The 6th Milkshake Run

 Family time is always important. We always look forward to weekends and holidays because it is an opportunity to spend time with family and loved ones, build new memories, and lasting relationships. I think you will all agree when I say that there is no amount of money and success that can take the place of time spent with family.
Mommy Mundo always promotes a healthy family life and finds different avenues to create unique activities and build lasting experiences with families. With this in mind, Mommy Mundo decided to bring back the Mommy Milkshake Run, now on it’s 6th year, this family fun run was first organized in 2007, and lasted uptil 2011. 

This year, they are bringing it back to complement their active parenting advocacy and bring the community together to celebrate active play and bonding. Come join the fun run on Sunday, March 6, 2016, as families bond together with other families to celebrate togetherness and the outdoors.

 The 6th Mommy Milkshake Run will be a 3km and 5km run along the BGC area. This fun run is a relatively relaxed run where every member of the family can join! Including, but not limited to, expectant moms, moms & dads (with or without slings and strollers), toddlers & kids. The run will have no time limit.
This will be a family friendly event with Portable Toilets, a Breastfeeding station and lounge for the nursing mom, a diaper changing area for parents with babies and toddlers, and ample water stations along the route to provide hydration for all participants. First Aid stations and Medics will be available for any untoward incidents

You won’t need to carry your little one for the entire race, as you can bring a stroller for them. However, they will not allow the use of bikes, skateboards, hover boards, and roller skates during the run. Pets are also not allowed.

Mommy Mundo will not be liable for any loss, we will have baggage claim area for all your belongings.

After the run, everyone will receive a certificate of participation, as well as a bag of goodies from the sponsors. Stay longer to enjoy a family fair with games, music, raffle prizes, food carts, special awarding ceremony, and an inflatable section for all the kids.

Here are a few things to remember from Mommy Mundo:

1. Registration period is from January 25 to February 14. We will accept payments until
February 15. We will follow the No payment, No run policy, so please be prompt. Registration is required for every participant, including children.

2. On February 13 and 14, you can register and pay at Planet Sports, BGC, from 12 noon to 8pm.

3. Registration Fee are as follows:
Children ages 2-12 years old = P300
*Children below 2 years of age can enter for free, but has to be registered. Adults
3k = P500
5k = P650

4. You can claim your Race Kits from February 22 to March 4 at the Creative Juice office in 2F Fun Ranch, Frontera Verde, Ortigas Ave. Pasig City. Other pick up sites will be announced in our social media pages.

5. Race kits include The 6th Mommy Milkshake Run Singlet, Map of the venue, and the 3k/5k route.

6. On Race day, it is important to know that registration will start at 5:30am, location of meet up, to be determined. Race bibs will be handed to you upon registration. For our pregnant participants, please provide a medical certificate from your doctor/OB Gyne, allowing you to join this race.

7. Opening Program starts at 6:00am, where we will stretch and warm up our bodies before the run.

8.Race starts at 6:30 am for the 5 km run and 6:40 am for the 3 km run.
For more details, please visit www.mommymundo.com/milkshakerun2016
The 2016 Mommy Milkshake Run is supported by Curves, Gatorade, Hi-Precision Diagnostics, and Growers.

Media Sponsor: The Fort City, Working Mom, and The Bull Runner

Venue Sponsor: Bonifacio Global City Estate
Medical Sponsor: Ambucore

For more information, please contact:
Monica Santiago | Creative Juice Communications Landline: (02) 5707827
Mobile: (0998) 5399216
Email: monica@creativejuiceph.com

Highlights of 2015

 

Before January gets really busy, I would like to thank the Lord for the year that was and thank you, my readers, for taking the time to visit this blog. Your comments, messages, and prayers have been a blessing to me, and a motivation to keep writing whenever I get lazy or tired. Many of you have come up to me in person, too, to take hold of my arm and whisper that this site has been a part of your life, and you can’t imagine how your words have brought me joy.

I slowed down a little bit this year with writing, primarily because it felt like our family lived two years in one this 2015. This was probably the most hectic year I’ve ever survived. Writing kind of took a backseat at times to give way to motherhood and wife duties, homeschooling, ministry, work, speaking, traveling, or much needed rest. But this site is still important to me and I haven’t lost the desire or drive to keep using this site as a means to reach out to people and talk about what God is doing in my life, marriage and parenting. This is what keeps me pressing on.

Indeed, He did much in 2015. I would even call it the best year I have ever lived. God is amazing in this way. Every year that I walk with Him, every year that I give to Him turns into the best year. This doesn’t mean that my family and I are free from problems or crises, but it does mean that His grace and faithfulness abound.

These were my personal highlights of 2015 and I hope that going through these will remind you that God is a loving Father who knows the needs of his children, the desires of their hearts, the purposes He has called them to, the mistakes they make, and the correcting that is painful but necessary along the way.

