ ‭


 

Conquering Mt. Pulag

Climbing Mt. Pulag, the second highest mountain in the Philippines, was one of those bucket list moments for me. Edric and I decided to join the Valentine’s Day Pulag climb organized by the Rock Ministry of our church. It was an unconventional way to celebrate our commitment to one another but the experience proved to be one of the best ways to revisit our relationship and glean valuable life lessons. It was one of the most difficult, self-inflicted challenges we surmounted together!


Day one involved a climb to Camp 2 from Ranger Station — an easy two and a half hours. We pitched our tents by mid-afternoon and didn’t mind the drizzle. At this point the cold felt bearable. By 5 PM, however, the weather conditions deteriorated significantly and everyone in our group of about seventy-two climbers retreated to our tents to seek refuge.


My vision of the evening had star gazing, fellowship, singing, and outdoor cooking in its picture. This fantasy was impossible as no one dared to venture outside of their tents to hang out when the rain and wind continued. Moving around the campsite would mean getting clothes and shoes soaked and muddied. Only those foraging for food from neighbors and those who desperately needed to relieve themselves attempted to. (Some actually resorted to Ziploc bags to contain their “organic matter.”)

Had it not been for the calm composure and confidence of our team leader and friend, Jessie Tan, who is an experienced mountaineer and owner of the local brand, Conquer, we would have skipped dinner entirely. He ably got two burners going under the vestibule of one of the bigger tents. Edric and I, along with our friends, gathered in that same tent to eat off whatever resembled a plate or bowl. Amazingly, we feasted on adobo, salpicao, rice, and steak, courtesy of my brother, Paul, and sinigang, prepared by my brother-in-law, Joel. (It almost felt wrong to have that much food when we were supposed to be roughing it.)


When the rain did not relent, everyone’s bigger fear was the biting cold. I didn’t quite understand what my mountaineering father-in-law meant when he briefed Edric and I about the possibility of hypothermia on Pulag. Well, I very well got what he meant that night.

Although we prepared the right gear, we didn’t anticipate how frigid and uncomfortable the rain would turn the event into. The extreme drop in temperature, windchill, and precipitation which persisted into the early hours of the morning made us doubtful about reaching the summit when we awoke at 4 am the next day.

Throughout the night I tossed and turned, unable to get any quality sleep. It didn’t help that Edric wore a pink panther shawl around his neck which had big paws on it that kept slapping my face each time he turned his body (see photo above). Moisture also entered the floor of our tent. Had it not been for the inflatable padding my father-in-law lent Edric and me, we would have been sleeping on a layer of icy water.

Throughout the night the wind battered our tent but thankfully it returned to its form after each onslaught. Our group of eleven which included my brother, his two sons, my sister and her husband, four friends from our discipleship group plus Edric and I had it better than others who pitched on higher ground which made them even more vulnerable to the wind and cold. We found a spot surrounded by miniature bamboo that created a natural barrier around us. Some people whose tents were more exposed to the elements had to evacuate and transfer into sturdier, Conquer ones. (That’s a plug for my friend!)


By 6 PM, hope of sunlight emerged as some color returned to our surroundings. But the sky remained cloudy and it’s grayness concealed what should have been a beautiful display of the sun rising. Campers awoke to a nervous energy as the group discussed whether to attempt the ascent or wait it out some more. At first the guides were unwilling to take us up but after some persuasion they agreed to do so. Not everyone decided to abandon the shelter of their tents but there were a good number of us who were intent on making it to the summit.

Edric and I were part of the first group. With our hands stinging from the painful cold and our bodies bundled up in several layers so that only a portion of our faces was exposed, we proceeded to trek upwards behind our guide. At certain moments, our balance was compromised by the force of the chilly wind as it beat heavily against us. But we pressed on. The walking produced body heat that warmed us to our extremities.

Three-fourths of the way our guide decided to wait for the rest of our team. Edric and I couldn’t hazard stopping for fear that our body temperatures would drop, so we kept going till the shadowy form of the last peak presented itself among the clouds. Adrenaline kicked in and we bounded up (well, Edric certainly did), and the feeling of reaching the summit was extraordinary! God used the wind to push the clouds along so that we actually had more visibility of the scenery below than we expected to have. We had to anticipate the timing of each clearing of the sky as these moments passed within seconds. The Lord also added the bonus of a rainbow.

What life lessons did I pick up during this climb?

Lesson # 1: Listen to your husband. On the day before our climb to Mt. Pulag Edric and I had an argument about whether a porter should carry my bag. He thought I shouldn’t rely on a porter while I insisted on having one. My plan was to wear a waist pack and turn over all my other belongings to the porter whom I hoped would trail along right behind me in case I needed to access my windbreaker or fleece. “This is good livelihood for them”, I reasoned with Edric, but he turned toward me with an annoyed look on his face and blurted something like, “You are being a baby!”

Of course this triggered a defensive reaction on my part and I pridefully argued that I birthed five kids without anesthesia and I am the type of person who is low maintenance and the farthest thing from fussy. So that’s how our packing experience began.

We went back and forth for a while until we finally apologized to one another, and I also gave in because I knew that disobeying him would lead to my demise. Stuffing my essentials into my back pack, I psyched myself to bear the burden of it.

Well, I am so glad that I listened to Edric instead of forcing his hand to give in to my glamping version of climbing. When we got to the Ranger Station, most of the porters didn’t show up. They must have assumed that the weather forecast would dissuade climbers from coming to Mt. Pulag. So I wouldn’t have had the luxury of paying a porter to carry my bag had I banked on one to do so. Edric gave me a knowing look and I acknowledged with a, “Yes, you were right,” which he always appreciates hearing from me.

Furthermore, since the weather changed quickly over the course of our ascent, having my jackets and beanie readily available to was a big blessing.

