First, Middle, or Last Child…Everyone Is Special

Titus, my third son, said to me the other day, “I don’t like being in the middle.” 


I was caught off guard at first, because it seemed so uncharacteristic of him to express concern over his birth order. As I probed further I discovered that his statement was motivated by feeling left out somehow, sandwiched between two boys and two girls who had each other to play with. 

My heart went out to him. I never knew that he felt out of place, and I did my best to reassure him that he was in the middle because God elected for him to be third out of five. He was special, a bridge between the older kids and the younger ones. Furthermore, I added that his Angkong (my dad) and his Uncle Paul (my brother) were both middle children and they were great leaders. He managed a smile and seemed comforted. 

However, Edric and I had to do more to demonstrate just how special he was. So we convened about Titus to strategize what to do. I also talked to Elijah and Edan to remind them to include Titus, and to be encouraging towards him. They were eager to be on-board about this. (In fact, Elijah has been hugging Titus a lot which Titus appreciates as an affectionate person. He tells him, “You are my buddy!”)


As often as possible, I take note of what Titus accomplishes to affirm him as well. I also remind him that he has God-given abilities and personality traits that set him apart. 

Titus is thoughtful and caring. He serves others and appreciates people very easily. He shares and considers the needs of others. In the area of music, he has an amazing ear to hear harmony and correct pitch. When it comes to mathematics and mechanical ability, he excels. Furthermore, he likes to hug everyone, even people he doesn’t know very well, since that’s his language of love. He is smiley and friendly. 


Being a middle child doesn’t mean he is less than his siblings in anyway. He is just as unique and gifted. And having to adjust to older boys and younger girls makes him very flexible, patient, non-judgmental, and accommodating of personalities and gender differences.

I tell Titus all about these gifts God has bestowed upon him but it is Edric’s input and involvement in Titus’ life that probably counts the most. During our Singapore trip, when Titus wanted to go to the walkway at the Gardens of the Bay that joined the “trees,” Edric obliged him even if he was tired and preferred to go back to the place we were staying. In fact, Edric eagerly took Titus, along with Tiana and Catalina who also asked to go. He wanted Titus to know that he would go out of his way to accommodate him because he was important. 

I think the smile on his face in this photo says it all…


So far, our collaborative effort to make Titus feel loved and special seem to be working. He is chattier and more confident. When I asked him how he was feeling about being in the middle, he replied, “I am better. I know I am loved.” 

Whew. 

Every child is different and needs us to notice them. It doesn’t really matter whether he or she is first, second, third, oldest, youngest, or in the middle. While birth order may be a factor in the way a child develops a sense of self, we, as parents can let each of our kids know they are significant, special, valued and cherished so they don’t grow up to be insecure or wanting for attention and affection. We can also remind our kids to be thankful for the unchangeable aspects of their lives, birth order being one of them. God doesn’t make mistakes. 

Finally, even if children’s personalities may be shaped by the dynamic within a family and the way they relate to older and younger siblings, each child can be taught God-confidence, how to rely on the Lord for enabling and capacity. I also think we need to tell our kids that they are leaders and examples to those around them, regardless of their position in the family. They can all role model Christ-like love and character. They can all exercise wisdom in their decisions. They can all make a positive impact on this world. Birth order doesn’t determine future success. It is obedience to God that results in blessing…

“Study this Book of Instruction (God’s Word) continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua‬ ‭1:8-9‬ ‭

Celebrate VS. Compare 

I was in the bathroom when Tiana rushed in excitedly, looking for a bandaid for her brother, Titus. She seemed anxious when I asked her why she needed it. “He has a wound on his toe. It’s bleeding!”

She voluntarily came to his aid and located the antibacterial cream that was in my closet, too. I watched her with pride as I thought of how sweet she was to help her older brother. It’s not uncommon for her to come to the rescue of siblings who aren’t well or who have injured themselves. Instinctively, she reacts with genuine concern.

Two days ago, Catalina battled a fever. Tiana was the first to recognize that she wasn’t feeling well, and suggested that Catalina rest in the guest room, which she transformed into a “hospital room.” When I went in to check on Catalina, Tiana had spread a blanket on her, turned on the AC, and put snacks and water on the bedside table. She hovered over Catalina mindfully and sang her a short lullaby. When Catalina decided to watch tv for a little bit, she walked her over to the family room where Catalina fell asleep. Tiana struggled to pick her up (she’s three fourths Tiana’s size!) Then she carried her to the bed to make sure she was comfortable.

In the afternoon, Tiana also wrote a note for Catalina and handed it to her. It read, “I love u, Cat.”


Catalina brought it everywhere she went. In the evening, I found it on her bed beside her. I asked Catalina why she kept it with her, she said, “Because Tiana gave it to me.”


I got teary-eyed as she gripped the letter in her hand while fighting her fever.

Edric and I affirmed Tiana for her servant-heart and love for Catalina. We praised her for being so sweet and compassionate.

Observing the way Tiana cared for Catalina gave me a renewed appreciation of her personality and strengths. She is an empathizer. Maybe someday she might go into social work or become a doctor (if that’s what God has in store for her.) Whatever it is, I am pretty sure it will have something to do with rescuing others and serving them.

In the past three years I’ve gotten stressed by Tiana’s ability to cope with academic subjects such as math and language arts. It’s taken her a while to develop numeracy and reading skills. At the age of seven she struggles with abstract reasoning and spelling. Yet she is a tender-hearted, kind, and thoughtful child who is emotionally mature and full of joy! In light of eternity, I do believe these are the faculties of a person that ought to bear greater weight. I am so proud of her!

Her academics will follow. I don’t doubt it, and I must remember to be patient and positive when learning goals aren’t achieved. In the meantime, I am affirming her in the areas where she excels.

In today’s world there is often an overemphasis on academic performance. Even homeschoolers can get suckered into this mindset — where we want our kids to be high achievers and better than everyone else. However, this pressure leads to performance-based learning and living, where a child’s self worth is based on how they fair academically. Of course, this also causes us to be stressed out and impatient when our kids don’t meet our expectations.

Instead, we ought to celebrate whom God made our kids to be, liberating them to “run their race” in life without comparing themselves to others or feeling like they fall short of our expectations. After all, God gives accordingly not sparingly. He isn’t stingy with the gifts he bestows upon our children. He is purposeful! Whatever abilities or inabilities they have are not hindrances to His power to accomplish His plan for their lives. Let’s not be a hindrance by forcing them to be what they aren’t meant to be. Let’s remind them to be thankful for their limitations, their uniqueness, and to do all things for His glory!


