When the Walls Come Tumbling Down

Edric and I were awoken at 3 AM to the sound of what we thought to be thunder. It wasn’t until the morning that we were informed by our house help that the wall of our rip-rap fell into the street below.

Shocking! It looked like rubble after a bombing – rocks piled on one another and the earth exposed.

My two thoughts were, Thank goodness this didn’t happen when our kids were playing in our backyard! God is merciful. God protected us. We had a houseful of children because my nephews and nieces spent the night, too. Praise God they weren’t harmed either.

But my second thought was, Oh my goodness! What a disaster! 

I was tempted to blame the people behind our wall’s construction, but where would that have gotten me? As I began to mouth out my frustration, Edric reminded me that this wasn’t going to be productive. He was right.

We took a morning jog and I decided to pray and thank the Lord that he kept us safe. In the grand scheme of things, it was just a wall. Sure, there was major damage to it and it’s going to be costly to repair it. But this Is something fixable. It’s not a person’s life, and praise God, it’s not one our children’s lives we are talking about here.

As I surveyed the rubble and looked at the mess it left on the street, I meditated on several spiritual observations:

First, there’s always something to be grateful for. Our wall may be a tragic mess but we still have our lives and our home. Much of the world can’t enjoy a comfortable home. At least we have one. And by God’s grace, it’s comfortable. Therefore my heart is thankful.

Second, the wall that fell represents what is physical. The earth underneath represents what is within all of us — the spiritual person. Our wall tumbled down but the soil remained compact and stable.

We will go through circumstances in our lives where the walls around us will crumble. Maybe we will experience sickness, financial struggles, relationship issues, or we will enter into a season of obscurity after the high of a success. Whatever it is, will our inner persons survive? What will hold us together?

Years ago when everything I understood about the world was torn apart because I was a victim of rape, I came to a cross road where I had to choose what I would believe in. What would I cling to as truth? Would I choose the path of hatred, unforgiveness, anger, fear, and doubt? I knew these emotions would lead me down a dark path…the wrong one. So I determined to hope in who God is and to interpret what happened through spiritual lenses. He gave me the grace to forgive the men who violated me, which put me on the road to healing.

Colossians 1:17 tells us, “He (Jesus) is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

This has been true in my life and in the lives of countless people who have embraced this reality. Jesus will hold us together during times of crises.

Psalm 16:8 says, “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Have you ever met people who have gone through incredibly difficult circumstances and yet the Lord transformed them into more beautiful versions of the persons they once were? I have! I have met amazing people who were victims of tragedy and yet they have blessed the world with their testimonies. They have declared what God has done and pointed others to Him.

In tough times, it is the inner person who is revealed. We may be able to hide behind pretenses and mask who we really are, but when we encounter obstacles; when people wrong us; when we lose something or someone important to us; and when we fall on desperate times, our true selves will be made manifest. That’s when we will recognize what anchors us, and what defines us. And this is what others will see, too!

Third, it isn’t the walls of our home that keep us safe at night. We can build a fortress to protect ourselves from intruders, natural disasters, and other calamities. However it is the Lord who makes us “dwell in safety.” “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” (Psalm 4:8) True security is to know that God is sovereign and in control.

Fourth, this world is not my home. Last Sunday, Edric preached a wonderful message in CCF Baguio entitled, “Act Like a Citizen of Heaven.” He challenged the audience to adapt attitudes and behaviors that glorify God and to set our mind on heavenly things. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ…” (Philippians 3:20)

Well, I believe that God wanted Edric and I to apply this message! So He gave us an opportunity to do so through this unprecedented disaster. Indeed, the broken things of this world remind us that we are destined for a better one.

On this earth we witness decay, death, and destruction. Therefore, let us NOT hope in what is temporal and passing. Let us not live like this is as good as it gets. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) May God open our eyes to recognise what He is doing as He molds our character through earthly struggles by way of people or circumstances, and may we look to Him for the life and peace that He gives and promises. 

This has been a tough two weeks for me emotionally, and the wall falling was like an exclamation point in the midst of it all. Yet God has been my comfort. He has been my ROCK. “He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken.” Psalms‬ ‭62:6‬  

Maybe something is happening in your life right now and the walls are tumbling down, or maybe you are standing in the heap of the rubble, in the aftermath of a tragedy. I pray that you will find your sure footing on the rock that is Christ. He will uphold you. He will help you rebuild what has been broken.
 

Are You in the Wilderness? 

One Christmas, my daughter received a set of Dora the Explorer clips, hairpins, and slippers from my mom. Instead of thanking her grandma, she flipped out and burst into tears. I don’t want Dora!

I couldn’t believe it! This was my sweet Tiana. How could she respond with such ingratitude? Of course I was deeply embarrassed and apologized profusely to my mom who was very positive about the whole thing, but I was more concerned about Tiana’s attitude and perspective.

When her emotions settled, I took her aside and had a conversation with her. I discovered that she was afraid her cousins would make fun of her Dora things and she wanted something else. In short, she forgot all about her grandma personally picking out the Dora present for her and she focused only on herself.

It became an opportunity to instruct her heart, but it also revealed the very human tendency that all my children have (myself included) to be ungrateful.

Beyond the bad attitude, ungratefulness, on a more serious level, is a rejection of God’s will and plan for us. To grumble is to doubt His character, specifically His goodness, loving kindness and sovereignty.

It equivalent to saying, “I don’t believe you really care about me, Lord, or that you want what is good for me. I don’t deserve what is happening to me. If you really love me, you would take this away or improve my circumstances.”

This is what the Israelites did when they grumbled many times in the wilderness, forgetting how God manifested His power and faithfulness in their midst and choosing to focus on what they missed about Egypt. In my quiet time today, I read about the Israelites complaining that they didn’t have any meat to eat. They were tired of the manna.

Wait a second! Who gets to eat sweet flakes that fall from heaven and settle on the ground like dew?! God provided for them in a miraculous way every day!

“It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” (Exodus 16:31)

Yet I am far removed from the physical conditions that the Israelites had to weather. I can’t imagine living in tents from one sandy place to another, with five children in tow, bearing the extremes of hot days and cold nights, wondering how I will feed and clothe my family, and listening to instructions from an old man who used to be a Egyptian prince, who became a murderer and then a shepherd and now a prophet.

Whut?! This is messed up. No home, no steady job, no time table for when the experience will end, and no concept of where we are going except that I need to trust that God is speaking to and through Moses because he’s God’s mouthpiece. He’s the prophet who performed all the miracles to rescue my family. Maybe I am crazy for going along with this plan and hazarding the lives of my family. Maybe Egypt was still better. Work was tremendously hard but at least I could count on shelter and food. This, however, is not what I signed up for! I am not discounting the miracles, but I can’t help thinking that I miss my old life.

When I count the realities of what the Israelites endured, especially through the eyes of a mother, I can understand that it must have been challenging to believe that they were better off in the desert.

Some years ago a good friend of mine lost her husband in her early thirties and was left to care for three young childern. She was in a position of real need, physically and emotionally. I didn’t even know what to say to comfort her.

Like the Israelites, I wasn’t sure what God’s plan was all about. And I was tempted to think that God made a mistake in this instance. But it also dawned on me very recently that we can be so consumed with the difficulty of our circumstances that it eclipses the faithfulness of God entirely. We fail to appreciate every thing He has done and is doing.

I felt convicted about my own ingratitude for the many ways that God provides, protects and prospers us on a daily basis. For example, our house is three stories high. Besides that, it sits on a hill. So it towers above the ground of our backyard at about 20 meters. If any of our children were to fall off the highest floor of our house, they would die. Last year, during one of the occasions when their cousins came over to play, my daughter, Tiana, and my niece, Teegan, climbed over the railing of the third floor and stepped onto the two and a half foot wide glass ledge that hangs over the backyard.

They attempted to get a discarded milk carton that one of the cousins tossed onto the ledge. Thankfully and only by God’s divine protection, they did not fall or slip! When I found out about it, it was after-the-fact, as the other children reported the incident to me. I nearly cried from the horror of thinking they could have died!

God watches over our children all the time. However, we tend to make a bigger deal about the instances when He allows them to get sick, injured, or hurt and wonder if He really cares about us. Or, maybe it’s not about our kids. Maybe we look at the problems in our own relationships and circumstances, and feel like life is unfair, that we deserve better.

Similarly, the Israelites scorned the manna God sustained them with instead of appreciating what it was and what it symbolized. They perceived it as a curse rather than a blessing as they cried out for meat, wishing to return to Egypt. They looked at what they didn’t have. But, hello, short-term memory! Egypt = slavery!

“Say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, “Oh that someone would give us meat to eat! For we were well-off in Egypt.’ Therefore the LORD will give you meat and you shall eat. You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you; because you have rejected the LORD who is among you and have wept before Him, saying, ‘Why did we ever leave Egypt?”‘ Numbers‬ ‭11:18-20

In Egypt they groaned under severe bondage, and God rescued them with a full feature show of His incredible power through the 10 plagues, and the parting of the sea. But in the desert, they still called out, give us Egypt! Despite the many instances that God displayed His ability to take care of them, they did not trust Him.