Lesson # 2: Learn from others who actually know what they are talking about. People dish out all kinds of advice (about anything) assuming that Google gives them credentials to do so. Yes, I even do this sometimes. But there’s nothing like learning from people who have actually experienced things like parenting, marriage, financial stress or success, endured trials and surmounted them, and in this case, climbed real mountains. After talking to at least three people who knew what Mt. Pulag was really like, I internalized their advice and panic-bought what I didn’t have in my closet and couldn’t borrow.

Under-preparing for this experience would have been disastrous for us. However, Edric and I got the things that mattered most during this climb which saved us from hypothermia. 1. Waterproof shoes 2. Hiking socks t prevent blisters 3. A waterproof and windproof jacket. 4. Fleece layer 4. Thermal layer 5. Protection for the face, head, and ears. 6. An insulating pad for the floor of the tent to elevate our sleeping bags and cushion our spines 8. A sturdy but light-weight tent.

Lesson # 3: Trust God. Everyone was praying that the sky would clear so the climb would be more pleasant. I know many of us were disappointed that it kept raining through the night and that the cold was near insufferable for us tropical folks. However, we also continued to believe that God would make a way for us to get to the summit and see the wonders of his creation from the peak. And we did! He let us catch a glimpse of his glory and faithfulness as the wind which had been so dreadful actually exposed the blue sky above, the mountains and valleys below, and the sea of clouds that Mt. Pulag is famous for.

Another amazing miracle was that our large group got permission to pitch all our tents at Camp 2. Previously, we were informed that the group had to split in two because of its size. About forty would stay at Camp 2 and the rest would start their climb from Ranger Station at 1 am and proceed directly to the summit. Given that the weather was horrible, the second group would have suffered a great deal or given up. There is no way they would have completed their ascent. However, God granted us favor and the group was allowed to stay together so that no one was out climbing when the weather was at its worst.

Lesson # 4: Success is rarely achieved alone. Having Edric by my side and friends and family members who were a source of encouragement, humor, and wisdom during the experience made me realize that we all need support and company as we journey through life. Furthermore, the right relationships matter. Our Mt. Pulag team was determined to finish well. In life you want to be with those who are intentional and purposeful about their choices and goals.


Being with Edric in the tent, suffering together in the cold also gave me courage and peace. As long as we were together I wasn’t worried. I knew he would take care of me. We would finish this feat together, as a team.



Lesson # 5: Perseverance through trial results in strength of character. There were moments when I battled thoughts like, What am I doing in this miserable cold? This is a life-threatening situation! Why did I agree to do this?!

Yet the struggle to survive proved beneficial for my character growth. I needed the affliction to muscle me up emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope…” Romans‬ ‭5:3-4‬ ‭

First, it made me thankful. Being able to clean the grime from underneath my nails after I got home, enjoy a hot shower, and sleep under a comforter in a room with four walls and a ceiling felt like heaven!

The hardship also increased my threshold for pain which is so important in this age of instant gratification. I detested bearing the cold (which reached -3 degrees) but the ordeal made me realize that God gives strength to press on, keep going, and stay positive.

Life is not all valley, all hill, all plateau, all dessert or all mountain. There will be times when it feels easy and other times when the challenge is extreme. Yet in view of eternity, everything is momentary. And very often the points when it seem impossible to win only means that the victory is surprisingly close.


For followers of Christ, the greatest victories are to overcome sin and death. Both of these Jesus Christ did for us on the cross and when He rose again from the dead. Therefore we can persevere through all trials and all difficult seasons of our lives because of the hope that He gives. Our circumstances may not always change for the better but our destiny is secure.

“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:55-57‬ ‭

“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison…” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:16-17‬ ‭

Lesson # 6: Set your mind on home. Towards the end of our climb, as Edric and I descended the mountain, we talked about the highlights of our experience. I shared that mine was knowing that we were finally headed home. The mountain peak was awesome, the event was unforgettable, but it was the thought of home that excited me most. This mindfulness of home kept me energized the entire way down. Edric and I rushed back to the Ranger Station in an hour and a half even if it was supposed to take three hours!


As followers of Christ, the assurance of going home to him as we enter our twilight years or deal with the reality of sickness and hardship should supersede whatever fear or pain overwhelms us. I was excited about the thought of our earthly home but how much more joyous it will be when we enter our heavenly one. Whatever our struggles, disappointments, or triumphs may be, the best is yet to come.

“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord- for we walk by faith, not by sight- we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:6-8‬ ‭

Would I climb Mt. Pulag again? Maybe not at the same time of the year! But I have no regrets. I came down from that mountain marveling at the handiwork of God and his faithfulness, a renewed respect for mountaineers, a deeper appreciation for Edric and our marriage, a special memory to cherish with family and friends, wisdom and grit from the character-building journey, a sense of gratitude for the blessings of food, clothing, and shelter, and a yearning for my heavenly home.

God Loves Single Moms

After Edric and I give parenting talks, many single moms come up to us feeling discouraged and anxious because of our emphasis on the role of a father. They tend to fear that their children will not grow up with the support and mentoring they need from a dad. We often encourage them by saying that God is gracious and then give them practical tips on how to parent alone. However, our vantage point is still different and single parenting is best explained from the perspective of someone who is actually in a position to say what the challenges are and how to surmount them.


Last weekend, Edric and I were in Cebu with friends Mel and Cathy Po, where we had the privilege of speaking alongside actress, Jodi Sta. Maria to a large gathering of Ateneo parents. Jodi shared her journey as a single mother and she itemized these life lessons: 

Security – a child longs for security. It’s possible for a single parent to meet this need by being available and creating a home environment where a child knows that unconditional love and forgiveness abound.