Our family capped off 2014 and welcomed 2015 with a trip to the U.S., where we survived a month without household help, the cold, and learned to serve each other through sleepless nights and endless chores. We came back to Manila in the second week of January recharged and ready to jump into 2015.

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One of my first challenges was running in a 21K, which I thought was going to be a killer but Edric and I got through it by God’s grace! (I actually finished ahead of him which was another surprise but I couldn’t have run it without him so he helped me “beat” him.)

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Soon after we had our family commercial for Cetaphil which was an unexpected blessing. Catalina acted up a couple of times which is why she wasn’t in the final video edit but they included her in the print materials. Edan actually had a fever that started the day of the shoot (look at the photo below and his eyes), but he was a real trooper and the team behind the production was very easy to work with. It’s been a privilege to be brand ambassadors for a product line we really believe in and use as a family.

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Shortly after, Meg Magazine featured my testimony. They asked me to talk about how God brought healing to my life.

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Our homeschooling had its highlights, too. Edan discovered an interest in botany. He grew his carnivorous plants for a season. Unfortunately they eventually died which was a lowlight but he continues to be interested in animals and plants. Looks like we will be buying more carnivorous plants again this year!

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Elijah graduated from elementary and moved on to high school! This opened a new chapter in our homeschooling, especially for me! More grace, strength, and wisdom needed from the Lord!

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Titus took his first achievement test and did well! He also excellent at math this year which I didn’t even know was a strong point for him. But praise God. He knows that I’m not the best math teacher. I also discovered that Titus has a God-given musical talent. He started harmonising at the age of 6 and taught himself to do this!

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My fourth child, Tiana, started to read which was a big milestone!

 

 Catalina, my youngest, became a real a chatterbug. She grew in her ability to express herself and comprehend, and has showed an inclination to learn and be part of our homeschooling. She got exiled many times because she was disruptive but I hope to include her as often as possible this year.

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One of the kids’ homeschool field trips was to Costales where they learned about organic farming. God saved Ethan (my nephew on the right) from drowning, too! He got sucked down a drain and it’s a miracle that he popped out the other end and my brother was able to pull him out!

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Over the summer the boys attended Coach Siot’s basketball camp, which they will be joining again at the end of this month. They learned to push themselves physically.

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They also enrolled in Ninja Academy’s Parkour course, which has been incredibly fun for them. What boy doesn’t want to learn to scale walls, jump over bars, free fall off a ledge, and swing from ropes?

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Tiana finally made it through her ballet classes without crying through them. She turned out to be quite a graceful dancer (most probably from Edric’s side of the family).

The boys improved immensely in their violin playing.

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We also got to fix our homeschool room which made a big difference in our kids’ daily learning.

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God opened up opportunities to be featured on television to talk about homeschooling. The first was on CNN’s Mommy Hacks.

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I was also interviewed about homeschooling for Mommy Mundo’s new show which should be airing soon!

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Throughout the year, the kids spoke with us during retreats, business speaking engagements, and other ministry activities. This was a great way for them to use their communication skills to bless people.

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Our homeschool Coop gave our kids the opportunity to develop some great friendships. I also enjoyed connecting with other homeschool moms and team teaching with them. By the end of the year, when we celebrated our Christmas party, we were nearly 100 people! We had to cater the party!

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Our coop covered culinary arts, art history and theory, speech, ethics, apologetics, science, social studies, history, and it culminated with a Kid’s Praise musical thanks to the talented moms who contributed their expertise for directing, teaching dance, singing, and designing the set. The kids performed for an audience of underprivileged children at Revelation Church in Sta. Mesa.

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TMA Homeschool did some much needed expanding this year. We did several roadshows to connect with homeschoolers around the Philippines…

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TMA Homeschool also moved into its new office to help serve parents better, and Learning Plus, our homeschool bookstore, opened to provide curriculum and homeschool-related materials to parents. Our guests from the U.S., Mike Donnelly of Homeschool Legal Defense Association, and Davis and Rachel Carman of Apologia Press graced the ribbon cutting.

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The portal, Homeschooling Solutions, became available for families who can’t come to the Learning Plus Bookstore because they live farther away or out of the country. Materials are delivered within 48 hours. A lot of non-TMA Homeschool families used this site for their homeschooling needs.

We had two big homeschool conferences this year. Set Them Up for Success and Ready for the World, where we partnered with Manila Workshops ,  The Learning Basket and HAPI. These events brought the homeschool community together.

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On the Family Ministry front, God provided an amazing team to mount three very special events —  The Before and After I D seminar for engaged and newly married couples, Family and Finance, and Counterflow. We intend to make these events a yearly thing for young couples and families who want to know more about biblical marriage, finance, and parenting.

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Here’s a super big one which was made possible only by God’s amazing grace! My book, When A Good God Allows Rape, got published and was launched at the Manila International Book Fair by OMF Lit Publishing. It’s now available in bookstores around the country like National Bookstore, Pages, OMF Lit, and as a online ebook via Amazon, buqo, and others.