“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” Psalms‬ ‭139:13-14‬ ‭

Walk in Love

 Titus, my third son has been wearing expanders for his upper and lower teeth for a good part of the year. He has large front teeth and his jaw is narrow, so his dentist, Dr. Marla Valenzuela, suggested that he get expanders to enlarge his jaw. These expanders are not cheap. They have also seen many adventures as Titus has, on different occasions, left them in places where he shouldn’t have, broken parts of them accidentally, and gotten them dirtied. During our recent trip to Singapore these expanders ended up in the trashcan of a Chinese restaurant, but I will get to that in a moment.

My husband, Edric, spoke on a series of topics during a retreat while we were in Malaysia on the theme “Radical Love Begins at Home.” 


His culminating message was preached at CCF Worship Service in Singapore with the challenge to “Love More.” Our kids spoke with us during different messages of the retreat and the day that Edric spoke at church, we spent time with the leadership team over lunch at a Chinese restaurant.

Titus, along with my four other kids, occupied tables with children of the leaders’ where they merrily engaged one another and played games. As for Edric and myself, we were caught up in conversation with the rest of the adults, exchanging stories about our faith journeys, marriage, parenting, and ministry. Since Titus forgot his expander’s case, something I’ve repeatedly reminded him not to do, he placed his expanders on a wad of tissue next to his plate before eating his lunch.

Caught up in his interactions with new friends, he didn’t notice that the waitress innocently swept his expanders (and the wad of tissue in rested in) off the table onto a tray that was cleared into a trash bin. Edric and I had no idea either as we were seated separately from him during the meal. As the lunch came to a close for us we excused ourselves from the gathering to rush off to a bookstore before our flight home to Manila. We had promised Edan a trip to Kinukoniya, his favorite bookstore, to buy a science book. Intending to keep our commitment to him before leaving for the airport, we collected our children and bid farewell to everyone.

It was at this time that Titus whispered to me that his expanders had vanished.

“What happened?!” I asked, dumbfounded, that he didn’t realize this earlier.

“I left them on a tissue, on the table, and then now they are gone…maybe they were thrown away by the waitress.”

I glared at him for a moment, unimpressed by his simplistic deduction of the situation.

“Hon, this is serious. How could you have lost your expanders?”

Titus, looking clueless and helpless at this point, made it difficult for me to be upset. He obviously needed a solution, not a lecture. Yet, I feared that Edric would react in an irate way when I passed the problem on to him. After all, we were in a rush and tight schedule before our flight home. I was going to propose that we leave the expanders buried wherever they were. I wasn’t about to go digging through the trash with my bare hands to sift through all the used tissue, dirty food, and mysteriously sticky goo! Most certainly Edric wasn’t going to do it either, not dressed in his Sunday shirt, and especially because he gets more disgusted by icky things than I do (or so I thought).

Amazingly, Edric level-headedly assessed the situation, spoke to the waitress and asked to be directed to the trash. Without hesitating, he dug his hand into it and felt for the retainers, pulling napkins and objects out of the trash to examine them one by one.

Was this my husband who was bent over the trashcan, sorting through the waste without making a single comment about how inconvenienced he was?!

It most certainly was! What a dad!

I suppose he saw what was really going on. This was a divinely appointed moment to apply four straight days of speaking about Christ-like love, and how it ought to impact our relationship with the family first. This was love in action.

After five minutes of consistent digging, he got one expander, then the other, as our friends looked on and cheered. Titus smiled in relief, almost too happy to realize that he shouldn’t put his expanders back on right away before disinfecting them!

I’m sure the experience profoundly affected Titus. Over the years he has gotten himself into a number of predicaments that required our intervention and problem-solving. Sometimes these occasions have been deeply aggravating because of how ridiculous they are. From getting his head stuck between rails so that we needed to carry his body and push it through in order to free him, to snipping his hair off so that his forehead was grossly exposed and exaggerated, to destroyed different electronic equipment in the home because he wanted to examine what was inside of them, to locking himself in a storage room so that the door had to be broken down, to swallowing a marble so that his intestinal area had to be x-rayed and I was told to examine his poop everyday with a stick to anticipate the exit of the marble, well, let’s just say that God has used him to teach Edric and I patience and grace. 


We do love him immensely and nothing will ever change that (something we’ve repeatedly told him), but these occasions do tempt us to react with irritation.

He knew that losing his expanders was a big deal. However, Edric’s gracious gesture quelled whatever stress he might have been feeling. (It certainly alleviated my anxiety, too! I didn’t want to have to pay for new ones!)

As we walked to the train station, Edric put his arm around Titus to let him know that everything was okay. He was forgiven.

If we want our children to be loving, they have to know what love is, to experience being loved, especially when they make mistakes. When the temptation to get annoyed, to be reactive, to lash out, to inflict pain with our words is strongest because we are disappointed, frustrated or angry, then we must tell ourselves, “This is the best time to demonstrate to my child what love really is.” 

I’m not saying that we should ignore our responsibility to discipline them. But there will be times when instead of a lecture, they may need us to listen. Instead of making them feel guilty, we can remind them that God gives grace. Instead of harboring hurt or bitterness against them, we ought to unconditionally forgive them and hug them. And rather than acting selfishly, we can imitate our Savior as Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”
 

I Have a Son Who Is Bigger Than Me 

It’s official. Elijah is nearly two inches taller than I am. I don’t know when it happened but he’s been shooting up since February of this year, the month he turned fourteen. He’s still looking like Gumby with his lanky arms and legs, and twelve pounds lighter than my weight. However, I strain my arms trying to cut his hair now since I hold the clippers up to his head. I think he’s growing an inch every month?! 

Does it make me feel old to have a young adult in my home? I don’t know. Sometimes, maybe. But then I have a four year old running all over the place, too, who convinces me that I can’t be that old because I need to keep up with her. 

A part of me thought that this transition into a different stage of motherhood was going to be more emotional for me. However, Elijah’s handled his physical and emotional changes pretty well. When I asked him how he processed his entrance into young adulthood, he replied, “Well I have you and dad and I am around adults so I see how they behave, which gives me a reference.” 

He also added that we equipped him to anticipate the changes by having many dialogues with him about what it means to be a young man. “There’s no such thing as the teenage years”, we would tell him. (The word “teenager” was a term coined by the Reader’s Digest, Life Magazine and Popular Mechanics post Depression-era, during the 1940s.)
“When you turn 13 you are officially a young man.” 