This is so emblematic of our tendency to forget what God has done for us. We don’t recognize what He has saved us from and continues to save us from. Sure, the desert wasn’t Disneyland. It was unpredictable, uncomfortable and perilous, but God gave the Israelites everything they needed.

We read this in Nehemiah 9:19-21, “You (God), in Your great compassion, did not forsake them in the wilderness; the pillar of cloud did not leave them by day, to guide them on their way, nor the pillar of fire by night, to light for them the way in which they were to go. You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, and You gave them water for their thirst. Indeed, forty years You provided for them in the wilderness and they were not in want; Their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet swell.” Nehemiah‬ ‭9:2, 19-21‬ ‭

As I sit here, pondering the heart condition of the Israelites, I can’t judge them for their better off-as-a-slave-in-Egypt-than-in-the-desert-with-God mindset. The Israelites were indoctrinated by a culture and belief system of a nation whose people worshipped counterfeit versions of God, whose Pharaoh exalted himself as god and treated them as possessions to abuse and control. So the Israelites needed a soul detox experience to flush out wrong perspectives, appetites, and values that were not just anti-God, but anti-freedom…anti-fullness of life.

This leads me to believe that God’s methods for rescuing us haven’t changed. Perhaps the meaning of “desert” has. We go through different versions of the wilderness in our own lifetimes. And it’s tempting to express discontentment and to grumble, to lose faith in who God is and in His promises.

But God’s purpose remains the same. First, He aims to bring us to the point of recognizing that He is what we need and want — that Egypt represents our state of slavery to sin and a life bound for destruction and He represents our salvation. (By the way, we all come from Egypt.)

Second, the discontentment and discomfort we experience that lead us to compare or cry out, not fair, I don’t deserve this, or why me, is very often God taking us through the wilderness to liberate us from a culture and belief system that has enslaved us to counterfeit pleasure, freedom, and happiness. Sometimes this means that time in the desert will take longer than we hope it will. And sometimes this means that we will be at very desperate points when we are thirsty, hungry and tired of the wilderness living.

However, I do believe that God means for us to see beyond the water, manna and the meat. God knows we need physical solutions and He can easily provide these. But He sees our greater spiritual need and seeks to be the answer to it.

Furthermore, to be hungry is not the most tragic thing. It is the poverty mindset — thinking we are stuck in a desert, abandoned and forgotten, and in need of more (be it money, popularity, control, relationships or maybe even physical well-being) in order to be satisfied. But until our hunger is directed towards God, we will never be content with the little or the much that we have. Our cravings will not cease when we alleviate them with temporal, immediate, earth-centered fixes. Life will feel like a perpetual wilderness even if it may look like paradise to others.

In his book, Life Without Limits, limbless but amazing Nick Vujicic poignantly stated,”Life isn’t about having, it’s about being. You could surround yourself with all that money can buy, and you’d still be as miserable as a human can be. I know people with perfect bodies who don’t have the happiness I’ve found. On my journeys I’ve seen more joy in the slums of Mumbai and the orphanages of Africa than in wealthy gated communities and on sprawling estates worth millions.”

No matter where we go to seek for satisfaction in the world, the answer isn’t going to come from the world. Every person and place that looks like the answer can very soon turn into a wilderness that leaves us wanting and aching for more. In contrast, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John‬ ‭6:35‬ ‭

God knows when we are hungry. He knows when we thirst. He made us. But these physical yearnings are meant to open our eyes to the spiritual reality of what we truly hunger and thirst for. Until we learn the lessons intended for us in the wilderness, we cannot be ready for the Promised Land. Our cravings and inclinations will remain earth-centered when they ought to be Christ-centered. Only He can develop in us a hunger and thirst for what pleases Him.

As I end this reflection of my time in the Word, I better understand why contentment is a condition of the heart more than anything else. When I was newly married, Edric and I didn’t have much money. We got married young. But since I came from a family with means, I felt embarrassed at times that I couldn’t afford the same luxuries my parents or siblings had. And somehow I felt like money afforded me a sense of security and self worth. In its absence or the lack of it, I began to feel discontent. God had to teach me that money is not what will make me happy.img_5898-1.jpg

Instead, contentment was being able to say, Lord, I thank you and trust you through every season and circumstance. You are my bread, the sustainer of my soul. You have given me everything I need to accomplish your purposes and to know you. Thank you for providing for my needs. But more importantly, thank you for saving me from a life of sin and destruction. As long as you are with me, I can go through the deserts of life. Let me learn the principles you intend for me to embrace, so I will be prepared for your promised land. 

I have to remind myself of the same things even today. There will always be wants that I wrestle with. I pray you and I will be encouraged by the words of Paul: “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Philippians‬ ‭4:11-13

I Am Glad I Married a Man Who Didn’t Sleep Around

Edric and I will be fifteen years married in July. That’s not a milestone by some standards, but in a day and age when many marriages don’t make it past the five year mark, I’m deeply grateful. First, I’m grateful to the Lord because he’s the reason why we are still together. Second, I’m grateful to Edric who chooses to love me everyday, even when I’m not always lovable.

 Since it is the “love month” I decided to write a piece to thank my husband for being the kind of man that didn’t sleep around before marriage. It sounds very unromantic for me to put it this way, but if you read through this, you might begin to believe, as I have, that this is one of the most romantic gifts a husband can ever give his wife (and vice versa). How I wish I could have offered virginity to Edric, but as many of you readers know, I was once upon a time a victim of rape. (Read about my story in my book: When A Good God Allows Rape)

When I met Edric in college, I thought he was a good-looking guy. He told me to say “handsome” when he read this part over my shoulder. It was his unpretentiousness that kept me interested, second to the fact that we connected on a spiritual level. He didn’t mask his person behind a façade. He was sincere, honest, and easy to trust. 

As we got to know each other, he opened up about his past relationships, and I found out he was still a virgin. A virgin? Even in our day they were becoming a rare breed, especially for guys. Although he admitted to me that he struggled with pornography, he didn’t ever sleep with any of his girlfriends or other women. (Edric shared about his pornography struggle in my book so I’m being open about something he has already been open about.)

I knew it was important to preserve one’s purity. Events in my life took that away from me, but I still committed NOT to have consensual sex with anyone until I got married. I hoped to meet a guy who valued the same standards, too, so it mattered a lot that Edric had stayed pure. It told me something about his character as a man. I know he wrestled with the realities of what happened to me but I praise God it didn’t turn his heart away from me. Very much a rescuer, it inspired him to be my protector.

Our courtship wasn’t perfect, however. I have confessed this in other articles I have written about us and in my book. We got physical and stumbled along the way, but I praise God we didn’t experience sexual union until we were married. Prior to marriage, Edric and I also told our parents about the physical struggles in our relationship. We admitted to the wrong choices we made that brought us very close to the edge of what would have been the greatest mistake of our history. This was part of coming clean. 

The Bible says, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Hebrews‬ ‭13:4‬ ‭

We wanted to begin our relationship anew, with everything out in the open to honor the marriage bed. We also kept our engagement short — 4 months — to avoid further temptation. 

I was blessed to be able to look forward to our honeymoon because it the first time for me to experience sexual intimacy as God designed it. (My encounter with abuse didn’t count, of course!) Edric whisked me away from our reception at a very early 9 PM. He concocted an elaborate plan to escape through the funicular that connected Tagaytay Midlands to the Highlands. This is where we got married. I don’t even think we said goodbye to people, which seemed like the socially inappropriate thing to do but he could not wait for our “celebration” to begin. 

We spent our first night together as husband and wife in Tagaytay Highland’s Spa & Lodge. In keeping with tradition, he insisted on carrying me over the threshold of the doorway of our room. Attendants and onlookers smiled in a congratulatory way. All this while I found Edric’s energy amusing as he acted like someone on an adrenaline high. But it made me feel special, treasured, and wanted. 

The next day we headed to Baguio where we had a cabin all to ourselves. We didn’t need a grand trip to Europe or a foreign country to look forward to. All we cared about was a nice room somewhere cold. Think about the olden days when all that was necessary was a tent. Since we didn’t have a lot of money when we started out, Baguio provided the perfect setting for lots of cuddling.

During our honeymoon, I didn’t have insecurities about how it would go. I trusted Edric. I knew he had saved himself for marriage and didn’t have multiple partners to compare me to. This doesn’t mean that I wasn’t nervous. And I am not going to inappropriately divulge the details of our first night. It was not “perfect” because we weren’t experts in the bedroom, but that’s what made it so perfect! We had nothing to prove to one another. There were no benchmarks to measure ourselves against. I remember feeling like it was the beginning of a beautiful journey of discovery, just between us — sacred, tender, profound. Edric gave me the privilege of being the first and the promise of being the last, till death do us part. 