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Writing the book opened doors for me to talk more about the Lord. On CNN Philippines’ Real Talk the hosts devoted the entire 45 minutes to asking me questions about my book and my faith in Christ! I was thrilled! My dream for this book is that it will inspire people to follow Jesus. May He get all the glory!

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We had some favourite family photoshoots over the year. The first was done by Mayad Studios, who ventured into lifestyle photography with their Mayad Beginnings. They captured our family so naturally. 

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Another one was done by Alex Adiaz, which we also appreciated very much. He shot this one in our backyard.

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Another super highlight was Elijah getting baptized. 

 Yet another personal favourite of 2015 was how God worked in our Thursday couples’ group. We grew closer to the Lord and to one another, and most of us got to attend The Executive Couple’s Retreat in Baguio Country Club, where we learned and re-learned marriage principles. Some of us also served by facilitating other couples’ groups.

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As a group, we put together a surprise wedding for the Avelinos. This really knit our hearts together in a special way.

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Our bigger discipleship group family grew, too! Unfortunately we didn’t get to see everyone as often as we wanted to because we moved far from the area where we used to meet every week. But, we got together for “trimester” fellowships. These people are our extended spiritual family for life and we love them dearly!

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The year had some sad turns. Steve, who was like family, died tragically a day before he turned 30. My grandfather, angkong to us, passed away at 96. Both knew the Lord so we shall see them again, but it was difficult to lose both of them.

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We didn’t do too well in the pet department. We lost three of our Siamese cats – one committed suicide off the top of our roof, and two got run over by crazy drivers. Our Myna bird fell over in its cage and expired, and several of our fish were found floating lifeless in their tank. We also had to give away two dogs to more deserving and caring owners. (They are still alive and much happier now.) We hope to have less tragedies with our animals in 2016.

  
Our family also lost a very loyal and hard working household help who went to work abroad. We gave her our full blessing and support but she continues to be missed.

A definite high was celebrating the wedding of Edric’s sister, Danie to Vince Valdepenas. 

(null)(null)I started sewing dresses this year. I sewed the dress I wore for the wedding and made 6 yards of mistakes in the process! Experience is the best teacher! Thankfully, the material was only P80/yard. Ssh.

Another endorsement fell into our laps when we were asked to do an online commercial for Vernel Fabric Softener as a family. We love these family endorsements! We are so thankful! It’s an undeserved bonus from God whenever we are asked to do these things.

 (null)The year ended with a number of parties and engagements (my last count was about 20) but my favourite part was being with family (Edric’s side and my side). The Mendozas were almost complete for Christmas this year. The Tan-Chis most definitely were which was extra special for all of us.

We left a spot for Edric’s sister, Nicky, who was terribly missed.

My sister, Carolyn and her husband, Joel, were MIA in this photo because she gave birth over the holidays. But we were together for opening presents on December 26th.

 

 

I am a pretty simple gal. Edric and I always have a lot going on, but my best memories of the year were the quiet ones… being at home, enjoying our house (we finally completed a year in it), exploring the outdoors as a family, getting to know our kids better and growing closer to one another, playing board games, curling up on the couch for some me-time, watching movies, going on dates with Edric, eating around our kitchen table…These are the moments that made up the best of 2015 for me.

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 When I take stock of this year, I am thoroughly amazed at God’s hand in everything. There’s no success mentioned here that can be attributed to Edric or myself. Everything that happened that was good was due to God’s grace. Everything that happened that was unfortunate was part of his grand plan. 

I’m posting this in the middle of our fasting week as a church, while I am praying for God’s direction and leading for 2016. A few days ago I began by asking Him, “Lord what is your will for me this year?” I expected answers like, “Say yes to this speaking engagement or say no to this one,” or, “Pursue this venture,” or, “Write another book,” or, “Do this for your homeschooling,” etc. Instead, this was the answer I received:

“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.” John 14:21

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done fore. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 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 15:7-11

We all want to experience a life of joy. I certainly do. And sometimes I mistakenly think that what I do with my abilities will determine how great a year I will have. But God simplified it for me when he said, “Love Me. Abide in My Love. Obey My commandments.” This is the path to a life of joy, a year of joy!

So my new year’s resolution is not a long list of things I would like to do or avoid. Instead it is dedicating 2016 to loving God, and abiding in His love by obeying His commands. How does God want you to live your 2016?

 

 

 

Despedida de Soltera

The despedida de soltera is a beautiful tradition. It seems to have evolved into our version of a rehearsal dinner, although I personally feel that it is much more meaningful. Beyond the symbolism of a woman’s farewell to the single life, it is an act to show that the parents of the bride approve of the groom — that the couple have their blessing. 

