Hedgehog & Gameboard Issues & God’s Love 

Since three days ago Edan has obsessed about a game called Sushi Go! Party, hunting for it on Internet board game sights, Amazon, and even local stores. If Elijah is into technology and computer programming, Edan’s equivalent is strategy board games. He is a game lover. His idea of a great day is to gather friends and family around a fun board game that he can facilitate for them.

Since the game is difficult to source and order, it came down to one place — gamewright.com. Unfortunately, my many attempts to purchase it were inhibited by my address. The site didn’t allow purchases from the Philippines through Pay Pal or credit card. I could have moved on and forgotten all about the game, but not Edan. He pushed himself so hard this week, studying to earn tabs (a system I use to motivate my kids). As a result, he collected 60+ tabs, enough to merit the reward of Sushi Go! Party.

Edan isn’t an extravagant person, nor is he demanding when he makes a request for a toy or book. But when he really likes something, he will find a way to get it. I think this is a good trait when the desire is channeled to something positive.

For example, two years ago, he had a fascination for carnivorous plants and took the initiative to research about them online and source a supplier based out of Bukidnon.

This year, strategy board games have been his new interest. He has been researching about strategy games. I thought it was an interest that could be encouraged because it required him to apply, logic, math, communication, and social skills. 

So I put in a lot of effort to find the game, to support Edan, and the best solution was to ask my sister, Candy, to buy it for me since she lives in the US. The plan was to have it brought to Manila through my youngest sister, Carolyn, who is visiting her. Edan hoped to get the game by Tuesday when his Aunt Carolyn arrived. He dreamed and imagined what that day would be like, so much so that he couldn’t rest. All he could think about was Sushi Go! Party

His single-mindedness was both fascinating and concerning. On the one hand, I was excited for him to have the game. On the other hand, I wondered if there was a bigger character lesson he needed to learn…specifically related to waiting and patience. I would remind him, “Edan, if we can’t buy the game then take that as an opportunity to practice waiting.” 

He agreed with me. But since he knew that I asked his Aunt Candy to purchase it on my behalf, he felt pretty certain that waiting wouldn’t be something he had to do. 

Well, today, when he woke up, two unpleasant incidents occurred to produce what he called, “The worst day of his life.” 

First, one of our hedgehogs, named Eve, went missing. She left a trail of dung down the steps to our lower ground storage area, so logically, she must have hidden herself behind one of the boxes. The kids searched everywhere and returned to the kitchen table for breakfast worried and baffled by her mysterious exodus. She had disappeared. 
Edric gave them an impromptu lesson on the importance of good stewardship and responsibility. The hedgehogs fell under Edan’s care so he felt the most distressed. He didn’t get to go with his brothers to play a game called Praxis with Edric because he was tasked to find Eve. 

The second and bigger disappointment for Edan came when I relayed to him the message I received from my sister, Candy, informing me that Sushi Go! Party wouldn’t arrive on time for Carolyn to bring to Manila. Edan began to cry. He hid behind one of the cereal boxes to conceal himself but everyone knew that he was upset about the game. 

I reminded Edan that he ought to be grateful that the game was purchased in the first place since that was a blessing in itself. Furthermore, his Aunt Candy had inconvenienced herself to do this for him. Third, the game would arrive eventually, just not next week. He mustered a thank you but I know he remained troubled. 

Most of the early morning was spent searching for missing Eve. She was found a few hours later, huddled quietly behind some old tiles, clueless about the panic she caused. I praise God that cats didn’t get her! She was returned to her husband, Adam. Problem #1 solved. 

Even so, Edan lounged lazily around on the couch in our bedroom, uninspired to do anything today. He isn’t the type to voluntarily express his feelings so I had to command him to sit beside me so we could talk.

I hugged him while he explained how disappointed he was and how awful the day was as the tears kept falling down his cheeks. He admitted to me that the Sushi Go! Party game had become a sort of “idol” to him, when I explained to him what idolatry is. And I also shared that things can’t replace the joy we find in Christ. Material things, people, and circumstances can offer a measure of happiness but these are temporal and passing. In the end, there’s no one and nothing that can fully satisfy us but Christ. A part of me wondered if I was delivering too heavy message to such a young boy, but Edan listened. 

I went on to say that he can open up to me about anything, that he shouldn’t be afraid to tell me his feelings. It was okay that he felt sad about today. I was going to judge him.

He seemed to relax and then he added, “Actually there’s something that I wanted to say…”

I waited. He took a moment.

“When I read my Bible today, I came across a Psalm that talked about the loving kindness of God.”

Edan began to sob. 

“You know, mom, I felt like God didn’t love me. This was the worst day ever because of Eve getting lost and then the news about the game. So I felt really bad and then when I went to read my Bible, the first passage I read was this.”

He pointed it out to me…

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” Psalms‬ ‭103:8‬ ‭

“When I read that, I felt like God was speaking to me, telling me that He really loves me.” 

Edan was really crying at this point. He felt like God was against him today but God dispelled that thought by assuring him that He loved Him, that circumstances aren’t to be the basis for interpreting God’s love. 

So Edan and I continued our conversation, this time focusing on what God’s love is really like. We talked about how God’s love need not be proven by the things He gives us. These are all a bonus compared to the gift of His Son, Jesus. When He gave us Christ, He gave us everything. We are His children, His resources are infinite, and heaven is our home. So when He withholds something we really long to have or when circumstances don’t seem to go well for us, we need to trust that this is what is best for us, according to the One who loves us. 

By the end of our dialogue, Edan was smiling through his tears. He realized that today’s disappointments gifted him with an opportunity to encounter the Lord in a personal way today. 

We spent the rest of the morning doing art instead of pouring over books. Edan described it as therapeutic. He drew and painted a dragonfly among other drawing skills. His gloom and doom disposition was replaced with joy. 

I am so thankful to the Lord that He is at work in the lives of each of my kids. He knows exactly what is going on in their hearts, and He intends to meet them and minister to them. But Edric and I have to keep encouraging our kids to read His Word. The truth is what gave Edan the right perspective today. 

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:12‬ 

In the midst of what felt like turmoil for him, he went to the word of God and received the assurance he needed most…Not that his hedgehog would be found or that his desired Sushi Go! Party game would come on time, but that God loves him. Thank you, Lord! 

On a sweet note, he also told me that he felt much better after talking to me. Let’s all be good listeners to our kids, my mommy friends! 

When Older Boys Are Uninspired to Study 

Friday morning started out like pulling teeth from my two older sons. Elijah and Edan grumbled, complained, and resisted being told what to do for their homeschooling work today. I have encountered moments like this before and it’s never easy to think through how I should respond. Part of me wanted to lay down the hammer and bully them into obeying. The other part knew there were better ways to inspire the right behavior in them. 

I invited them into their bedroom for a conference. “You (Elijah) and you (Edan), in the bedroom now.” 

They didn’t resist and followed me into their room where I motioned for them to sit across from me on one end of Titus’ bed. I took the other end. 

“What’s the problem, boys?” I asked this in the most gentle way I could.

