A Father’s Priority

My husband, as amazing as I think he is, scored 0% for his auditory skills on a learning styles assessment. This has nothing to do with intelligence. It has everything to with how a person takes in and retains information.

Up until he took the test, I could not understand why he wouldn’t remember appointments and commitments we discussed or conversations we had. I would say, “But we talked about it. You said yes.”

“Nope. I don’t remember.”

“How can you not remember? You were looking right at me when you said yes.”

“Sorry hon, I really don’t remember.”

Grr.

After he took the learning styles assessment it all made sense. I became a smarter communicator by changing the delivery mode for any pertinent decisions or content we had to discuss. I switched to texting, messaging, and emailing for appointments, schedules and reminders.

It worked! He would give his confirmation and feedback via the same channels. It also gave me physical proof to show him in case he said, “I forgot.” He he.

This past week we celebrated Edan’s birthday. A week prior Edric and I discussed that his afternoon would be blocked off for Edan. I did consider the possibility that he might not remember but I was like, “Nah, this is our son. He won’t do that.”

Well, he did. The day that Edan turned 8, Edric booked five major meetings.
I found out while I was lying in Edric’s arms sharing a moment of sweet exchange about how much we missed one another. It turned pretty sour for me when I found out that Edric had left no room in his day to spend with Edan like he said he would. For Edan’s sake, I felt hurt and disappointed.

It turned out that Edan wanted to go to the pet store with his dad to buy a falcon. Okay…a falcon. Where would we find anything remotely close to a bird of prey?! Obviously the falcon was a fantasy of an idea. He was willing to settle for a bird that he could put on his finger and hold. Edric and I were pretty confident that Cartimar would have something that matched that description.

When I discovered that Edric had back to back meetings I thought Cartimar would have to be postponed. But Edric was convinced that he could find a way to get there and back and still make his meetings. I was pretty doubtful. Cartimar wasn’t around the corner. It was in Pasay. Nevertheless, I kept things optimistic at home for Edan’s sake.

He approached me several times to ask, “What time are we going, mom?” Buying that bird was like the dream of all dreams for him. But I had to wait on Edric to do some magic with his meetings.

Edric might have messed up initially (which he admitted to and apologized for), but one of the things I really appreciate about him is he will prioritize his family. No matter how busy he gets, when he knows me or the kids need him, he will make a way to meet that need. When he saw how excited Edan was and how Edan’s anticipation was hinged on his availability, he told me, “This is important to me, I will find a way to take him.”

By 11:30 AM Edric picked us up and we headed to Cartimar. And there was no traffic! We were in and out of Cartimar in about two and a half hours, and Edric even joined us for a late lunch.

Of course we didn’t get Edan a falcon like he originally wished for. He was willing to settle for two cockatiels. One he named Beady and the other, Geedy.

A side story…In Cartimar we ran into a friend of Edric’s family who was a pet store owner himself (for dogs) and he helped us negotiate the price of the cockatiels. He was God-sent. Normally, he wasn’t around but he happened to be there that day. So we knew that we weren’t getting duped as rookie bird buyers.

Edan developed an immediate attachment to his new pets. As for me, I was so impressed with my husband. First he displayed some pretty attractive bargaining skills. But more than that it was following through with his commitment to Edan that really blessed me. Edric found a way to slide his afternoon meetings upwards.

As a boy of few words, Edan is not the kind of child who will express gratitude with intense emotion. So when he does, it means a lot. In the car, he was sitting in the front seat with the bird cage on his lap, and he swung his head around to say, “You are the best parents.”

During lunch, when I explained to him that his dad moved his meetings just to take him to Cartimar, his eyes sparkled with pride, “Daddy is the best daddy!”

I know Edan was thrilled to get his two cockatiels. (As I am writing this he is with them at home, acting the part of loving parent.) But the joy he felt when he picked out those birds wouldn’t have been complete if Edric failed to be present. I know Edan. He might have taken the big let down like a toughie but it would have curdled inside him, and his countenance would have shown it.

Sometimes parenting can seem so complicated. I get all kinds of questions from friends and readers about how to deal with difficult children. And I know what it is like to be confronted with character issues in my own kids. But it’s really not that complicated. When my kids start acting up, character-wise, I know it is often a deficiency on the part of Edric and I (in the area of our parenting).

I am not saying this is always the case but our children tend to be responders. The way we raise and treat them; what we model, praise, hold dear; how we communicate that we love and cherish them, these make impressions that lead to desirable and undesirable behaviors and attitudes on their part.

Edan’s heart, like all my other children’s hearts, is delicate and fragile. It would have been deeply wounded if Edric had not prioritized him on his birthday. Edric didn’t need to spend 24 hours with him to make him feel significant. Two and a half hours to and from the pet store, and the prize of two cockatiels in a cage were enough to send Edan to the moon. He felt really special.