The sex act in marriage is a pledge and a seal. It is the becoming of one flesh before God — the real ceremony of matrimony. In the Genesis account of Adam and Eve’s marriage the word marriage was not used at all. When Eve was presented to Adam by God, it reads, “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (Genesis‬ ‭2:23-25‬) The ceremony was simple and uncomplicated. Adam was joined to Eve and they became one. Similarly, the person God has made for you is the only one you are supposed to be joined to as one flesh — physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

God, in his wisdom, didn’t make many versions of Eve for Adam to choose from, either. (He wouldn’t have any ribs left. Just kidding!) God made just one. And he knew exactly what she should be like and what Adam would like. I think it’s important to say this because sometimes we don’t trust God to give us what we really want in a spouse. 

However these passages of scripture tell me that God always knows better. He knows the desires and longings of our hearts. He is mindful of our needs and He provides the best answer to them, better than we can ever imagine or hope for. Adam didn’t know what he was missing out on. He didn’t declare himself alone. It was God who said it wasn’t good for him to be alone. 

Amazingly, when Adam saw Eve he felt a bond and connectedness to her that was unlike any other that he felt with God’s creatures. As he beheld her she appeared to him comfortingly familiar and yet mysteriously and wonderfully different. Can you imagine for a moment what the Lord must have been thinking as He saw Adam’s eyes lock onto Eve’s with delight? I am sure He reveled in their joy, as he does in our joy when we get married.

As designer of marriage, God is also the best matchmaker. But we struggle with waiting on Him to bring this person to us. As a result we rush into relationships that feel right and many times end up broken inside when we have to leave them. God demonstrated from the very beginning that this was not his design. Marriage was between one man and one woman that he made for each other. He didn’t intend for us to suffer through the break ups and heartaches that come when we commit ourselves to many other people before marriage. And He most certainly didn’t purpose for us to bring those hurts into our marriages. 

We don’t often have the foresight to anticipate how past sexual experiences will affect our relationship to our spouse. Enjoying the intensity of sexual union and achieving oneness becomes complicated. Firstly, we program ourselves to view sex as a tool to achieve something that is self-serving. Some women control their boyfriends by using sex to keep them interested, others thrive on the attention men give them for their sexiness. Some men pressure women to sleep with them under the pretense of expressing love when what they really want is to enjoy the pleasures of sex. Still others like the conquest involved in being able to bed a woman — the more, the better. Sadly this self-seeking paradigm is brought into marriage and a spouse looks at sex as something that is for their benefit. It’s not about giving but about taking. 

Secondly, sex before marriage stimulates a desire for the illicit. And when it becomes monogamous, couples ache for the excitement that once came with the forbidden. 

Thirdly, it’s hard to remove images of sex with others or feelings about past relationships when a person engages in sex with their spouse. They don’t want to remember the things they did with others but it invades their minds anyway. Guilt overcomes them which results in the inability to perform with liberty and freedom.

Lastly, one’s sexual history can cause trust issues in marriage. It’s not so far fetched to think, “If my husband slept with women before, what’s to keep him from doing so when we are married?” If he didn’t internalize the sacredness of sex in marriage when he was single, there’s no guarantee that he won’t explore the same behavior when he is married. 

Interestingly, people think it’s okay to have sex with others before they get married but not afterwards. But sleeping around before marriage is like conditioning oneself for unfaithfulness and adultery (of the body and mind) when sex is viewed so casually prior to the committed and permanent relationship of marriage. 

Marriage won’t guarantee faithfulness. I am not saying Edric and I are impervious to adultery because we didn’t have casual sex with people when we were single. It’s only by God’s grace that we stay faithful to one another, and we will only finish well by God’s grace. But moral purity is a discipline. And Edric often tells me, look at track record. That matters. If a guy sleeps around before marriage, it doesn’t matter whom they marry. She can be the most beautiful woman in the world but she will not be good enough to keep him pure. I am not discounting the grace and power of God to deliver someone from their past but there are real problems that we carry into our future when we violate God’s commands. Galatians 6:7 tells us, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” 

1 Timothy 4:7-8 says, “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

A person who has disciplined himself to say no to sex before marriage will find it easier to say no to sex outside of marriage when he becomes a husband. He has made it a habit to please God. His default is to run away from sin rather than towards it. Certainly other factors play a role, too, like having good communication as husband and wife, meeting each other’s heartfelt needs, exerting effort to upgrade your marital sex life, being willing to improve to better satisfy one another, being connected to people who can hold you accountable for sexual purity, etc. The truth remains that sex outside of marriage is not something you can do and walk away from without consequence to your entire person or your future spouse. 

Some years ago I was speaking to a friend who confessed to me that she would think about her sexual experiences with her ex-boyfriend when she had sex with her husband. And her experience with her ex was better! Another friend told me that her husband felt rage every time he saw her ex-boyfriend. This ex-boyfriend was the first person my friend had lost her virginity to, and he couldn’t get over it. Yet another friend admitted to me that her martial sex life was not exciting because they explored everything before marriage. In marriage they hardly had sex. Some other friends had issues with faithfulness because their spouse programmed their appetites to enjoy elicit sex. Having slept with multiple people before marriage, monogamous sex wasn’t as desirable. 

Sex isn’t the only thing to enjoy in marriage but it is a big part of what makes marriage a special relationship. And we need to do everything we can to protect it. I praise God that I am reaping the benefits of being married to a man who didn’t sleep around. But at the end of the day it’s not his love for me that saved him from promiscuity. It was and is his love for God. 

As I age physically, he remains committed to honoring his purity for me and guarding his eyes and heart. This conviction comes from his relationship with God and not necessarily his undying devotion to me. Love for God is evidenced in the choices we make, whether single or married, and the history of a man’s choices will tell you whether he truly loves God, especially in the area where he is prone to weakness and great temptation — the area of sexual purity. 

Therefore if you aren’t married, take a good and honest look at the man you are with in a dating relationship or the man you want to marry. The man he is today will not miraculously change into a holy, righteous person who will be committed to pursuing purity as a husband if he is not making it his current priority to please God. Furthermore, the same weaknesses he struggles with at present will become the same chink in his armor when he is married.

So don’t settle for a man who hasn’t valued his purity, yours, or other womens’. And don’t give your purity to a man who claims he loves you who isn’t your spouse. Sexual promiscuity and experimentation may be portrayed as pleasurable and normal in this world but they are not God’s design for us. He purposed for a man and woman to present themselves to one another “naked and unashamed” as Adam and Eve did, husband and wife, without the guilt, sorrow, or fear that many people deal with today. At the same time, God is a redeemer. If you have failed to value purity the way He wants you to, it’s not too late to repent and start committing to it. You can still honor God with your mind and body. You can still flee immorality and receive the grace and power of God to live a life that pleases him. 

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John‬ ‭1:9‬

Whom Do You Love More?

For all my young readers out there, this post is for you. I shared it during this morning’s church service and I hope it will bless and encourage you! 


Ever since I was a child I cared about what people thought about me. I was a self-conscious person and a people-pleaser. This character weakness was tested especially in college, when I was no longer homeschooled or in a Christian school.

After graduating from an American school for missionaries called Faith Academy, most of my friends left for the US or Europe after high school, and I had to make friends from scratch. I didn’t know people in college like most students did. 

Eventually, however, I had a group of friends I started hanging out with who kind of took me “under their wing.” They were a great bunch of friends – intelligent, beautiful, kind-hearted, and fun to be with. However, they also belonged to a crowd who enjoyed going out to bars and clubs on Wednesday nights and the weekends.

When I first started frequenting bars with my college friends I thought I would never drink alcohol. It didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t grow up in a home where alcohol or cigarettes were common. And the high school I went to didn’t allow students to have either. So I would sit around and watch everybody with some sort of booze in their one hand, most often beer, while they checked each other out and chatted each other up. A lot of it was flirting between guys and girls, or sitting around with your group of friends while some guy treated you all to drinks.

At the beginning, I thought, What am I doing here?! This is a slow way to die, inhaling all this second hand smoke! It was almost intolerable, but I would go anyway, to be with my girl friends. Almost always, I would feel out of place, uncomfortable about connecting with people in an environment that seemed to be the worst place to engage in genuine conversation.

Nevertheless, I wanted to fit in somehow. So I thought, Why not try just a little alcohol? It’s not like the Bible says that drinking is sinful. To be honest I didn’t like the taste at all at first, but participating in the same things my friends did made me feel closer to them, more accepted, and this mattered to me.

The tipping point for me was going on an out of town trip for a football match. Our team went to a bar afterwards to celebrate, and getting a buzz from my cocktails gave me an exhilarating sense of freedom. I felt more confident, more gregarious. I do recall receiving surprised and concerned looks from people who knew me to be the conservative Christian. But I rationalized, “Hey, I can do this. I am still in control and I’m not doing anything stupid.”