One replied, “My work is too hard.” 

“Is that the real problem? What’s the REAL problem?” 

“We have a bad attitude?”

“Nope. That’s a problem but that’s not the REAL problem.” 

I paused, hoping they would apply some critical thinking and accurately assess themselves. Their mopey faces told me they weren’t going to get to that point. So, I volunteered the answer. 

“The real problem is what’s going on in your hearts. I don’t want to force you to do your work. Your motivation should be to please God.”

By then Edan was tearing, half-concealing his face behind a pillow. Elijah struggled to keep himself together.

I didn’t want to lecture too much, but I had to add, “The second thing is, you need to develop the discipline of hard work. Pushing yourself to accomplish a task is good for your character. Don’t expect your responsibilities to always be easy. Someday when you are older, you can’t run away from hard work, you can’t just give up on tasks. So you need to train yourself now.”

The boys were stewing in their emotions. They didn’t like that statement. I let them be and encouraged them to take some time to pray. “Come back to the study room when you are ready, with the right heart and attitude, and with a smile. Until then, just stay here and talk to the Lord. It’s okay to take your time.” 

I hugged them and returned to the rest of my kids. 

Although I refrain from shouting at my kids when they are difficult to teach, I do feel like crying and locking myself in my room to have a pity party at times. It hurts and saddens me when they are disrespectful or demotivated. 

However, homeschooling can’t be about me, even though I would like to voice that out and say, “Look, it’s not easy for me to homeschool five of you. I get tired and upset, and there are days when I don’t feel like it, so get over your attitudes and do what I ask you to!” 

Although it’s tempting to yell that out, I absolutely can’t. I mean, I can, but it won’t address the real heart issues in my kids. Slouchy postures, groans, huffing and puffing, complaining, and smart-alecky responses from them incite my irritation but I have to quell this in favor of a spirit-filled reaction. Thankfully, my kids don’t act out their negativity often, but there are days when I have to force the anger down so I can effectively disciple my kids.

One of the biggest factors influencing my desire to control the anger is this: I don’t want to model hypocrisy to my kids. I don’t want to tell my kids to love God and obey God, and then yell at them in frustration because they aren’t homeschooling in the manner I expect them to. Hypocrisy snuffs out faith in children. 

I wish I could claim to have a spotless record with my kids…that they have never seen me lose my temper. However, I can’t truthfully say that. 

There are days when I get annoyed at Tiana for forgetting what I have taught her, when I lecture Titus for failing to stay focused, when I let out an exasperated sigh because Catalina is disturbing the quiet, or when I threaten my older boys with confiscated gadgets to manipulate them into compliance. I praise God these unkind reactions aren’t the norm, and that’s because of Christ and not me. But my kids have witnessed enough evidence to conclude that their mom has her character flaws! 

Howeber, I praise God that He calms me down with the reminder that I am called to be an example to my kids. He also brings to my attention passages like, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs‬ ‭15:1‬) 

More importantly, the WHY of my homeschooling supersedes the day to day upsets of unmet academic goals and unfulfilled expectations. If I succeed at educating my kids in the head but fail to instruct their hearts then I fail them as a homeschool mom. My greater purpose for homeschooling my kids is to teach them to love God and to glorify Him which is why stressful encounters with my kids can’t bring out the monster in me!

So my encouragement to all homeschooling moms out there is to welcome the interruptions that require us to address the heart issues in our kids. Although our instinct may be to resent them, these are opportunities that God brings our way to accomplish the greater work we have as mothers. By God’s grace, the boys came back to diligently finish their work with good attitudes after they prayed and sorted through their emotions. So the academics did get done in the end but not at the expense of my relationship with my kids or their relationship with the Lord. 

“When it comes to my children, my ultimate goal for them is heaven, not Harvard. If they go to the latter on their way to heaven, that’s great. But if I reverse that equation, I’ve failed them.” ~Barbara Frank

Why Do You Still Love Me?

Edric is a very demonstrative person. He often tells me things like, “I love you.” Or, “You are the highlight of my day.” Or, “I miss you. I just want to be with you.” This is partly because he grew up in a family where his parents and siblings vocalized their love for one another. They were “huggy” and “kissy” and very sweet to each other. (They still are, which is something I appreciate about my in-laws.)

I don’t think I am as lovable as Edric thinks me to be. This is primarily because I know my flaws and weaknesses as a person, as a wife. Sometimes it baffles me to think that after all these years, his affections haven’t waned. In fact, he told me recently that his love has grown deeper and more profound. We must have been on a date when I challenged him with the question, “Why do you still love me?” and he gave that answer. 

This is both the mystery and miracle of marriage when Christ is present in it. I have said it many times that we don’t have a perfect relationship. We still suffer through our conflicts and general annoyances towards one another. However, Edric is right. I feel the same way about him. The love I feel is an eyes-wide-open kind of love, where I know everything about him, the wonderful and the frustrating, and yet, I would still declare without hesitation, that he is the person I would marry all over again. 

We are past the stage where the physical ranks high to both of us. Initially, I have to admit that this mattered a lot. We were very physically attracted to each other. But as we aged and gravity kicked in, we realized that this can’t be the magnetizing factor between us. We still try our best to stay fit but we know the truth about where our bodies are headed! 

Of course, when I first got serious about Edric 18 or so years ago, we connected on more important levels beyond the physical, too. Conversations were easy. There was mutual trust and agreement about values, principles, and faith. 

In this season of our marriage, however, it’s the history, memories, companionship, shared passions, common goals, and oneness in the Lord that matter most. The truth is Edric and I are such polar opposites in a way that ought to repel each other. We discovered this to a greater extent in marriage. 

He is full of energy and highly excitable. I am chill and not as free with my emotions. He’s spontaneous and engaged in every moment. I tend to be cautious and reserved. He likes food to have variety, to be presented in a palatable, intentional way. I can eat tuyo or Paksiew na Bangus out of a pan every day. He is lofty and bold with his ideas. I prefer to be conservative in my estimations. When he gets into a sport, it’s about the competition. Sports are a form of exercise to me. He is accustomed to being served and catered to in the home. I was raised to self-serve. He can get up on a stage and lose all track of time as he speaks. I freak out when he does this, especially when we speak together. He is confident and friendly. I can be insecure and quiet. He sees the big picture. I look at the details. His nose can smell the faintest scents. I have olfactory issues. He gets OC about his desk in the office and his study room at home, and likes to draw imaginary boundaries which designate where his space is. That’s all too complicated for me. When he’s hurt, he feels it for a long time. I move on too quickly and can be insensitive. He generously expresses love. My version can be too economized. He holds himself to a high standard and labors to help others excel. I like high standards when it comes to work ethic, personal growth, and outcomes, but I don’t always know how to inspire this in others apart from my kids. He is more critical. I am more affirming. He likes to fix his closet and organize his stuff. I don’t always know where to find the stuff in my closet.