Edric also took him on a rite of passage and initiated a gathering with godly men in his life who offered their sound advice on what it means to be a man. 

Now I look at Elijah and feel a deep joy knowing that he is navigating these supposedly turbulent years with the grace I prayed he would have. Here are some of the things I appreciate about the age he is at:

1. He sets a wonderful example for his siblings when it comes to being disciplined with his quiet time with the Lord, responsibilities, and work. 

2. He is my in-house tech support. He understands computers like I never will. Whenever there is a tech issue in the home, Elijah can usually fix it. 

3. He keeps me accountable, in a polite way. Whether it is watching what I eat, like avoiding sweets, or minding my spending, he reminds me to be wise. 

4. He is still open with me and shares his concerns, feelings, and joys with me. I still get to peek into his heart.

5. He assists me with the younger girls and even his brothers. When I need a babysitter, he ably and patiently watches and attends to his sisters. He also keeps everyone in line when I am not around. 


6. He still gives me hugs and welcomes hugs from me. He isn’t embarrassed to be affectionate towards me, even in public. 

7. He’s my bodyguard and my young gentleman. When I need someone to be with me to complete my list at the grocery, carry my bags when they are too heavy, or keep me company at the hardware store, he gladly agrees to come along and help me out. 

Elijah has his moments when he gets agitated, loud, and emotional about blocked goals and failure. Yet, for the most part, he’s turning out to be a wise young man who loves the Lord, as well as his family and friends. He also seeks to make choices that honor God and his parents. 

I am sure every year will have its unique challenges for our kids and our parenting, but my encouragement is that God’s principles for raising children are sound and effective. His Word is dependable. When He declares, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is older he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6),” it is both a charge and a promise. 

If we do our part as parents, modeling the right values and character traits we want our children to espouse, and discipling them to become men and women who love God with all that they are, I know that we can bank on the Lord’s promise. He will produce the fruit we long to see in the lives of our kids. Our efforts will not be in vain, not because we are doing such a fantastic job as parents, but because the Lord is FAITHFUL. Although I cannot see the future or anticipate all the trying life situations my kids will go through, my fears are overridden by the hope I have in God’s faithfulness. 

1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” In the preceding verses Paul tells God’s people to examine everything carefully, to avoid evil, to cling to what is good, and the God of peace will sanctify us and preserve us till the end.  

As we invest in the lives of our children, teaching them to be discerning, to run away from sin, and to hold on to what is good, may God sanctify and preserve them! Let’s claim this by faith! 

“Hon, You Have to Be a Better Homemaker”

When my husband, Edric, told me I had to be more involved in the home as a “homemaker,” meaning, “to put my whole heart into it,” I felt offended. He didn’t intend to put me down, but I reacted to his correction, primarily due to pride.

By my estimation, I was doing a decent job. Although I wasn’t a Martha Stewart or the kind of wife that put a whole lot of effort into making her home look Pinterest-worthy, our home was clean and our household help had a schedule that they followed, I had a meal plan, the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator were stocked with food, and there was a system in place for the day to day affairs. Plus, much of my personal time was consumed by home schooling, child-rearing, ministry, my writing, and projects/work commitments, so it wasn’t like I was lazing about as a woman.

However, Edric’s expectation for my homemaking went beyond the practical management. He hoped that I would put effort into beautifying our walls, making it feel “homey” by giving it a more lived-in look and adding personal touches, plants, paying more attention to details and upkeep issues, and finishing projects like my paintings and woodworking with the kids.

Although I didn’t agree with his perspective when he first made the comment, God convicted me that there was A LOT of room for improvement in this area of my life.

Edric is my leader. If he sees an area that I ought to better myself in then why not gladly receive it? I lose nothing by responding positively to what he asks me to do, especially since becoming a good homemaker is a means for me to be a greater blessing to him and my kids, as well as people who enter our home. I remember an insight I got from my very wise mother, “God uses our husbands to mold our character and prepare us for heaven.” Her spiritual perspective often ministers to me.

Edric and my dad are similar in the sense that they are teachers and like to help people be their best by pointing out areas they can improve in. Well, when I react to Edric’s teaching personality it’s usually because I’m proud and don’t like him telling me how I should change. However, he is almost always right. The issue is, when it comes to his correction (and only his for some reason), I get defensive. Yet, if God is using him to prepare me for heaven, then hallelujah, I should listen! After all, Proverbs 26:12 warns, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”

Furthermore, mediocrity isn’t becoming of a follower of Christ. I should be faithful at everything I do, everything that falls under my scope of responsibilities, which includes home-managing and home-making. Not every wife has the opportunity to stay at home so I understand that some of us have time constraints. Yet in my case, there really is no excuse. God has gifted Edric and me with a wonderful home to steward. How can I expect the Lord to entrust me with more important responsibilities if I’m not being faithful with what he has laid in front of me?

Truthfully, my home can use some attention, MY attention. (It’s different when a wife and mom personally sees to the details of her home rather than delegating these to household help.)

I can start by taking care of the small issues that I’ve been ignoring…left-over construction materials hidden in the backyard…a disorganized storage room…a broken kitchen clock (just fixed this)…lightbulbs that need replacing…family photos that need to be hung (did this yesterday! Woohoo!)… (As I make this list, I’m realizing how pathetic it is that I’m not attending to these things!)

Lastly and most importantly, I’m supposed to be my husband’s strong supporter, his Ezer Kenegdo, his “helper” as Genesis 2:18 puts it. By not embracing what he is asking me to do as a homemaker wholeheartedly, I’m not fulfilling my role as God has called me to.

Three months ago I borrowed a book from my mom, Becoming, which had an amazing chapter in it about a woman’s role written by Chrystie Cole, titled We Are Ezer. The word, Ezer, as found in the Genesis text was used a descriptor for Eve and Chrystie Cole explains that it meant "ally, aid, someone who brings support and relief" (the same word used to describe the Lord twenty-one times in the Old Testament).

It is adjoined to the word, Kenegdo, which means "corresponding to or suitable to." The two words together reveal that women are supposed to be the essential counterpart, indispensable companion, or corresponding strength to the people in our lives. Whether single or married, this is a God-given identity to us as women, fully realized in the context of our relationships with others. We were designed to strengthen and support the people in our lives with our talents, gifts, abilities, and encouragement. Since I am a wife and a mom, I am to be an Ezer to Edric and my kids.