A father’s time and attention will do that. I see how hard it is for Edric to balance everything he does. It’s no easy juggling for him to be a husband, dad, TV host, motivational speaker, director of a homeschool program, head of family ministry, and discipler and mentor to other men. But somehow he is able to be around when it matters most. He knows that a father’s priority is his family, and his children know for certain that they are.

I pray that Edric will remain this way. It’s only by God’s grace that he is this kind of a dad to our kids. But he is going to be a dad for a very long while yet, and there will always be something competing with his priorities. The same goes for me as a mother. Edric and I have to continually ask ourselves, what must have precedence in our lives according to God’s word?

As I watched Edan delightfully engrossed in the responsibility of caring for his birds, and listened to him chatter away as he described their personalities…Geedy is “stubborn” and “wakes up early”, and Beady “eats all the food” and “likes to sleep”, I was reminded that it is always worth it to communicate to our children that they are the most important people in our lives.

pri·or·i·ty
\prī-ˈȯr-ə-tē, -ˈär-\
noun
: something that is more important than other things and that needs to be done or dealt with first
priorities
: the things that someone cares about and thinks are important
: the condition of being more important than something or someone else and therefore coming or being dealt with first

(http://i.word.com/idictionary/priority)

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Kids Need Their Fathers

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Some weeks ago my third son, Titus, was recovering from a cough and cold so he had to stay away from the other kids. Edric happened to see him peering out of the window, all alone. So he called out, “Do you want to go walking with daddy?” Titus was thrilled. He ran down the stairs and put on his shoes.

Edric walked with him all the way to the park and back. And Titus talked the whole time. He is not much of a talker so this was significant. Some of the things he said were, “So you and mommy have been married 5 times right, because you have five kids?” “Someday I am going to marry Tiana.” Of course Edric corrected his understanding of marriage and explained why he can’t marry his sister. It was a precious time, just the two of them.

When Titus got back home, he announced to his siblings that “dad went walking with him.” He narrated how Edric saw him at the window and called out to him. He was very proud to tell everyone.

A child’s self-worth is very much hinged on the attention and regard given by his or her parents. But, I think this is especially true for the time a father gives to a son. There is something special about the affirmation and validation a son receives from his dad.

I know a couple of guys who admitted that they tried to compensate for what their fathers’ did not give by turning to unhealthy habits and behaviors, relationships, and friendships, or pursuing ambitions in order to feel whole.

No one can give back the years that a father was absent or heal the wounds that his flaws inflicted. However, I have also seen men who did not live with the example of a godly father or receive the love and affection of a dad recover from their deep brokenness. Their new identity and self-worth came through Jesus Christ.

Two Sundays ago, I listened to the testimony of a man who was physically and sexually abused by his own father. He was betrayed and harmed on multiple levels as a young boy. As a result, he grew up without a compass. In his young adult years he turned to homosexual relationships and a decadent lifestyle to feel happy. But he was never satisfied with that life.

When he finally encountered Jesus Christ and understood how much he was loved, forgiven and redeemed by God, he became a transformed person. Today he is living for Christ. He admits that he is still tempted by sexual sin but he continues to pursue God’s design for him as a man. He has a peace and joy that he never used to.

I believe that no one is beyond God’s grasp. God can always redeem the mistakes of our parents. As this passage says, “Behold, the Lord ‘s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear.” (Isaiah 59:1 NASB)

However, let us not be the kind of parents who shipwreck the lives of our children. We may not be as bad as a father who beats and molests his children, but are we present to disciple, lead and train our children, steering their hearts toward God?

Most likely, you are a young woman or a wife or a mom reading this post. And if you are married to a husband who is neglecting your children emotionally and spiritually, hope in God. Pray for him. (Look at yourself, too, and pray about the areas where you need to change…we can all change for the better.)

When Edric and I had a smaller family, I prayed for him to step up as the spiritual leader of our home, that his heart would be turned towards our children. At the beginning he was great at prioritizing me and his work, but he didn’t really know how to be an intentional and purposeful father. But as we had more sons, he realized that they needed him. They needed him to model biblical manhood and to teach them what it means to love and follow Christ. And he couldn’t do this unless he spent time with them and built a relationship with them.

Today parenting is a team effort between us. We still make mistakes but we continue to refer to God’s word for guidance. We also ask for forgiveness from our kids when we fail to be Christ-like.

Just yesterday, Edric asked Titus to forgive him for being irritable. While I was correcting Titus and Tiana for speaking to one another with an unkind tone, I asked them, “Do mommy and daddy do that?” trying to point out that they should copy our example. Titus replied, “No, but daddy gets angry sometimes.” He clarified that daddy doesn’t shout but he can get irritated. Of course I passed on this observation to Edric. And he was very repentant about it and apologized to Titus, who readily forgave him.

Edric and I continue to pray for one another as we parent our kids. He prays for me to be the mom I need to be and I pray for him to have the wisdom he needs to lead our family. Author Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” I agree with this but I also believe that whether man or woman, before God, we are all broken and need repairing. If we want to build strong children as parents, we have to recognize that we can’t do it apart from Christ.