Having grown up in a family where my parents counseled many couples before and after their marriages, I knew firsthand the importance of receiving the blessing of your parents before getting married. Most of the relationships who ended up in bad shape were those who didn’t seek the approval of their parents for their marriage. This shouldn’t surprise us because the Bible says, “HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.” Ephesians‬ ‭6:2-3‬ ‭

The decision to get married involves aspects beyond saying yes to the person you love most in this life. It’s a union that fuses families, cultures, traditions, and beliefs. Every soon-to-be or want-to-be-married person needs to consider the gravity of this choice. After the high of a wedding ceremony and the interlude of the honeymoon stage, reality is the ever after. Two worlds collided. Two histories. Two people with values, character traits, and perspectives that were predominantly shaped by the homes they came from. Will they complement or frustrate each other? 

When Edric and I were dating, I spent a lot of meaningful time with his family and he did the same with mine. We learned about each other’s backgrounds and sought to honor each other’s parents. Thankfully, we grew up in similar contexts, too. We had the same answers to questions such as, What is the foundation of marriage, What roles should a husband and wife fulfill, How will we raise our children, What will our spending habits be like, and so on. This minimized the conflicts we had as a couple. 

The majority of our issues at the beginning of our marriage revolved around personality differences and selfishness, but I thank God they were not fundamental problems, namely spiritual incompatibilities. We both came from families who loved and honored God, and sought to obey him. The added bonus is that today, we enjoy the company of each other’s families. I praise God that our families continue to represent and encourage the values and important traditions that we treasure ourselves. It’s all by God’s grace that this is so.

As I witnessed my sister-in-law’s Despedida de Soltera two weeks ago, the intimate affair reminded me that the family you marry into can be a blessing or a curse. There was an atmosphere of joy and harmony during the gathering between two families that night. I especially liked what Vince’s parents said about my sister-in-law, Danie…that they already loved her and treated her like a daughter. How affirming it must be for a future daughter in law to hear that. And now she belongs to a family that has wholeheartedly embraced her for who she is. What a blessing!

Photos of the Despedida de Soltera, styled by my creative friend, Maja, of Passion Cooks Catering (photos courtesy of Starfish Media):

   

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

        
 

For those of us who are already married and failed to start off our marriages by honoring our parents or in-laws, let us not  lose heart. God is a redeemer. He is an expert at fixing our mistakes. He is also a restorer. He can heal what is broken in our relationships with our parents or in-laws. The key is humility — humility before Him and others — prayer for reconciliation, and seeking after Him.

May these passages minister to you:

“You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”1 Peter‬ ‭5:5-7‬ ‭

“FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.” ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭

Validating Your Husband’s Leadership

I have been too exhausted in the past two weeks to write anything substantial. First came the Philippine Homeschool Conference and then Counterflow 2015 which were book ends to a number of social events and other commitments that kept me away from my kids and disrupted my day job — homeschooling. 

 Ready for the World – Philippine Homeschool Conference 

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However, I am happy to announce that this week, I can return to a semblance of normal. Things should taper off even more by mid-November. I can’t wait…the perfect way to end the year…slowing down.

During the Counterflow parenting event yesterday, I was most inspired by plenary speaker, Cassie Carsten. He spoke with conviction, passion, insight, a large amount of humor. Although he directed his talk to the fathers in the audience, there were principles for everyone to extract.

Personally, I was convicted by the concept of the first follower. In a marriage, a husband is called to lead, to initiate. But his leadership must be validated by his first follower, also known as his wife. Children pay close attention to the dynamic between dad and mom. They watch, Cassie pointed out, the EYES of mom. Do her eyes acknowledge and affirm what dad is saying? Or does she roll her eyes in irritation or glare in defiance when he speaks?

I latched on to this insight when Cassie went on to say that followers watch the response of the first follower more than the initiator. In other words, wives can undermine the leadership of a husband when they communicate to their children, even in the most subtle of gestures, that they don’t think he can lead. Furthermore, the second follower (oldest child) is supremely important to setting the pace for the subsequent followers (succeeding siblings).

 Come to think of it, I have noticed this phenomenon with my own children. If I wholeheartedly agree with Edric’s plans or opinions on a matter, my kids tend to do the same. If I question him, even with a look that says, “Seriously? That’s your idea?”, then my children get infected by my coup-like spirit.

It is my wholehearted support of Edric’s leadership that matters most among all the followers in our home. Just a few days ago, Edric talked to me about this. He asked, “Why have you been so contradictory lately?” 

My version of this was different. Perhaps I had been more “opinionated” but not necessarily contradictory. However, he named several occasions when I flat out disagreed with his ideas with a tone that was condescending. And it bothered him even more when I challenged him by commenting, “So do you want a wife that is a yes-woman? Someone who always agrees with everything you say and do? I am not that kind of woman.” 

Truthfully, this statement came out of a heart that was boiling with pride, because the correction about being contradictory wasn’t about me not being able to present my perspective or opinions. But this was the angle I pursued to win this verbal jousting so that I wouldn’t be cornered about the real issue — disrespect. Annoyed, Edric claimed that I was missing the point and going all lawyer on him, which is his way of saying I was about to dissect his every word and look for holes in his hypothesis. 