With such dissimilar personalities, it’s a wonder that we haven’t aggravated one another to the point of falling out of love. That love can grow, bloom, and root itself so deep into our hearts is clearly the doing of God. There can be no other rational explanation. I find all those difference between Edric and me to be a source of irritation. And I know he would echo the same sentiment. However, I told him the other day, “Even if we are so different, I am thankful that we are fundamentally the same.” 

It’s the fundamental sameness that counts, that binds us and cleaves us to one another, that makes us one. Edric and I love the Lord. We are committed to obeying Him and following His principles for our marriage and parenting. The more we pursue the aspects that make us one, the more we love one another, the more delight we find in our relationship. And yes, there is still a lot of romance. Thank you, Lord. 

I don’t think our differences will ever go away completely. Sometimes they kind of spill over and contaminate his personality or my personality so that we take on certain traits that originally didn’t belong to either of us. Or, we imitate what we like about each other. Yet for the most part, it’s a take it or leave it thing. Either I accept that Edric isn’t like me and vice versa, or we both end up miserably disappointed because those differences remain. 

Therefore, my encouragement to all married, soon to be married, and considering-marriage people is to think through what differences and similarities are present in the relationship you have. If the similarities supersede the differences because they cover important areas like faith, purpose, priorities, goals, and values, then you can enjoy the differences as the spice in your relationship. And if you are married and you keep defaulting to how aggravating the differences are, then work towards achieving sameness in faith, purpose, priorities, goals, and values. 

Here are some questions you can discuss together:

1. FAITH – What do we believe about God, the universe, mankind, and ourselves? Are they consistent with the truth in God’s Word?

2. PURPOSE – What are we on earth for? 

3. PRIORITIES – How will we prioritize our marriage and family? 

4. GOALS – What should we accomplish as a team, given the strengths, abilities, and burdens that God has given us? How will we continue to grow and improve our sleeves? 

5. VALUES – What principles about marriage, parenting, and money will dictate how we fulfill our roles and how we make wise choices? 

It’s the fundamental things in a marriage — faith, purpose, priorities, goals, and values — that make its foundation shakable or unshakable. So when your relationship begins to feel unstable and rocky, revisit the foundation. If you need to rebuild, then do it! As impossible as it may seem in certain situations, let’s be encouraged by this passage: “But He said, ‘The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.'” Luke‬ ‭18:27‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Support and Encouragement for Your Homeschooling

If you are considering homeschooling, in the trenches of it, or seeking to be a more intentional parent, then you will need all the support and encouragement you can get. 

I remember a season when I struggled to teach my oldest son, Elijah, how to write well. Thankfully, I found a writing program called Institute for Excellence in Writing by Andrew Pudewa — Student Writing Intensive Course levels A to C. 

This program introduces kids to the basics of good writing and works them up to a level of excellence that is remarkable. The focus is on structure and style. Kids learn how to express themselves clearly and creatively.

Although I am an avid writer I wasn’t able to inspire the same sort of interest in my kids. I needed help. Pudewa’s material changed this for my boys.

Today, my two boys, Elijah and Edan, use this for the writing component of their Language Arts curriculum. They are thoroughly enjoying it, too, which is an answer to prayer! 

Sometimes the kind of help we need when homeschooling is a skill or resource to supplement an area where we can’t teach a subject or material effectively. Yet, most of the time, what we really need is perspective from others who understand the challenges and unique adventures that come with being a home school parent.

This is exactly what the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI) intends to offer parents this October 22, 2016, as it collaborates with Educating for Life to mount the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016 at the SMX Hall in SM Aura. 

There’s no perfect homeschool parent. We all have our strengths and we come with our weaknesses too. And that’s why we benefit from the victories and insights of others. Furthermore, it’s important to stay connected to other homeschooling families and foster community. This is something we are in together, and going the distance means we have to look out for one another, too.

I am particularly looking forward to this homeschool conference because Andrew Pudewa will be a keynote speaker. His contributions to the larger homeschooling movement have been so valuable. Furthermore, he has had a significant impact on our family’s homeschooling journey. 

It must have been 10 years ago when my husband, Edric, told me about a lecture he attended where Andrew Pudewa spoke on how boys and girls learn differently. Some years later, I met Andrew Pudewa at the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Conference in Branson, Missouri. Early this year, Edric and I were introduced to him again during the Global Home Education Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Pudewa delivered a very insightful talk on how conventional schools are an outmodeled form of education in this day and age. He presented compelling reasons to support why homeschooling makes sense given that we have advanced past the Industrial Age and are presently in the Information Age. (He also has great homeschool material on public speaking.) 

He is a gifted communicator and musician, and he is a well-known and sought after speaker in the homeschooling world of America. During the conference, he will focus on motivating children. (He will also have pre-conference workshops). Whether it’s getting them to write, read a book, or finish a task, motivation is important.

“Children like to do what they can do, they want to do what they think they can do, and they hate to do what they think they cannot do. If you want excited and enthusiastic children who learn well, you must understand these key laws of motivation and focus on the essential element of relevancy. If it matters, children will learn it, and if it doesn’t, they won’t.”

ANDREW PUDEWA- Keynote Speaker

Besides Andrew Pudewa there will be other keynote speakers like Bo Sanchez, my mom (Deonna Tan-Chi) and yours truly. I am nervous and excited! Please pray for me! Of course there will be a host of  great workshop speakers who will cover specific issues and concerns about homeschooling, too. Here’s what to expect during the PHC 2016:


7:00-9:00 – Registration 

9:00-9:15 – Welcome remarks 

Keynote Sessions:

9:15-10:00 – Building a Firm Foundation by Deonna Tan-Chi and Joy Mendoza 

10a:00-10:20Strengthening the Foundation Through Financial Planning* by Eric Nicdao 

10:20-10:30 – Raffle 

10:30-11:15Motivation – The Art and Science of Helping Students Learn Well by Andrew Pudewa 

11:15-11:25 – Raffle 

11:25-12:10pm – Wings to Soar: Leaving a Legacy for our Children by Sanchez 

12:10-12:20 – Raffle 

12:20-2:00 – Lunch Break / Expo visit 

Workshop Options: 

2:00-2:45 The Ins and Outs of Homeschooling in the Philippines by Edric Mendoza OR Transitioning from Brick and Mortar to Homechooling by Jenn Punzalan OR Homeschooling the High School Years by Raquel Guevara  

2:45-3:00 – Mobilize to next session 

3:00-3:45Laying the Foundation in Preschool by Milona Barraca OR Paper and Pen: How “Low Tech” Reading and Writing Benefit Students* by Andrew Pudewa OR  Transitioning to College by Ivy and Bernard Marquez 

3:45-4:00 – Mobilize to next session 

4:00-4:45Starting Your Homeschool Journey by Donna Simpao OR The Hows of Interest-Led Homeschooling by Alex Hao OR Homeschooling the Special Needs Child by Jen Bellosillo 

4:45-5:30 – Break / Expo visit 

5:30-6:00 – Major raffle prizes / Closing Remarks 

*Subject to change

For more information, check out Keynote and breakout sessions

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 Expo Hall. 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.