Furthermore, if we find ourselves in a season of parenting alone as a mother, then we can be encouraged by God’s tender description of himself as father to the fatherless. What an assurance that he will provide in the areas where we cannot! Father to the fatherless, defender of widows— this is God, whose dwelling is holy. (Psalms 68:5 NLT) Kids need their fathers, but more than a loving, godly earthly father, they need the FATHER OF ALL.

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Men Need Men to Become Men

Boys benefit from man-building activities that encourage the development of their manhood. When I say man-building activities I mean experiences that are like “man-versus-wild” kind of stuff – camping, mountain-climbing, scouting – and sports.

When Edric was growing up, my father-in-law, Eddie (Papa to me), invested time teaching him how to fly kites, scuba dive, climb mountains, boogie board, fish, sail, repel, bike, play ball, and swim…among other things. This is how they bonded, in the context of activity. Edric has always remembered these father and son occasions with fondness. And I have appreciated the attractive masculine traits that Edric acquired because of them.

Men need a good adventure and challenge, but they also need a man who has gone before them to pass on survival skills and know-how.

Our sons had the opportunity to take on a good adventure and challenge when Papa invited Edric, Elijah and Edan to climb Mt. Batulao last Saturday. Edric and the boys were thrilled. I was jealous because I wanted to go, too. But this was an experience that Edric wanted to share with the boys – just the guys. I had the other three kids to take care of anyway.

Early Saturday morning, Elijah and Edan had their hiking shoes on and were set to go at 5 AM. They packed their energy food – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, trail mix, hard boiled eggs with salt on the side, granola bars, and water. Elijah was in charge of carrying the water and Edric carried the food. They got to Batulao 2 hours later and met up with Papa.

Initially, as they began their climb, Edan complained about the prickly tall grass and fatigue. But he wasn’t being a soiled brat. This was no tiny mountain! It was two and a half hours up one way with 12 peaks!

Edric admitted that he was concerned as he watched the boys scale some of the steep inclines. They could’ve rolled off to their deaths! Sadly, some time ago there was a woman who fell off one of the peaks while trying to take a picture. She died!

Well, I’m glad I didn’t know about that story before they went on the climb. The protective mother in me might have tried to dissuade Edric from taking Edan. But he did great! He was the only 7 year old on the trail and he persevered. Even though he was bickering at the beginning, he thoroughly enjoyed the hike as he went along.

Edric called me at one point during their climb (amazingly, there was a Globe signal), and he gave me an update on how the kids were doing and how much fun they were all having. What I would have given to have been there! I wanted to see their expressions and be a part of this special moment in their lives. But without me around they were better off. There was no nurturing mother figure to turn to for sympathy when they got tired or tripped and skinned their knees. The boys had to stick it out, suck it in, and push themselves under the guidance of Edric and Papa.

When they got home, they were exhausted, bruised and cut up, but they were smiling like they just had the time of their lives. They also had a certain satisfaction in their tone when they spoke about their trek. Thanks to Papa and Edric, the boys learned to overcome their fears, weaknesses, and put in the hard work and effort necessary to achieve a goal they were proud of.

How valuable it is when fathers and grandfathers mentor their sons and set aside time to help them become men. Climbing a mountain together is not the only way to do this but it sure worked for my boys. They went up Mt. Batulao as two clueless boys but they came down as wiser, stronger, more confident young men!
 

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Correcting Children With Love

Titus, my third son, was reacting to having to eat Adobo for lunch a few days ago. It was reported to me that he had a bad attitude about his food so I had a talk with him. I took him aside, away from his brothers and sisters, and asked him, “Do you love Jesus? Is he in your heart?” He nodded but he didn’t want to look me in the eye.

In the gentlest voice possible, I encouraged him to tell me what went wrong. I wanted to find out, from his perspective, why he wasn’t happy about his lunch. He was hesitant at first but I told him, “You can tell mommy anything,” and I took his face in my hands to look into his eyes.

I know Titus. He can seem strong-willed and stubborn but he is a sweet son inside. I trust in the work of the Lord in his heart when he seems difficult to reach. But it is important that I approach him with kindness in my tone. If I bear down on him with irritation or badger him, demanding that he explain himself, he will withdraw from me all the more.

All my kids have different needs when it comes to training and discipleship but I have noticed that it is easier to influence them towards right attitudes and behavior when I do the following:

  1. Assure them that they are loved no matter what.
  2. Listen to their perspective without criticizing it.
  3. Ask them questions about their perspective and how they can change for the better…Ex. Is it right or wrong to have that kind of attitude? Is it right or wrong to treat others that way? This allows them to come to their own conclusions and convictions about sin.
  4. Communicate to them that I believe in the good work that Christ is doing in their lives and the positive change that will ensue because they love Jesus.
  5. Hug and kiss them.