I may not have intended to be contradictory but I had been on edge, emotionally, for the past two weeks. Multiple speaking engagements triggered my nervous system and I found it difficult to relax. So I mouthed out all kinds of things without filtering them as carefully as I should have. At the end of the day, however, it was simply a matter of disrespect for Edric. He didn’t appreciate my tone of voice or reflex responses that seemed critical towards him. 

Thankfully, we settled this conflict with sincere apologies, but God had a more personal message for me. 
It came delivered by Cassie Carstens, when he highlighted how important the eyes of a wife are — the way she looks upon her husband and acknowledges him. 

As I sat in the audience yesterday, listening to him speak, the rebuke that convicted me was this: Joy, you need to improve in the area of respecting Edric. You may think you are submissive, good, and respectful as a wife but deep inside you have not fully embraced your role to validate Edric’s leadership. You still like to prove that you are right, wiser and better which stems from conceit, insecurity and self-centeredness.

 Aaaaaahhhh. It’s true! It’s true! As God’s Word declares, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark‬ ‭7:21-23‬ ‭
I also spoke at Counterflow yesterday on motherhood. Furthermore the entire event was for parents. But God intended for me to reflect on my marriage. Edric and I, by His grace alone, have a wonderful relationship. However there are hidden crevices in my heart where character flaws reside and these emerge when Edric and I have conflicts. Sometimes these flaws actually start the conflicts. So I was grateful for yesterday, to uncover the parts in me that God must still redeem. 
There is always room to grow and improve as an individual. Sometimes it takes a guest speaker from South Africa to be God’s messenger of truth to reveal these areas of improvement. But the point is to keep seeking and learning about what it means to be a better spouse or a better parent. 

For those who missed Cassie’s talks at Counterflow yesterday, he will have a series of events Tuesday to Thursday. He is one of the best speakers I have ever listened to and I don’t want to miss this opportunity to invite anyone (especially dads) who can carve out time to hear him speak. You will be changed…for the better! 



 
Good news! CCF will be offering the workshops at a hugely discounted price of just P50!!! (For three days!)

Just Married…Again

In a day and age where people spend a ridiculous amount of money to pay for the wedding “of their dreams,” I’m dedicating this post to all the singles and engaged couples out there who are planning their future weddings. Please, please, please, make your wedding about the marriage you are going to have and not about having a picture-perfect ceremony and reception. You don’t need to spend a lot to make your wedding meaningful and special.

Today many couples borrow money in order to afford a glamorous wedding. How sad it is that weddings have become a business and a production. I’m not trying to make people feel guilty. I have good friends in the wedding industry and I love them dearly. My appeal is to consider the why, the motivation behind the costliness of a wedding. 

Last night I attended a beautiful event, a DIY occasion put together by family and friends for a couple who decided to have a ceremonial wedding on their 15 year anniversary. Although they were married civilly, the husband, Blue, decided it was time to gift his wife, Emily, with a we’re-getting-married-today kind of present on their anniversary. For one month, family and friends conspired and connived to orchestrate and execute the details of this secret wedding. Emily didn’t know anything.

Blue broke the news to her yesterday morning so she had half a day to prepare herself. In the meantime a number of us were at the venue setting up for the beach themed wedding amidst the blustering winds of a super typhoon. I ended up in bare feet on the muddy grass, which brought me back to childhood memories of dirty toenails from outdoor adventures without my shoes on. 

   

  

 For a while it was the gusty winds we had to contend with but then the rained poured relentlessly at 3:30 PM, just an hour before Emily was about to arrive! We had to move the ceremony indoors at the last minute. But thanks to my favorite caterer, Passion Cooks, the reception area already looked amazing!

Everyone was in good spirits. There were no cranky or hustling organizers.  People volunteered to lift flower arrangements, backdrops, fabric, lanterns, candle sticks, candle holders, signs, and tables into the reception venue. Instantaneously an aisle appeared lined with 1 Corinthians 13 verses on love, softened with rose petals leading to the beach-themed stage where vows would be spoken. 

   

 We had some guy friends running about in the rain finding creative ways to hang paper lanterns, too. 

   

  

 Most of the guests were bible study friends and old classmates. With just sixty people, the evening affair was personal and intimate. There were only three sets of ninongs and ninangs, not chosen for their wealth or social status but hand-picked because of the spiritual relationship they had with Blue and Emily. Edric and I were one of them (what an honor for us). Blue and Emily’s children served as the rest of the entourage.

    

 I loved the simplicity of this wedding. How refreshing from the elaborate and huge ones I have attended in recent years.  More importantly, God was glorified as the couple honored their parents and declared their vows to one another. Several friends also shared how they have been blessed by the marriage of Blue and Emily. Blue and Emily came from a very dark place in their relationship when they were a younger couple but they chose to seek after God, who healed what was broken and continues to redeem them for His glorious purposes.
   
