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.”

Teaching Kids To Be Responsible for their Choices 

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid rescuing my kids when they make mistakes. I have to resist the urge to save them because my maternal instinct tells me to protect and cradle my children. However, some of them aren’t tiny tots anymore. They don’t need pampering from me. In fact, to do so might even be a disservice to their character growth in the area of learning responsibility and accountability. 

A few months ago, one of my sons lost his temper while playing on the piano. In his irritation, he banged on the keys with full force. Since it was an older piano, something inside (too technical for me to explain) collapsed, causing all the keys to become unplayable. He confessed his mistake to me which I appreciated, however an appropriate consequence was necessary. His hard-earned garage money went to paying for the repair of the piano. 

Did I feel like showing him mercy? Of course! But I knew this consequence would instill in him the values of stewardship and exercising self-control over one’s emotions. 

As my kids grow up, their consequences have to be modified. For example, after the age of 6 or 7, spanking isn’t as appropriate a form of punishment anymore. Furthermore, they pretty much get obedience and respect. Praise God! It’s the other character areas that begin to need work…things like discipline and responsibility. 

Very recently, I encouraged the kids to get rid of some of our cats by entrusting them to friends or family members who were willing to take them. However, they insisted on keeping all the cats for themselves. We now have seven. Too many! Five Siamese and three black and yellow-eyes ones. (The black ones I don’t particularly fancy because of their naughtiness). It’s impractical for us to feed this many felines and the impact on our monthly groceries is significant. 

My deal with the kids when it comes to their animals is, “I will take care of you, my kids (aka my animals), and you will take care of your animals.” 

So whatever needs the cats have beyond food is their look-out. When their kittens got some sort of skin problem, the kids begged me to bring them to the vet. They kept asking me to but it wasn’t a priority for me because of the busy-ness of the holiday season. However a a week ago when the hustle and bustle died down there was a window to take the cats to the vet. 

At first, I thought of inconveniencing myself to do it for them. But then a lightbulb went on in my head as I realized that this could be a great learning experience for my kids. 

I told my kids, “You guys will be the one to bring the cats and pay for the fees incurred by the visit to the vet.” 

Thankfully, there was minimal resistance. I armed them with my cell phone, but asked them to take along their own cash. I did hand Elijah my ATM just in case they didn’t have enough of their own money. Looking back, this was a bad idea, for safety reasons. Plus, I caught Elijah trying to slip my ATM into his shoe for safekeeping! Thankfully, I saw him before he plowed his foot on top of it. 

The extent of my meddling was preventing him from crushing my ATM with his foot and advising him to carry a man-purse with his iPad in it, my phone, and the ATM. This was the extent of my meddling, but I did ask the driver to keep an eye out for them (without facilitating the discussion with the vet).

My four older kids dressed up, put their cats in cages and spent the morning at the pet clinic. They had to speak with the vet, explain the problem, ask their questions, and pay their fees. It took about three hours for them to wait their turn. They returned home hungry and tired for a late lunch at 1 P.M.

Admittedly, a part of me was concerned about whether they would be able to accomplish the task. Yet, every time I picked up Edric’s phone in order to call the kids, Edric dissuaded me, encouraging me to let them be and give them room to figure out what to do.

The good news was that the cat skin problem turned out to be a very curable lice issue that isn’t contagious to humans. The better news was that our kids matured during this experience, and learned a valuable lesson on responsibility. 

Waiting for three hours at the vet with dogs yapping all around them, and seeing one of their seven cats scratch up the arm of the attendant till it was bloodied, proved to be a new and unpleasant ordeal for my kids. However, they came home feeling a sense of pride for having braved through the experience without Edric or me to hand-hold them. And, they finally embraced what it means to be responsible pet owners. It’s costly to care of pets and they need to understand that it’s not the househelp’s or my role to worry about their animals. 

As for me, I am trying to transition out of the coddling parent stage with my older kids, especially because they are boys. They don’t need a hovering mother who micromanages them and fixes all their problems. It’s not easy for me to watch them fail, suffer the consequences of their choices when they make mistakes, or allow them to be “off on their own.” However, when I take a back seat during situations like these they learn accountability and responsibility effectively. My job is to partner with Edric to mentor them, pray, and entrust them to the Lord.

 

Why Your Renewal of Vows Can Mean More Than the Day You Said Yes

It’s always a joy to share in the celebration of a wedding. The starry-eyed bride, blooming, and radiant, standing beside her dashing groom is a scene I will never grow tired of witnessing. There’s something magical about the day a person commits to marriage, and it’s hard to imagine any other celebration in one’s lifetime dethroning it as queen of all events. Plus, there’s the amount of effort, thoughtful planning, and spending that goes into it that elevates it to a different level of stress and glory. 

Last night, however, I got to be a part of a renewal of vows ceremony that represented a much more beautiful truth about God’s design for marriage. Ruth 1:16-17 declares, “…Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” 


Even if the passage was directed towards Ruth’s mother-in-law, it powerfully epitomizes what it means when a couple pledges to one another, “I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part…”

It’s easy and romantic to profess this at the beginning. But when you’ve been through hell on earth with your spouse (to put it as bluntly as possible), the more intuitive choice seems to be the renouncement of that vow in favor of self-preservation. 

Yet there are couples who stay on the harder path, the one that requires them to walk together when feelings of love have withered and hurt has deeply rooted itself within their hearts. Although animosity has killed whatever hope for love they might have clung to, and they can no longer stomach a reason to honor a commitment that has drained and wearied them to utter exhaustion, they do the counterintuitive thing. They keep going even without being able to see, with human eyes, the restoration and redemption they seek. This is the power of faith in God to do the impossible, what the book of Hebrews calls, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews‬ ‭11:1‬)‬‬

Edric and I first met Tye and Elaine (the couple who renewed their vows) at a juncture in their marriage when quitting was the humanly sensible recourse. Theirs was a relationship broken by infidelity and continuing deceit. They sat before us, as part of the breakout group we were accidentally assigned to facilitate during a couples’ retreat, and the despair of disappointment and hurt visibly darkened their countenances. I thought to myself, there’s only one person who can save this relationship and resuscitate it back to life, and that person is Jesus Christ. 

I didn’t know how Christ would work His miracle in them. But they came to the conclusion, after the retreat, that He presented an alternative to leaving one another. This was the genesis of a long, arduous two-year climb to rebuild a marriage that onlookers might have regarded as a hopeless case. 