Fifteen minutes later, Titus was with me in the kitchen, eating his Adobo with a smile on his face. All he asked for was a little more sauce to be put on it and he didn’t resist being told to eat it.

The key to this process of correcting wrong attitudes and behavior in my kids is Jesus. I cannot have these sorts of dialogues with my children if they don’t know Jesus and do not have a relationship with him. So as early as 3 years old, Edric and I share the gospel to them. And afterwards, we continue instructing their hearts so they grow spiritually.

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Although we are authoritative and set rules for our children, we aren’t tyrannical. We leave room for the Holy Spirit to operate and give our kids the opportunity to respond to him. When they don’t, then we know they don’t really have a personal relationship with Christ and we need to help them get to that point. Or they may claim to have one but they have to grow in the knowledge of him. It’s our responsibility to pass on this knowledge to them by encouraging them to read the Bible, having devotions as a family, praying for them and with them, and studying God’s word together.

When parents ask how Edric and I manage to parent 5 kids, we have nothing to boast about. It is the Lord’s work in the lives of our children. They have a personal relationship with him. This makes them receptive to instruction. We can only do what is within our control – love them, spend time with them, invest in their lives by being present during these tender years, model Christ-likeness and ask for forgiveness when we don’t. But, the grace to love God, to follow and obey him (and us) is ULTIMATELY the working of the Holy Spirit.DSC00797

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. (Galatians 6:1 NASB)

 

 

You Have to Let Him Be the Man

Edan, our second, is 7. So he has a number of baby teeth on their way out. I pulled one a few weeks ago. Edric was jealous that I did it. He wanted the honor of pulling it out himself. But I couldn’t help it. The thing was practically dangling at a 45 degree angle. It was much too tempting not to pop that sucker out and that’s exactly what I did. I pushed down on it really fast with my thumb and it came right off. Edan was too stunned to realize there was any pain. I was so looking forward to pulling out his other teeth but they weren’t quite ready.

Two weeks later another baby tooth was just barely hanging on. We were in a lighting store at a home depot when Edan showed me how loose it was.

“Do you want me to pull it out? I can do it right now.”

Edan stopped me, “Daddy said he is going to do it.”

I tried to bargain with Edric for the opportunity to since I had done it so successfully the last time but he wouldn’t budge. “Nope, I am doing it.” He was adamant and confident.

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Okay, okay. We got home and Edric brought Edan to our bathroom. With Edan facing him he proceeded to pull on the tooth with a tissue. A tissue?! My thoughts were, You’ve got to be kidding me. That isn’t going to work.

He spent about five minutes toiling over how to do it and using the tissue without success. Edan was feeling very stressed and on the verge of tears. I really really wanted to say, “Can I please take over, that’s not the way to do it. I know what to do. Just let me do it.”

But I couldn’t defame Edric in front of the kids. Some of them were watching in suspense and Edan believed that Edric could do it. He was terrified but he trusted his dad. So I stood aside but discreetly suggested that he could flick the tooth downwards with his thumb and it would probably come out really fast.

He gave my suggestion a try and the tooth didn’t resist at all. The root was so worn down it just popped out. Edan was so happy and relieved. Whew. So was I!

Edric pulled me aside and asked, “How did you know that would work?”

“Really? You have never done it that way before? I pulled out my own teeth that way when I was a kid.”

“I have never pulled out a tooth!”

“Seriously?! You have never pulled out even your own teeth?!”

“Nope. In fact I was getting pretty stressed and nervous trying to pull out Edan’s!”

No wonder why he was trying to grip the tooth with a tissue initially and attempting to pull it upwards! He could have at least thought of using pliers!

Well, looking back I am glad that he still came out the hero in all this. The kids were impressed at how he eventually got it out.

It may seem like such a small thing but our kids are watching us all the time. They observe the way Edric and I relate to one another as husband and wife. We try to respect one another in front of the kids because we also ask them to respect us. So when he has greater insight or perspective on a matter and vice versa, we will correct in private or give suggestions in a way that doesn’t make each another look inferior or incapable (as much as possible). We support each other’s roles and affirm them. In this instance, I stepped aside to let Edric be the man, especially given the fact that getting their teeth pulled is pretty terrifying for our kids. So
I wanted them to be confident that he could definitely do it. I wanted them, especially Edan who is going to be losing a lot more, to trust his dad.

And…well the added bonus is he REALLY DOES know how to pull out a tooth efficiently now!

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In a marriage, we must help one another improve but not in a hostile take-over manner. Nobody is perfect. A husband and wife both need each other to become better, but it should be done in a positive manner, and not in a way that makes each other bitter because they are humiliated or belittled.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; (Romans 12:10 NASB)

Do Not Aim For External Obedience

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My fourth child is Tiana.
She is a charming 3 year old and she knows it. Tiana will flutter her eyelashes, twinkle those big brown eyes of hers and flash a disarming smile, and voila! you forget that she needs to be disciplined for something. But Edric and I need to make sure that she doesn’t miss this critical stage of discipleship and discipline, which is largely about obedience. We want her to learn to obey because it is for her good and protection.