I would rarely drink to the point of tipsiness, but there were a few times that I got carried away and did some ridiculous things.  One time I kissed a friend in public (someone I would never ever have kissed) while wearing my angel outfit and halo at a halloween party. The irony. My girl friends rushed over to pry me away, scolding our friend when it wasn’t even his fault. Another time, I got drunk and threw up out of a window of a moving vehicle. Yet another time, I danced like an idiot on the ledge of a club that had a lot of lecherous looking old men in it. In Europe, on a month-long trip with my friends (which was a blast), we would be out every night we could dancing with strangers and going out with people we hardly knew.

Thankfully, this season of my life was short-lived. After a while, I thought to myself, Why am I doing these things? Do I really want to be this person? I don’t even like alcohol! Furthermore, I recognized that my root problem was not the actual drinking or nights out, but the desire to have people’s approval.

Amazingly, when I told my parents about my night time adventures and the places I went go to they were NOT reactive. They didn’t scold me or condemn my friends. They didn’t pressure me to live up to the expectations of a pastor’s kid (which would have probably incited me to rebellion). Instead, their style was to spend time with me and ask me questions like, “So why do you like to drink?” They tried to understand my motivations so they could better disciple me. After all, it wasn’t my behavior that was the issue to them. It was my heart. So they prayed faithfully for me. They prayed a lot! And they reminded me that I was accountable to God.

Since they weren’t the kind of parents who were suffocatingly strict and unreasonable, or the kind of parents who micromanaged every choice their kids made, I appreciated and respected their input. More importantly, their talk-less, listen-and-dialogue-more method of mentoring me gave the Holy Spirit the space to speak to me and convict me.

I began to be deeply disturbed about the trajectory I was headed in. I knew I was a follower of Jesus. Yet my motivations revealed that I valued what people thought about me more than God’s opinion of me. Did I really love Jesus with all my heart?

Furthermore if I really loved Jesus then I would live to please him above all else. My goal would be to glorify Him, and to pursue Christ likeness and righteousness. But at that point I couldn’t confidently say that my life inspired others to follow Christ. Living with this dichotomy — professing to love God yet having little fruit to show as evidence, troubled me. I didn’t have peace.

So I went back to the convictions that my parents passed on to me when I was younger — truths that hooked me back into the will of God before I wandered too far off course. I made the decision to honour God and glorify Him. If I truly loved Him, this would be a priority to me.  It wouldn’t even be about whether drinking was okay or not. (Sometimes we can be so legalistic and judgmental as followers of Christ, equating spirituality with this image of someone who doesn’t drink, smoke, dance, go to clubs or maybe even movie theaters! Nevertheless, I do believe that everyone who likes to do things like drink or smoke should assess why they do. And if their reasons signal red flags like addiction, dependence, peer acceptance, or remedies for stress, etc…then it may very well benefit them to ask the same questions I had to.)

For me the more important questions were, “How do I live in such a way that people will be attracted to Jesus Christ in me? What does God see when He looks into my heart?” In response, I changed my Wednesday and weekend habits. I stopped going to bars and clubs in order to “fit in.” 

This didn’t mean that I lost all my friends either. I loved these girls. I still do. And when we can, we get together for meals or coffee, occasions when we can really connect and talk.

Another, more serious test came when I had my second boyfriend, the same boyfriend who eventually became my husband whom you know as my one and only, Edric Mendoza. We struggled in the area of physical purity. We didn’t have sex but we pushed things to the absolute limit. I knew that I was making compromises that were not pleasing to God, but a part of me also wanted to hold on to Edric’s affections for me. There were moments when I would deceivingly think, this isn’t so bad. It’s not like we are having sex. But I had lowered my standards for holiness and purity by comparing my actions to what “other people are doing.”

Once again, I had to ask myself the same question, Do I really love Jesus more than I love Edric? 

Because the struggle with purity continued no matter what tricks we tried to avoid temptation, we were compelled to consider breaking up. Edric also loved God and wanted to do what was right. So we broke off the relationship without any timetable for getting back together. It was one of the most difficult things I had to do and Edric would say the same thing, but it was also one of the best decisions we ever made.

Edric was an idol in my life whom I had to surrender to God. When I did so, my passion for the Lord was rekindled. Prior to this, my struggle with purity had put a wedge and cap on my ability to grow spiritually. Edric also grew deeper in His faith.

Eventually, God allowed us to get married with the approval and blessing of our parents, and after full disclosure to them. By this time our hearts were prepared to love each other the way God called us to. We understood that in any relationship, Christ must be the center. A husband and wife must love Jesus first to love each other the way they should.

Not all love stories may end this same way, but I do believe that when we love God with all that we are He gives us His best in return, which is first and foremost Himself. Everything else is a bonus!

Mendoza_119Today I am happily married to Edric. We have five children. And we are serving the Lord as a team and teaching our children to love Him. The stories that I shared are almost twenty years old, but they remain significant because they were turning points in my life, when I made a conscious choice to love God and obey Him over something else or someone else that was important to me.

John 14:21 says, He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

We may have to sacrifice and experience challenges as we love God with all that we are, but He promises fullness of joy!

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” ‭‭John‬ ‭15:9-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬

By God’s grace, the best and sweetest years of my life so far have been those that I have given wholeheartedly to loving, following, obeying, and serving God. When I am tempted to replace this love for God with something else (because struggles still exist), I tell myself, Nothing is better than Christ. And nothing will ever satisfy me more than to seek Him and obey His will! 

Number Our Days

Edric spoke on numbering our days during the Sunday Service two days ago. It was an inspiring message that challenged the audience to consider how we use the time we have.

Psalm 90:12 says, So teach us to number our days that we may present to You (God) a heart of wisdom.

Life is short. Our friend, Steve Reed, passed away at 30. Another friend of the family, Jay Lucas, died of cancer shortly after it relapsed. And my grandfather (Angkong) departed at 96. None of us know the length of our days on this earth. It can be a few years or many, but in the end, it’s merely a dash between the year we are born and the year we die. 

Therefore, Edric challenged us to adopt the perspective of Kerry and Chris Shook in their book, “One Month to Live.” Edric read this back in 2008, but it tied in perfectly with his New Year’s challenge for us. 

If each of us had only one month to live, what would we do differently? Why aren’t we doing these things now? 

He pulled out three points from their book: Live passionately, love completely, and learn humbly. 

Live passionately for the Lord. This is about building God’s kingdom and not our own. Do we look to meet the spiritual needs of those around us and minister to them? Or, are we too busy pursuing the temporal things — money, fame, power?

Personally, I need to improve on sharing the gospel with people in a one-on-one context. I talk about Jesus on my site, the gospel story is in my book, and I insert the gospel message when I speak in front of audiences, but sometimes, I am too preoccupied to strike up a conversation with a sales lady, clerk, beautician, massage therapist, etc, and I forget that these are missed opportunities to tell them that they are infinitely loved by God, that He wants to have a personal relationship with them. Instead, I am thinking about whether they are serving me the way they ought to, or if I am getting my goals accomplished. People become a means to an end. But God wants me to consider their end. My mom, who talks about Jesus as often as she can, says, “When we don’t share the gospel, it’s like telling people to go to hell.” 

Very recently, I read Ezekiel again, and I highlighted the passage that speaks about how we are accountable to tell people the truth. Whether they receive it isn’t our problem, but if we don’t declare God’s Word He will hold us responsible as His “watchmen.”

“”Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” Ezekiel‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭

Living passionately for the Lord is also about being contagious Christians. Do we do our best at work, home, ministry? Do we use our talents, gifts and abilities to glorify God? If people were to examine our lives closely, would they be able to conclude with absolute certainty that we are followers of Christ? Would they be attracted to the joy, peace and love they see, and desire the same for themselves? 

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭

Love completely is about forgiving and unconditionally accepting the people in our lives. If we were to number our days, knowing that life is too short to squander on anger and bitterness, would we choose to end our days with unresolved conflicts or issues in our marriages, with our children, siblings or others? 
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.‭‭” Colossians‬ ‭3:12-14‬ ‭

Learn humbly involves the willingness to change, to listen and receive correction and criticism, or to seek to grow and mature in areas of weakness. 

  God gave Edric and me the perfect opportunity to apply all three aspects of numbering our days. We traveled to the beach with the kids without yayas. Catalina is two so I am trying to help her become more independent. But it’s never simple to travel with five kids. It’s a lot of fun but it requires Edric and me to be hands-on at all times. Thankfully, our older sons are a big blessing. They give us breaks and take over when they can. Yet like I said, family vacations can be a good test of living passionately, loving completely and learning humbly. 

  Just today, on the way home from the beach, we nearly lost Catalina who walked off to go exploring in the hotel. Edric panicked and raised his voice at Elijah, whom he assumed was tasked to babysit her because she was last seen with him. Elijah darted off in tears, looking for Catalina, feeling terrible. The other kids said, “Why did dad shout?”