Identity – a single mom’s identity has to be rooted in the Lord and she has to transfer this truth to her child/ren as well. God is father to the fatherless and husband to the husband-less. When a single mother understands how much God loves her, she doesn’t have to worry about how others label her or judge her. Her identity is hidden in Christ, therefore her joy and peace also come from her relationship with Him. These are not dependent on circumstances or others. 

Non-negotiable Date Time – Since single moms tend to get busy trying to provide financially for their child/children, it’s important to safeguard date nights with them. These are predictable moments in the week when children can look forward to bonding time with mom. 

God-centered Parenting – Pschologists, the media, and books will have all kinds of opinions about how single parents should teach, train, and raise their children. However, the best source is still God’s word. He is the author of parenting. Principles such as Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go so that when he is older he will not depart from it, and Deuteronomy 6:5-7 – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and teach your children to do the same, are still applicable to solo parents and their kids. 

Love as Motivation – Children are inspired to change, to improve, to excel when they know with certainty that they are loved. Unconditional love is a powerful motivator. Not only should our children be assured that we love them no matter what, we also have to make choices for them that are based on unconditional love verses selfishness. Whether single parent or not, this is a real struggle. “Let all that you do be done in love.”‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭16:14‬ ‭

Educate Yourself – Every parent needs a doctorate degree in parenting. But no school exists for this sort of degree! So we have to attend biblical parenting seminars, read books, and surround ourselves with parents who have successfully raised their own children so we can learn from their mistakes and victories. Edric and I continue to grow in our parenting from getting together with other couples who are also committed to teaching and training their children. We exchange “best practices.” Single parents can do the same. 

Memories Last Forever – Invest in memories. Some of my fondest memories are of my childhood years, sitting around the dinner table as a family, exercising together, traveling, and vacations. These are forever imprinted in my heart and mind…as they will also be for kids of single parents who deposit fond memories into the emotional banks of their kids. 

Overcome the Circumstance as a Family – I would like to add that you can have a new “team” of people who will become your child’s family to provide the emotional and spiritual support you both need. No parent should be an island. “It takes a village to raise a child” is such a true statement. So find that village of people. Maybe it’s your parents who can come along side you to help you parent. Or maybe it’s a sibling and his or her family who can be part of your child’s growing up years to fill in the gaps. 

Manage Your Time and Priorities – When I had the chance to ask Jodi (who is super humble and down to earth) how she balances being an actress and parenting her son, she revealed, “I don’t take on multiple projects at a time. I used to, but I don’t anymore.” 

She admitted that she has earned the freedom and respect from the industry to turn projects down, which is a blessing from the Lord. However, I am sure it’s not easy to say no to good sources of income as a single mom. Jodi is a great example of someone who works hard to be a provider but recognizes that God is her ultimate provider. Prioritizing her son, as well as giving time for her weekly discipleship group, speaks volumes about her desire to put what’s most important first. It’s no wonder God is also blessing her career! 

I want to end this entry with a passage that I read a few days ago that I feel is so perfect for single moms. Whether you are a widow or abandoned by the man who should have been committed father to your child, may this minister to you. God loves you, single mom! If you honor Him and obey Him, He will certainly uphold you and provide for you. 

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; and do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. ‘For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth. ‘For the LORD has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,’ says your God. 

‘For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,’ says the LORD your Redeemer.

‘For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ Says the LORD who has compassion on you. ‘O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires…All your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great.’

‘In righteousness you will be established; you will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; and from terror, for it will not come near you. No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭54:4-8, 10-11, 13-14, 17‬ ‭

When Words Hurt

Proverbs says that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Life words inspire our spouses and children towards fruitful thinking and behavior, while death words tear down, embitter and demoralize them.

How timely it was when our Tuesday couples’ group discussed Craig Groeschel’s Soul Detox series which began with the topic of Toxic Words. What is the most hurtful thing anybody has ever said to you? What is the most encouraging thing that anyone has ever said to you?

These were the questions we were all asked to answer. So each one of us shared about instances in our lives, whether in our childhood, the near past, or in the present, when toxic or life-giving statements were made by family members, friends, colleagues or strangers to us. A number said that parents’ words were a source of deep wounds.

Yet I praise God that most of us applauded our spouses as the persons in our lives who have declared the most positive words to us. I personally thanked Edric for speaking two life giving statements that have meant so much to me. The first is, “I will always love you. There is nothing you can do that will change my love for you.” The other one is, “Don’t worry baby, I will take care of you.” These assuring statements mean so much to me!

To apply the lesson on how to avoid saying toxic words, Edric taught as a simple principle — three guidelines for taming our tongues: Right word. Right time. Right motivation.

Ephesians 4:29 commands us, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Although there may be instances when we need to correct a person, it may not always be the appropriate time to do so. As the passage explains, “according to the need of the moment.” Or, there may be occasions when we want to bring up an issue with our spouse, child, friend, colleague, or subordinate and our motivations are tainted by selfishness. Instead we are to consider whether it will bring “grace” to them. The motivation is restorative, to connect them to or back to Christ.

A few months ago, when our driver accidentally drove the rear car wheel of our vehicle over Elijah’s foot, I know Edric struggled to control his anger. As a protective father, his instinct was to lambast our driver right after the incident happened and pulverize him with criticism, even if Elijah’s foot ended up being okay. However, he thought through the repercussions of shaming our driver. Would this bring him closer to Christ? Would shouting at him testify to Christ-likeness?

Of course the answer to both those questions was, “No.” So Edric paused and denied his first impulse. Later on, in private, he had a serious conversation with our driver about how he could improve. By then Edric could speak in a calm manner while getting the pertinent message about awareness and carefulness across. Our driver, no longer rattled by his mistake, also responded to Edric’s instruction well and was extremely apologetic. Shortly after, Edric had the opportunity to share the gospel with him, which our driver openly received. I don’t think he would have been as responsive to Christ if Edric had closed the door to his heart by lashing out in anger.