Write Pretty by Meg and Maddie (8:30am-10am)

Children ages 7 and up will enjoy learning a new skill with fellow homeschooled children Meg and Maddie Barraca.

Handlettering by Maddie (10:30am-12noon)

Join in the hand lettering trend by learning how to write calligraphy. To be conducted by Meg and Maddie Barraca. For children ages 7 and up.

Just Add Water – A Brush Calligraphy class by Marj Liwag (12:30pm-2pm, 4:30-6pm)

Little Miss Printer herself will teach this class for children ages 7 and up.

Inks and Lines – A Tangling class by Marj Liwag (2:30pm-4pm)

Learn about this relaxing art that creates beautiful images from simple patterns.

Challenge Island (8am-10am, 10:30am-12pm, 2:30pm-4:30pm)

Loosely based on the popular show, Survivor, children ages 5 and up will learn collaboration and cooperation the various Challenge Island tasks that they will be given to their tribe. Are they up to the challenge?

Crochet Along with Crafted Crafts by Marge Aberasturi (7am-6pm)

Marge Aberasturi of Crafted Crafts will welcome children ages 6 and up in her booth for beginning crochet lessons. Additional P250 fee for yarn and hook.

MEET THE ART MASTERS by Likhang Bata Creativity Center (7am-6pm)

Likhang Bata Creativity Art Center’s classes are a fun way to introduce the art masters to the children. The classes will be held in Likhang Bata’s booth the whole day.


Let your kids move and play in our indoor sports play area! Crawl under arch gates. Swing your club in mini golf. Topple the cans with the soft catapult. Play bowling. Practice targeting skills with the Multi Ring Toss. All using SAFSOF safe rubber foam sports toys. For kids ages 3 years to 12 years.


Children ages 1-3 will enjoy the various activities prepared by SMILE Group in the Toddler play area.

For more information see Kids’ Activities.


For adults:

1. Regular rate (With access to plenary talks, breakout sessions and expo)- P1000 per participant

2. Group rate (Register 4 and get 5th ticket at 50%) – P4500 (Payment should be made as a group, not individually, to qualify for the discount)

3. Expo only (Access to vendor booths only; no access to talks and breakout sessions) – P50

4. Walk-in and on-site payment rate – P1200 per participant

For kids:

Children can choose their activities for a fee of P500. Parents can also choose to bundle the activities (except the toddler play area, which is P500 for the whole day) with the following rates:

Choice of 1 activity – P500

Choice of 2 activities – P900

Choice of 3 activities – P1200

Choice of 4 activities – P1550

Materials for the activities (except the crochet lesson, where participants will purchase hook and yarn separately) are only for borrowing. Each child can only register in one Challenge Island slot to give other participants a chance to enjoy the activity.

To register online: PHC 2016 registration

Check out the Facebook page: 

Get the free app!

In summary…Five reasons to attend the Philippine Homeschool Conference 2016:


In This Brokeness There Is Hope

The school house stood three stories tall, an edifice that appeared out of place in a residential community. It was at the end of the street, tucked away but too conspicuous to miss. Beth Potter said it was a big, red house, and it certainly was.

Tiana and I pulled up beside it this morning. She gasped when she saw the place. “It’s so nice!” She said excitedly. 

We walked through the gate and into the grand doors of the entrance. To the left and the right of us were classrooms with children of all ages, grouped together and busily at work. What a delightful sight to see these orphaned children engaged in their studies, speaking very good English and writing so proficiently! I was impressed! 

I must confess that it wasn’t what I expected to see. These were well-educated children, under the tutelage of committed volunteer teachers, missionary ladies who were a wonderful mix of loving and purposefully stern.

Beth Potter briefly described their educational philosophy and the strides that many of the students had made over the years. They came in below their academic level and caught up quickly. In other instances they surpassed expectations. 

I wasn’t there to observe the classrooms but it was a nice bonus. I came to give a talk on Life’s Healing Choices. Beth informed me that a number of the children suffered from previous sexual abuse and she asked if I could encourage them. Thankfully, they spoke such good English, so I didn’t have to struggle through my imperfect Tagalog. 

We gathered together in one of the rooms a few moments later, with many of the kids sitting on the floor right in front of me. It felt like a safe and intimate space to be vulnerable. 

I proceeded to introduce myself and go into the details of my story. As I did so I studied the faces of the children and noticed that a few of them were wrestling with their own hurt. The gist of what I shared revolved around three choices I made that helped me to heal as a rape victim: 

1. To believe that God loves me, that He is good and sovereign, and has a plan for my life. Romans 8:28

2. To forgive the men who violated me because I too am a recipient of God’s grace and forgiveness. Matthew 6:14 / Ephesians 2:8

3. To declare God’s goodness in my life and not hide behind the shame. Psalms‬ ‭40:5‬ 

In the end I invited them to come to Christ, emphasizing that there is no guarantee that our lives will be free from pain and affliction. However Jesus promises us His peace. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”” (John‬ ‭16:33‬) I also assured them that God has a purpose for each of their life stories, and they can bring His hope to others. 

This was the easy part of my morning. What followed next crushed me emotionally and spiritually. Beth asked if anyone wanted to meet with me afterwards. It was like blitzkrieg crisis counseling because I couldn’t spend prolonged time with each boy and girl. I listened to heart-breaking stories of teens who were raped by fathers or relatives. They recounted the atrocities committed against them, each story no less a nightmare than the other. 

As I sat on my mononobloc chair, just inches away from these kids, I wondered if there was any solace I could offer. After all, their tragedies were far greater than what I experienced at their age. Who gets raped by their father?! These things should never happen! I felt the rage kicking into a boil as I thought about the betrayals and confusion these children suffered through. 

It’s worst than death it seems, to have to fight off your own father and beg for his mercy, and yet he feels no pity, devilishly responding to your pleas with a blow to your gutt to silence you so he can proceed to assault and defile you in his lust. How do you comfort a child who has endured this and lived to tell it, crying in their shame like it’s their fault to bear the guilt of such perversion?

I am not naive. I know this sort of disturbing and sickening thing happens today, but I tend to be far removed from actual incest cases of young children. Most of the people I counsel are abused, taken advantage of, or raped by peers or strangers. When it’s palpable and up close like this…when each child’s face has a name and I am looking into their eyes as the tears pool and streak down their cheeks, it’s tempting to wonder, Where is God? Is there a God who cares? 

Yet, I heard something I shouldn’t have during those sessions, at least not from children who recounted such horrors. Two of the kids told me, “I have forgiven my father.” When I asked the first one why, she said with conviction, “I read it in my Bible.” 

She told me that she found Christ in the home she was sent to, a place for abused girls. She came to understand the love of God there. 

Another child, a young boy who lost both his parents when they died in their sickness, smiled as he shared, “At night, I look up at the stars and I think about God and how He is with me, and I don’t feel scared or alone.” 

As I marveled at their insights, I was reminded that in this broken world there is hope. There is peace. In Christ people are healed. They become victorious and don’t remain victims.