According to Chrystie Cole, “A good illustration of this strength can be drawn from a 12th-century architectural innovation known as the flying buttress. Commonly used in Gothic architecture, a flying buttress provides essential support hat preserves the architectural soundness and integrity of a building. These buttresses bear weight and relieve pressure from the walls, allowing for higher ceilings, ornate latticing, and extra windows. Like these powerful structures, a woman provides an undergirding strength within the context of relationship that empowers others to become and achieve things that might have otherwise been impossible. She is an essential counterpart providing necessary, load-bearing support.”

Is that a beautiful example or what?! I nearly teared when I first read this! Thank you Chrystie Cole!

When I asked my husband earlier this year, “How can I support you as a wife?” (Be warned…this is a dangerous question to ask your husband if you aren’t ready and willing to humbly receive the answer!) His response was, “Take care of the home and do the things I ask you to.”

Even back then I knew that he wanted me to delight in being at home and managing our home wholeheartedly, but I would get distracted and fill up my calendar with other things to do, and simply delegate the homemaking to my household help. Now I better understand that he notices the difference between my full engagement and presence as a homemanager, and my convenient detachment from it.

I started this article a few days ago, but yesterday, when Edric came home, he found me using a power tool (oh yeah), a drill, to make holes in our wall to hang our family photos in the hallway upstairs. I also hung up one of my paintings, which had been stored in the linen closet for over a year. Elijah ably assisted me with the drill, too.

Together with the kids, I started a garden project in the yard, which is something Edric wanted me to be on top of. The kids and I also kickstarted their story-book writing for the seven character books that Edric’s been asking us to do for the last two years, Plus, I spent about an hour trimming all the bamboo that was overgrown and looking hideously neglected instead of waiting on Edric to do the gardening. During my mad-bamboo-cutting-spree, I got bitten at least twenty times by red ants. Yet after a day of wholehearted homemaking, I felt very fulfilled! The kids enjoyed helping me as well, which was a wonderful bonus, since it got them outdoors and encouraged them to be productive and learn new skills.

I didn’t mean to brag in the last part by talking about everything I did yesterday, but I didn’t want to end this article by “preaching” about things that I need to apply myself. So I got crackin’ on my home-making!

There remains a list of things to do that will probably never end, and I’m still not a Martha Stewart by any measure, but I’m thankful that God is using my teacher-husband to refine me in the very best way. Without his corrections and suggestions about how to be better I would stagnate as a person and never achieve my fullest potential as an Ezer to him, my kids, and to others.

If you have a husband like me or persons in your life who challenge you to grow and improve, let’s praise the Lord together! This is going to be good for us! We need this!

 

 

 

 

 

Grade 9 Materials

My balikbayan box finally arrived and it was like Christmas in July for our homeschooling! There were specific materials that I couldn't get locally so I sourced them from the U.S. for my kids. Plus, they are so often my guinea pigs for experimental material so that I can also give recommendations to others.

Here's what Elijah's 9th grade homeschool year is going to look like:

Bible: Continue daily bible reading. Use I Don't Have Faith to Be an Atheist Curriculum three times a week.

Language Arts: Fundamentals of Literature by Bob Jones University Press for reading three times a week, and Student Writing Intensive Continuation Course Level C by Institute for Excellence in Writing for writing and grammar twice a week.

Math: Algebra 2 with Khan Academy four times a week.

Science: Exploring Creation with Chemistry by Apologia three times a week.

History/Geography: World History Observations and Assessments from Creation to Today by Master Books four times a week.

Electives:

Computer Technology Node.Js by Udemy for building servers and AI Deep Learning by Udemy for creating artificial intelligence and exploring its applications. We got these courses for just 10 USD each! They were majorly discounted.

Sports – Swimming and Tennis

Art – Painting with Teacher Camille Ver through Learning Plus

Music – Violin classes through Learning Plus

Others: Local social studies using books I sourced on my own and Filipino using Rosetta Stone.

Books to read: Fantasy novels with Christian themes for Elijah's leisure reading time. He really enjoys this genre.




It's going to be a full year! I will post about my other kids' materials soon!

God-Confidence in Kids

I am not an advocate of getting kids into modeling at a young age because it can make them focused on their external appearance as well as derive their sense of identity and worth from the way they look and how others perceive them.  However, I also believe that carefully chosen modeling or acting opportunities can be beneficial for kids, to break them out of their shells so they can shine for the Lord. 

From time to time our family gets offered endorsement opportunities and I praise God that these normally involve all of our kids and Edric and me, or some of our kids and Edric or me. In other words, it’s usually a family endorsement and more importantly, a product or service that is aligned with our values and principles. 

The milk brand, Friso Four, which is for kids above the age of three years old (past the breastfeeding age) is one such product. Their cows are hormone and antibiotic free, and they are cared for by farmers who are personally invested in their farms. Farmers basically own Friesland Campina, the mother company behind Friso. So they love their cows! 

Our family’s contract with Friso involved our daughters and me engaging one another through outdoor activities and play, and promoting the importance of nature in the lives of our kids — eating healthy, good sunlight, exercise, and exploration. 

For the shoot today, Tiana was tasked to memorize many lines. When she first saw the script she felt nervous and concerned about her ability to memorize and execute what was required of her. However, we prayed together and dedicated the shoot to the Lord, and her courage increased. She got through each part so well, and without compromising her personality as a sweet and demure girl. 

I was so proud of her! As a younger girl, Tiana struggled with self-consciousness and she worried about what people’s opinion of her. Sometimes she still does. However through the years I have encouraged her to consider the needs of others and bravely attempt to make friends and reach out to people instead of focusing on herself. It’s taken some time but in the last few months, I have seen her grow and mature in this area. She is friendlier towards kids, like her ballet classmates and art class friends, and she has a better understanding of God-confidence. 

God-confidence, as opposed to self-confidence or self-esteem, is knowing that God is the one who gives us the ability and capacity to do things that are difficult or out of our comfort zones. Self-confidence or self-esteem is believing in one’s strengths and who they are to accomplish what they want and need to. A God-confident person relies on Him to meet the challenges He calls him or her to. 

For example, I don’t like speaking in public. It’s still stressful for me to prepare a talk and muster up the courage to stand before an audience even if I have been involved in public speaking for years. Yet this is something I do as unto to the Lord, giving seminars and talks alongside my husband on relationships, marriage, parenting, and homeschooling. I have to remember that it’s not about me, it’s about being a blessing to others, a vessel to communicate God’s principles on these topics in order to help people. But I have to depend on the Lord and not myself if I am to be effective. 