Since we have a lot of kids, the challenge when it comes to discipline is consistency. Each child may need a modified or personalized approach but we want the same end result — internalized obedience. Obedience is preached, practiced, and applied in our home, so we cannot allow Tiana to be an exemption.

For example, some time ago, the kids and I were hanging out at my parent’s place. And while I was putting them down for a nap, their cousin came in to rest with them. This would have been fine had my niece calmly gone to sleep. But she was singing, humming, buzzing, and trying to get their attention. I told her that if she kept that up, she would have to take a nap by herself. Well, she did not listen, so I took the kids out of the room and let them sleep elsewhere.

My niece is a sweet girl but she is not my daughter so I can only control what I do with my own kids. I wanted my children to see that I meant what I said and I would follow through. Their cousin wailed for a while because she was upset that she could not nap with everyone else. The kids could hear her in the other room but they understood why I couldn’t let them stay together. No one would be able to sleep.

After about fifteen minutes, my own kids settled down and were hitting that point where their eyes glaze over and they fall asleep. However, Tiana was moving about on the bed and playing with her pillow. So I told her, “If you do not obey mommy and lay down quietly you will be disciplined.” She acknowledged this but didn’t take me too seriously. As a result the other kids were unable to fall asleep. They knew that Tiana wasn’t obeying me and they were waiting to see how I would handle the situation.

I looked over at Tiana who was sitting up on her side of the bed, fiddling with the zipper on a memory foam pillow. She was not lying down. Honestly, I did not want to spank her. I was seated comfortably across the room looking up recipes on my Ipad. But I knew that if I didn’t deal with the situation, she would think, “I can get away with this sort of thing.” And there was the matter of her brothers looking on to see my next move. They knew that if they were in her shoes, they would have been disciplined.

So I picked her up, took her into the bathroom and explained to her that she did not obey. As a result, she would be getting a spanking. Edric and I don’t spank our kids a lot. We can count the number of times each of our children has been spanked. But when we do spank, our kids know that it is for disobedience. It is a rule that is clear to our children.

Tiana got a spanking. Afterwards, we talked about it and she said sorry for not obeying. She also laid down quietly like I had asked her to previously.

I love my kids and I don’t like to spank them. But because I love them, I want them to understand what it means to obey and submit to authority. It is for their greater good. Some people may not agree with using spanking as a form of discipline. In our home, however, we have used it in the context of a good relationship with our kids. It is not done in anger. It is primarily used to correct disobedience, especially while they are between the ages of 1 and 6. We also use other forms of discipline like withdrawal of privileges and natural logical consequences.

Harold Sala wrote, “You can discipline without love, but can you really love without discipline? ​Discipline is an integral part of love. Although discipline is actually a very old concept, there are many, today, who consider any form of discipline to be punishment. There is a vast difference between the two. Centuries ago, the writer of Scripture declared that discipline is the result of real parental love, just as God’s discipline for His children is the result of His love and concern for our lives.”

“My son do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12).

It’s interesting that discipline makes our children feel more secure because they know their boundaries. When parameters are set, our kids are aware of what we expect from them and what they need to work on in their character. They don’t have to guess or figure out what is right from wrong as they go along. As parents we tell them what is right based on God’s word and then make them accountable and responsible for choosing to do what we tell them to.

Tiana is still young so we have a lot to work on with her. As for her three older brothers, we are trying to ingrain in them the higher motivation for obedience — the desire and will to love the Lord and please him. After all, we aren’t after mere external compliance but the peace of knowing that our children will follow God’s word even when we aren’t watching them.

Someone asked me very recently, “How do you make your children obey?” I had a problem with that question. First, my goal is not to MAKE them obey. I want them to embrace obedience as God’s plan for their lives– for blessing, protection, and an abundant life. During the early years, we teach our kids that obedience is doing what we say, but eventually we teach them that obedience is doing what we say with a cheerful attitude. It is about the heart.

Second, obedience is something I want my kids to see modeled by Edric and I. God has established a chain of command in the home. Edric is the head and I am under his authority. If I don’t submit to Edric or if I do so with a bad attitude, I distort my children’s concept of obedience to authority. Furthermore, my authority over them is established only if I exemplify what I ask of them. If I ask them to obey me but they see me contradicting, disrespecting and undermining Edric’s authority then I can’t expect them to understand obedience from the heart.

If we have to keep MAKING our children obey there may be something wrong with our approach to discipline.
We may be focusing too much on the behavior and punishment instead of discipling the hearts of our kids. Discipline is necessary but we need to reinforce character instruction, highlight the blessings of obedience, and remind our children that when they obey us they are ultimately pleasing God. Furthermore, if our children aren’t obeying us we need to look at our own example. Do we obey the authorities in our lives with a cheerful attitude, especially our husbands? :)

Counterflow! (Updated Details)

Don’t miss this event. Attending a parenting seminar like this immensely helped Edric and I become better parents. We learned valuable principles that we have applied as we raise our children.