I recall another incident when Edric, speaking for the first time before our church congregation, delivered a message that he felt lacked spiritual insight. He walked off the stage discouraged to face my father, who was mentoring him to be a Bible teacher. Expecting to be castigated and lectured he heard the words instead, “Good job. I know you did your best.”

My dad knew what Edric NEEDED to hear at that moment. Eventually, he looked for a teaching moment when he could advise Edric about how to preach a better sermon. However, the point is that he let some time pass so that Edric wouldn’t dwell on his discouragement.

Today, God has given Edric the ability to handle His Word accurately and insightfully. He has grown to be a very good Bible teacher, and this isn’t just a biased wife saying this. I believe God has bestowed upon him a gift for communicating with people. Yet I imagine that Edric may not have pursued this path had my father spoken the right words at the WRONG time when he was mentoring him.

We may not always be the recipient of the same kind of grace that the above examples demonstrated. Some of us may have been (and continue to be) battered and assaulted by abusive speech and negative statements. So how can we safeguard our hearts and minds from the devastating effects of toxic words?

First, we need to fill our minds with truth. After Edric and I broke up in our dating stage to honor God and pursue purity, the evil one bombarded my mind with lies like, “You will never be blessed because of your past mistakes. God will not love you the same way He loves your siblings. You are a failure.” The constant theme behind his deceit was performance-based acceptance. I had to “perform” to earn God’s favor, to do penance in order to redeem myself. However, I clung to the affirming truths that I read in God’s word.

Romans 5:8 assuringly says, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” A few chapters down it also declares, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans‬ ‭8:1)‬ ‭

When we sincerely repent, acknowledging our sinfulness to the Lord, and cling to the grace He offers us, He promises that we are no longer condemned. Let us remember this when the evil one seeks to devour our peace and joy with his lies.

While our first response is to counter toxic words and statements with truth — also known as defense — our second response is to apply wise and grace-filled offense.

I recall an incident when one of my relatives remarked, “Catalina is dark, why is she so dark?” in reference to her skin color. It was a tactless comment intended to compare her to my four other fairer-skinned kids. God gave me the wisdom to reply, “Oh really? I love her skin. I think it’s beautiful!” I meant it, too. Instead of challenging my response, that same relative smiled and backed off.

There are people in this world who get a rise out of making comments to provoke others. I have received a number of these on my blog and Facebook Teach with Joy page that may or may not be meant to incite me. They certainly appear to be a challenge to engage in conflict. But I’ve come to realize that I cannot control what people say. The only thing within my control is how I respond.

Whenever I feel the urge to wield the power of the pen to embarrass or belittle those who hurt me with their statements, I have to ask myself, Will I honor God if my retorts are motivated by pride? Is it worth my time to battle with people who like to be combative, who are out to prove that they are right? Might it be better instead to pray for them?

If we belong to Christ, we are accountable to Him for every word that comes out of our mouths (and devices!) Instead of avenging ourselves, He encourages us to “Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke‬ ‭6:28)

Oh, I know that’s hard to do! But, the good news is, whenever we start to pray for people who verbally offend us, we actually develop a heart of compassion for them and we change for the better, too. This isn’t to our credit either. It’s because the act of surrendering difficult people to the Lord and elevating the issue we may have with them to a spiritual plane gives us a divine perspective. The Holy Spirit replaces our vindictiveness with Christ’s love and capacity to forgive. Therefore I believe God’s command to bless and pray for people who hurt us is also His way of shielding and liberating us from the anger and hurt we feel when we are victimized by them.

Since most of us live in community with others, we are bound to hear negative statements, accusations, and unkind things said about us. If there is room to improve then let’s humble ourselves and do so, but if these judgements are false and baseless, then let’s be reminded that we are precious to our Heavenly Father. If no one ever affirms us as special and important, He certainly considers us as such. When words hurt us we don’t have to retaliate or carry these hurts into our relationships. The truth of God’s love for us should anchor us so securely that we can speak life words into the hearts and minds of others and respond with wisdom and grace when people verbally attack us or put us down.

Make a Commitment to Wellness

For the past few days I set aside my fitness meal plan to indulge a little. Thankfully, this break from healthy eating was short-lived. Part of my rebellion stemmed from angst over a consultation about my overall health that left me feeling discouraged. The consultation itself was an amazing experience. Everything made sense about wellness from a cellular level. But when I received the prescribed diet for me, I did the opposite of what I was told to do! Alas, the sinfulness of the human heart!

I ate bread, rice, and meat that I wasn’t supposed to, thinking that the suggestions of what to avoid were unrealistic. Eating is so important to me that I flipped out as I read through the list of grains, nuts, and organic products which the prescription asked me to abide by, which weren’t very easy to source.

Yet, after three days of food protesting I came back to my senses and consigned to the fact that I can do better with my food choices. Although I consider myself a healthy eater in the sense that I avoid sugary desserts, candy and chocolate, juices, soda, and loads of carbs, I am not consuming an optimum diet.

As a result, this has diminished my overall sense of well-being. I am not supposed to eat certain foods because they simply aren’t good for me and I am intolerant to them. Even if I feel angry that this is my reality, I also know that going in the opposite direction — that of rebellion — will eventually lead to my demise.

Today, I went with Elijah to S&R to study how I can revise my current menu for the home. I will be checking out other places as well for organic produce, as well as gluten-free, dairy-free options so that I can confidently conclude that I tried my best. The rest I will have to leave up to the Lord and entrust my body to Him as I do my part.

During my visit, I was happy to see things I can eat and drink:

  • Almond Milk (Unsweetened)
  • Almond Flour
  • Lentil Chips – no added sugar and gluten free
  • Olive Oil Mayo 
  • My favorite mixed berries pack was on sale! 