It takes one prayerful and relentless person in a marriage who believes that Jesus transforms to turn on the light of hope back on in a marriage. A committed husband or wife who is willing to change, to humble himself or herself for the Lord becomes a channel of God’s forgiveness, love, peace, and joy to awaken the unbelieving spouse from the point of resignation to the point of recognition. Edric and I saw this in Elaine, and eventually we also saw it in Tye.

When a wife or husband consistently manifests Christ-like behavior amidst the turbulence of a troubled marriage, the other begins to wonder whether the person they once fell in love with might still be there…the wife who used to honor, submit to, and prioritize him…the husband who used to patiently understand, care for, and cherish her. 

Surely it is as 1 Peter 3:1-2, and 7-9 have iterated it: Wives who are submissive to husbands who don’t deserve such submission (because they are themselves disobedient to the Lord) win their husbands over to Christ by actions that display chaste and respect. Husbands who seek to understand their wives and their weaknesses, as well as honor their wives, receive God’s favor by means of answers to their heartfelt prayers. And if both wives and husbands seek to be harmonious, sympathetic, humble, loving, kind, and refrain from vengeful actions in words or deeds, then they place themselves in a position to inherit blessing from the Lord. 

It’s very hard to ignore the grace of Christ in a person’s life, especially in a spouse whom you encounter daily. “Why is my spouse responding so differently? Why is my spouse still here? Why is my spouse choosing to love me and forgive even when I have hurt him or her and continue to do so?  How is this possible?!” Questions such as these will naturally pique a spouse’s curiosity and fertilize his or her heart with seeds of the gospel. 

The one beautiful truth that Tye and Elaine’s renewal of vow ceremony taught me was that a dead marriage cannot kill the resurrected Christ! He is at work and alive in each person who loves and follows Him, and in each marriage that He is welcomed into. 

My father used to say, “A big problem is big when you focus on the problem. But when you focus on a big God then the problem becomes a small one.” 

Our focus on and trust in a limitless God invites His power into our problem and His solution into the impossible circumstances of our lives. This includes our marriages.

Tye and Elaine are now enjoying a grace-filled marriage, where Christ reigns at its center, and their testimony beckons those in broken relationships to hope against hope that theirs can be restored, too. They openly share what they have been through to encourage others. 

It has been a privilege for Edric and I to be a part of Tye and Elaine’s journey, to be first-hand witnesses to how God changes people. First, He changes us as individuals, healing us and making us complete in Him, and then He changes the people and circumstances around us in accordance with His will. He specializes in 360 degree healing, not bandaid fixes to the wounds in our lives. 

Elaine, in her impromptu renewal of vows speech, made a remark that brought many of us women to tears. “I would not change anything we went through.” For her to pronounce this when two years ago she battled anger and bitterness is a testament to God’s healing! 

A wedding day will always be special, but a renewal of vows can be even more meaningful when you say I DO AGAIN to a person whose wretchedness and flaws you have lived with, and vice versa. This is what Tye and Elaine demonstrated last night. This is what we should all do as married couples. 

A renewal of vows is coming to that point of understanding what saying yes to marriage really means, what love really means — a commitment to an imperfect person for their highest good, which often requires sacrifice. It is to understand that two imperfect people can return to the honeymoon stage of their marriage and keep rebuilding it daily because of Jesus Christ. 

The unique thing about Tye and Elaine’s renewal of vows was that Tye connived with our discipleship group to plan a surprise ceremony for Elaine. I can’t go into how elaborate the plan was and the maneuvering that was involved to hide this secret from Elaine. But the process was priceless for all of the ladies in our couples’ group who banded together to produce a DIY event for Tye and Elaine. Our husbands were pretty game to wear the outfits we asked them to as well. 

Dapitan, Dangwa, Kamuning, each other’s household items, time, talents, and lots of prayer…this is what it took to make the event happen. 


I was so blessed by the ladies (and the kids) in our discipleship group who tirelessly decorated, baked, coordinated, offered their expertise, and labored to make the evening memorable. God gave us the capacity to function like a professional team of event planners! Everyone was willing to do this for free and to sacrifice because we have supported one another and been there for each other during the highs and lows of our lives. We know what it means to fight for and fight together (with the Lord’s help) for our marriages.


Ambassador Gregory Slayton once said, “You need to surround yourself with battle buddies in life.” 

Edric and I are so thankful to the Lord to have several groups of battle buddies whom we meet with for accountability, fellowship, prayer, spiritual feeding, and encouragement. 

Last night was a celebration of Christ’ love and goodness in all of our lives, a time to remember that God can revive dead marriages and resurrect them to something even more beautiful than they once were! Our part is to cling to Him and embrace the Ruth 1:16 by saying to our spouses, “Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay.”

We Don’t Need to Have it All this 2017

It’s probably a cliche to say that women want to have it all. But the truth remains that this is often our perspective which is why many of us end up frustrated and unhappy. Just look at the first woman, Eve, who had the perfect guy and the perfect garden, and yet she failed to deny herself the ONE thing that she was told she couldn’t have.

We haven’t changed much since then. We still subscribe to the idea that happiness and fulfillment will be ours when we have that dream guy, beautiful children, a Pinterest-worthy home, successful career or business, and loads of money to spend on our every material desire. The list is more exhaustive than this…I could add to it a vibrant social life, popularity, flawless and ageless beauty, a thriving ministry or worthy charity, etc.

Let’s get real. There’s no way to “have it all.” As my father used to wisely advise my siblings and me, “Life is about choices.” 

Many times the choice is about whether we will live for ourselves and our worldly accomplishments or heed the Lord’s plan for us. In Matthew 16:25-26, Jesus tells his disciples, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  ‭

I have often been asked, is it possible to homeschool my child and be a working mom? It isn’t an easy question to answer because everyone’s circumstance must be taken into consideration. Some moms are single parents while others play an integral role in the financial stability of their families. As much as I would like to promote homeschooling and reply, “Yes, it’s possible!,” I would be setting them up for future heartache and frustration if I failed to include this reality: It’s not sustainable for moms to give their 100% to a 9 to 5 job and 100% to homeschooling. At some point it will come down to a matter of priorities rather than trying to “have it all.”