Therefore, I am also teaching Tiana how to exhibit God-confidence when she is asked to do something that is beyond what’s comfortable for her. There were several instances when she teared today, primarily because she didn’t like it when she couldn’t do an excellent job with her lines or with the acting. Catalina assisted by wiping her forehead and handing her tissues when she would tear. The crew and I assured her that she was doing a wonderful job and that it was okay to fail. That’s what retakes were for. Plus, I told her I loved her no matter what and I was there for her. We prayed together several times. 


When she finished the difficult takes, she felt a sense of accomplishment, which is also why I encouraged her to complete her job even if it wasn’t easy. I didn’t force her. I just gave her a pep talk to calm her nerves. We also chatted about how I used to get scared and cry and we had a good laugh about it. 

Kids need to be conditioned to do hard things. For as long as these “things” aren’t abusive, against God’s Word, or imposed upon them because a parent is trying to live out their dreams through them, then kids can benefit from positive pressure, healthy competition, real world challenges, and difficult character-building tasks. However, it matters how we process the experiences with them, reminding them that motivations, purposes out to be for the Lord, and empowering ought to come from the Lord. 

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”‭‭ 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭

When I asked Tiana, “How were you able to do all your lines and acting?”, her sweet response was, “I have Jesus in me…” 


Love Your Sibling(s)

My kids learned to love one another better this year. It probably sounds funny to put it that way…love one another better…but there’s always room to grow in the area of love in our home. Previously, they spoke harshly with each other when annoyed, and they had conflicts over inane things — toys, things, and personality quirks. 

About two months back, my second son, Edan, was assigned to lead our family devotion night, and he asked his siblings to memorize the passage, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians‬ ‭4:32‬) He asked each of his brothers and sisters how they would apply the verse and they were all honest about the need to be more considerate and accommodating of one another. 

I want to applaud Tiana and Catalina for choosing to get along in a much friendlier manner as of late, as well as Elijah and Edan for minding their words and attitudes towards each other. Titus, who is in between the two pairs, has always been the easy-going guy, never really ruffled by anyone and very forgiving. 

Today, at the dentist, I witnessed the kids’ concern for one another played out, especially by Catalina for Tiana. Tiana needed to have a tooth extracted since her permanent one was growing behind her milk tooth. While she sat in the chair fretting, Catalina told her not to worry, that she would hold her hand while the anesthesia was injected into her gums. Even if Catalina is three years younger, she’s a little toughie. 


Edan and Elijah also came over to encourage Tiana. Edan talked her through what to expect since he had the same procedure done before. Tiana teared a little but she bravely endured the ten minutes that it took to pull her milk tooth out. 

Dr. Marla Valenzuela, who has been our family’s dentist since Edric and I got married, let the kids hover around her. She’s such a wonderful dentist and always lets them play in her clinic and watch her work. In fact, Catalina expressed to her that she wanted to be a dentist someday. We shall see…


Tiana, feeling the love and support…


Elijah, my eldest, finally got his braces, too! It was a big day for our family’s teeth! 

He’s doing Turbo Braces, a new braces technology which will take less than a year. Woohoo! It requires visits to see Dr. Marla twice a month but it’s so much more efficient than traditional braces. (In case you have a teenager who needs braces…here’s Dr. Marla’s assistant’s number: Nicole: +63 922 848 3776. Her clinic is in Bonifacio Global City.


Anyway, people often ask me if socialization is a problem for my kids who are homeschoolers, and my reply is, “If parents can teach their kids to love the people in their home, then their kids can love people outside of the home. Forgiveness, unconditional love, thinking about the needs of others, sharing, being flexible and thoughtful, these are difficult to apply at home, amongst siblings. Children aren’t born with these instincts. But if kids can be taught to internalize these principles when dealing with their brothers and sisters then they will be able to carry these over into their other relationships.” 
Until some months ago, Catalina used to tell her siblings things like, “You are ugly. I don’t like you. You aren’t my brother (or sister) anymore!” Where did she learn to speak such painful words?! 

Edric and I had to train her and discipline her for unkindness. There was a point when she would even say, “You are sooo ug, ug, ug…” because she knew she wasn’t allowed to say the word “ugly.” Ay! 

I praise God she’s changed so much! Now, she tries to get along with her siblings and control her tongue. She’s turning out to be such a sweet three year old to her brothers and sister. 

It’s taken some years for Edric and I to instill relationship principles in all of our children and they are still a work in progress (so are we), but moments like today, in the dental clinic, were an encouraging reminder that brothers and sisters can genuinely care for each other if they are taught to do so. 

Teaching Bodily Discipline to Kids 

Growing up, I appreciated the weight my parents put on physical fitness and healthy eating. They encouraged my siblings and me to play outdoors everyday and they got us into sports. As a result, all of us excelled in our sport of choice in college. I played UAAP soccer (football) and my other siblings were on the UAAP basketball teams.

Some of the benefits that athleticism produced in my life were the ability to tolerate pain and to push myself to the limit. I believe this is one of the reasons why I was able to have five Lamaze births despite the death-like pain I had to endure. Of course, I ultimately credit the grace of God for making it through each birth. I would call out to him at the height of the excruciation and he would always come through for me. However, I also believe that I had to do my part, and being a sporty person made me physically, mentally, and emotionally strong.

This morning, as I was running on the treadmill, the passage in 1 Corinthians 9:27 came to mind, “But I buffet (discipline) my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

I kept chanting in my head as the pace of the treadmill increased, “Buffet my body! Buffet my body!”

It’s not just about physical fitness which can be an idol in the lives of so many people, including mine, if I am not careful about its proper place. The real reason why it’s necessary to discipline the body is because we train ourselves to accommodate pain, to wait for results, to say no to the wrong things, and to persevere. In our spiritual lives these abilities are very important which is why Paul told his disciple Timothy, “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 for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8) Since I don’t have loads of time to dedicate to exercise, I stick to a regimen that keeps me healthy and able-bodied.

However, I want to focus on the higher purpose for fitness, which is something that all of us need to pass on to our kids as well. Admittedly, Edric and I have been less intentional with our own kids when it comes to their athletics. We agreed that the academic side of the homeschooling would be handled by me and Edric would take over the kids’ sports’ programs. However, Edric’s busy-ness has prevented him from giving their physical development the focus that he would like to give it (apart from the kids playing outdoors and signing them up for random PE classes).