S&R also had cage-free eggs, organic vegetables, and a bunch of gluten-free and non-gmo snacks and products. I have known about these in the past but this time I actually paid attention to them.

A number of exercise equipments were on sale, too! (Someday I hope to have a home gyms. Sigh. For now it’s running the hills of our village)…

Elijah greatly helped me. He’s a young man now and prides himself on being able-bodied when I need extra muscle. He’s also thrifty so he kept me from overspending!

There’s a difference between wellness and fitness. Apparently you can be slim and trim but internally off-balance because your gut health has been compromised. I will do another post on the results of my consultation which became an eye-opener. For now it’s good to know that if I really want to be committed to wellness there are options out there for me and my family (and I won’t starve to death).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Family that Gardens Together…

Towards the end of last year, Edric and I decided that we want our kids to be more involved in chores around the house, specifically gardening. This would allow us to approach two needs simultaneously – getting our kids outdoors to exercise, and instilling responsibility.

We canvassed for a grass cutter since the Carabao grass in our backyard was getting out of hand, and found a great deal at HMR in Cubao. After calculating how much we would save by utilizing our own grasscutter versus paying a gardener to come in once a week, we jumped on the opportunity to buy a motorized lawnmower that was sold for ¼ of the cost it usually was. Plus, Edric nostalgically recalled the days when he mowed his aunt’s lawn in the U.S. over the summer, and was excited to relive this experience.

In fact, he fended off the kids when he first got the lawnmower working, even if they eagerly asked to have their turn! Eventually, he entrusted the machine to them (and even to me) and we all got a chance to test its efficiency.

I must say that mowing the lawn can be very therapeutic and fun.

When Edric and I spent those days time outdoors, the kids naturally followed our examples. Over the holidays, Edric recruited our sons to perform gardening duties with him beyond cutting the grass and they thoroughly enjoyed their bonding time. They also got to exercise which was a nice bonus.

The girls and I assisted by sweeping, using the shears, pruning, and collecting trash. Surprisingly, even Catalina found the experience of yard word engaging and worked hard to do her role. She didn’t complain at all. It was an afternoon well spent together.


Neighbors’ househelps looked on curiously as our family worked together. I don’t know what they were thinking but I’m guessing it’s not typical to see five kids and two parents gardening in Metro Manila. I’m hoping our family can do this consistently and take it to the next level by doing some crop-growing and small-scale farming.

Kids, including my own, may default to indoor activities because of gadgets and media, but once they get outdoors with the family and do something productive, they actually enjoy the benefits that these experiences provide. 

I’m really thankful that this gardening initiative began with Edric. His pull on our boys is much greater and he knows how to turn grass-cutting, weeding, pruning, and garbage collecting moments into a good mix of fun and challenging. The kids, especially the boys, operate like good soldiers when he is around! If you haven’t yet considered gardening as productive family bonding, you might want to give it a try! 
 

About Manuka Healthy Honey

I have gotten questions from parents regarding Manuka Honey, which my family uses and posts about on Instagram and Facebook. For the record, I’m not selling Manuka Honey. But I was asked to be an endorser for it and I readily agreed to be one because it works!

The health philosophy behind Manuka Honey is something that resonates with me. I’ve always been “anti” antibiotics and into preventive health so Manuka Honey makes sense for my family. To be honest, it is pricey. Some people are shocked when I tell them how much the MGO options can cost, but the reality is getting sick is costlier.


My youngest used to be highly prone to respiratory infections. Every month she would get sick for the first year of her life. And it would take a long time for her to get over what should have been a simple cough and cold. Her immune system was a little more fragile than her siblings’. So everytime a virus got passed around from child to child in our home, I was pretty certain she would be a casualty of it to a greater degree. Sometimes, I would have to resort to antibiotics because her breathing became laboured.

She was diagnosed as asthmatic when she was a year old. However, she’s been spared from major lung infections and issues as of late. I know this is God’s grace. But it’s also because her immune system is better.

We avoid giving her lots of sugary foods. She has time to play outdoors, under the sun (the good sun). When she’s sick, we take a pause from the dairy, and we keep her home so she can get lots of sleep. When she gets congested, we nebulise with saline solutions and give her Manuka honey. The place where we live has significantly less pollution than other parts of Manila so I know this also makes a difference. Since she is homeschooled, she has less exposure to sick peers, too. Therefore, she tends to be able to fight off these infections without medication.

Last week, she was fighting a cough and cold but she got past the fever and malaise stage by resting and taking Manuka Honey MGO 400 as a curative measure.


Although she didn’t like the taste of Manuka honey when she was younger, she now asks for it. (I have to control the amount she wants to take!)

For those who want to know more about Manuka Honey and its benefits, please read on (if you don’t, I won’t take it personally. I won’t even know. ha ha. I know there are readers out there who don’t like me “endorsing” products. But rest assured, I’m selective and careful about what I write about on this site.)

New Zealand is the most isolated major honey producing country in the world. Its geographic location makes it an optimal place for the Manuka flowers to bloom. It has been know to produce Manuka honey with the highest Methylglyoxal content.

Manuka honey is a monofloral honey from the nectar of the Manuka flower that grows in remote unspoilt areas of New Zealand. It has unique and naturally present properties that aren’t found in other varieties of honey.

Methylglyoxal (MGO) is a compound that gives Manuka honey its antibacterial component. It is found in high concentration in the nectar of Manuka flowers. The higher the concentration, the stronger the antibiotic effect. So far, Manuka honey is the only food found with significant MGO content. Unlike antibiotics which destroy the balance of good bacteria vs. bad bacteria in our guts, Manuka honey doesn’t.

About 75% of mass produced honey is oftentimes artificially processed. It is usually made of artificial flavor, additives and food coloring that has either negative or very small health benefits.