“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John‬ ‭5:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Although the stories of tragedy won’t cease till Jesus comes again to restore all things, the healing can begin if we care enough to tell people about Him. 

I hugged Beth before I left. She became a hero to me. I told her, “What you are doing here is the hard part. I came in to tell my story, but you will stay on to minister to kids who have been cast aside and forgotten.” 

Tiana and I headed back to Ortigas area and I pulled her close to whisper, “I am so happy to be your mom. I am so thankful you are my daughter.”

I went on to explain, “The kids in that school have fathers who hurt them because their fathers don’t know Jesus.”

She looked up innocently and remarked, “But not daddy, right? Daddy doesn’t hurt me because he knows Jesus.” 

As she fell asleep on my lap, I wept. On the one hand I was so grateful to the Lord that Edric and I get to love our kids, and that our kids have been spared from sexual violence. On the other hand, I felt renewed conviction to talk about Christ.  Jesus Christ is still relevant and always will be, especially to those who ache for hope, peace, and joy. When the broken come to Him, the veil is taken away, and they find purpose, meaning and the grace to forgive their offenders. 

“…But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭3:16‬ 

We may not be able to alter a person’s past experiences, but we can change the course of their histories by telling them that there is a God who loves them and inviting them into a relationship with Him. He gave His life for them so they can have new life! To someone who has lost everything a new life means everything! 

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭

Confessions of a Momentary Netflix Addict 

I felt like an addict last week, watching episode after episode of House of Cards. After each Netflix marathon, uselessness and emptiness troubled me. The entertainment value of this series wasn’t worth the hours I sacrificed. Although I hoped for something redemptive, each episode didn’t get better in the spiritually edifying sort of way. More untruth, compromise, and immorality were woven into the plot as the series progressed. 
At some point, I asked myself, “What am I doing?! I am wasting precious time, time that I am accountable to the Lord for.”

Psalm 24:1-2 and Psalm 50:10-12 tell us that God owns all things. According to authors, John Hay and David Webb, “God holds the patent on you, your neighbors, the animals, the seas, the earth, and the rest of creation…Most of us go through life thinking we hold the title to our lives and our possessions.” However, we are merely stewards

“A steward is a person who rules over, or is in charge of, property that belongs to someone else. The word steward comes to us from a pair of Old English words meaning ‘household’ and ‘keeper.’ A steward acts on behalf of the owner of a large estate…You see, the steward does not own the estate just as we do not own the money, the time, the talents, and all the other things that God, the Owner of all, has entrusted to our care.” (John Hay and David Webb. What On Earth Can I Do? Apologia Press. Pg. 68, 70 – 71) 

It’s not that I was engaging in anything “sinful,” by watching the series. However the Bible encourages us, “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” (Psalms‬ ‭90:12‬) 

In other words, I am to steward my time, endeavoring to grow in wisdom. Wisdom is valuable and pleasing to God. Yet how can I acquire wisdom if I am polluting my mind with content that chips away at foundational Biblical principles that I believe in? Do I really want to keep watching scenes of people lying, cheating, and engaging in sexual promiscuity? How does this repeated exposure encourage me to love God and obey Him? The answer is, it doesn’t. 

Thankfully, Edric came to the same conclusions as we sat through our Sunday service. He turned over to me and said, “I am going to quit watching Breaking Bad and House of Cards. I was convicted by the passage I read in Deuteronomy.” 

His conviction came from a different place, but it’s essence was the same. These are the verses he read: “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God:” Deuteronomy‬ ‭28:1-2‬ ‭

Edric explained that diligent obedience to the Lord is the intentional pursuit of a life that pleases God. It may sound like such a sacrifice to hold ourselves to God’s standard of goodness and holiness. And yet the amazing thing is that living to please God affords us with a lasting kind of joy, the quality of which is never reached through senseless fun and reckless abandon. Therefore it really isn’t a sacrifice to let go of activities that aren’t spiritually beneficial because the satisfaction they promise is temporal and fleeting. 

Was it fun to watch episode after episode of House of Cards? Of course! I enjoyed the plot. I sympathized with the characters and I appreciated the dialogue. However, after each show, I felt like I had injected myself with toxins that did more harm than good to my spirit. And I subjected myself to this for a ridiculous number of hours because it was so interesting! After a while, I actually felt depressed and sick. No real fruit came out of those wasted hours.

Years ago I may not have been compelled to stop watching a series like House of Cards. Yet the more I seek to know God, the more sensitive I become to what is edifying and what is garbage packaged to look enticing. Furthermore, if I can’t imagine watching a movie or program with my kids sitting beside me, then I know it’s got content in it that isn’t healthy for me to habitually watch either. Do I go around telling people that Netflix is a portal of the devil? No. That’s the sort of the legalism that turns people off. We are still Netflix subscribers.

But, I would much rather focus on the more important questions. Is it healthy for any one of us to invite anti-God philosophies, images and ideas into our hearts and minds by indiscriminately watching unedifying shows? What can we do with the precious time we have been given to steward so that we are purposeful and pleasing to God? 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have fun and be entertained. God delights in our enjoyment and pleasure. However, there is something wrong when the fun and entertainment stimulate in us an appetite for sinful pleasures. Furthermore, there is something wrong when we squander our time (even if it’s discretionary or “free” time), indulging in activities that do not honor God. But like I said, this perspective has to stem from a personal conviction. To most people these sort of reflections can sound like unattractive legalism. So I am going to quote what my dad said to me and my siblings when we were younger, “It’s good to have a high standard for yourself but don’t impose it on others.” If something is wrong for me, then I should follow the Holy Spirit’s prodding about it. But I am not to take the Holy Spirit’s role in another person’s life. 

It’s been several days since I abandoned nighttime series watching, and I actually feel liberated and happy about giving up my House of Cards drama. I am discovering all the better things to do in life then watch Frank Underwood manipulate, use people, deceive, and murder to get to the top and stay on top of the political food chain! 

Don’t Settle Now Because It Will Matter Someday

After declaring to a group of friends that I hardly get sick, I was hit with a strange virus that left me physically weak and mentally impaired. It was two days of fever where my body crashed and I had no will to rise from my bed except to relieve myself in the bathroom. It was followed by a stomach bug that gave me abdominal pain and diarrhea. And then my entire body was peppered by a rash that turned itchy on the 6th day. The itching kept me up for two nights.

So for 7 days I found myself perpetually exhausted, sneaking in naps throughout the day to regain my strength. I still do not know what I got which was passed on to two of my kids and one of our household helps. But it was a week of forced stillness for me.

When you can’t do much but lie in bed it certainly makes you think about your life. Because I had to slow down and literally do nothing, it nearly drove me crazy with boredom. I couldn’t even think straight. It hurt my eyes and my head to do brain work. So there I was, bed-ridden like I haven’t been in years.

The good news in all of this was how Edric came to my rescue. He came home early from work during my sickness to be by my side. He had food brought to the room to encourage me to eat. And then he relieved me of certain responsibilities to alleviate my stress. Although he had many commitments this past week, he never complained or made me feel like an inconvenience for being sick.