I glared at Edric for losing his cool in front of the children and went hunting for Catalina. She wasn’t lost at all. I found her playing with her cousin in the dining area, unaware of the distress her momentary disappearance had caused everyone. 

In the car, there was an icy silence as Edric and I anticipated who would apologize first. He began by identifying who was to blame and commanded me to say sorry to everyone for being the main person responsible for Catalina. After I did, I retorted, “You need to apologize, too, for shouting at Elijah. Shouting doesn’t help anyone solve a problem. You simply agitated everyone with your response. It wasn’t right.” 

I usually keep quiet and let the Holy Spirit convict him, but I was so annoyed that I let the words roll off my tongue without restraint. He didn’t appreciate this at all, but he did ask for our forgiveness to be a good example. Neither of us were satisfied with each other’s apology. We sense the lingering frustration and anger between us. (It’s only by God’s grace that we are able to recover from these situations.)
When both ended up re-doing our apologies with sincerity and we also chose to forgive one another and let go of the resentment. We applied the principle of “numbering our days.”

First, we were un-Christlike examples to our kids. And living passionately for the Lord must be evident to our most sensitive audience first — our children. Edric spoke to Elijah and really humbled himself before all of us. I also asked for forgiveness for being disrespectful towards Edric. 

Second, loving completely means I needed to forgive Edric as he needed to forgive me. We didn’t feel like it. AT ALL. We were thoroughly aggravated with one another for the mistakes we made. But God asks us to forgive, just as He has forgiven us. After we did so, the anger dissipated. 

Third, we learned humbly by acknowledging our wrongs to one another. When Edric was correcting me and criticizing me for neglecting Catalina, I wanted to defend myself and list down the many ways I took care of her during the trip. I felt like he took that one moment and gave me a rating of “F” for my mother skills. But I apologized because it only takes one accident or careless instance to lose a child and I did mess up. I did not keep a diligent eye on her and assumed that Elijah was entertaining her with an educational game. Furthermore, I made Edric look badly in front of the kids with my tone and words when I could have spoke to him in private about raising his voice. This was wrong. 

I praise God that by the end of our journey all was resolved and our relationships were restored.
We all need to number our days, to consider how we want to spend the time God has gifted us with. Are we living passionately for Him, loving others completely (especially our spouse and children), and learning humbly by choosing to become more like Christ? 

God will hold us accountable for the manner in which we invest each moment, each hour, each day, each year, and each lifetime. May He find us faithful and wise, people who understand the brevity of life and make choices that please Him! 

  
““The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! ’” Matthew‬ ‭25:21‬ ‭

What Does My Heart Look Like This Christmas?

Edan, my second son, is the kind of child whose expressions and actions have to be observed closely because he isn’t a talker. When I ask him what he’s thinking or feeling, he needs time to reflect before churning out an answer.

His two brothers are very different. Elijah likes to dialogue about his thoughts and feelings. Titus will simply say, “I’m not thinking anything.” (He’s a very uncomplicated fellow.) Edan, on the other hand, needs to be pried open cautiously. He doesn’t respond to confrontation, nor does he appreciate being badgered into giving an answer to people’s queries about himself. So I’ve learned to be patient as a mother and wait for him to unfold in his own way.

Every once in a while, however, I will catch him doing something that speaks loudly about the kind of person he is. And I latch on to these occasions and treasure them because they reveal what’s going on inside his heart.

Today, at church, a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in a while handed each of my kids money for Christmas. (She is ninang to my daughter, Tiana, but she generously gave my other kids money, too.) All of them were thrilled. Naturally, I expected them to think of buying something for themselves.

As the service went on, I noticed that Edan pulled out a tithing envelope. He carefully tucked his bills inside them. He held on to the envelope for a while and then turned around to whisper to me, “Mom, can you put this in the tithing box for me?

Surprised, I asked him why he wanted to tithe the money he just received. True to his nature, he didn’t give me an immediate answer. But shortly after, he managed to explain, “I want to give my money to Jesus.” When I prodded him further, he added, “I can’t explain it, I just like giving to Jesus.”

At first I thought, Whose kid is this?! Is this my 9 year old, Edan?!

Edan is better known in our family as a keeper of money rather than a giver of it. When we play board games, he likes to hoard the cash and pile it up. That’s his default strategy to beat everyone. It doesn’t always work but he, of all our kids, seems to have this bent towards business-mindedness. I suppose this is why it surprised me to see how willingly he parted with his money. His actions appeared incongruent with his personality and he got my attention. God used Edan’s example of a giving heart to teach me three important Christmas lessons.

First, Edric and I have come to recognize that anytime our children make the right choices it isn’t because we are such great parents or because our children are extra special. We can only go so far and do so much as parents to influence our kids towards Christ-centeredness. We are fallen persons, a mix of flaws that must be surrendered to the Lord daily. Furthermore, each of our kids is unique and fragile in their own way, with weaknesses and character issues that need supernatural fixing. So the miraculous transformation that we witness in them is a testament to the way God makes something beautiful out of our mess-ups, mistakes, and missed opportunities. While I would like to take credit and say, “Yep, that’s my kid,” I am more convicted to say, “He’s your child, Lord. That’s your handprint in his heart and life. That’s Christ in him. Please complete the work you have begun in him and make him into the man you want him to grow up to be, not for me, not for Edric, but for you and your glory.”

Second, everything we have been given is grace. Edan wasn’t an “official godchild” of my friend. Yet she handed him some money anyway, because she loves him as she does all my other kids. Similarly, God loves you and He loves me. He bestows upon us certain gifts, talents and abilities that speak more of who he is as a loving heavenly Father rather than how deserving we are. All of my kids had the opportunity to do something with their monetary presents, but they didn’t make the same choice Edan did. In the same way, all of us have the liberty to spend our gifts, talents and abilities as we choose. Will we keep these for ourselves or will we say, as Edan did, “Lord I give what I have to you?”

Third, the ability and desire to give what we have to God comes when we realize what He has given to us. Beyond the gifts, talents, and abilities, God sent us His Son, Jesus. Years ago, as a younger boy, Edan received Jesus into his life by faith. He understood that he was sinful and needed a Savior, and he believed in what Jesus did on the cross for him. Shortly after, it felt like Edric and I had a new child. Edan was vastly different from the previous version of himself, whom we knew to be grumpy, uncooperative, and temperamental. He became kind and tender-hearted and he developed a genuine love for the Lord.

At about the same time five years ago, Edan sang the song “Mary, did you know” before he went to bed one evening, with my younger sister, Carolyn, as his witness. They shared a room during our Christmas vacation because we were a growing family and couldn’t fit in one room with all our kids. Carolyn told me the song came to Edan spontaneously, as she turned off the lights so he could go to sleep. As she tucked him in, he said, “You know, Aunty Carolyn, I really love Jesus. He is my best friend.”

 I remembered this story as I thought about Edan holding on to the tithing envelope with his little hands. When he said he wanted to give everything that he had to Jesus it came from a deep gratitude he could not articulate, one which overflowed from experiencing the gift that is Jesus Christ.

This Christmas I pray we will spend time pondering upon God’s generosity to us. May the gift of His Son compel us to present to Him the gift of a giving heart – a heart transformed by Jesus that delights to offer everything to Him in return for who He is and what He has done.

 

 

Peanuts and an Apology

  
My husband, Edric, and I invite our children to correct us and tell us how to improve. We don’t always recognize character areas where we are weak so it helps to have our children identify these areas. They watch our examples closely and they have tender consciences, too. So we benefit from their input. It isn’t always easy to receive their correction but when we do they appreciate our humility, and it teaches them to do the same. 
  
Two days ago, Edric and I hosted a yayas and drivers party in our home. We were running late for it because we came from another engagement. Strangely, when we entered our village, the guard stopped us. He didn’t let us through because he failed to see our sticker. Edric rolled down his window, annoyed, and said, “We have a sticker!” (Translated from Tagalog.) 

His tone conveyed irritation and he pointed his finger at the sticker like, yo dude, do you know who I am?! Of course he didn’t say that, but the kids latched on to his tone. The guard embarrassingly lifted the barricade.

The car atmosphere turned quiet for a bit and then our two oldest sons, Elijah blurted out, “Dad, you sounded entitled when you said that,” followed by Edan, “Yah, it wasn’t very nice.”

I could see the tension in Edric’s face. On the one hand, he wanted to acknowledge what the kids were saying but on the other hand, he didn’t appreciate the inconvenience the guard caused him when he was rushing to our place. But I praise God that he let the Holy Spirit convict his heart and he replied, “Oh really? It really sounded like that? I am sorry, kids.” The kids forgave him and we proceeded home.

Unbeknownst to them, Edric returned to the guard later on and apologized to him. He also brought him peanuts to make up for his haughtiness. I didn’t find out till the evening when he told me, while the kids found out the next day.