Counterflow is about parenting against the tide of modern thinking which has removed God from the equation and turned towards humanistic philosophies and perspectives on how to bring up children. Man-centric child rearing is on a dark path. We are seeing a rise in a generation of young people who do not have a moral compass, who are sexually promiscuous, who struggle with gender confusion, who live in a virtual world, who are addicted to social media, who act out violent fantasies, and who are victims of broken homes.

We need to change this. We need to stand against this tidal wave and save the next generation.

The content of this seminar will focus on big picture parenting and how to teach, influence and disciple your child at every stage of their lives from baby to young adult. Even singles are welcome! Find out what kind of parent you need to be before you start a family. Hope to see you there!

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First “Work” Shoes

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My 10 year old, Elijah, is now “working.” Edric is paying him to speak with him whenever he gives financial seminars or talks. It’s part of mentoring Elijah into manhood. For every seminar Elijah gives with his dad, he earns 1,000 pesos. It is not much but it’s a good first job. He plans to put that money into his stocks.

Every time he is supposed to get paid, he also gives Edric a billing statement. It summarizes how much Edric owes him.

I just made a deal with him, too. He can make 200 pesos a week for tutoring Edan in Grade 2 Filipino. Since I want to reinforce his own grasp of the subject and need help teaching it, he sits beside Edan while Edan does his work on Genyo. (Genyo is an online program for English, Math, Science, Social Studies and Filipino. I got it for the kid’s Filipino because I can’t teach them well enough with a book. This program makes it interactive and fun.) Elijah was excited about the idea of being able to earn money for his services as a tutor.

Since he is receiving income now, I took him out to buy him a work outfit. He went with me to pick out his shirt, pants and belt. My kids are homeschooled so they don’t have too many dressy clothes. They don’t need them. But now that Elijah has to be on stage with his dad, a more presentable outfit was necessary.

The most challenging part was the shoes. Elijah’s feet are huge. He wears a 5 to 6 men’s as a 10 year old. So we could not find anything at the children’s section. We took about two hours to find something and it was pricey.

He kept going through the aisles trying to find the best deal because he didn’t want me to spend a lot. But I knew he was hoping to get a style that resembled Edric’s. In fact, all the ones he would look at were like Edric’s shoes. And then he would turn them over and not want me to buy them because they were expensive.

When we finally found a leather pair that fit him well and looked very handsome on him, he voluntarily said, “Mom, I will pay you back with my own money.”

Aww. I felt like crying. Of course he didn’t have to pay me back! I really wanted to buy him a pair of “work” shoes. I was even more happy to buy them because he is beginning to understand the value of money as he works to earn it. What are mothers for anyway? It was my privilege to get him ready for his first job.
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Integrity of Heart

Our children know that lying is wrong and truthfulness is important. However this conviction does not kick in until they have a relationship with Jesus Christ and grow in their faith.

Yesterday morning Edan asked Edric if he could install an app on the IPad. Edric told him to wait for him to review it. (We are careful about the time spent on games and the type of games — preferably educational.) Both of us had a meeting outside of the house so Edan had to control his desire to start playing with the app. When we got back Edric found out that Edan honored his request so he called him into the room to commend him.

“Sit down, Edan, I want to talk to you… I am very proud of you for having integrity. Do you know what that means?”

“No.”

Edric explained, “Integrity is doing what you are supposed to do even when no one is looking.”

I watched this dialogue from my position on the bed, while holding Catalina and feeding her.

Edan smiled at first but then his face and posture suggested that he was bothered. He began to say, “Sometimes I do things that you tell me not to do…when you are not around.”

“Like what?” Edric prodded.

(Yeah, like what? I thought to myself, bracing myself for his answer. What could it possibly be? Edan is a serious guy, this might be something serious. What is it? What is it?!)

Edan continued, “Sometimes I change outside of the bathroom.” And he started to cry.

Huh?! That was it?! I started to cry. My sweet son was convicted about that?! I thought of how tender his heart is.

Immediately, Edric pulled him over to hug him. “That’s ok. Thanks for telling me.”

Edan also added, “And sometimes, Tiana comes into the bathroom when we are all taking a shower. And sometimes, I go into the bathroom when she is taking a shower.”

“Is there anything else?” Edric asked.

Edan shook his head. “That’s all I can think of.”

Here’s a backgrounder: Edric had a rule about modesty. He said the kids should change in private and not run around naked. He wanted them to be gentlemen. He also wanted the boys and Tiana to take a shower separately from one another because she is a girl. The thing is, right now they share a bathroom so it’s pretty challenging to follow this rule.

Edan really took that principle to heart and he was bothered when Edric complimented him for being honest. I looked over at Edric to signal him that we need to revise that rule as “try your best not to” instead of an absolute “have to.” Otherwise, someone like Edan, who is very rule-conscious, might end up having unnecessary guilt about these things. It isn’t something major.