As much as I hated being helpless and dependent while I recovered from my viral attack, I enjoyed his affections. In an age when the independent and self-reliant woman is celebrated, I am not going to pretend that I don’t like being rescued by my man. I love it!!! In fact it matters to me more today than it did in our dating stage. 

It matters more now because Edric has had years of repeated exposure to all my flaws and imperfections. Sometimes you wonder if this sort of reality will have a radioactive effect on your relationship. You wonder if your husband is going to grow tired of you or if his affections will dissipate because he’s seen all the ugliness. 

And yet, Edric remains committed to my well-being. Last night, he even facilitated a discussion with our household help on my behalf. (This isn’t something that normally falls under the list of things he likes to do.)

One of our helps is leaving us to go back home to her province so he assembled all of them for closure. Everyone got to air their concerns and voice out their problems with one another. In the meantime, I was upstairs resting, unaware that this meeting was transpiring.

As he replayed the conversation with our household help to me, he emphasized, “I told the girls to ‘take care of you because I love you very very much.'” He even had tears in his eyes as he said this. He’s a masculine guy but when it comes to declarations of love, he can actually get sappy. 

I am not awesome or interesting enough to captivate Edric’s affections forever. However, he remains committed to me just like he promised on our wedding day. Have there been occasions when he hasn’t felt loving feelings towards me? Yes, of course. Yet somehow this commitment to love me has been like a gravitational force that keeps him from falling out of orbit. At the core of this love is no doubt his love for the Lord. Like I said, it’s not me that keeps his love.

The longer I am married and the more couples Edric and I encounter through counseling and our social circles, the more I appreciate the gift of having a husband who has kept his promise to me, to the Lord. For richer, for poorer, in sickness, in health, till death do us part… 

I knew Edric was a wonderful man when I married him. But he’s version 15.0 now, fifteen years later, and still upgrading every year. 

Young ladies ask me about their relationships with guys via Facebook or through email, and I tell them, “Don’t settle.” Don’t settle for a guy who doesn’t love the Lord with all his heart. From this side of the fence, that’s what counts. 

This sincere love for God has got to be hard wired into a man’s person for him to be a good husband. It’s the one aspect of his person that will determine his motivation to improve and change for the better, and to keep his promise to you. I wish all women would get this and realize how significant a truth it is. 

Furthermore, you will know if a guy really loves God by the way he thinks and acts, by his habits and the people he surrounds himself with, the way he uses his time, treasure, and talents, his dreams and ambitions, and by the fruit of his life. There are many “posers” out there who can put on a show of godliness just to win the heart of a woman so be discerning, ladies. A man who loves God is worth saving your heart for! In the meantime, be the kind of woman a godly man will look for…

To all of us… “May the Lord direct your (our) hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭

First Grade Curriculum

Tiana started First Grade this September and I have customized her curriculum based on what she is inclined to and how she learns. She is still an emerging reader and she also needs grounding in her math skills. Plus, she has a short attention span when I read aloud to her. But she does great with workbooks, writing work and drawing. And she enjoys art a lot. 

If your child is similar, maybe this list will give you ideas for your first-grader: 

Bible Theology: The Ology by Marty Machowski (3x a week. Read aloud to Tiana and let her write a sentence or two in her Bible notebook to summarize what she learned) This is an easy and laid back way for me to introduce Bible concepts to her. It takes me about 15 minutes to read through each section or chapter (asking questions along the way to check if Tiana is listening), and then I ask her to write in her notebook and draw a picture to remember the topic and come up with her own application. 

Bible Reading: Tiana can do this independently or read aloud to me. (6x a week)

Math: Primary Mathematics by Rex Publishing available through Learning Plus. Cover 3 to 4 pages a day and supplement with Time4Learning.com (3 -to 4x a week.)

Science: (2x a week) Go through Discovering God’s World Science by Abeka Publishing and do Interactive Science Notebook

Tuesday night devotions: God’s Names by Sally Michael (Edric will read to all the kids on and discuss.) 

Language Arts (4x a week): a mix of Learning Language Arts Through Literature (the Blue Book), Sing, Spell, Read and Write (SSRW), and First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. 

Filipino (2x a week): Rosetta Stone program for all my kids. This is pricey but it can be used  for my five kids. 

Social Studies (2x a week): Listen to Audio CD Mystery of History Volume 2 with Titus. 

Art: Art Projects by Abeka Book Publishing and my own curriculum. 

Music: Piano lessons with Learning Plus

PE: Ballet with Learning Plus

Tiana takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to finish her homeschooling work. She is usually done by lunch. In the afternoon she has lots of play time and she practices her piano. 

S&R’s Biggest Sale Is Coming Up!

One of my favorite errands to do with my daughters is grocery shopping. It’s my bonding time with them. As often as possible, I take both of them. It’s also my way of educating them on what it’s like to run a household. 

Today, Tiana was hanging out with her cousin so she stayed behind and Catalina came with me. 

We went to S&R Membership Shopping where I prefer to buy my meat. First, it’s cleaner meat. Second, I need the big packs of Bounty Fresh Chicken  Thighs, which are easiest to find in S&R. Edric is really picky about grizzly bits in his ground beef, too, and the New Zealand ground beef doesn’t have these. 

I also purchase S&R’s large bags of vegetables because they come out cheaper for our family. Instead of getting a few onions, for example, I go for the huge bundles of onions. We go through a ton of onions in a week! Their lettuce is often more reasonable, too.

My favorite part about going to S&R is that I don’t feel harried or stressed because of its aisles and layout. I just get tempted to buy lots of stuff! Sometimes I go in and out of the aisles just to look at what’s new. 

Although there are days when it also gets packed full of people, on a Monday like this, it was relatively free. (Catalina ran around and enjoyed exploring.)

This Septemeber 30 to October 2 S&R is definitely going to be crowded, but for a good reason that you and I won’t want to miss! 

S&R will have its biggest nationwide sale of the year, their Member’s Treat Sale with 50% and buy 1 Take 1 Deals on selected products. Yeah! It’s that time of the year again!

 Top of my list will be more Lifetime Folding Tables, the heavy duty shelves for our storage room, towels, bedsheets, and Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough!

The sale will be at all S&R Branches:

– S&R Aseana
– S&R Congressional
– S&R Alabang
– S&R Shaw
– S&R Cebu
– S&R Pampanga
– S&R Davao
– S&R Imus
– S&R Nuvali
– S&R Davao

Visit to Saipan

Saipan is one of those places you want to get lost in. Okay so you really can’t get lost. It’s a small island, part of the other 13 that make up the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

It was my first time to this region of the Pacific Ocean, a zone with one of the most temperate climates in the world. Warm and sunny. There are occasional rains, but for the a good stretch of the year it’s like paradise to tourists coming from China, Korea and Japan. The joke is that it’s too small for the eye of any storm to see. Last year they had a major storm but it was the first one in over two decades.

Edric and I were invited to review our stay from the angle of how it might appeal to Filipino families. We took Titus along because it was his turn to travel with us. It turned out to be the most suitable trip for a guy like Titus who enjoys adventure.