BUT…here’s a spiritual perspective to consider. God has a surprising way of rewarding the faith decisions we make. I know moms who stepped down from their corporate jobs to be consultants from the home or even quit working entirely in obedience to God’s calling so they can focus on homeschooling. As a result, their husbands received surprise promotions or their businesses experienced financial successes to cover their family’s’ needs. Or, they learned to make do with less. In other words, provision wasn’t a problem for the Lord when they aligned their priorities wit God’s will for their lives.

I thought this was a fitting article to write at the beginning of 2017. What choices did we make in the past year? Will we continue to make these? Are these choices in line with the priorities that God wants us to have?

To be honest, I started the year with my ducks in a row but somewhere at the half way mark, I became preoccupied with doings that veered me away from my priorities. I took on projects that ate into my time with the kids. This meant that I made more money but I sacrificed quality homeschooling. More spending capacity didn’t equal greater peace or happiness for me because I knew that I was trading something more important — my day job as a homeschool mom — for activities that would not matter much ten years from now. Edric and I convened to evaluate how to protect my schedule in 2017 and I am looking forward to a less frenetic pace of life so that he and the kids have the best of me.

Over and over again in my life, I have found that focusing on the right priorities is costly. For example, when I got married to Edric I knew he wasn’t a wealthy guy. He worked hard and had a stable job, but financially speaking, we wouldn’t be swimming in cash or enter into marriage with the ability to afford luxury. But I was okay with that. The more important consideration for me (besides Edric’s love for the Lord and for me) was that he desired to provide for us to the best of his ability, and that he committed to rise up to the challenge of being a provider. So between the option of waiting to be financially comfortable before getting married or getting married young, I chose the latter. 

Some people commented that we were too young to be getting married. But our parents had given us their blessing and we both received confirmation from the Lord through His word, mentors, and specific answers to prayers that the timing was right. 

Did we have financial challenges? Definitely. But I wouldn’t trade the year we got married and the history we’ve shared for the material wealth we could have possessed had we postponed our marriage in favor of earning more money. 

Furthermore, we didn’t think it was healthy for us to stay in a serious relationship and struggle through the temptations of purity for an extended period of time. And yes, sex in the context of marriage was something we were looking forward to. So why delay being able to enjoy this aspect of marriage for too long?! 

In our society today, young men and women are getting married later and later, and it’s more and more uncommon to find a 20+ or 30+ virgin — male or female. My hats off to the few, gloriously standing men and women who have vowed to preserve their purity no matter what. However, it’s extremely difficult to navigate through the sexually charged environment that surrounds us without becoming a casualty of immorality. 

Therefore, Edric and I prioritized getting married early because we knew we wouldn’t last, purity-wise. We were too attracted to one another! Think of how exhausting it would be to continually resist the pull of gravity! I am sure you understand what I am saying because we are all the same. When we love someone, it’s God’s design for us to desire sexual intimacy with them. But it’s not God’s design for us to experience this outside of marriage. (If you have been a reader of this blog for a while, you already know that it’s only by God’s grace that Edric and I broke up at one point in our dating stage to run away from this struggle.)

When Edric and I got engaged, we opted for a short four months to plan our wedding. The short engagement was a form of protection for us as well. We kept our plans for the wedding simple, practical, and inexpensive. Fortunately, we got married before the dawn of the age of Bride and Breakfast (Janna and Ian Simpao are my friends so I can say this without disrespecting their website.) Those images of perfect weddings and gorgeous ideas would have driven me crazy with envy. 

So what did our wedding look like? Did I “have it all” as a bride? Most certainly not. Our original venue and dream for a beach wedding changed two weeks before the day of the ceremony. My entourage probably suffered through the cold of the Tagaytay air as they walked down the aisle in their chiffon dresses designed for the beach. 

They carried two wilted roses stabbed through the center of an orange stuck for lack of an expensive bouquet to hold. Our table arrangements had hardly any flowers on them. And my dress had no ornate beading or dramatic flare to it. I designed it myself, bought the fabric with my mom and mom-in-law in Divisoria, and paid 15,000 pesos for a seamstress to execute my drape-everything-to-one-side (my good side) asymmetrical vision of a dress. 

Our giveaways were fifteen peso 3×5 wooden frames with the verse, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

Oh, and by the way, Edric and I forgot to have those frames handed out. So for years, we had boxes full of these frames and no clue what to do with them until my mother in law creatively used them as Christmas decor. 

My good friend, Jennie, did a superb job on my make up (as a favor) and it looked fantastic at the beginning but as the night progressed, photos will prove that my face turned greasy-looking with the unwanted bonus of a pimple surfacing when the concealer wore off. Plus, I had strands of hair falling across my forehead and sticking to it. 


A number of other mishaps occurred but I would rather tell you that I was the happiest bride in the world. To be honest, the fails didn’t matter to me. I was marrying Edric before God, family, and friends. Every untoward incident and substandard aspect of my wedding day paled in comparison to the commitment he and I were making to one another and the joy of sharing that moment with those whom we loved. 

Could our wedding day and reception have turned out to be flawless had we prolonged our engagement period? Could the affair have sparkled with all the impressive trimmings and trappings that came with a hefty sum? Most probably. However, we valued getting married sooner than later, and looked forward to the marriage rather than the actual event of the wedding. 

Today, my priorities are…

1. to please, honor, know, love, and obey God 

2. to be the wife and mom He has called me to be.

3. to minister to others and declare the gospel message by using my talents, abilities, and resources 

4.Take care of myself so I can do all of the above 

I know it doesn’t sound like a magnificent list that will earn me worldly accolades. However, after half a year of striving in some ways to “have it all” I am convinced that these are and will continue to be the most valuable things to me. 

So how will this translate into practical goals:

– Finish reading my Bible again

– Pray more consistently – Colossians 4:2

– Make room for quietness and stillness (without depending on my phone for entertainment)

– Read more books that are spiritually edifying, that give me a storehouse of truth to draw from and bless others with

– Make Edric feel important by completing the list of things he wants me to get done 

– Respect Edric’s authority and submit to his leadership — be his strong supporter. 

– Improve in the area of serving him by having a positive attitude when he asks me to do something 

– Be more responsive when he initiates sexual intimacy (He told me to add this! Ha ha!)