This was an area of our parenting that we discussed recently because it disappointed me that our sons’ athleticism wasn’t his priority. Edric was also a varsity athlete in his highschool and college years. Given that we were both athletes, having kids who weren’t into competitive sports concerned me. We experienced the amazing benefits of working with teams, pushing our bodies, and dealing with the failures and successes of the games and tournaments we participated in. I wanted our sons to experience the same things to help them grow in character.

However, I couldn’t keep nagging Edric about this. After all the kids were excelling in other areas and they did have exercise time. Plus, they tried a number of sports – basketball, swimming, tennis, football, etc. They did pretty well in tennis and swimming, but over the summer they took a break and we haven’t re-enrolled them. Well, I figured that as they got into the high school years, Edric would direct our sons to sports that they could focus on (since that’s when it will matter in preparation for college.)

Thankfully, my parents spent a good two weeks with our kids while Edric and I were in Australia. Being the very purposeful grandparents that they are, they had our kids swim every morning and they signed up our two older sons for a basketball camp. The best thing that came out of this was that my dad spoke to Edric after we got back and emphasized that he should prioritize the boys’ training in sports. Hallelujah!

Edric really respects my dad and has a great relationship with him. So he received the suggestion positively. Just a few days before we got back to Manila Edric also showed me his revised yearly plan for our kids, which included him being more hands-on with the boys in the area of their physical development. So God was already speaking to Edric’s heart about this.

This is one of the things I appreciate about my husband. When he recognizes an area that he needs to improve on, he will do something about it. It may not always be right at the moment when the issue is brought up to him, but he will eventually take action.

Since we arrived home, he has lovingly forced our sons to exercise and he intends to involve them in his daily workouts. The boys are excited and so am I! This will provide our sons with great bonding time with their dad, and they will acquire traits like perseverance, hard work, as well as mental and physical toughness. He’s also thinking through what sports to enrol them in again.

I get our kids to go running with me but it’s different when Edric pushes them. He is able to connect with their masculinity and draw it out as well.

As for our girls, they do ballet pretty consistently. I’ve already seen the benefits in their own lives. They’ve become more confident with making friends and performing in front of others during their recitals, and they are more graceful and coordinated. Should they choose to do a more competitive sport then that would be wonderful, too. In fact, I’ve told my girls, “We need to be fit and strong as women. God has called us to care for the needs of our families. And someday, you may become moms, too. Moms need to be strong!” (Of course, women have to be physically strong for many other reasons!)

Tiana, my fourth child, echoes this to me now. When we are running around the village and I begin to see signs of fatigue in her, I ask her if she wants to rest but she will usually reply, “It’s okay, I want to become strong!”


That’s my girl!

I’m really praying that this year Edric and I will be much better at instilling bodily discipline in our kids. And beyond this, I also hope that Edric will consistently come along side our sons and guide them in the area of athletics. There are so many present and future benefits to be had, especially in the areas of their emotional, mental, and spiritual development that we have to give it importance as parents.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three A’s in Parenting

I have been sitting through the seminars at Hillsong Conference in Sydney, Australia, sorting through all the insights that I have been picking up. Every session has taught me something worthy of a blog entry but I will begin with the one that struck a parenting chord with me.

During one of the leadership workshops, not expecting to hear any points connected to motherhood or fatherhood, I leaned in very attentively when the speaker, Chris Hodges, zoned in on the biblically recorded words that God the Father declared to His Son in the gospels. According to Him, there were only two instances when we hear the verbalized words of God directed towards Christ and these bore the same message in both passages: THIS IS MY SON. WHOM I LOVE. IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED. (Matthew 3:16-17 and Matthew 17:5)
What do we see here? 

1. This is my son (child): Acceptance

2. Whom I love: Affection 

3. In whom I am well pleased: Affirmation 

According to Hodges, these three A’s will create a culture in the home that will produce leaders. 

Every child desires to belong, to know their identity in the context of family, to feel unafraid to fail and make mistakes because they are unconditionally loved and accepted. Hodges shared about how he dealt with an under-aged drinking instance that his son was busted for. His son tended to be the type who kind of went with the flow without thinking through the consequences too well. 

As Hodges picked up his handcuffed son at the precinct, he relates that he had two options in that moment. The first was to berate, lecture and scold his son for his stupid mistake. But the more important second option was to tell him, “I have never loved you more than I do now. And I know you have never needed me more than you do now. What you did was wrong, but this is not who you are.” 

Edric and I have found ourselves in similar predicaments with our kids, especially Titus, who, at times, tended to act before thinking when he was a younger child. Although the circumstances he got himself into deeply frustrated Edric and me, we would remind him, “We love you no matter what. Nothing will change our love for you. But because we love you we will help you to change for the better.” 

By God’s grace, he has changed a lot! (He just chipped his front tooth the other day by diving into a shallow part of the pool but we love him anyway!)

Our children also need our affection — physical demonstrations of love. Each of our kids is different, but they all appreciate hugs from us. My fourth child, Tiana, will ask for a hug and kiss every night after I pray for her. Peaceful sleep follows when I complete this nightly routine. It matters to her. 

Amazingly, my children become more responsive to homeschooling when I pepper their mornings with spontaneous hugs. There is something about generous doses of affection that energizes them. 

The third thing our kids need from us is affirmation. Some weeks ago, I walked into my bedroom and Elijah was busily reading a new book. I told him that I enjoyed his company so much and that he and his siblings were my favorite people to hang out with (besides Edric, of course.) He looked up from his book and said, “I really need to hear that still, mom.” 

This surprised me because he is such an independent and confident young man, by God’s grace. In fact, I thought that if I compliment him too much it might make him proud since he is gifted in many ways. Yet, like my other kids, he longs to be told that he is important, valued, and special. 


I wanted to end this post with a nugget of wisdom my mom passed on to me. “See people for what they can become (in Christ).” As we communicate to our children acceptance, affection, and affirmation, they may not always obey, respect, or honor us. However, who they are today doesn’t have to determine who we can help them to become tomorrow. With God’s supernatural grace, they can grow up to make a positive difference for Jesus on this earth. 

Hodges challenged us to prophesy great things over our children. He would declare to his kids every day, “You are a leader. You are an influencer, you will not be influenced by the world.” 

Let’s remind our kids of the same! 

The “Love Letter”

Some women have asked me if it is too big a risk to rely solely on a husband’s income (given that he could tragically pass away and leave his family with nothing.) However, with advance planning and preparedness, this concern can be addressed. Here’s where the idea of a “love letter” comes in. It’s basically a letter written by the primary income-earner in the family that explains what to do in the event of his passing. Although this could be called a “will,” it is something more. 