We stayed at the Fiesta Hotel which had a great location and beautiful beach front. Plus, it had the best cultural show on the island — The Joyful Dinner Show. (Edric and I laughed so hard during this show during the audience participation part.)







Saipan has got much to offer the adventurer and the photographer. I have chronicled our experience in photos for you to appreciate. (None of the photos have been edited. Most were taken with my iPhone)

Bird Island Lookout: img_1257



Taking a submarine trip to view underwater life and World War II wreckage:






Parasailing on Managaha Island: dsc05907


The amazing Managaha Beach where you can go snorkelling or diving in pristine waters:



World Resort as a perfect paradise for children. They won’t want to leave this water wonderland:







Learning to do Banana Painting with the locals:





The famous Grotto dive site:


Ultra Terrain Vehicle driving through the streets and up to the highest point of Saipan thanks to Let’s Go Tour Company:




The Sand Castle Magic Show at the Hyatt Hotel (Titus got force-volunteered by the magician and was a good sport about it.) Please be informed that some of the dancing and the outfits worn by the women are provocative. Photos weren’t allowed till the end, too:



Lots of breathtaking sights where you can smooch your honey for a nice selfie:


Here’s my honest opinion about traveling to Saipan…There are three prohibitive factors that I have to divulge. First, the cost to fly there is pricey. At 500 USD per person for a four-hour flight that leaves in the wee hours of the morning, it feels expensive, especially because you can fly to South East Asian countries for less. However the good news is the Philippine Airlines will be working out a more reasonable fair soon. Second, you need a US Visa if you aren’t a US citizen. Third, the hotels need renovating (especially their bathrooms) for the price they charge. (I’m kind of picky about details when it comes to hotels, so this is a personal observation.)

However, this doesn’t mean you should scratch Saipan off your bucket list. Saipan has got the cleanest ocean I have ever seen. It’s a diver’s dream. For the record I don’t dive but these islands are known for their dive spots. Huffington Post called it The Most Beautiful Place in America You’ve Never Heard Of.

It’s also wonderfully underpopulated with just 55,000 residents. There is no traffic and the air is pollution-free.


You can drive around in a Mustang and actually enjoy the top down. We had a blast doing this. What color do you want? Yellow, Pink or Red? (Apparently these are their most rentable colors.)



Plus, there’s the aspect of its history. If you are into war history, this place has something to offer. The last command post of the Japanese was on Saipan. And the Hiroshima bomb was launched from an island just five minutes away by plane called Tinian. Furthermore, the Suicide and Banzai Cliffs tell an eerie tale of how the Japanese coerced locals to jump to their deaths before the US military took over the island, in an attempt to avoid capture and supposed torture.






For golfers who like to play on a course with a spectacular views from ocean to mountains, there’s also the Lao Lao Golf Resort.








In the next three or four years, Saipan will attract greater interest as businessmen invest heavily in its infrastructure, facilities and resorts. So there’s much to look forward to.

At present, it’s one of those places that is perfectly contented to just be, very much like the people who inhabit it. It’s all about being chill and laid back. (People gamble in t-shirts and flip flops). Edric and I took a peek into the casino and I was amazed to see how underdressed people were.

For a ridiculously high cost of 1 million USD at the casino, you can also be invited aboard the luxury Grand Mariana Yatch. We got to check it out for free as “media,” which was a nice treat.













Chinese, Koreans and Japanese love Saipan. They are practically sustaining the entire economy with their yearly visits. For them it’s an amazing getaway from their cold climate and crowded living conditions.

Personally, and this isn’t with bias because I was flown there, Saipan had a mysterious appeal to me. It felt like a good setting for a novel, the kind of place that evoked nostalgia for the 80s and 90s but made you wonder why it seemed to be stuck in that time period. Some of the buildings in the main city were abandoned, others needed a good repainting. And the streets were pretty empty, except for a few locals and tourists in their beach wear. For Manila folk, empty streets can feel like a rare, unnerving sort of thing, but I liked the quietness.

Edric and I got to speak to the head of the Mariana Visitors Authority who gave us a very interesting summary of Saipan’s history.

If you aren’t Chamoan or Caroliñan (the original people), you cannot own property in Saipan. But if you are a businessman you can do a long term lease on properties. Saipan’s status as a commonwealth of the United States is unique in all the world. They elected to be part of America in 1978 but with their autonomy preserved. People from CNMI look like people from Hawaii or the Mauri people of New Zealand, some of them even look Filipino.
Filipinos will feel an affinity towards the people, culture and traditions of CNMI. In many ways they are like Filipinos — familial, friendly, and easy going.

Perhaps in the near future, Saipan will also become a favourite tourist destination for Filipinos. In the meantime, Saipan will appeal to the traveler who isn’t looking for the atypical sort of adventure. It doesn’t have great shopping, or outstanding resort rooms, or cheap flights to it, but it’s one of those places that you will enjoy getting lost in, exploring the wonderful outdoors, especially if you need a break from the harried, hectic city life that can be so tiring for us Manila peeps! img_1610

For more information on Saipan, check out My Marianas PH on Facebook.

Letting Siblings Shine in Their Own Way

I used to think it was a great idea that our three boys were taking up the violin together. However, as our oldest son, Elijah, began to show significant ability as a violinist, Edan and Titus got left behind. It hasn’t mattered so much for Titus, who started off much later on than his older brothers. However, the disparity in talent became very evident between Elijah and Edan. As a result, Edan was less inclined to push himself. He liked learning to play the violin, but he fell under the shadow of Elijah.

Not too long ago, Edric and I decided that Edan ought to pursue piano playing. After all, he had expressed interest in doing so, and this would be an area where he could excel apart from his brothers, especially Elijah. Elijah wanted to take it too, but we told him, “You focus on violin for now because you are very gifted at it.”

Later on, we may allow Elijah to take up piano as well. However, we’ve allowed Edan to get a headstart to build his own confidence as a musician. In fact, Edan has been incredible at playing the piano. In the first two months, he exhibited so much progress, his teacher had to find him pieces to play that weren’t part of his piano curriculum. Edan felt accomplished and affirmed in this area of musicality. As a result, he dedicated hours every day to learn his pieces and practice, something he never quite did with the violin. While he still takes up the violin, he now has something that he can do well and better than Elijah at this point in time.

Recently, Edan performed on the piano for extended family and they lauded him for his talent. This encouraged him all the more to pursue piano playing.

Edric and I aren’t trying to advocate our sons’ competitiveness in a negative way. But we also want to give each of our kids the opportunity to shine. We believe they each have God-given abilities that should be explored and developed so they can be a blessing to others and glorify God. However, Elijah can intimidate his siblings and de-motivate them from trying because he is older and more advanced in many areas. Although we don’t compare them, we can tell that they compare themselves with one another. So it’s been healthy for Edan to grow in a skill where he sets the bar.

I’ve also had to tell my kids in the past, “You all have different gifts and abilities. Some of you will be better in one area than others and vice versa. So be thankful when your siblings are good at something. Each of you is good at something.”