– Be more affirming and encouraging to Edric and the kids

– Protect my homeschooling schedule by keeping my mornings and afternoons free as much as possible, except for days when the kids have classes

– Give each of my kids lots of personalized time so I can meet their needs more intentionally 

– Try to do the things that my kids enjoy. Be more playful 

– Read to them more often 

– Continue to use my blog and social media platforms to reach out to people 

– Be more involved in the lives of the women I disciple 

– Drink veggie and fruit shakes consistently

– Sleep early in the evenings 

– Exercise at least three times a week 

– Say no to speaking engagements and projects when they conflict with my priorities.

I know most of us will think through our resolutions as the 2017 begins, but I hope we will prayerfully ask the Lord what our priorities ought to be before making our lists.  We don’t need to have it all in 2017, but we can let God have all of us so that our priorities are aligned with His will and design for our lives. In so doing we receive the blessing of having the most important things! 

I have used this before but I will end with it again because it’s so encouraging… 

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew‬ ‭6:26-33‬ ‭

Happy New Year! 

What Will it be Like to Live on Mars? 

On November 13, National Geographic Channel’s thought-provoking six-part series MARS premiered. MARS tells the story of mankind’s thrilling quest to colonize the Red Planet. 

This global television event redefines on-air storytelling by combining film-quality scripted drama and visual effects with a powerful documentary interviewing some of the best and brightest minds in modern science and innovation, including Elon Musk. (When I browsed through the website www.mars.natgeotv.com/hk I was like, wait, is this happening already?! Are we really creating a colony on Mars?!)


(Photo of Elon Musk. Source: Business Insider)

FOX Networks Group Asia’s SVP – Marketing & Communications for Asia Pacific and Middle East, Lucien Harrington says: ‘Living on Mars is an occurrence many think we won’t see in our lifetime, but the reality is actually very different. The show highlights the acceleration in thinking and technology on one side, and the need for a planet move in the future due to environment factors on earth, on the other. The experience that has been created brings certain elements of Mars to life, to educate particularly children, about what changes they will need to make and skills they will need to have. After all, they’ll likely be living there.’


FOX Networks Group’s National Geographic Channel encouraged me to ask my two older kids about what they thought it would be like for a colony to be realized on Mars. Since our kids enjoy Nat Geo’s channel often, we welcomed the opportunity as a privilege! Plus, it was a great way for them to think through their past Astronomy lessons.

Here’s what they said…

A Future Colony on Mars by Elijah and Edan 


I also asked them what past/present mistakes humans should avoid and their simple replies were…

1. Don’t use gas as a fuel source. Focus on hydrogen since its abundant and clean.

2. Don’t be selfish and use Mars for personal gain or glory.

3. Be conscious of proper waste disposal. 

4. Maximize resources like iron without abusing the planet. 

Here’s my personal opinion about colonizing Mars:

If we aren’t content with the earth that God gave us, we aren’t going to be content with the wonders of living on another planet either. And if we can’t take proper care of earth and rehabilitate it so that it is able to sustain life at optimum levels then we should be wise about the occupation of another planet. More space, more resources, and greater discoveries will not fix the main issues that face mankind. We are prone to selfishness and sinfulness, so we will take that with us to Mars, too. So as we celebrate the very real possibility that Mars can house a human colony, and applaud the science and technological advancements that have brought us to this point, let’s do our part. The scientists are making great sacrifices to create options for mankind, and we can dream with them and support their efforts by being responsible about the earth God gave us to live in. This will afford them the liberty and flexibility to explore space frontiers without being weighed down by the pressure of having to find solutions to humanity’s survival. 

For more about the show including the experts, actors and storylines, visit: www.mars.natgeotv.com/hk

The science and realism behind the series is fascinating! 

And if you’re up for learning more about your Red Planet readiness with your kids, visit www.makemarshome.com

Ludo Board Game Bar & Bistro

Board Gaming isn’t something that people may commonly associate with intellectual, emotional or social intelligence but after visiting Ludo Board Game Bar & Bistro for the first time today, I was convinced that is a healthy and worthwhile pastime for children and adults. 


For one thing, board games are a better substitute to online games and media. They aren’t bad for your eyes in the same way screen time is. Although some board games can be addicting, more often than not, it’s hard to get hooked on a board game that requires two or more players to make it fun. 

Unlike most online games, many board games require you to participate in a physical manner, where you actually use different body parts and not just your thumbs! 

The intellectual challenges vary depending on the type of game, and sometimes you will need to apply logical thinking skills, memory, strategy, cunning, language, science, history, math skills, or a mix of all to outsmart your opponent. 

However, one of the best things about board gaming is the way it brings people together. You have to socialize as you play with and against others. There’s a lot of interaction on a personal, face to face level. In the process you get to know the personalities of your family or friends and enjoy conversations as you compete against one another. Plus, there’s the laughing out loud part and screaming when any match becomes intense! 

“Ludoloy” is the discipline that studies games. Ludo has culled games from all around the world so that there’s something for every personality type and age. 

From the hard core gamesters who can play 8 to 12 hours, who like  complicated strategy games, to the attention-deficit people who prefer quick-paced, loud, and physical, everyone will find someone who is just like them to enjoy some healthy competition with. Or, you can make Ludo a regular barkada-bonding habit. Even if you lose, the food will be worth it! 

Of course, for homeschoolers like us, we see Ludo as an extension of our kids’ learning, where they can pick up new skills or apply what they know in a fun way. 


What you won’t find in Ludo are the kinds of games you can purchase in a local toy store like Monopoly, Chess, Uno, etc. If that’s the extent of your game knowledge, Ludo has game gurus who help to facilitate and explain board game rules to guests. And if you walk in alone, they try their best to find you people to play with. There’s also an option to purchase games they have on hand. 


We spent a few hours at Ludo as a family with friends from Cetaphil, and the owners, Crissy and Aaron. What surprised me about Crissy and Aaron is how personally and passionately involved they were in their business. They loved each game they introduced to us and even played with us! The experience felt short-lived for our kids who didn’t want to leave, but I am sure there will be a next time. 


http://www.ludogames.ph

QUEZON CITY BRANCH:

No. 26 Scout Torillo St. Corner Scout Fuentabella, Quezon City

Tel: +6327918634 (Reservations and Inquiry.)