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I wanted to share this story because Edan’s desire to do what is right is a mark of the Holy Spirit’s work in his life. A few years ago, he would not have been like this. He would sometimes connive and manipulate to get his way. And now he is willfully confessing his mistakes. I really believe it is because he made Jesus Lord and Savior of his life and he is growing in his faith. It is the Holy Spirit who puts in him the desire to practice righteousness. Nowadays, he admits it when his motivations are wrong and he confesses when he feels guilty about something.

It really blesses me that he has a tender conscience. He knows he can get a spanking when he voluntarily admits that he disobeyed a command. And if he doesn’t tell us we wouldn’t know. But he wants to walk in truth.

I had a parent ask me one time about a child who had a problem with lying. One of the first things I asked was, “Does the child have a relationship with Jesus?” Habitual lying in a child is symptomatic of their fallen nature. We are all born liars. The cure is to come to Christ, grow in Christlikeness, and listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit when he tells us to change a wrong in our lives.

The bible tells us, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44 NASB)

We need to pay attention to the deeper spiritual issues in the lives of our children — the kind that cannot be cured by discipline alone. For example, I don’t think spanking is a good solution for something like lying. A child should be motivated to have integrity because they understand accountability to God and not because they are afraid of getting caught. They need to understand that God rewards those who live to please him in public and private.

When I was in college, I made some bad choices even if I had a relationship with God. I wasn’t physically pure while dating Edric. But I couldn’t live with this secret and neither could Edric. So before we got married, there was a point when we confessed our sinfulness to our parents. We didn’t have to tell them but we did. In fact, it might sound ridiculous that grown adults would do such a thing. However it was one of the best things we did as a couple. We wanted to have integrity before God.

This is a great Psalm to remind us to walk in integrity and truth (especially for leaders of the Philippines!):

O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the Lord; He swears to his own hurt and does not change; He does not put out his money at interest, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken. (Psalms 15:1-5 NASB)

No One Outgrows Love

My mom and dad have a daily habit of walking. If possible, they do so twice a day, early in the morning and after dinner. In the mornings, swimming is part of that routine, especially for my dad. He will rarely miss being in the pool to do his laps. Being the incredibly disciplined person he is, sticking to a schedule is a priority. He invites my mom to do the same and together, they have enjoyed this daily form of exercise.

No matter where they are in the world (for as long as they aren’t in transit or attending an event or seminar) they will try to exercise.

When we were growing up my parents encouraged my siblings and I to walk with them, too. Mom and dad used this time to connect with us and get to know us better. Informal, relaxed, and outdoors, these elements were conducive to conversation.

So it became a family habit to walk and talk. We would often share with them what was going on in our lives as we made our way up and down the hills of Antipolo (where we spent most of our childhood). Walking time was synonymous with family bonding time.

Oh so long ago...

Oh so long ago…

My siblings and I are all married now and we have families of our own. But whenever we are at my parents’ place for a visit, they ask us to join them for these walks.

Saturday morning was one of those occasions. Mom and dad asked Edric and I if we wanted to go for a walk. They had just gotten back from their trip to the US and hoped to reconnect with us.

I saw my dad dressed to go for a swim at the park. (His usual attire is a t-shirt, cap, and trunks with a pair of goggles in one hand.)

Since Edric and I were also eager to find out how their trip went, we rounded up the kids. “Let’s go walking!”

We got them to join in on the morning’s exercise. It was drizzling. Everyone took an umbrella (except for me because I don’t like using umbrellas unless I absolutely need to carry one) and we headed towards the park.

On the way, my parents told us about the conference they went to and about visiting with my sister and her family. However, for most of the distance, they wanted to know how we were. They wanted to listen to our stories.

My dad actually walked to the park and back without going for a swim. Although he was dressed up for it, he decided he would accompany us all the way back to the house first. He didn’t want our conversation to be cut short. At first, I thought it was due to the rain. But when we arrived at the house, I heard him tell his driver that he needed to be dropped off at the park. He was still going to go swimming.

“Why didn’t you swim when we were there earlier?” I asked him.

“I wanted to be with you guys,” was his reply.

He knew that if he had gone swimming then Edric, mom, the kids and I would have walked back to the house without him. And he didn’t want to be absent while we continued talking. More than that, he wanted to convey that we were important.

I hugged him. “Thanks dad.”

It may not seem like such a big deal but it was to me. I know how routine and goal-oriented my dad is. When he walks to the park, he goes there to swim. That’s his agenda. It is very unusual for him to allow disruptions in his schedule. So postponing his swim was a sweet gesture. He wanted to extend the opportunity to talk to Edric and I and be with our kids. It made me feel very loved.

It’s a blessing that we still get to share these walks from time to time. And I don’t think I will ever outgrow them. More than the actual exercise, it’s the fellowship that my siblings and I (and our spouses) enjoy. It still matters alot to us that mom and dad want to be tuned in to what’s going on in our lives.