My husband, Edric, got this idea while interviewing certain guests for the show, On the Money, on ANC. He secured certain investments in order to safeguard the kids and me should anything happen to him. The funds would be enough to cover our needs (and more) if he were to be taken by the Lord before me.

When I first heard him explain this during a finance talk he gave, I teared thinking about it. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like without Edric (I still can’t) and the reality of these investments were almost more troubling than reassuring because they implied a life without him. Yet, I am also grateful that he gave considerable thought to this. 

Although it’s common in Philippine culture to look to relatives when financial needs arise, and it’s a beautiful trait to be so caring for one another, I also feel that there is something very unhealthy about the burden we place on family members (whether it be on grown children, parents, or siblings) to give of their hard-earned money when they also have needs of their own. One of the things I appreciate about Edric’s side of the family, especially his father’s, is that they were raised to fend for themselves. There was no pressure or expectation that monetary support would come from anywhere else but from what each person had the capacity to earn, build, or acquire. By God’s grace, they remain close and have great relationships with one another, and money hasn’t come between them. 

Thankfully, Edric grew up with a father who instilled the value of “providing for one’s own” in him, too. Therefore Edric assumed that it was his responsibility to protect the kids and me from future financial stress or from being in a position that would burden others to provide for us if his life were cut short. The truth is neither of us know when we will go and as much as I would like to think that Edric and I will live forever, or expire together at the same time with all our kids, or be raptured as a family, these are romantic fantasies that may not happen. Hence, Edric has a love letter written for me that affirms his love for the kids and me, revisits the values which define our family (I asked him to add this part, ha ha ha), and very practically includes the persons whom I need to get in touch with to access such and such accounts and insurances, etc. (Truthfully, I do not know the exact details of the letter to this day and I don’t want to until it needs to be opened.)

It pains me to envision his parting words but knowing the letter exists has somehow magnified my appreciation for his leadership, initiative, and wisdom, as well as allayed my fears about how the kids and I will survive. Even if I bring in some income, my primary job is home educating my kids, and whatever I contribute from projects is not commensurate to what Edric currently makes. If he were to be incapacitated or pass away I would be in financial trouble as a mom of five kids! 

Ultimately, my security (as well as his) is in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is our provider and sustainer. It’s only because of His enabling and blessing that we are presently okay financially and physically able to generate income. Yet, we are called to stewardship of our resources and to plan with the future in mind as Proverbs 6:6-8 says. “Go to the ant, o sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.” 

God has entrusted each one of us (all persons) with the capacity to work hard to provide for our families. Although financial status may vary, we all have God-given talents and abilities that we can utilize. Furthermore, Proverbs 12:11 wisely explains, “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.”

1 Timothy 5:8 puts it very seriously, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

I talked to a taxi driver the other day and he may not have had the same opportunities available to him that Edric and I did growing up but he embraced the same perspective about being responsible for one’s own family. He was doing his best to think about the future needs of his children, especially because he got into an accident where he almost lost his life. 

Every sensible person understands that future health and well-being are not guaranteed. We might not all make decisions accordingly but wealth isn’t forever and unprecedented circumstances such as losses come upon all of us. Therefore we need to do what is within our control. This is the intent behind the “love letter” principle — an act of foresight that anticipates the brevity of life, reaffirms the love for family and the values shared by family, and safeguards the financial well-being of one’s spouse and kids. 

Obedience and Discipline

As our children move up in their ages, training them in obedience doesn’t stop. Disciplining for disobedience, however, may evolve into different forms.

When our kids are young, we employ spanking with a paddle or flat rod that doesn’t break the skin. It stings enough to make an impression about the importance of obedience. However, it doesn’t bruise them or injure them like a physical beating done in anger would. In fact, it’s never to be done in anger.

For those who aren’t familiar with the past articles I have written on spanking, allow me to re-emphasize the following: 

– We don’t spank in anger. 

– It’s done in private for disobedience of a rule or instruction that has been communicated clearly. 

– One or two efficient swats across the rear end (where it’s most padded in their body) is enough to inflict calculated pain. 

– We explain to our child(ren) why they are getting a spanking, that learning obedience is necessary to protect them from future pain. 

– We allow them to acknowledge how they disobeyed us and ask for forgiveness. 

– A hug and I love you follow after the ordeal.

We can count the number of times we have had to spank each of our kids. Spanking’s intent in our home has not been punitive or to shame our kids. As much as possible, we’ve also avoided using it as a threat to manipulate them into obeying us. (I must confess that I’ve made my foibles with Catalina in particular.) Yet generally, spanking was and is used to connect disobedience with consequences. The kids learned and continue to learn to respect and honor authority. We don’t spank excessively or for an indefinite period of time, either. By the age of six or seven, the approach to discipline evolves. 

Three of our five kids are past the age of seven, so spanking isn’t as effective anymore and they have graduated to different forms of discipline. With the older boys, we employ natural logical consequences and withdrawal of privileges.

For example, recently, the boys had to pay for the repair of their gadgets. They hadn’t stewarded these properly, something that Edric and I instructed them to do. As a result, screens needed to be repaired. Having understood that they failed to take good care of gadgets that had been entrusted them, they owned up to their mistake and apologized. However, a consequence followed. They used money they worked hard to earn and gift money to pay for their mistake. It was a painful lesson but a memorable one. 

Yet another example was when they didn’t complete certain assignments I asked them to while I was away in Kenya. They were tasked to finished reading their history material. Well, they only read a few pages. So what happened when I got back from Kenya? Their time on gadgets was suspended until they finished their history work. They knew this was a fair consequence. I had to withdraw privileges for disregarding my instruction. Since gadget time to play educational games or do coding mattered to them, this consequence “stung.”

For the most part, I praise God that my kids are obedient. They want to honor Edric and me, and they try their best to obey us. So these moments of having to withdraw privileges or allow them to experience natural, logical consequences are infrequent. But they still happen. 

When I get tired of correcting or training my kids in the area of obedience, or when I get intimidated by my strong-willed children like Catalina, I have to tell myself, Obedience is for their good. If I love them I will NOT stop teaching them to obey. Edric is committed to the same thing.

Why is obedience so beneficial? 

1. PROTECTION from self-inflicted pain. Many people reap the consequences of wrong choices, choices that go against the God-ordained authorities in their lives, and against God’s plan for them. As a result they end up spiritually, emotionally, and physically broken. 