Manuka Honey has several MGO concentrations. So naturally, the question is what MGO is best for me and my kids?

MGO 100 & 200 are best taken daily for maintenance to help boost the immune system. Children above 1 year old can take it (not younger). These both help to prevent coughs, colds, and flu. Take 1 teaspoon 15 to 30 minutes before breakfast and before going to bed.

MGO 400 & 550 help with acne and eczema, tooth decay and gingivitis, sore throats, respiratory health such as asthma and bronchitis, hyperacidity, acid reflux, stomach ulcers, constipation, diarrhea, burns, wounds and even MRSA. Manuka honey can be applied directly to a burn wound and it will soothe it dramatically. I’ve tried it myself on a wound that occurred due to baking.

Source for Manuka Honey information: Manukahealth.ph

Manuka products are available in:

Bonifacio Global City, Taguig (1-D Kensington Place, 1st Av. Burgos Circle)

Robinsons Magnolia (2nd Level)

Glorietta 2 (Ground Floor)

TriNoma (3rd Level)

Lucky Chinatown Mall (3rd Level, Reina Regente Street Corner, Binondo)

Ayala Center Cebu (2nd Level)

Ayala Abreeza Mall Davao (Ground Floor)

For more information and nationwide delivery, you may also contact 632-984-8855, 632-636-5588, 0999-9977-4277, 0917-863-5588 or check out their website at manukahealth.ph

 

Technology and Hands-on Learning

Last year I was introduced to a company called Smart Toys, a distributor of learning materials that combine technology and hands-on learning. One of their products is called Marbotic — learning materials that were created by “tech-lovers and education experts to blend traditional wooden toys and touchscreen technology.”

Smart Numbers teach kids to count using ten beautiful wooden numbers and three educational apps inspired by the Montessori method. Smart Letters combine three apps and twenty six wooden letters to help kids learn reading and writing.

Catalina tested the Smart Letters out and she thoroughly enjoyed taking each letter and placing it on the screen to hear it’s name, sound and discover what words begin with the letter.

Marbotic is unique because it engages children with tactile experiences as they learn, but it also harnesses the advantages of technology. Although it’s a little pricey, it’s one of those educational toys/materials that you can use with succeeding children. The wooden letters and numbers are well-made, sturdy, and don’t require batteries.


Children as young as one year old can handle these with supervision and by three they can learn independently.

I also asked my kids and their cousins to sample Smart Toys‘ 3D coloring books which come in four different titles–Dino, Ocean, Safari, Bird. After kids color the pictures, they can pair them with a free app that makes their art come to life.

Other notable educational products by Smart Toys are Augmented Reality (AR) Books. These AR books come to life when you scan them with your smartphone or tablet. There are seven titles — Dino, Ocean, Safari, Farm Animals, Bug, Herptile, and Birds. 

Kids can read about creatures come to life on a page! It’s augmented reality for educational purposes. 
As a homeschool mom, I am thrilled that there are so many materials out there that I can use to teach my kids. My mom taught my siblings and I using textbooks with newsprint pages. We survived and did fine because that’s all we really had to choose from. Today, however, homeschool parents have a plethora of options for every bent and interest of their children. This is the best time in the world to be a homeschooler! 

For more information on Smart Toys please contact 0917-8877959 or follow @smartoysph on Instagram. 

 

We Don’t Need More Crazy Moms

I have been spending time with women friends, exchanging notes about their relationships with their mothers and it breaks my heart to hear story after story about their “crazy” moms– moms who are self-absorbed, bitter, broken, unkind, play favorites, and suffer from identity issues. 
There are valid reasons behind the bad parenting choices these moms have made, but they may never fully realize how deeply they have wounded their daughters, women who are my friends, who are moms just like me. It’s miraculous that these women friends are turning out to be such wonderful moms themselves. That’s the grace of God in their lives. However, it’s also sobering to be confronted by the reality that my thoughts, words, and actions matter so much to my own girls. I can become a version of “crazy” if I am not spirit-filled and resort to hurting them, too. 


To be honest, there are times when I do. As a homeschooling mom, wrestling with impatience is an everyday struggle. Even if I don’t yell at my kids, I feel very exasperated when they don’t understand a concept I have repeatedly taught them, or when it’s hard for them to exercise logic and common sense when a lesson seems easy and basic. Sometimes this aggravation manifests itself in deep sighs, rolling eyeballs, or negative comments that make my kids feel inadequate and insecure.

Just the other day, I was teaching Tiana math and she forgot how to count to 100 by 5s. Irked at how quickly the lesson faded from her consciousness, I snapped at her and gesticulated with my hands like I was in pain, “I don’t understand. This isn’t hard. What’s wrong? Why can’t you get it?” 
As I mouthed this out, I gripped the pages of her math book in my hands and motioned like I was going to tear it in half. Even if I wanted to, I really couldn’t have because I mistakenly held onto a portion of the book that was too thick. 

Tiana noticed all of this, of course. She self-consciously bowed her head to a point where I could still see her beautiful eyes, now troubled, looking up at me with concern and fear. She probably wondered what I would do next and the rest of the kids visibly displayed their anxiety as well. 

My heart sank. What was I doing?! An immediate apology was necessary to abate everyone’s tension. I took Tiana in my arms and said, “Please forgive me, Tiana, for getting irritated. I love you. I was wrong.” 

I felt horrid, a big time failure as a mom, as a homeschooler. 

Why was I so worked up about Tiana’s inability to count by 5s? And why did this display of frustration and rejection on my part have to happen again to my sweet girl? (I wrote about a similar entry earlier last year.) 