 As I sat at our table listening to several versions of friend’s stories about Blue and Emily, there was no doubting that their marriage is being used mightily today to encourage and strengthen other couples to make God the center of their relationships.

A homemade sign on the backdrop read, “Just married…again.”

   

  

(Wood cross by The Carpenter)

 It’s one thing to get married for the first time and another thing to choose to marry the same person all over again. Somehow saying “I do” after you have lived through the difficult realities of marriage is sweeter, more romantic, and a more powerful testament of authentic love.  Love is a choice to say I do everyday and forever no matter what. This occasion celebrated the history of a marriage saved by the grace of God, for the glory of God!  

When a wedding is planned to exalt God as the motivation, God becomes the sovereign organizer and magnanimous provider of an event that is simply divine! This was one of my favorite weddings of all time!

On a thread among friends Emily wrote, “Good morning ladies! My heart is full. Thank you all for helping out during the past weeks to put together our wedding. As Blue shared with me last night what went on behind the scenes, tears started coming. The wedding last night was more than me and Blue. It was also all about you, about us. How you guys really really wanted to make this special, so you just gave and gave. I know you have a separate chatroom (I’m a bit jealous that I am not part of it, he he). You sacrificed your time, efforts, money, peace.. Sanity? Lol! Even taking time away from your family. I know you were happy to do it. My brother in law told Blue later on that he just couldn’t believe his eyes. Even though everyone was dressed and had makeup on, you guys were doing something. Carrying, moving, running, placing. He said “Hanep mga kaibigan nyo Blue. Lahat sila, lahat.” I did not see all this, but God did and I am sure He was smiling. I know that you all care for me. 2Cor 9:8 says “God grants us blessings so we have an abundance for every good deed.” God has blessed you in each unique way and you shared a part of that with us last night. And everyone saw that. People saw something amazing, something wonderful… It all pointed to Jesus. We got a lot of texts… Those who wanted to talk because they had problems, those who said they want to grow and deepen their relationship with Christ, those who saw that in Christ there is a family that transcends this world and comes together when we need each other the most. I want all the details when we meet Thank you to you all. We love you. We love you!”

And that, my friends, is what a REAL wedding should be about…exalting Jesus Christ!

“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 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. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:22-32‬ ‭

Congratulations Blue and Emily and the team of family and friends who lovingly and sacrificially came together with one heart to make this event a success!  
  

  

  

    
And thank you to Passion Cooks for your creative styling and delicious food! 

Outdoor area by family and friends…

  

  

   

  

   
    
    
    
    

      
Indoor reception area by Passion Cooks…    
    
    
   

   

  
    
 Our couple’s bible study group…  

  
Cake by Andi Benitez…

  
 

The “organizers” with Emily…

  

Counterflow Conference 2015: Return of the Superdad, the Rise of the Supermom and Raising Superkids

What does it take to be a Superdad or a Supermom? Discover the principles of being the Superparent God has called you to be, to parent the Superkids He has entrusted to you!

Come to Counterflow 2015 on Saturday, October 24 — the biggest parenting conference in the Philippines that brings together amazing speakers and relevant workshops for a day of “parent-schooling” at CCF, Tiendesitas.

No one goes to school to learn to be a parent. Unfortunately, many of us tackle the challenges of our role as the issues surface, and some of the issues feel tidal in nature. Alot of times we attempt to solve these challenges with worldly philosophies, what feels right, or how our parents parented us. Maybe a good number of us are humble enough to admit that we feel pretty lost at times or intimidated by the responsibility.

The reality is parenting requires supernatural wisdom and help. Whether we are a soon-to-be-parent, newbie parent, oldie parent, grandparent, single parent or want-to-be parent, Counterflow will give us the foundation for successful parenting and insights for dealing with specific concerns like special needs children, adoption, demonic influence in the home, recovery for addiction or abuse, computer gaming, and other topics.

Counterflow 2015 will emphasize the role of fathers as servant-leaders of the family. Plenary speaker, Cassie Carstens, is an international speaker, President of International Sport Leadership School and Founder of the movement The World Needs A Father which originated in Africa. He is also author of the book and trainer’s guide, The World Needs A Father. “TWNAF came into being in February 2011 and is primarily focused on helping fathers provide proper leadership to their families, to restore fathers to their God-given place as servant-leaders of their families, and on preparing boys and young men to become good fathers.”(Source: http://www.theworldneedsafather.com)

Other plenary speakers are…

Peter & Deonna Tan-Chi – Peter is Founder and President of Christ’s Commission Foundation, Inc. (CCF) and Senior Pastor of Christ’s Commission Fellowship. He is also Chairman of Asiatic Development Corporation and Basic Housing Solutions, Inc. He and his wife, Deonna are international speakers and family life counselors. They are parents to 5 children and grandparents to 15. (In case you don’t already know this, they are my parents.)