(Please call during store hours)

Operation Hours:

Mon – Thu: 4:00 pm – 12:00 am

Fri: 4:00 pm – 2:00 am

Sat: 12:00 pm – 2:00 am

Sun: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am

Holidays: 12:00pm – 12:00am
MAKATI BRANCH

No. 38 Jupiter St. Corner Planet St. Brgy. Bel-Air, Makati City

Tel: +6328107125 (Reservations and Inquiry)

(Please call during store hours)

Operation Hours:
Mon – Closed

Tues – Thu: 5:00 pm – 12:00 am

Fri: 5:00 pm – 2:00 am

Sat: 12:00 pm – 2:00 am

Sun: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am
 

It Takes a Village

Edric, the kids and I usually head up to Baguio shortly before Christmas to be with family on my side. During our stay this week, my dad decided to resume the tradition of family bible studies. He led us through the Christmas story as the kids listened wide-eyed and curious, interjecting their questions and comments. 
What a delight to observe my kids and their cousins as they gathered around their “angkong” (grandpa). It reminded me of a scene from my own childhood, when my dad would open the Bible on quiet Sunday evenings to teach us Scriptural truth. 

In Baguio, he explained Matthew chapter 1 verse by verse, focusing on how the birth of Christ was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, and how the mention of women like Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheeba in the lineage of Christ revealed the grace of God. 

Tamar committed incest with her father in law, Judah; Rahab prostituted herself; Ruth was a Moabite; and King David slept with the very married Bathsheeba. My dad’s point was that God used imperfect and unlikely candidates to make up the genealogy of Jesus Christ. 

This tells us that God’s plan of salvation is greater than our past mistakes. He redeems what is broken in us, and He offers grace through His Son to all people. 

Since God keeps His promises and offers us His grace in the most unprejudiced way possible, Christmas is a time of great joy! Yet this joy isn’t fully realized until we trust and obey Him as Joseph and Mary did. My dad proceeded to explain that Joseph and Mary had to believe and cooperate with God’s plan for their lives. He challenged the grandkids to do the same. It was a wonderful two-part series Bible study for the grandkids. 

These are moments when I especially appreciate the blessing of family. Edric and I need a “village” to help us raise our kids, and this means the involvement of our greater family — grandparents, uncles and aunts. Even though we intentionally teach and train our kids, there remain to be many areas where the input and wisdom from others whom we trust is of great benefit.

The other day, when we were in the Ben Cab museum, Catalina rudely challenged my brother, Paul. He explicitly told her not to touch a work of art that she wasn’t supposed to and she defiantly did so. Reporting the incident to me immediately, Paul gave me the opportunity to deal with her appropriately. 


I pulled Catalina aside and she cried knowing that discipline was to follow. I didn’t spank her during this instance because we were at the gallery but a very serious talk about how she is to obey authorities ensued. She apologized to her Uncle Paul. Very much aware of her mistake, she remained penitent the rest of the afternoon. 

This morning, she voluntarily approached my brother to tell him, “I am obeying now, Uncle Paul,” and he commended her. 

Had Paul not bothered to tell me what happened or had I sided with Catalina defensively, I would have missed out on a moment to instill the concept of obedience to authority as something that extends past the context of parent and child.

I recall another occasion when my dad called out a character issue in Tiana, who ungratefully received a gift from him last December. She cried in disappointment, neglecting to say thank you for being given a gift at all. So my dad suggested that this year, our focus ought to be encouraging the kids to think about the needs of others. He tasked us to take the children to minister in underprivileged areas. 


It turned out to be a great recommendation. We brought the kids to Payatas where they got to look into actual homes and visually experience how little people have. Afterwards, one of our kids commented, “We need to do more for the poor! We need to find more ways to help them!” 

Early this year, my father in law lovingly corrected my mothering of Elijah. He cautioned me against doting on him too much. As a young man, Elijah didn’t need me to hover over him, micromanage his life or cripple him by doing for him what he can do for himself. Furthermore, I had to give him room to gravitate towards Edric, who could better mentor him during this transition into young manhood. This made a lot of sense but it wasn’t an easy reality to swallow. 

Edric and I continue to appreciate the correction and advice of the “village” people who surround our family. Sometimes it hurts to hear them point out flaws in our parenting or character areas our children need to improve on. Yet, their counsel is, more often the not, of great value to us as we grow through the different seasons and challenges of being parents to five kids. 


As the Bible so wisely puts it, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.” Proverbs‬ ‭11:14

At the same time, it’s important and necessary to filter through the counsel people give us so that it conforms to Biblical principles. Furthermore, recommendations from others that require major changes in the way we parent our kids have to be discussed by Edric and me so that we are in agreement that the change is necessary.

No parent has motherhood or fatherhood all figured out. So if you and I have people in our lives that can make up a village of godly counsellors to help raise our children then praise God! If we don’t, let’s pray for people to come along side us who can spur us on toward better parenting. There is gain to be had from the willingness to listen to the perspectives and insights of others. 

Here Comes the Knight 

After a hectic and action-packed two months, I crashed, emotionally and spiritually. All the speaking engagements, events, projects, ministry activities, and social gatherings ate into my homeschooling hours with the kids. As a result, the quality of our homeschool mornings was compromised. 

My relationship with Edric also suffered. Although we spent a lot of time together, our interactions weren’t tender or meaningful. Both of us had to focus on the tasks we were committed to. Like soldiers, we dutifully worked along side each other and accomplished our projects. However, we missed eight consecutive date nights which was a big deal for us! These had to be set aside to accommodate our busy-ness. 

I praise God for Edric’s intuitiveness when it comes to my personality. Since I am a closet introvert, no one really knows the internal struggle I deal with when I don’t have breaks in between activities. However, Edric can often tell when I am not exactly my self. He is sensitive to the slightest changes in my disposition. 

One afternoon when I was lying on our bed, listlessly fixated on the nondescript white paint of our bedroom ceiling, Edric opportunely sat down beside me. He turned my face to his and invited me into a conversation, attempting to gauge how I was doing emotionally and spiritually. After I articulated that I wouldn’t be able to survive another quarter like the one we were in, he reassuringly uttered the words, “Don’t worry, honey, I will take care of you.” 

With his full attention on me, coupled with his sincere attempt to offer comfort, I caved in to the strength he offered and let myself be weak in his arms. It felt like a safe place to display vulnerability, so I let the pressure spill out of me and the tears came freely. For the first time in weeks I enjoyed relief, as I remembered that God placed Edric in my life to watch over me. Afterwards, Edric stayed by my side until he was certain that I understood how committed he was to my well-being. 

His conclusion: I will protect your schedule. He agreed that the last two months were impossible to sustain in 2017 — the multiple conferences, out of town and out of country trips almost every week to speak and serve others, plus counseling, ministry, homeschooling, and parenting in between were too many good things crammed into an unrealistic time frame. When preoccupations shift the scale in the opposite direction of family, Edric is the first to recognize that something has to change. 