Well, just like the moms my friends described, I have the same tendency to be controlled by my emotions, to act out of arrogance, fear, and selfishness. The real me is an ugly person whose default mode is to express this ugliness unless I am controlled by the Holy Spirit. 
Over the past weekend, one of the topics of a retreat we attended as a family was the “Exchanged Life.” The speaker, a good friend of Edric and mine, delivered a powerful message that can be summed up in the phrase, NO LONGER I BUT CHRIST. 

I praise God that He didn’t just save us from our sins, He equipped us to overcome what is broken and ugly in all of us. He gave us the power to be victorious over our common follies and common mistakes by sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in us when we come into a relationship with Him through Christ. 

Most days I am not a crazy mom and this is because of the Holy Spirit’s work in my life but it doesn’t mean I don’t have “crazy” in me. It lurks and waits for opportune occasions to bear itself, fangs, horns, and all, and the damage is not to be diminished.  

To the moms who can identify with this struggle and to those who grew up in homes where they never felt unconditionally loved or accepted by their mothers, might I encourage you with this: We don’t have to pass on the hurts our mothers wounded us with, and we don’t have to be the kind of moms who give in to the crazy in us. We have a God who loves us and redeems our pasts, and who secures our future. He is committed to helping us be the moms we need to be, no matter how we were mothered ourselves or how challenging it may be to fulfill this role in the present. However, we have to make some hard choices.


First, we may need to ask for forgiveness from our daughters. And we may need to forgive our moms (even if they never say sorry.) If we don’t, bitterness will defile us and those whom we love. 

“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:14-15‬ ‭

Next, we have to invest in relationship-building activities and routines that minister to the hearts of our daughters. It can be reading to them, learning to cook together, taking walks, having “tea or coffee” (my mom does this with my sisters, sisters-in-law, and me periodically), going to the grocery or doing errands together, giving random hugs and being generous with words of appreciation for their character, their talents, and abilities. The point is to do with them and for them what matters to them, what makes them feel special and important. 

Two nights ago, my eldest son, Elijah, reminded me to tuck Tiana into bed when he carried his little sister, Catalina, into the girls’ bedroom. Tiana remained awake, unwilling to retire until I prayed and kissed her goodnight. I happened to be caught up in a long conversation with a friend who needed some counseling so I assumed that Tiana fell asleep.
By this time, I had comfortably settled in to sleep but Elijah’s reminder encouraged me to inconvenience myself to be with her. I stepped into her darkened room quietly and caught sight of her sitting up in anticipation, hoping I hadn’t forgotten. She smiled with relief as I came to her side to smother her with a kiss and hug, and pray with her.

“Were you waiting for me?” 

She nodded and then peacefully slipped under the covers and closed her eyes. 

That moment gave me a picture of what daughters are like. All daughters, no matter what season or age, are hoping that we will notice them, accept them, and desire to be with them. Let us break the cycle of pain we inherited or the one we initiated by meeting their need for our affection, attention, and affirmation so that we can create a cycle love that our daughters will pass on to their future families. 

You Cannot Out-Give God

When I wrote the book, When a Good God Allows Rape, my purpose was to use my personal story to reach out to broken and wounded people and to give God the glory for what He has done in my life. By God’s grace, the book became a bestseller last year as reported to me by my publisher, OMF Literature. When the royalties came in a year later, God impressed upon my heart to give the money to Him, as my first fruits. After all, I had written the book for His purposes, so logically whatever I earned from it should go to His work.

However, this prodding came at a time when Edric and I were a little tight financially. Although we were getting by and we were still comfortable by God’s grace, Edric had taken a six-month leave from the show, ANC’s On the Money, in favor of focusing on Homeschool Global and the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI). As result, he also gave up part of the income that came with him being the lead anchor. So any influx of money was good news!

Yet I praise God for Edric’s response to God’s leading about the royalties (even though he didn’t struggle a little!). When I told Edric that God convicted me to give the money from my book’s earnings back to Him, Edric fully supported me. He said, “Go for it!” 

Even if Edric knew that money could have been useful for us at that period in time, he understood the principle of giving back to the Lord what belongs to Him in the first place.

How true it is that you cannot out-give God! Shortly after, an agency set up an appointment with Edric and me to pitch an idea for a year-long campaign involving our family. It was for the milk brand, Friso, by Frisland Campina, a company based out of the Netherlands.

Previously, I had also been approached to be part of another milk company’s marketing efforts but that fell through. However, God knew that Friso was a better fit for our family because of its philosophy. 

Unlike other formulas, Friso is committed to making its milk easy on the tummy of children. The process it goes through before going into the can is a gentle one. It receives heat treatment only once, which means that it preserves the integrity of its proteins so that kids are less prone to constipation when they drink Friso.

I am also a breastfeeding advocate, so formula is only an option above two or three years old for me. Thankfully, the specific product of Friso they were asking me to represent was for three years old and up which means I didn’t have to compromise my conviction about breastfeeding.

Furthermore, Friso keeps their product as natural as possible, without neglecting nutrition. All the farmers of Frisland Campina are the owners of the company, so they are personally involved and invested in the care of their cattle. Their cows have a very happy life! They have required grazing times outdoors and they aren’t forced into machines to be milked. Farmers also pass on their trade to their children and teach them the science behind raising cows, the quality of the grass that they feed on, and how to create an environment that stimulates the optimum production of milk. 

Watching the videos of the farmers mattered to me a lot. Since I homeschool my kids, I’ve never been one of those moms who gets suckered by the pitch of milk companies who say that their milk increases the IQ of children. Although I believe that nutrition certainly enables brain development, most milk brands provide good nutrition. However, since homeschooling is one-on-one, I know that my kids’ education is customized in such a way as to maximize their giftedness, interests, and strengths, as well as augment their weaknesses. So when Friso told me that their milk brand protects gut-health in kids because of the process that’s involved in getting it from the grass to the glass, then that interested me! And when I was shown fat cows grazing happily outdoors and scenes of fathers mentoring their sons about their trade that resonated with me!