Edric & Joy Mendoza – Edric is the lead anchor of ANC’s On the Money. He is also a Public Speaker, and President of TMA Homeschool. Joy (that’s me!) is a homeschooling mom to five kids, blogger of teachwithjoy.com, speaker, and author of the book, When A Good God Allows Rape. (It’s so nice to be able to say I’m an author now! Yeah! Praise God!)

The event will be hosted by the insanely famous couple, Doug and Cheska Kramer. There will also be 20 wonderful speakers and workshops to attend as well.

Counterflow2015_Flyer_Front_WEB Counterflow2015_Flyer_InsideRight_WEB Counterflow2015_Flyer_Back_WEB

 

 

Tickets* are available at CCF Center. For more information, you can visit the official website of Counterflow: http://counterflowconference.com

*This is a non-profit event. None of the speakers charge for their talks or workshops. All proceeds go to ministry.

 

 

 

Free Tickets to The Amazing Bubbleman!

The kids and I watched the Bubbleman Show with their cousins and other relatives yesterday and they loved it! Catalina was entertained the entire time!  

   
    
    
  
 
As a gift to my readers, I am giving away two tickets (worth 2k+ each) to the Amazing Bubbleman show this Saturday, 11 AM, to the first person to write a comment to the question: What is your favorite bubble memory?

Go, go, go!  

When A Good God Allows Rape

This September, at the Manila International Book Fair in SMX, OMF Literature will be launching my first published book, When A Good God Allows Rape. Yes, the title is kind of a shocker but for those of you who have followed my blog, you already know that this event is something I have spoken openly about. Some parts of the book I have take from a few articles on this site but I am happy to say that it’s the first autobiographical account of the tragedy, the events that followed, and God’s hand in all of it. 

 This is a dream come true for me, a bucket-list-kind-of-accomplishment. When I was younger I hoped that one day I would have the privilege of declaring what God has done in my life through a book. Now that I am just a few weeks from its launch, it feels wonderfully surreal. 

Even if I originally wanted this book to come out ten years earlier, the timing of its launch is as it should be. The landscape of my life’s journey includes a postscript of experiences and memories that overshadow that black spot in the timeline of my life. People will be able to see the thread of God’s goodness. 

Everything was going smoothly between the publisher, editor and me up until two weeks ago, when one of my dear friends in the story requested that her real name not be used. I understood where she was coming from and completely respected her feelings so I honored her request. But having to make alterations at the nth hour wasn’t easy. We remain close and this change will not harm our friendship. She is so dear to me.

Initially, the stress robbed me of sleep. So I did the one thing that I probably shouldn’t have done. I went shopping on Amazon. There’s something ridiculously therapeutic about putting things in my cart and taking them out, then putting them back in and taking them out, and reading reviews. I am not advocating stress-shopping! But it did give me something else to think about besides my book. 

What this unprecedented turn of events taught me was to trust in God’s will. I was also reminded that this book is not mine. I may have written its contents. But God owns this story, and he allowed this last minute revision even after I prayed for my friend’s heart to change on the matter. So this is part of His plan. 

I am excited and nervous at the same time. Excited because this is my first published book ever!!! And nervous because what if it isn’t received well and I have made myself so vulnerable in it?!!! You can tell from my exclamation points that these are emotionally loaded statements. But I have done my part and must rest in the comfort that God will do the rest. 

On a side note, I think it is pretty amazing that my editor was a British woman named Victoria Hope. How cool is it that the person who helped me finalize this book had a name like that? Victoria means victory in Latin. So put the two words together and you get “victorious hope.” This is what my book is about. We can all have a victorious hope in God, who redeems our tragedies. He loves us and uses all things for our good when we choose to follow and trust in Him. 

May God get all the glory for this book! It includes perspectives from Edric and my parents. And it’s a book for anyone dealing with tragedy and loss, no matter what kind. 

Of course I hope you will come to the book signing on September 20 at 4:30 PM at SMX, too! This book will retail for P100.   To read the MIBF preview on the OMF Literature site, click this: when a good God allows rape

Print the image below to get free entrance to the book fair!   

The Amazing Bubble Man – A Show For the Kid In All of Us

BM_about the show

1_girl_blueshirt_inBBL

Louis Pearl – The Amazing Bubbleman will visit Manila for the first time, to perform at RCBC’s Carlos P. Romulo Theater from September 23 – 27.

It’s more than just a family show, it’s educational entertainment. Louis Pearl teaches the science of bubbles, incorporating physics and chemistry into his bubble acrobatics and magic, something he has become an expert at in the past 30 years. From square bubbles, layers of bubbles inside bubbles, fog-filled bubbles, volcano bubbles to flying UFO bubbles and even people inside bubbles — The Amazing Bubble Man is set to enchant adults and children alike with his unique blend of skill and humor.