Proverbs 30:17 affirms this. “The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it.”

Deuteronomy 28:15 warns, “But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.” 

When I was sixteen I dated a guy without the approval of my parents. I was stubborn and failed to honor them. Although they didn’t outrightly tell me to stop dating the guy, I knew that they thought I was too young. However I persisted in the relationship. In the end I was so crushed and broken-hearted. I felt used, manipulated, and disrespected by the guy on many levels. The relationship turned out to be an awful one. I wasted two precious years of high school.

Looking back I wish I never dated the guy but hindsight didn’t spare me from the consequences of my wrong choice. Had I prioritized honoring my parents, my high school years would have been so much more productive and fruitful.

2. The PROMISE of well-being. 

God rewards obedience. “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God…” (Deuteronomy‬ ‭28:1-2)

Ephesians 6:3 says, “it may go well with you and that you enjoy long life on the earth,” but it’s premised by obedience and honoring of parents in verses 1 and 2. We can take the phrases “go well with you” and “enjoy long life on the earth” literally.  

Logically, when we refrain from going against God’s design and principles, we avoid many of the problems that cut a person’s life short. Take for instance a very simple example. I tell my kids not to eat a lot of sugar, explaining to them that it’s really bad for their bodies in excessive amounts. If they refuse to listen, they will get a slew of sicknesses associated with a bad diet. In the long run, they will compromise their health.

On a more serious level, my siblings and I trusted in our parents’ approval when it came to choosing our spouses. We wanted their blessing in this area. There’s no doubt that going against their wishes would have led to undue stress in our relationships with our spouses and issues that we may not have foreseen. 

Having counseled many couples and singles in the area of marriage and relationships, I see how God has given parents certain instincts and insights when it comes to helping their children select a life partner. Even when a parent or parents can seem unreasonable, for as long as they aren’t asking their child to do something against God’s Word, most children are better off respecting their parents’ wishes about the person they should marry. 

Some people obey God but they don’t live long on the earth, yet I still believe they lived the exact amount of time that God wanted them to in order to accomplish His purposes. In this sense, they lived full lives. My sister-in-law’s brother died a day before turning thirty. He was on-fire for Christ, but God took him sooner than later. Here is where I won’t pretend to understand the greater purposes of God. However, I do know that for Steve (my sister-in-law’s brother), he lost nothing by dying young. In fact, he is surely rejoicing in the presence of the Lord. His legacy in the hearts and minds of people lives on today which tells me that the life of a godly person doesn’t end on earth at the point of his or her death. Instead it continues to make a positive impact on others. 

3. PURPOSE and discernment of God’s Will. “My son, observe the commandment of your father, and do not forsake the teaching of your mother; bind them continually on your heart; tie them around your neck. When you walk about, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk to you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light…” (Proverbs 6:20 – 23)

Many people have asked me, “How do I know what God’s will is?”

The simple answer to this question is to obey in the areas that are obvious then God will reveal the rest. Corrie Ten Boom said, “When we are obedient, God guides our steps and our stops.” One of our life purposes’ is to live in daily submission to the Lord. What are some practical areas where we can submit to Him? Purity. Holiness. Forgiving those who have hurt us. Loving people. Honoring Him with our choices.

These are obvious areas where we don’t have to ask, “Is this God’s will for me?” Substitute any of the above into the question and the answer is, “Yes, it’s God’s will for me to be pure, to be holy, to forgive, to love, to honor Him.”

Are we obeying Him in these areas? If we aren’t then how can we expect Him to show us what comes next? Daily attentiveness and listening to the Lord’s voice is a prerequisite to hearing Him clearly when we have to make the bigger decisions – what job to take, whom to marry, where to live, whom to partner with in business or what business venture to get into, etc. How can we discern God’s voice when it really counts if we’ve deafened ourselves to Him in the day to day? 
“The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant.” (Psalm 25:14)

4. The POWER of God and the PRIVILEGE OF PARTICIPATION in building His Kingdom. When Joshua was leading the Israelites across the Jordan River to enter the promised land, the priests had to step into the water first like God asked them to before it dried up for them. Then, they could walk across safely. The miracle didn’t happen before the obedience.

When Edric and I have conflicts and we are about to minister to people whether it’s via public speaking or counseling, we have to resolve our issues first and ask for forgiveness from one another, otherwise there’s no empowering of the Holy Spirit in us to connect with the hearts of people or to effectively deliver the Word of God. We may not feel like doing so, but the Bible tells us to ask for forgiveness and to forgive, and to refrain from doing so would be a violation of God’s Word.

Just this morning, Edric and I got irritated at each other for being late to a meeting. It was my fault for leaving my phone but I felt that his reaction wasn’t fair. So I accused him of failing to be on the ball himself and not deciding on a specific time for us to leave the house. Well, this conversation snowballed and I rolled my eyes at one point and called him a “jerk” under my breath when he couldn’t hear me. I know. It was bad. I was so wrong. I let my irritation control my tongue. 

Since we were on our way to a ministry meeting, we had to resolve it. We knew we couldn’t stand before the Lord or others with authenticity or with spiritual authority. So we both apologized and asked for each other’s forgiveness. It wasn’t easy but it was necessary. We knew there would be no power in our lives if we remained in sin, persisting in disobedience towards God in the form of anger and unforgiveness. 

5. The PEACE of knowing we true followers of Christ. 

Many times, Edan, our second child who always like to be sure about everything (a sigurista in Tagalog), asks me, “Mom do you think I love God?” 

My reply is almost always, “Edan, I know you love God because you desire to obey us, you desire to obey Him. There is evidence in your life that you have Christ in your life.” 

When we obey God from the heart, we can confidently say that we are true followers of His, that we love Him. John 14:21 tells us, “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” Obedience is the evidence of real relationship with God and love for God. 

Since obedience is of infinite importance, let us keep OVER-emphasizing obedience in our homes. In fact, in ours, we get everyone to memorize the mantra, “Obedience brings blessings!” Even little Catalina will shout this out if prodded to. The benefits of obedience are beyond material things — beyond monetary gains, fame, or worldly accomplishments. These things are wonderful, but what counts more is that our kids avoid the painful consequences of sin, that they experience a long, fruitful life that is directed by God for His purposes and empowered by Him, and that we have the peace of knowing they belong to Him. And might I just add, obedient kids are such a delight! They are a blessing to their parents and to those around them.