I am so thankful to the Lord that he gave me a husband who has risen up to the role of protector. Even though I didn’t think I needed him to be this for me when I got married, I have appreciated the way he has looked out for me (and our kids). It’s an undeserved blessing from the Lord. Plus, I have to admit that there’s a romantic bone in me that is attracted to Edric’s chivalry. 


Protectiveness comes in many forms. Here are some of the ways that Edric has protected me (and the kids.):

He exerts strength to shield the kids and me from physical harm. Sometimes this is as simple as putting us on the safe side of the pedestrian lane when we are on it. Or, it’s bringing a night stick when we go walking so he can use it to ward off aggressive dogs or intimidate rude bystanders. He is perpetually on the look out for us when we are in public places, mindful of where we are so he doesn’t lose any of us. If we were in an actual battle, I don’t doubt that he would sacrifice himself on the front lines to fight for us, too.

Meeting my need for emotional security is also an act of protection. This alleviates any fears I may have about losing his love or his attraction to me. It liberates me to give herself freely to him, especially in the area of intimacy. 

Edric also takes charge of our finances so that I don’t have to worry about playing the role of provider. When I do earn money, it becomes a bonus. Another wise thing he did was to invest in insurance options that would meet our monetary needs should something untoward happen to him. 

There’s protection in the form of spiritual leadership as well. This is what I value most. When Edric is gatekeeper of the home and stands as its guardian, he keeps out demonic and negative influences that can seduce the hearts and minds of our family. He does this by establishing guidelines about what we watch, see, and listen to. 

Sometimes Edric also needs to filter through the activities that I participate in to help me discern whether these are aligned with God’s purpose and will for my life. (He does this with our kids, too.)

Since Edric intentionally disciples the kids and me, this preserves our unity in the faith and places us in a position to receive the blessing of the Lord. His prayers to the Lord on our behalf are a means to spiritually cover against harm. Furthermore, his example of godliness and love for the Lord establishes the credibility of his authority, and inspires us to deny sin and follow God’s will. When we make wrong choices, Edric helps us to review what we could have done better to safeguard us from the pain of future mistakes. 
There’s a special blessing upon the family of a man who honors God. Psalms 128:1-4 declares, “How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you. your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD.” 

While no husband is perfect, and this includes Edric, there is a wonderful atmosphere of calm and peace in our home because we know that there’s a godly and trustworthy man in charge of our welfare. (Ephesians 5:23)

If you are married and want a great article on the protective role of husbands, here’s one written from a man’s perspective, by Tim Challieshttp://www.challies.com/christian-living/leadership-in-the-home-a-godly-man-protects

Relax, Mom. It’s All Part of the Grand Plan.

On the flight to Dubai, after five hours of insufficient sleep, I decided to watch the movie, Bad Moms. Contrary to what its title implies, there were some insightful principles in it about motherhood. I don’t necessarily recommend the movie because of its immoral elements but I do think it had something to say about how we try to be so perfect as mothers that we kind of drive ourselves crazy living up to this expectation of ourselves. We stress out!

Sometimes we need to just chill and remember that God is in control. We need to rest in Him. 

This message came at just the right time for me. Recently, I have felt very inadequate as a mom. Elijah is going through puberty and Edan is dealing with doubts about faith and truth. Plus I still have a rambunctious toddler, Catalina, who attaches herself to me like glue. In between, are Titus and Tiana who still need me to be very hands-on as a homeschool parent. So on some days I want to find a rock to crawl under.

Of particular concern to me lately has been Edan. He is swimming in questions about theology and faith, struggling to understand mysteries like the Trinity, predestination, the sovereignty of God, the inerrancy of Scripture and its divine inspiration, and I am not always able to allay his doubts. Who can explain the Trinity?! 


Sometimes Edan ends up crying and confused, wondering how he can believe in truths he cannot fully grasp. It hurts to watch him on this journey because I cannot force him along or hurry him. The battle is inside, beyond where I can see and go as a mother. I have cried to the Lord in prayer for Edan. And there are moments when my heart turns critical, maddened by his inability to connect dots and reason sensibly, or apply faith when necessary.

In Ecclesiastes it says, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven- A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.”

It goes on to read, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart…” (Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-8, 11a)

Even though I have read these passages numerous times, they ministered to me in a new way by reminding me of the following:

– There is an APPOINTED TIME for everything. 

– There is a TIME FOR EVERY EVENT under heaven.

– He (God) has made everything APPROPRIATE in its time.

– He has also SET ETERNITY IN OUR HEARTS. 

An appointed time implies purpose, intentionality. There is nothing accidental or chance-like about what happens in our lives, or in the lives of our children. Even if this juncture in the timeline of my history as a mom may feel out of control and chaotic, it’s a designated season. It is God-ordained. The same is true for Edan’s endless spiritual questioning and struggling. This is part of God’s plan for him.

Secondly, since there is a time for every event under heaven, this tells me that this season is important and necessary. And whew, it also implies that it’s temporal. Edan won’t linger in this state forever. 

Some seasons are easy, some are hard and painful, others are devastating, and still others, hopeful and joyous. This season of motherhood is painful for me…not in a tragic sort of manner but in a sobering sense. My two older sons are moving past the age of childhood. It’s a transition accompanied by emotional and spiritual complexities and I have to quit panicking! I can’t dwell on the changes they are going thorough (especially the changes in Edan), and think, I am losing my sons. 

Ecclesiastes continues by revealing that He (God) has made everything appropriate—a word which sounds so comfortingly like “customized and personalized.” In other words, God’s sovereign hand directs the course of every event in our lives and our children’s. His wisdom decides when the length of a season is enough, and what sort of season we need to walk through in order to build our character. 

My kids are growing in character, and I often think that they need to. But guess what? I need to grow in character, too! 

In the early months of this year, I kind of felt like I hit a good groove as a mom. My homeschooling was going well. The kids seemed behaved and “manageable.” I no longer had an infant, and breastfeeding came to an end. To be honest, I slacked off with my prayer time and switched to cruise control. 

However, when Edan began bombarding me with difficult questions and Elijah’s hormonal changes started to impact his moods and lower his threshold for frustration, I was jolted out of my complacency. Suddenly I felt insecure and lost as a mom.