As a parent myself, I know how much my own children value the time and attention Edric and I give to them. When we block off our schedules to be with them it tells them they are a priority. Even doing simple things like walking together, playing board games, sitting around the dinner table or telling stories make a powerful impact. In fact they like it alot more than receiving material presents from us because they have our undivided attention and presence. This is more precious to them.

Children long for this kind of assurance, to feel special…even grown up children. No one quite outgrows the desire to be loved and cherished by their own parents. And it doesn’t take expensive gifts to communicate this. More often than not it is the gifts of time, attention, genuine interest and concern that children want from their mom and dad.

“To Be Continued”

The kids love it when Edric invents stories. He tells them almost every night while the kids are tucked in their beds. On nights when he misses story-telling time, he runs a tab with the kids. Like tonight. He had to make up four stories.

I am laying down in the room with the kids while they listen, completely riveted. The stories he tells revolve around 7 characters with similar traits and names to our own family. But they each have a super power and work together on different missions. He interjects spiritual truth and character traits, too. It’s like a TV series only better because the kids have to use their imagination.

Edric isn’t the type to read a storybook but he enjoys story-telling. He is so great at creating these make believe plots that are ridiculous but absolutely entertaining for the kids. I don’t know how he does it but he sits there inventing on the fly and the kids look forward to it every night. He told me he likes the challenge of his multi-level audience and getting reactions out of them. He also likes getting to know them as he studies their responses to his comedy or serious parts.

This routine started a few weeks ago when Edric saw Edan’s achievement test results. Everything was great except for his listening skills. When we discussed how we can help him to improve in this area, he said he would try telling stories. Of course I was thrilled! Since I do most of the homeschooling, I appreciate any sort of participation and input Edric can give to our kids. So far, these stories have been a creative way to get Edan to practice attentiveness and comprehension. Since he is a visual learner, he relies more on pictures and text. His ears need to be “trained.”

Although the initial intent was to help Edan, the kids have all gotten hooked on these stories. They remind Edric every night that it is story time or they tell him how many stories he owes them.

I imagine that someday the kids will remember these entertaining evenings. And while Edric’s stories are very interesting, I know it is his time that really matters to them. He is a busy man and the nights are perfect for him to wind down and relax. But he goes out of his way to be with the kids.

In the past he would make sure to pray with them before bedtime and they always asked for this. But with the added component of a bedtime story, the kids are developing a new kind of affection for him. They know he wants to spend extra time with them and it makes them feel really special.

He ended his story # 4 tonight in the usual manner he does, “to be continued” and they gave their usual protest “What?! Why?! because they didn’t want to be left hanging. But they know that their dad will be back tomorrow night with another good tale to tickle their imaginations. And what they know even better is that he loves them.

I snapped pictures of the kids while they were listening…(Edan looks depressed but that’s just his serious face. It was probably a serious part of the story. Elijah looks like he is sleeping but that’s how he listens.)

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An Appetite for Truth

The Kids Recite Psalm 1
The link above shows our kids reciting Psalm 1 during a parenting seminar Edric gave recently. He asked them to do it impromptu so it’s a rough performance but I thought they were so cute, especially Tiana who was copying her brothers.

Edric is really great at getting our kids to memorize bible verses. It’s part of our weekly family tradition. After I gave birth he decided they would memorize an entire chapter. He thought Psalm 1 would be a good one.

I love this Psalm. I memorized it as a child. It speaks of the blessings of following God, using a tree as a beautiful image to depict the fruitfulness of the righteous.

Edric and I have noticed that our kids tend to be better at memorizing scripture when we keep their minds “clutter-free.” We protect them from too much TV or media influence so they can fill their minds with content that favors spiritual health.

It’s interesting how memorizing scripture keeps a person mentally sharp as well. This worked wonders for my sister, Candy, when she was at dental school in San Francisco. She called my mom one day telling her that she was having such a hard time retaining all the information she had to remember for her classes. My mom encouraged her to memorize bible verses and this helped her with studying. It improved her memory. She did really well in dental school. In fact, she was Valedictorian (but this is another story).

There may be some sort of science to explain this but I also believe that God blesses those who treasure his word. I think about the story of Joshua as he was charged by God to lead the people of Israel into the promised land. God gave him the secret of success –

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” (Joshua 1:8 NASB)

What kind of content is going into the minds and hearts of our children? Is it preparing them for future success?

I pray our children will have an appetite for spiritual truth and fall in love with God’s word, committing it to memory and letting it direct their consciences and decisions. But we have to do our part as parents and start cultivating this desire while they are young.

I praise God for a husband who knows that our own children will become casualties of anti-God philosophies and worldly values if they don’t commit scripture to memory. They may not have memorized a ton of bible verses yet but little by little, we are building upon their knowledge. Our hope is that this will give them a storehouse of truth to refer to as they grow and mature.

Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. (Psalms 119:11 NASB)

How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word. (Psalms 119:9 NASB)