The Amazing Bubble Man has performed to more than one million people, including royalty and celebrities, in hundreds of cities around the world. He is also a favorite at the world-famous Edibburgh Festical Fringe, where he returns this year for his eighth successive season.

The Guardian, U.K., describes his show as “brilliant.” While Producer James Cundall, Chief Executive of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions says, “I saw Louis Pearl’s Amazing Bubble Show at the Edibburgh Festical Fringe and was absolutely mesmerized. I had no idea you could do so many amazing things with bubbles. I went to talk to Louis after his performance about touring internationally – I thought ‘if a producer with 25 years in the entertainment business can be blown away by bubbles then surely people all around the world will be amazed by this incredible show too.”

This wondrous 75 minute show combines breath-taking artistry, colorful music, plenty of audience participation and enough spellbinding bubble tricks to keep all ages entranced, including adults! The Amazing Bubble Man is for the kid in everybody! My kids can’t wait to watch this!

See ticket prices below:


For tickets:

Ticketworld 
Ticketworld Facebook
Concertus Manila Facebook
Ticketworld Booking Online: 891-9999

For more information contact Anna Yulo at 403-8678 or 0917-827-9856

Louis Pearl, The Amazing Bubble Man is produced by Concertus Manila and Lunchbox Theatrical Productions in association with Louis Pearl.

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.

 

Money Camp for Kids

My older boys attended a money camp, hosted by the Registered Financial Planners of the Philippines, two years ago. It was a wonderful experience which taught them practical money skills through the dynamics of a game. This year, TMA Homeschool partnered with RFP to come up with a Money Camp that will include a visit to the Philippine Stock Exchange building.

MC

Here are the details:
DATES:
June 13 for Ages 7-11
June 14 for Ages 12-16
TIME: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the CCF Center, Tiendesitas
OTHER INCLUSIONS:
June 23 – Philippine Stock Exchange Tour
10 a.m. – 11 a.m. is the slot for kids ages 7-11
11 a.m. – 12 p.m. is the slot for kids ages 12-16
THE ONE DAY SEMINAR WILL COVER TOPICS SUCH AS:
1. Work
2. Needs and wants
3. Paying yourself first
4. Passive income

5. Assets and liabilities

6. Different types of assets

7. Financial Freedom

The slots are limited and are on a first-come-first-served basis. Registration is complete when payment is made. Walk-ins and on-site registration will not be permitted. Interested participants may register at the TMA Homeschool Office, 2nd Floor, Fun Ranch Tiendesitas or via this link:http://tiny.cc/TMAHomeschoolMONEYCAMP.
Please contact Alyssa Chua (alyssa@tmahomeschool.org) for any questions or concerns. This event is also open to non-homeschoolers.

Yearly Garage Sale

One of the cures for materialism and hoarding is parting with the stuff in our closets and cabinets. Besides giving things away, every year we have a multi-family garage sale in my brother’s house where we invite the guards, drivers, househelps, and administration workers of their village to shop. People can buy things for as reasonable as five pesos. While we do make some money it’s hardly commensurate to the actual value of the goods we sell. For our family, the added bonuses are fun bonding, getting our older kids to learn how to work for money, and encouraging one another to “let go” of material things. 

   
               I was especially blessed by my sister-in-law, Jennifer, who cleaned out her house and sold a lot of things that she has been attached to. Since moving to the Philippines from the U.S., it has been a challenge for her to let go of objects and items that remind her of home in America. Furthermore, she is the type of person who collects and keeps random things she doesn’t always need but thinks she might use in the future. So we all cheered her on! She ended up being the day’s biggest winner in terms of earnings, too. Elijah worked very hard to practice his selling skills.   

  Most of the other kids played after the first hour… 

Titus got distracted by a lizard.   

   

Oh dear, Tiana and my nieces started doing some shopping. Girls!  The point is to let go!  

 Catalina went crazy over a toy lawnmower. 

  

And there she took off with just one shoe!  And then she fell asleep…  

    

I probably made the least of everyone but it was still a great garage sale day!

What we usually sell…

1. Clothes, shoes, bags, or accessories that we haven’t used in the last year.

2. Anything that doesn’t fit well or is the wrong color, or looks faded and worn.

3. Clothes and shoes that our kids have outgrown.

4. Baby stuff that no one in the family uses anymore.

5. Objects that take up valuable space but have no functional or aesthetic value.

6. Toys that the kids no longer play with or should part with because they have too many.

7. Gadgets, appliances or electronics that we’ve replaced with updated models.

8. Lotions, perfumes, and other products that have been sitting on our shelves just waiting to expire.

9. Old suitcases.

10. Things we may like to keep but part with anyway because others may benefit from them.

I think garage sales are not just a great way to detach myself from THINGS, they also remind me that I can live and survive with less and still be very happy!

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (‭1 John‬ ‭2‬:‭15‬ NASB)