Yet God used this for my good. Confronted by the reality that all my efforts at teaching, training and modeling cannot force my kids to desire God or His will drove me to pray fervently and tearfully for my children. My ambitions for my kids were whittled down to the most important of all—that they might grow up to know, love, obey, serve, and worship God. 

I know this, right? I have said it over and over again in my posts. But wow, this is when the rubber hits the road. 

Edan’s conversation with me a few weeks ago made me realize that my greatest longing as a mom is that my kids enter into eternity, to be welcomed by their Heavenly Father with the words, “Well done.” Wealth, power, fame, worldly accomplishments and accolades pale against this highest goal, especially when I consider the possibility that my kids’ souls are at risk. 

Mark 8:36 begs me to ponder, “For what does it profit a man (my child) to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” ‭

As Edan and I carried on a lengthy and exhausting dialogue about whether Jesus Christ’s claims were real, I delved into the wonders of faith-filled living, excited to illuminate for him the uncommon peace and joy that mark the lives of those who follow Christ. Beyond historical and prophetical evidence for the existence of Christ, this was another way for me to prove to Edan that Jesus is real. I thought it was a solid pitch.

Contrary to my expectations, Edan’s eyes welled up as he replied to me, “Mom, those are your experiences. I have yet to experience those things for myself.” 

My bubble of enthusiasm burst as I recognized, for the first time, that Edan’s main issue with truth was that it had been “secondhand” for him since he was a young boy. He needed to encounter Christ personally. 

Of course my heart collapsed at that moment when the sincerity of his tears and my inability to comfort him met each other. It was at this point that I surrendered to the reality that God has to be to be the one to open Edan’s eyes. Only God can cause the years of Bible reading, family devotions, the memorization of Scriptural truth, parental instruction and training, and the example Edric and I displayed for Edan to come to a point of convergence so that he sees and understands who God is. The decision to know, love, obey, serve, and worship God must be Edan’s. It can’t be something Edric and I impose on him. 

So where lies my hope?

Like Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus, I am praying that the “God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to EDAN a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of EDAN’s heart may be enlightened, so that he will know what is the hope of His (Christ’s) calling, what are the riches of the glory of His (Christ’s) inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His (Christ’s) power toward those who believe…” (Ephesians‬ ‭1:16-18)‬ ‭

The day when it all makes sense to Edan will come at its appointed time. Till then, I am learning to relax as a mom. Everything that is happening in our family at present is part of God’s grand plan. And my kids going through difficult changes and seasons in their lives doesn’t mean I have been a bad mom — neglectful, hypocritical, or ill-tempered. By God’s grace I haven’t been those things. However, there’s much room for character improvement in me still. This is an appointed time in my life for me to embrace humble dependence on the Lord, to acknowledge that I don’t have it all together, that I am insufficient and incapable of performing the greater heart work that only God can do effectively in my kids. 

So this is me…relaxing…or at least, trying to! 


As my husband, Edric, advised, “Let’s continue to do our part and be faithful. Beyond that, don’t worry, hon. God is in control.” 

I hope this comforts you today, moms! 

Enjoy Christmas Feasting the Right Way

I know it’s so tempting during this time of the year to eat every wonderfully delectable thing set before us. Eating a lot comes with the Christmas season, and it’s common think, “I will give myself a break and diet when the New Year begins.” 

Well, this is the sort of mindset that gets us into trouble. It’s not worth it to load our bodies with bad calories that will make our fat cells happy but get us depressed when we try to fit back into our jeans when the New Year comes around. Plus, unhealthy binging makes us vulnerable to getting sick, too.

So how do we strive to achieve a balance? After all, we can’t go to Christmas gatherings and be party-poopers about the food when family and friends have thoughtfully prepared the spread for us to enjoy. At the same time, we need to be more conscious and exercise a greater amount of self control to make it through all the festivities without compromising our health or our kids’. 

For example, I used to eat a generous slice of cake anytime it was served to me at parties, but as I got older and came to terms with how horrible sugar is for my body, I had to curb this habit. I would ask for sliver of a cake instead of a huge slice and then share that portion with Edric, who was of the same mind to avoid eating the whole thing by himself. This way I got to enjoy a little bit of sugar without suffering from the guilt afterwards. 

One of the wisest perspectives on eating I have ever learned was from my grandfather who lived to be 96. His health philosophy boiled down to this: everything in moderation. Don’t overeat, don’t under-eat, don’t neglect exercise, and don’t harbor bitterness, anger or worry. My grandfather passed away a happy, contended man, by God’s grace. I would like to think his ability to exercise self-control without being legalistic had something to do with this. 

So how do we enjoy Christmas food this season WISELY?

Eat and drink smart:

1. Never skip a hearty breakfast. When I don’t eat breakfast, I tend to eat bigger lunches and dinners when parties usually happen. Breakfast also regulates metabolism so it’s important to stick to the habit of eating a good breakfast so you and I, and our kids, aren’t starving when it’s time for that Christmas buffet. Plus it’s easiest to burn the breakfast calories. If you are rushing out the door in the mornings, grab a banana and put some peanut butter on it. Then pack some almonds or granola to munch on in the car. 

2. Load up on veggies and fruit to quell the craving for sweets. I praise God that my kids like carrot sticks, apples, and oranges. Even Catalina has been brainwashed to like carrots. Yey! When their tummies are full of the good stuff, they don’t look for the bad stuff. As for me, I make my Nutribullet drinks made up of fruits and veggies. (I need a transformer to run it because I bought it from the US and it’s a 110 volts appliance.)


3. To flush out all those heavy meals, eat prunes and brown rice…and other colon-cleansing foods. Our younger kids don’t always like brown rice so we mix white rice into it so it’s softer. But, they still benefit from the fiber from brown rice. As for prunes, these are a sure-fire way to flush out the intestines. They work for me! Try eating six to eight prunes for a snack and you will see what I mean. 

4. Take bite-sized portions of desserts at parties and don’t keep sweets in the refrigerator or pantry. The more sugar you and I eat, the more addicted we get to it. It is actually as addicting as cocaine! (This is according to my doctor sister, Carolyn.) And if it’s accessible, we are vulnerable to sneaking up to the fridge or pantry to indulge ourselves. In our family, we give away the sweets we receive. We don’t recycle them as gifts; we simply pass them on after tasting them by bringing them to other gatherings to share or we let our household help, driver and their friends and family enjoy them. It’s called spreading the calories across more people. 