I guess the tricky part is discovering what area our kids are good at, which takes careful observation and years of studying what they enjoy and where they excel. And sometimes, it takes some experimenting, like trying out different musical instruments or sports programs to see what clicks with them.

For a long time, I insisted on Edan playing violin because I believed in the cognitive benefits of learning this instrument. However, I also had to recognize that not all children fit the same mold and it’s our job as parents to help them uncover their uniqueness and talents. After all, our children will shine most and enjoy themselves most when they pursue what God designed them to. This means that we have to keep seeking God’s will for our kids and heeding it. It’s very tempting to insist on our dreams for our children, our wants. But our dreams and our wants for our kids cannot be better than God’s plans for them. Therefore, we have to prayerfully go to the Lord for the wisdom to discern what He wants for our children so we can encourage them in that direction.

I’m so thankful to the Lord that Edan has found something that he loves to do and something that he is good at. It brings me deep delight to see him enjoy sitting on the piano bench, engrossed in learning or playing his pieces. Our home is filled with a new kind of music. I also believe that someday, God will use this musical talent for His glory if Edan faithfully practices and hones his piano-playing skill. And maybe, if God should elect it for my kids, all of them will make music together, as a team, with each one providing his or her own unique musicality to the mix!

Speak Life Words to Your Spouse

For the last few months, Edric and I have been on this romantic high. It’s been amazing to cross the 15 year marriage mark and still feel like it’s the honey moon stage. This is God’s grace.

However in the past two weeks, Edric and I have been in a state of conflict. Nothing explosive, just frequent annoyances with one another.

For example, last Saturday Edric and I were discussing ministry priorities and he began to share how frustrated he was with certain people we were ministering to. I have heard this same tune before. At first I gave suggestions on how he can reach out to people more intentionally and I felt like he was resisting my proposals. As for me I was thinking, Why is this an issue again? Ministry is messy. People are messy. This comes with the territory of serving the Lord. It’s never going to be easy.

But I failed to acknowledge his feelings by jumping in with my ideas too soon. As I listened more to Edric go on and on, I felt increasing agitation. So I kept throwing suggestions his way.

Edric didn’t like my opinions. First of, he was opening up to me and hadn’t invited me to give my perspective yet (there would’ve been a moment for that later on). But I wanted to cut through all the emotional stuff and just help him fix the issue. (And to think I don’t like it when he does the same to me!)

I was giving my unsolicited advice while portraying him as problematic — a failure as a leader. Naturally, this irked him. He felt hurt. Especially when I lost it and finally mouthed out, “You know what? Just man up and move forward and do what you have to do!” (Wrong, wrong, wrong!)

He very calmly replied, “I would like to say expletives to you right now but I won’t. But what you are saying is hurtful.”

And then he corrected me about how I need to improve as a listener…How I tend to be opinionated at the wrong time. I didn’t take this well.

I retorted in a bad way, “Have you ever thought about how you don’t like me being opinionated because it’s your pride? Do you really want me to be the kind of wife that just keeps quiet and has no opinion? Because I can be like that. I will just be quiet all the time and not say anything contradictory.”

Of course this wasn’t his point, I was just being difficult and prideful.

Had I put myself in his shoes and attempted to understand him, he could have walked away from that conversation refreshed and recharged. Instead, he said something like this, “Opening up to you was a mistake. I don’t feel like I accomplished anything. In fact I feel worse.”

So we parted tensely without a resolution. a few hours we had to minister to a group of couples and this was the state we were in.

I was willing to discuss our differences after that meeting but Edric very humbly apologized to me IN FRONT of the couples. He normally doesn’t want to do any sort of ministry work if we aren’t okay as a couple so this is probably why he spontaneously apologized to me. Of course I was compelled by his humility and asked for his forgiveness for saying the things I did that were so disrespectful. Yet this sort of combative spirit lingered in me.

Throughout the days that followed I continued to challenge his ideas and get irritated for the smallest things. It came out in the way I talked and related to him…like rolling my eyeballs, burying my face in my hands in exasperation, sighing to signify my disappointment, looking away when I didn’t agree with what he was saying, challenging the integrity of his facts, or spitting out opinions that were laced with disdain or sarcasm. The most hurtful things were the words I spoke, ill-chosen and uncensored.

I really praise God for being merciful to me and telling me loud and clear, Joy, you are supposed to be a life giver along side Edric! You are not his shrink or his teacher. Sure, you may not always agree with him, and you may want to change the way he thinks. And yes he may be wrong at times. But it doesn’t give you license to step outside the bounds of the role I have given you, especially with the things you say. You are called to be his encourager. To pray for him, to speak life words into his heart so he will be motivated to follow Me and love Me.

In the Old Testament, Michal was a wife who criticized and scorned King David, her husband. When David danced before the Lord with all his might, stripping himself of his royal garb because he was delighted at the rerun of the Ark, she “despised him in her heart.”

She clung to this contempt and sarcastically said to David, “How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!” Rather than rejoice at the arrival of the Ark of God, she mocked her husband’s honest display of joy.

David resented her reproach and declared that he was not ashamed before the Lord. Bible
explains that “Michal had missed the essential significance of David’s career, that in spite of his failures he was a man after God’s own heart. As Alexander Whyte put it, ‘What was David’s meat was Michal’s poison. What was sweeter than honey to David was gall and wormwood to Michal…. At the despicable sight [of David dancing] she spat at him, and sank back in her seat with all hell in her heart…. Michal is a divine looking-glass for all angry and outspoken wives.'”

Michal didn’t give birth to children after this as a consequence for her scorn. Reading about her again showed me
an example to avoid as a wife. She did not honor God in her heart, therefore she did not honor her husband. Similarly, I did not honor Edric last Saturday or the past few days because I had not been honoring God in my private life. I wasn’t actively seeking to be intimate with Him. Busyness took over and I was too caught up in my own pursuits to minister to Edric.

Almost every time that I am reactive and annoyed with Edric, this disposition can be traced back to a lack of intimacy with the Lord on my part. I am not ready, spiritually, to minister to my husband in the way that he needs me to.

Edric and I have settled our issues and apologized to one another which is why I can write about this now. But I know that my propensity to be contentious towards him will not go away. It will continue to be a weakness that I struggle with unless I forsake my pride and ask the Holy Spirit to fill me.

Marriage so often reveals the areas where I need to grow as a person, and in this season it is to fully embrace what it means to be a life-speaking wife to Edric…not someone who reminds him of his mistakes and highlights his inadequacies under the guise of “helping him to be a better man.” It’s the Holy Spirit who makes him a better man. My role as a wife is to gently remind him that God loves him, that I love him, that God will give him the wisdom to make the right choices, and that I am here to prayerfully support him. Historically speaking, this has always proven to be the more effective way to open communication between us, too. When Edric feels affirmed and encouraged, he tends to want to hear my perspective and insights. So it’s a win-win approach!

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly. A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.” Proverbs‬ ‭15:1-2, 4‬ ‭