He explained how he drove to the guard house to ask for forgiveness and how the guard politely accepted his apology and gladly took the peanuts! The kids’ eyes lit up with relief. It mattered to them that he humbled himself. In Elijah’s words, “I knew dad was wrong so when I found out he said sorry to the guard I felt better. It was the right thing to do.”

Edric and I have our failings and our kids are well aware of our imperfections. But I praise God for softening Edric’s heart so he could show the kids and me an example of love and humility.

Our children hunger to see an authentic faith. They are allergic to hypocrisy. Although they don’t expect us to be without fault, they do hope that what we do is consistent with the things we teach them. So if Edric and I talk about loving God, we need to demonstrate this with our actions. If we fail to, we need to right our wrongs as best as we can so we don’t harden our children’s hearts towards following Christ.

A lot of times it is the manner in which we treat people who serve us, such as waiters, salespersons, janitors, guards, drivers, yayas and the like that tell our children what being a follower of Jesus is all about. Do we respect them? Do we regard them with dignity? Do we show them love? Or, do we act entitled, demanding, unappreciative, and basically like the world revolves around us?

Let’s model to our children what it means to love people the way God does. There are no degrees of importance to him when it comes to people. The same should be true for us so it can be true for our children.

“For though the LORD is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar.” Psalms‬ ‭138:6‬ ‭

When Children Doubt That Jesus is Real

Even if my kids are growing up in a home where they hear about God’s word and Edric and I try our best to role-model what it means to follow God, our children aren’t exempted from the spiritual battle for their hearts and minds.

Some weeks ago I sat down with my second son, Edan, because Elijah, my eldest, said, “Mom, Edan has doubts that Jesus is real.”

 For those who have followed Edan’s history on this blog, you might remember that Edan was about three years old when he favored the word NO and tended to be withdrawn, disinterested, and habitually “un-smiley.” Edric and I decided it was time for him to hear the gospel. When Edric shared God’s story of salvation through Jesus Christ, Edan readily acknowledged that he needed Jesus and earnestly desired to go to heaven someday. Soon after he made this decision, he changed, too.

   

 From Mr. No he transformed into a sweet, tender-hearted, and kind son who was thoughtful and friendly. This was the Holy Spirit’s work in his life and I marveled at how vastly different he was from his originally negative self.

When I discovered that he struggled with doubts about the personhood of Christ it surprised me but I accepted it as a reasonable response to spiritual matters. Elijah came to that point, too, and over the years I’ve encouraged him to keep digging into Scripture and examining the claims of the Bible. The last thing I want is for my kids to adopt a belief system that they do not understand. I don’t want Christianity to be cultural for them.

Statistics show that in America, most children who grow up in Christian homes (about 89%) abandon their faith by the time they reach college. Shocking, isn’t it? Why do good Christian parents fail to pass on their spiritual heritage?

Given the human-centered philosophies that pervade the present generation, the anti-God influences that saturate the media and the amoral celebrities and popular people whom our children look up to, we have to acknowledge that our kids are growing up in a spiritually-hostile world. Without a solid faith foundation and bible-based convictions, we can’t expect them to navigate through the hostility without becoming causalities.

I sat down with Edan to explain why faith in Jesus is reasonable. It took up a chunk of our homeschool morning, but as we lingered in our discussion as mother and son, I thought to myself, This is why I homeschool my kids…for moments like this one, when I have the privilege of influencing their hearts towards Christ and His plan and purpose for their lives.

Whenever my kids have faith questions, I welcome them. Questions are a good thing! During a recent retreat, a woman who was very skeptical about the Bible, made a joke about herself. She said something like this, “If I were to attend Bible studies, I may get kicked out for asking too many questions.” My response to her was, “It’s okay to have questions. God doesn’t want us to have blind faith in Him. He wants us to seek after Him.”

When I think about my children’s doubts and their desire for evidence as they grow in their understanding of God, who He is, who they are and His plan for their lives, I am glad they are asking their questions now, while they are at home, while Edric and I can lead them to the answers. Furthermore, they challenge us to review the basis of our own belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior of our own lives.

What can we know about Jesus Christ?

Jesus was a real person, a historical figure. There are many secular and non-secular evidences that confirm that Jesus Christ was an actual person. Here are some of the more notable ones:

In his Antiquities, the famous Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, refers to James as “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ.”

The Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 43a) confirms Jesus’ crucifixion on the eve of Passover and the accusations against Christ of practicing sorcery and encouraging Jewish apostasy.

The first-century Roman Tacitus, who is considered one of the more accurate historians of the ancient world, mentioned superstitious “Christians” (from Christus, which is Latin for Christ), who suffered under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. (Source: gotquestions.org)

Furthermore, why would Jesus’ supposed disciples die for him if his existence were a lie? Many of these martyrs suffered gruesome deaths!

“There is more evidence that Jesus of Nazareth certainly lived than for most famous figures of the ancient past” Paul L. Maier, The Russell H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History, Western Michigan University

Because Jesus was a real person, we must consider his claims, which were unlike any other made by religious teachers we know of today.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Mere Christianity)

Jesus claimed to be God and He said that He would die for the sins of man and be raised on the third day. It would be very easy to deny his deity if we can prove that He never rose again from the dead. However, no person who has tried to make a case against the resurrection has ever succeeded in doing so. In fact, skeptics who have attempted to disprove the resurrection (brilliant ones like the knighted Sir Lionel Luckhoo and investigative journalist, Lee Strobel) came to the conclusion that evidence supports the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So if Jesus claimed to be God and He rose again from the dead as proof, then His claim to be God was true. He is God.

“The scientific data point powerfully toward the existence of a Creator and that the historical evidence for the resurrection establishes convincingly that Jesus is divine.” Lee Strobel, Finding the Real Jesus: A Guide for Curious Christians and Skeptical Seekers.

 

Since Jesus is God, we can believe His other claims, such as, “I came that you might have life and might have it more abundantly,” and “I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” and “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,” We can stake our lives on His promises. We can live and die for them.

People who come to Jesus experience changed lives. I’m talking about people who are prideful, angry, lost in sin, and enslaved to destructive choices that hurt themselves and those around them. Just the other evening we were having dinner with a couple who nearly gave up on their marriage because the husband had an affair. Their marriage was in shambles but after coming to Jesus and surrendering their lives to Him, they decided to rebuild their marriage. Today they are completely different people from the persons Edric and I first met. There is peace, joy, and the desire to live a holy life. How do these miracles happen? The Bible tells us, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed, behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Their story is similar to countless others who have been set free by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, having witnessed and heard stories about people delivered from demonic oppression in the name of Jesus gives compelling evidence that Jesus is real to the spirit world, too!

When Edan and I ended our conversation, he was in tears and we embraced each other. My children hunger for truth. They need to have an anchor that keeps them grounded when doubts flood their minds. The doubts will come. When they do, will they cling to what they know about God? Will they entertain the lies they are fed by the evil one or will they be able to counter him with truth? As my father used to tell me, “the greatest battlefield is in the mind.” My children are engaged in the same battle. It is my job and Edric’s to prepare and equip them.

 Finally, my prayer is that they will all finish well. I can’t believe for them. They must determine for themselves whether Jesus is real, and whether they can entrust their lives to Him. But it starts with Edric and me establishing our own faith convictions and teaching our children what these are. We can’t assume that they will “get it” by osmosis. There has to be intentional effort on our part to model, encourage, teach, and help them answer their faith questions.

  “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:10 – 17

 

Does Money Make Us Happy?

When I was living at home with my parents, life was comfortable. My parents didn’t spoil my siblings and me, but they provided handsomely for us. It wasn’t until I got married and left home that it dawned upon me…there’s a ceiling to what Edric and I have, financially speaking, and it isn’t very high. 

We started off simply as a young couple and for the first time, I began to compare myself with others. Edric and I couldn’t afford luxuries like travel, buying new cars, eating out, or alot of personal shopping. 

We were both corporate people so the prospect of amassing wealth was a far off dream as we were in the beginning stages of our careers. Even though I appreciated how hard Edric worked, there were occasions when I paid attention to the disparity between what I grew up with and what I now had in marriage. And although I didn’t think I had a heart problem when it came to money, the reality was I believed that having more money would make me (us) happier.  

  

(Photo: exchangecalculator.com)

Thankfully, God used that stage in my life to expose my dependence upon money for security. Those early years of marriage were humbling as I watched my siblings and peers enjoy material things I desired for myself. Yet having less than I hoped to have was spiritually beneficial. 

Edric and I realized that we didn’t need a lot to be happy. In fact, those difficult years turned out to be some of the most romantic memories! The secret to joy was contentment. ‬‬When I stopped comparing my financial status to others and turned my attention to what I had, I saw the goodness of the Lord in my life — my wonderful, hard-working and loving husband, beautiful children, my health, the ability to work, a happy home, harmonious relationships, ministry, and most of all, God Himself. I accepted those years of spiritual pruning as protection against greed and materialism. 