5. Drink lots of water and avoid sugary juices or pop. Instead of ordering a soda or juice at a resto, ask for water. It’s cheaper and better for you and me. As for our kids, they need to drink milk twice a day on top of their diet. I started using a brand called Friso lately after I discovered that it’s prescribed by pediatricians for kids who easily get constipated or suffer from upset stomachs. 


6. Use alternatives to sugar. We hardly use sugar in our home to sweeten drinks or food. Our sweetener of choice is honey…raw wild honey or Manuka Honey
Keep immunity levels strong. 

1. I let my kids take Manuka Honey for their immunity and to fight off colds, but it also allows them to satisfy their desire for something sweet in a healthy way. 


2. Don’t neglect the vitamins. For example, Vitamin C. My four older kids have gotten used to taking non-acidic vitamin C pills. They taught themselves to swallow these as a challenge and now it’s a habit. Doctor-sister, Carolyn, also says to take multivitamins, probiotics, and fish oil regularly. (For one of my future articles I am going to pick her brain about functional medicine so I can share her insights here.)

3. Avoid being out too many late nights in a week, which means that you and I have to strategically select which parties are worth attending. My kids (as well as Edric and I), tend to get sick when we don’t stick to our regular routine for bedtime. So we have to say no to certain events or request that these occasions start earlier in the evening if possible. And at times, we have to check out early and excuse ourselves in favor of a good night’s sleep. 

4. Go outdoors to exercise when there’s good sunlight. December weather is getting so nice for family walks, runs or biking sessions. The trick is to engage in these activities as a family so that the kids are excited about exercise. Our kids are more motivated to exercise when it’s a shared activity. 

There’s no need to panic about holiday eating for as long as we practice moderation for high-calorie foods and apply the tips above. Eating great food is a wonderful tradition during Christmas. But, since we live in the Philippines and the social activities go on and on during this time of the year, we also need to apply self-control. Enjoy but don’t over-indulge. If we do this, we will get to have our cake and eat it, too, (for as long as we don’t eat the whole cake!) 

One of the Hardest Things About Being a Parent

One of the biggest challenges that Edric and I face daily is that our kids see us up close and personal everyday. This requires us to be extra conscious about the values, attitudes, and perspectives we role model to them.

I remember a few weeks ago, I asked my kids, “What do you think mommy is passionate about?” I hoped they would answer, “You love God and follow God.” But to my surprise, they unanimously agreed that I was passionate about MY CELLPHONE!

Goodness, gracious!

To defend myself, I explained, “You know that my Bible is on my phone, and I blog and minister to others through my phone.” But they didn’t seem convinced.

The reality is I do read my Bible using my phone and it is a tool for ministry, but apparently, they perceived it more as an addiction of some sort. So I had to apologize to them and take their answer to heart. (And I’ve decided to dig up my Life Application Bible so they see me holding it, instead of my phone!)

Growing up I remember that my parents were convincingly passionate about loving God and serving Him. They remain the same way today. My mom is the type of person who shares the gospel with anything that lives and breathes. It’s top of mind for her when she gets on an airplane and someone sits next to her. She’s constantly praying for an opportunity to insert the good news of God’s love.

As for my dad, he pours over God’s Word for hours each day. He spends a good part of his morning in communion with the Lord up in his study room. (It’s a blessing that my brothers run the family business so my dad has time to study the Bible and busy himself with ministry. I know not everyone has the same set of circumstances.)

The point is this: our children need to connect what we are passionate about our love for God. If we can’t live contagiously as Christians, then our children aren’t going to get infected by us.

One of the most effective ways to be a good model to our kids is to model humility. Very recently, I appreciated how Edric demonstrated this to our children. (I am sharing this with his permission.)

We traveled to Baguio for a conference two weekends ago, and the morning of our event, Edric’s hair brush magically disappeared. He’s particular about his stuff and it’s unusual for him to lose an item like this. So he assumed that the kids took it and put it somewhere in the hotel room. None of us knew where it was and none of us were guilty. However, due to his agitation over the missing hairbrush, he saidgl, “You guys BETTER find it or someone is going to be in trouble.”

At that moment, I wanted to speak up in defense of our children, and call him out on his irritated tone. But God reminded me to be silent and pray instead. (This is often the precursor to Edric coming to a point of conviction because the Holy Spirit softens his heart. My blabbing and reactiveness don’t work.)

In the process of looking for the brush, the kids began to sound annoyed with one another. To correct this, Edric called their attention and gave a quick lecture on speaking to one another in a kindly manner. Once again, I had to subdue my own critical spirit. To me it looked like our kids were copying the tone Edric previously used with them when he got upset about his hairbrush.

The kids and I finally trooped down to get breakfast as we needed to hurry along to catch our call-time at the event venue. We waited for Edric who came down to pray with us, and the first thing he humbly said was, “Kids, will you forgive me for my tone? Will you forgive me for being a bad example and getting annoyed about my brush? I told you all to speak to one another in a nice way and I didn’t do that myself. Please forgive me.”

Of course the children did and I smiled knowing that it was the Lord who touched Edric’s heart.

It’s not easy for a father to admit his mistakes to his kids, but what an amazing effect this kind of authenticity has on them. It’s also a great reminder for me to do the same.

Children are allergic to hypocrisy. A sure-fire of turning them away from loving and following God is to expose them to parents who preach these values and do the opposite at home. So Edric and I must have a heightened awareness for the attitudes, perspectives, and actions we display. Our children are watching us and forming conclusions about the kinds of attitudes and perspectives they will internalize, and the actions they will exhibit when faced with difficult circumstances, people-problems, and challenging choices. What will they copy in us? I pray we can say with confidence and grace what the Apostle Paul did in 1 Corinthians 11:1 when he told the church ag Corinth, “Copy me, as I copy Christ.”

And, let’s face it…we are going to make make mistakes, so let’s learn to model humility. Children easily forgive when we don’t let their heart-wounds pile up. I have seen this over and over again in our family.

The same is true for marriage, too! Let’s model humility to our spouses by asking for forgiveness when we make mistakes…the big ones and the small ones. We can also add the bonus question, “How can I improve?” This line works wonders to repair hurt in a relationship.

Finally, let me end with this: Good role models inspire positive change in those who watch their lives closely. If those who watch us are becoming more like Christ, then praise God, we must be modeling something right!