Plus, I couldn’t help but see a parallel between the cows and my own kids. As the farmers of Frisland Campina are concerned about keeping a natural environment to ensure that their cows are as healthy as possible, I would like to think that God has given me, through homeschooling, the most natural setting for my kids to mature and develop holistically. My kids aren’t rushed to and from school, they don’t spend useless hours in traffic, they aren’t robbed of ample time each day to play and explore, and they have good friends whose families I am well acquainted with. They stick to a schedule, but they also get to learn beyond the books we use, and they aren’t taught with cookie-cutter approaches that classrooms have to implore for large groups of kids.  


 
I’m sharing all of this to magnify how good God is, how He opened the door for our family to be a part of Friso’s campaign as endorsers, a company that is aligned with our own values, and one that offered a financial deal that far surpassed what I gave to the Lord from my book’s royalties. This all happened after I obeyed God’s nudging to present my first fruits to Him instead of hording it for myself, which I was tempted to do.
 
May this entry encourage you to trust in God’s goodness, too. I want you to know that God is a magnanimous God who delights for us to experience His blessings. There are occasions in our lives when He intentionally withholds material comforts, but there are other moments when He deems it the best time to release His generous provision.
 
What this experience taught me and continues to teach me is that God often tests the condition of our hearts by way of our pockets. Exodus 23:19 says, “You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God.”

Money affords us this façade of security and it’s very easy to adopt the perspective that the money we earn belongs to us because we worked hard for it. However, provision ultimately comes from God’s hand, therefore our greatest security is not in acquiring more money but in obeying Him and following His leading in our lives. 1 Chronicles 29:12 rightfully declares, “Both riches and honor come from You (God), and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.”


 

The Organized Home

My husband has always wanted me to be an über organized wife and homemaker. I have tried over the years to live up to this desire of his. But it’s always been a challenge to be consistent. I start off well but then busy-ness gets in the way or the kids and household help don’t cooperate with my “systems” for orderliness. Stacks of paper get taller, toys and books end up on wrong shelves, junk accumulates, expiry dates get ignored, and frustration levels increase because people can’t locate what they are looking for.  

I am not blaming others. At the end of the day, managing the home falls under my watch. And the key for me is to turn my attention towards home making, which is difficult to do when I am everywhere else but in the home. 

There were a few things I could no longer stand as 2016 came to a close, namely the pantry, refrigerator, storage room, homeschool room, linen closet and guest room closet. I am not as OC as Edric may be, but we share a similar distaste for stuff that uselessly occupies space. We periodically give away items or participate in garage sales. And very often, we simply throw away useless clutter. Why, for example, do we have to keep used gift bags and broken fly swatters? We had a bunch of these in the pantry for no good reason. 

Edric actually finds closet-cleaning cathartic. When he has the privilege of free time, I will often see him standing in front of his clothes or shoes assessing which articles need to be taken out. Moments later he will emerge with a pile of things to give away. And then he will rearrange every shelf and drawer and feel like a new man afterwards. 

Towards the end of the year, our kids joined a rummage sale in our village and they diligently helped me sort through their toys, clothes, shoes, and books until we blocked our hallway with an uncountable number of things to load into our van and sell at ridiculously cheap prices. How did we accumulate this much stuff?! We aren’t even the hoarding type of family. 

There is always going to be something in our closets that we can part with or give away, and it’s good for our kids to learn this early on so they don’t develop unhealthy attachments to material possessions. 

Over the last two weeks, four other areas were decluttered, too. I solicited the help of the kids to fix the homeschool room. Edric employed them to assist with the storage room. I took command of the pantry and refrigerator. Tiana provided some assistance to me for these areas as well.


There is something about straight rows, books in cascading order, lose items in bins, and structure that make you feel like a better person. Like you actually have it together as a homemaker. This sounds like the confession of a desperate housewife but I am totally serious. Order allows me to think clearly and be more efficient as a wife and mom, heck, as a human being, period.

It used to bug me that Edric pressured me to improve in the area of organization. But I am so glad God gave me a husband who sets the bar high when it comes to order. He’s been a good example to me. His email inbox is clean. (Mine has like 4,000 unread messages…I know. It’s ridiculous. This will be next month’s project.) His computer files are categorized very sensibly. He has a place for every thing he owns and a packing process whenever he travels. He “spreadsheets” whatever he can, even the kids and me, so he can create goals and intentional plans to reach those goals with us. His week revolves around predictable schedules and he uses a rating system to evaluate what commitments he needs to prioritize or calendar. 

Now, I look at these habits of his and think, What a guy! I am in good hands. I need to be more like this!

At the very least, I have to do my part to create a home where Edric feels relaxed and happy to return to everyday because everything is in order. Granted, we have five kids so “everything in order” might be shooting for the stars, but it’s my role to try my best anyway. 

This is where I am at so far… 

Dirty kitchen pantry:

Kitchen pantry: 


Refrigerator:


Homeschool Room:


I still have to fix my closet, the linen closet, finish my 1-month meal and grocery plan and home management plan, and do some repairs and renovations around the house. Still a long way to go…

Organization, I am learning as a home-manager-in-progress, is not a one time event. It’s a daily commitment to…

1. Have a place for everything and return things to their proper place.

2. Teach my kids and household help to follow systems so everyone is involved in keeping the home organized (beyond just neat or clean).

3. Stick to a reasonable schedule so I am not rushed or too busy to stay organized.

4. Model to my kids the character of orderliness and the value of decluttering.

5.  Be a good steward. God has entrusted to me time, relationships, the home we live in, and the belongings we have. If I am not organized, these aspects of my life will be compromised. So I need to do my best to be faithful. Not perfect or obsessive, but faithful. 

Happy organizing! 1 Corinthians 14:40 encourages, “But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.”