Since God allotted for Edric and me to struggle financially, I believe He purposed it for our character growth. I honestly don’t think we were ready for the stewardship of financial wealth because our perspective on money was immature. We saw money as something to serve our own aims. If we had more we would have spent more on ourselves and attached our sense of self-worth and identity to money. 

Thankfully, God was always faithful. We never went hungry. God also assured me that He would provide for Edric and me. Provision didn’t always mean material wealth but I knew I didn’t have to worry about our future because God was our Father.

Psalm 34:10 tells us, “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.”‬‬

As God continued to increase our financial capacity, there came a point when we were preparing to build our home. This plan coincided with the efforts of our church to build a new training and worship center. One Sunday service, a guest speaker spoke on giving to God. Stirred by the message, Edric decided to write a check to support the building fund. Because of the amount he chose to give, he tearfully surrendered our dream to build our own home. Yet God assured him, build my house and I will build yours. Sure enough, about two years later, God provided above and beyond what Edric had written on that check and we were able to finish our house! 

Money is so often a test, whether in lack or abundance. And sometimes more so when it is abundant! The Bible tells us, “…Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭12:15‬ ‭NASB

Although money doesn’t make us more important or more special, it does have that sneaky way of making us feel like this is true. Whether a little or plenty, we all have the tendency to pursue it above our pursuit of God. Perhaps this is why the wise King Solomon wrote, “…Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.” ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭30:8-9‬ ‭NASB‬‬ 

Since money competes with God’s place in our hearts, the first cure is to fall more in love with God rather than money. Luke 16:13 tells us that we cannot serve both God and money because we will end up loving the one and hating the other. 

The second cure is to give. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 tells us, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:6-8‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Generosity is a good gauge for our heart’s attitude towards money. Author and speaker, Craig Groeschel, beautifully put it when he said that the pursuit of God over money will make us “strangely content” and “irrationally generous.” 

Randy Alcorn reminds us that “Too often we assume that God has increased our income to increase our standard of living, when his stated purpose is to increase our standard of giving. (Money, Possessions and Eternity

I am continually blessed by a couple I know who sets aside a giving fund from their monthly income. And whenever God prods them to give to a person or an organization, they willingly do so, having allocated the money beforehand for whatever or whomever God should convict them to be generous towards. 

We also need to remember that generosity is a condition of the heart not an ability reserved only for the wealthy. A poor and kind African man once told a missionary, “no one is too poor to give nor too rich to receive.” 

The third cure is remembering that God owns everything and we are His stewards. King David declared, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, 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. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name…”‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭29:11-13 NASB‬‬ 

When Edric didn’t understand stewardship, he went into near bankruptcy.  His mentality used to be, “I earned this. I worked hard for this. I can spend my money on what I want to.” (He has shared this in public.) It wasn’t until a loving friend corrected his mindset that he realized he doesn’t own anything. He is just a steward of the resources God has entrusted him with, namely his time, talents, and treasures. 

The fourth cure is to remain simple. Just because we can pay for an item or a service that is more expensive doesn’t mean we should. When I wrote an article about why I don’t buy designer clothing, bags, or shoes it wasn’t because they have no appeal to me. They are beautiful things indeed! But the price at which they come by is unconscionable when so many people have needs around us. 

Do I go shopping and try my best to look put together? Do I still look for quality goods? Of course! Yet I want to quote another insight from Randy Alcorn: “Abundance isn’t God’s provision for me to live in luxury. It’s his provision for me to help others live. God entrusts me with his money not to build my kingdom on earth, but to build his kingdom in heaven.”  

So does money make us happy? Yes and no. It doesn’t make us happy when we look to it as the source of our happiness. But it can make us happy when:

1. we love God more than money and find contentment in Him.

2. we cheerfully give when God leads us to.

3. we understand that we are merely stewards because God owns everything. 

4. we choose to be simple so we can spend less on ourselves and bless others more.

In short, money “makes us happy” when we don’t use it to serve our own purposes (purposes which will never fully satisfy), but do use it to serve God’s purposes, which will give us infinite joy!  

 

Discover True Life

In the book, Be the Best Mom You can Be, authors Marina and Gregory Slayton wrote, “The search for identity and meaning is central to the human experience, and the need to count for something and to matter does not disappear when we become moms. Moms have a critically important role as mentors of the next generation, but many of us struggle with feeling insecure in a world that values outward success and measures everything from looks to academics to material accomplishments. This is because the world gets caught up in tying identity to how well we ‘measure up.’ But if we as moms go down this path we will end up feeling insignificant and unsuccessful. Striving for self always ends up separating us not only from others but also from God.” (Pg.61)

Reading this paragraph the other day deeply convicted me. My spiritual kryptonite is worrying about what people think about me and wrestling with discontentment when I fall short of my own expectations. I trouble myself with thoughts like, I should be more talented, more capable, more accomplished, more beautiful, more physically-fit.

It certainly doesn’t help when I saturate my mind with images and ideas that permeate social media. Whether the channel is through Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, the effect is similar…Does my life measure up to what I see? Am I good enough? How can I compete? 

I suppose this is the insidious reality of being human. Everyone is susceptible to vanity. But let me speak for myself instead of attempting to drag mankind down with me to make my weakness look less ugly! What I’m trying to admit to is this: the temptation to benchmark myself against others and prove my worth is very undead in me.

Therefore, I have to go back to the cure…anchoring my security in Jesus Christ and aligning my purposes to His. I have to do this regularly — to revisit what God has done for me, how much He loves me, and what His will is for my life. Otherwise, I pursue the world’s definition of success and it’s offerings for fulfillment only to find that these aren’t the things that truly satisfy.

To resist the pull which distances me from God and His will, I make some practical choices. First, I meditate on God’s truth. Meditating on God’s truth involves regular Bible reading. I don’t know how many times I’ve read the Bible cover to cover and yet I still pick up valuable insights that I can apply.

Second, I choose to guard what I see and hear. The apostle Paul said, “All things are permissible but not all things are profitable.” It may be easy to access media and entertainment in a day and age when everything is a click or swipe away, so I need to have self-imposed filters. I make a conscious effort to avoid overexposure to sites, movies, or tv programs that diminish my desire to follow God’s will, direct my attention towards materialism, or stir up feelings of self-centeredness.

Third, I am selective about the close friendships I keep. Colin Powell was credited with saying, “It is better to be alone than in the wrong company. Tell me who your best friends are and I will tell you who you are. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl but if you associate with eagles you will learn how to soar to great heights.”  This isn’t about avoiding every person who doesn’t share the same values as I do. Ministering to people is different than best-friending them. However, when it comes to choosing the persons who surround me as confidants, counselors and advisors, I am picky, not snobby, but wisely selective. I want to learn from people who encourage me to seek God and correct me when I’m going off-course. I am not strong enough to withstand peer pressure (good or bad) which is why I need to be with people who will hold me to a standard of righteousness and holiness, both by word and by example. 

Fourth, I seek out ways to grow my hunger and thirst for God. Prayer is certainly a part of this. But this is also about “setting my mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2) Sometimes, the best way to do this is to physically remove myself from my day to day preoccupations in order to see the bigger, spiritual perspective. Who am I? Why am I here? What am I living for? There is so much untruth in the messages, visual stimuli, and experiences I encounter daily that it becomes necessary to take a pause in order to detox!

If you are like me and need to get away for a weekend to recalibrate your heart and mind, consider attending the True Life retreat at Mt. Makiling Recreation Center on July 31 to August 2, 2015. I’m looking forward to much needed spiritual feeding and renewal, and the opportunity to rediscover what TRUE LIFE, TRUE LIVING is all about! What about you? (Edric will also be speaking for one of the sessions so if you could, please say a prayer for him, too!) Check out True Life 2015 for more details.

 

How A Patient Husband Can Inspire His Wife

IMG_3268.JPGIt’s high time I wrote an entry about how wonderfully Spirit-filled my husband, Edric, has been as of late. Sometimes my posts about our marriage have something to do with his intensely spirited personality and my not too commendable reactions towards him. So I wanted to acknowledge the recent change I have seen in him, especially in the area of patience.

He would call it “being Spirit-filled.” This has been the phrase he has recited to himself repeatedly over the past week as he has met with unfavorable or challenging circumstances, sometimes in the form of yours truly!

But what does it mean to be Spirit-filled? Galatians explains it for us by affording a contrast between the flesh (our human nature) and the fruit of the Spirit.

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (‭Galatians‬ ‭5‬:‭19-25‬ NASB)

A person who is flesh-filled thinks, speaks, and acts in a manner that is carnal and selfish. In contrast, a Spirit-filled person exhibits Christlike character traits such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control. A true follower of Jesus ought to produce this kind of fruit.


Image courtesy of Pinterest

It’s not surprising that marriage is the perfect petri dish to test for evidence of the Spirit-filled life. Any honest married person would attest to the fact that a husband-and-wife-relationship can get fiery at times, which can bring out fleshy behaviors like agitation, impatience, anger, etc. Therefore I really appreciated the manner in which Edric exemplified control over his emotions this past week, particularly two Thursday mornings ago.

On that morning, I came down to the kitchen with feelings of frustration while our children and Edric chatted around the breakfast table. Normally, I enjoy mornings and I am the one greeting every child that comes bounding down the stairs. But that day, I opened my drawer and pulled out two halves of one brassiere. Yes. My bra looked like it had been torn in two by an animal.

I suspected that someone stuck it in the washing machine against my orders. So I took the two ridiculous looking halves and plopped them on the kitchen counter, calling out the name of the person responsible for this destruction. It was our sincere but sincerely wrong househelp who will remain unnamed.

In the meantime, Edric and the kids were trying to get my attention while laughing and playfully interacting around the breakfast table. Edric chirpily addressed me with a good morning but I was in the middle of correcting the mistake made by our househelp, reminding her that my under garments should be hand-washed only. She offered an apology which I really appreciated but there was no way to repair my damaged bra so I chucked the two halves into the trash and joined Edric and the kids for breakfast.

This is when Edric took it upon himself to enlighten me about the affairs of the morning, “I ordered pandesal because all we had to eat for breakfast was watered down oatmeal.” He offered this information very pleasantly, smiling at me. My disposition changed. Edric took the initiative to order pandesal instead of griping about the awful breakfast?! It was weird but oh so nice!

He aded that his bible reading for the day was about being filled with the Holy Spirit. Not so coincidentally, our water heater broke down that morning, too. Uh oh! So he stood in the shower with cold water running down his back as he chanted and breathed in deeply, “Be filled with the Spirit!” He was still smiling at me!

I began to laugh because Edric’s default mode is to at least make some sort of constructive comment about how to run the home better when things like this happen. First there was the watered-down oatmeal, and then the cold shower. And still, his countenance remained pleasant and his temper was even and controlled. I was very impressed.

He went off to the work and instructed the driver to inform me that he had to be picked up from the office by 11:30 am to be at ABS-CBN for the taping of his show at 12 noon. For some reason I absent-mindedly thought he meant that he needed the driver by 12 noon. Edric didn’t get picked up until 12:15 due to traffic. He called me a little bit upset (but not angry) when the driver was late. This was a problem because he had 7 shows to tape that afternoon with VIPs. 7 shows!

Arriving at the studio at the time he committed to was imperative. Because of me, he didn’t make it to the studio at the hour he told his producer he would. Still, he texted me, “I am sorry for not being filled with the Spirit. Will you forgive me? I love you.” (He said this because he felt like the way he spoke to me on the phone was agitated.)

Wow! Who was this amazing man that exhibited such patience with me?! I told Edric how blessed I was at his responses that day. And his attractive factor was bumped up several notches higher in my estimation!

 I know my role as a wife shouldn’t be contingent on the way Edric treats me as my husband. However, there’s a divine principle in effect when he is a Spirit-filled husband. His love toward me, manifested in the grace and kindness he applies when I make mistakes or fall short in areas where I should not, inspires that feeling of respect towards him that he also looks to receive from me as a wife.

In Ephesians 6, this principle is revealed. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless…Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭25-27, 33‬ NASB)

The manner in which Edric embraces his role as Christ to the church (me), where he loves me the way Christ does, encourages me and motivates me towards holiness. In this particular instance, his demonstration of this love was the act of patience and self-control.

It’s really a simple formula for couples although the challenges are undeniably present. Afterall, who likes to respond with happiness to watered-down oatmeal, a cold shower, and being made late to 7 tapings for a TV show?

It’s not easy and it takes being Spirit-filled versus flesh-filled. But the blessing is this…When a husband is the Spirit-filled leader of a marriage and home, God uses his example and headship to till the “soil” and make it fertile for the spiritual growth of the entire family. And this is the point I want to highlight. Yes, I can choose to be a submissive and respectful wife by focusing on the Lord and not Edric’s role as a husband, but how much more delightful and joyous it is to fulfill my role in the context of a marriage where my husband chooses to be the husband God calls him to be.

Because Edric’s attitude and actions conjured up feelings of romance too, I tried my best to serve him with better breakfast meals (still healthy). Tadah!

We’ve Never Gone Hungry

God continues to provide for us through the many seasons of our lives. At the beginning of this year, our reserves were running low because we finished building our home September 2014 and we traveled to the U.S., staying there for a month in December. (There’s no way to make a trip cheap when you have five kids!)

During the first quarter of 2015, we also had some pretty hefty bills to pay and taxes for Edric’s independent speaking contracts to settle. Plus there were some unprecedented doodads that were piled on to the money we had to part with. The stress mounted for Edric, yet God calmed him down with the assurance that He will always take care of us.

When you marry a man who loves God and chooses to live righteously, a great amount of fear is removed from you as a wife. You know that God will provide through your husband. It may not mean you have loads of money all the time, but you can be confident that God will bless the work of his hands and you won’t go hungry. And should you go hungry, God won’t abandon you. He promises this.

I am always encouraged by the passage in Psalm 34:10 which reads, “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing.”

Amazingly, when Edric surrendered our finances once again to the Lord, choosing NOT to panic or be worried, God gave us a wonderful bonus to whisper that he is mindful of us. Galderma renewed our contract as Cetaphil ambassadors. Last year we were featured on billboards and in stores, but this year Galderma expanded their marketing efforts to television. It was a pleasant surprise and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect!

Our family thoroughly enjoyed participating in Cetaphil Philippines’ Campaign. Cetaphil is a brand we actually use and need. As a matter of principle, we prefer to take on projects that we can be authentic about. Furthermore, our family has a range of skin care needs – from oily, dry, sunburn-prone, aging to eczema. It’s great to represent a brand that meets these needs effectively.

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For example, we have all benefited from Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Wash, which never dries out our skin. Even my husband, Edric, who doesn’t like to fuss about his skin is a believer in this cleanser. When we were taping the commercial, one of the lines he gave had to do with Cetaphil’s fragrance free characteristic. It was truthful of him to act out the part where he said, “fragrance free!” with a smile because this is sooo him! His very intelligent nose (he can smell cockroaches) dislikes strong smelling soaps, lotions, or perfumes.

 

The other day while spraying myself with perfume, Edan remarked, “Does Dad know you do that?!” The tone of his questioning insinuated that this wasn’t something Edric would like. (I wasn’t going to see Edric for a good number of hours so the scent would have mellowed by the time we were together!)

My own skin care routine is very simple but thankfully, Cetaphil has a product for every step of my routine. After washing my face at night, I use Cetaphil’s Moisturizing Cream.

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Since my skin reacts to chemicals and products, this moisturizer calms it down at night and the next day it feels renewed. Due to my mom’s Caucasian genetics, my skin is on the “thin” side so this moisturizer makes it suppler. To protect my skin during the day I use Cetaphil’s Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15.

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During days when my skin is oilier than usual, I will wash with Cetaphil’s Dermacontrol Wash and use Dermacontrol Moisturizer, which also has sunblock in it. There are periods when my face is prone to breakouts so the Dermacontrol line rescues it.


009_CET_Foam_Wash_Bottle1 010_CET_OilControlMoisturizer_Bottle1If I’m at the beach, I need stronger protection, so I pile on Cetaphil’s UVA/UVB SPF 50+. It keeps me from getting burnt since I’m very prone to sun damage (due to, well, once again, being half-caucasian.)

As for my children, especially my youngest daughter, Catalina, Restoraderm has been wonderful. She has very dry skin on her legs and stomach. Restoraderm, which is also prescribed by our pediatrician for our kids’ Eczema, keeps the patchy, scaly spots from spreading to the rest of her body. It smoothens out her skin, too. Titus tends to have pretty bad Eczema when his outbreaks happen. So there are occasions when I will have to use a hydrocortisone cream and then Restoraderm on top. Of course, I’m also careful about what my kids eat which is why we avoid food with MSG, preservatives, and artificial ingredients as much as possible.

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Beyond being talents for Cetaphil’s commercial and the fact that their products do work for our family, the greater blessing for me was experiencing God’s provision. As our Heavenly Father, he knows what we need and when we need it. If He deems it for our good to open His storehouse, he will do so. He delights to take care of us. And if he should allow us to be in uncomfortable financial situations so we learn to trust him and work on our character, then we can still hold on to the truth about His person – He will never leave us or forsake us.

I elected to use the title, “We’ve Never Gone Hungry” in order to communicate a spiritual truth. The Cetaphil commercial was an amazing earthly blessing with positive financial implications, however, when we have Jesus, He satisfies something much greater than our physical needs. In John 6:35, he tells us, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me WILL NOT hunger, and he who believes in Me WILL NEVER thirst.”

I pray that the joy people see in our faces as portrayed on television will highlight something beyond a good product or grand. I pray it will reveal the joy that is in our family because of Jesus! Here’s a behind the scenes look at how much fun we had…