The Gifts of Pain

For the last six months I have dealt with excruciating monthly periods, something I never experienced in my teenage years or adulthood. When it first happened, I had to be brought to the hospital, fearing that appendicitis was the cause. Edric took me to the ER at about 3 AM only discover that there was nothing wrong with me apart from the fact that I was probably dealing with extreme dysmenorrhea. After that month, the pain recurred and my personal research pointed to endometriosis. This was confirmed by doctors as well after two ultrasounds.

For those of you who suffer from the same, you know what it’s like to be bedridden and on painkillers to alleviate the feeling of one, never-ending contraction. The pain heightened to such severity last month that I threw up and felt like I might collapse.

As I have wrestled with this new reality, praying countless times for relief and healing, and being prayed over by others, God has taught me many lessons as the symptoms persists. I would like to call these the gifts of pain in my attempts to see its divine purpose. Of course, I still pray and hope for healing, but in the meantime, here are my reflections…

The gift of empathy. Since I was healthy for most of my life, there was only so much I could grasp about people’s physical pains or their dealings with debilitating conditions or sicknesses. Even today, my physical struggle isn’t likened to those who agonize on a daily basis in their fight against cancer or a life-threatening disease. (What strength these people must have to battle their pain day in and day out!) Yet my pain issues, the monthly ones and the random ones, do give me greater comprehension of how difficult it must be for those who suffer without relief. Now, I can sincerely tell people, “It must be so difficult for you. My heart goes out to you,” and really mean it!

The gift of humility. I consider myself to have a pretty high tolerance for pain. I birthed five children with no anesthesia. However, the discomfort I feel every month is so debilitating that I can’t attend to Edric or my kids, and fighting the pain exhausts me. Homeschooling happens on my bed, as the kids bring their books to my room and do their work around me. Eating and exercise have to be foregone, especially on my second and third days of menstruation. It’s humbling to know that I am not that strong after all. Whatever health, wellness, and physical abilities I have are the grace of God and nothing I can take credit for.

Last month, while groaning on my bed, trying to maneuver to a comfortable position without success, I eventually prayed out loud and said, “Thank you, Lord. You are my strength, you are here with me.”

When pain weakens me, it’s an opportunity to remember just how dependent I am on the Lord.

The gift of joy. Amazingly, God gives joy in the midst of pain. Although I get deeply frustrated about not being in control, and at times worry that there could be more serious things wrong with me, I fix my eyes on the Lord and the fears and discouragement dissipate. I do not have to make my joy dependent on my pain. As author and pastor Stephen Furtick said, “Will your chains break your praise or will your praise break your chains?”

This past week I was anxious because my daughter, Catalina, had five days of strange, fluctuating fever. It was gone in the mornings and returned in the afternoons and evenings. However, God spoke to my heart with this word, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)

I started to tear as I read this passage because my thoughts were clouded with fear, and I was restless with worry. Yet, the Lord assured me that He is ever in control and ever on His throne, and there was joy.

I don’t rejoice in my problems because I like them, I rejoice because I have a Heavenly Father who loves me and has a plan for every circumstance in my life, as well as the lives of those whom I love. He may not always cure a disease but this doesn’t change His character or downgrade His power.

The gift of gratitude. When I first found out that I had adhesions in my pelvis as well as a suspected cyst-like structure in my right ovary due to Endometriosis, I felt discouraged and down. I try to be healthy, eat right, and exercise. I never had operations in my abdominal area to cause the adhesions. Furthermore, I really wanted to have another child, but the Endometriosis contributed to fertility issues. In the past, one try and it was like, boom, baby! Not this year for me…

Well, of course one of the obvious answers was age. The other, more medical reason was that I may have hormone imbalances (to be confirmed soon by a test I’m doing with Life Science). I will do another post about all the natural ways I am trying to “fix” my Endometriosis, but let me see if they work first!

Initially, I battled self-pity and a victim-mentality but then I was like, hey! There’s so much to be thankful for! I still get to walk, run, read, write, sing, eat, teach my children, spend time with my loved ones and friends, serve the Lord, appreciate and explore the world He made, and delight in knowing and loving Him. That’s a lot to celebrate!

The gift of perspective. In the midst of the pain I tell myself, this body will be replaced by a new and perfect one someday. I think of what heaven will be like when all agony and crying will be gone. This promise makes me look forward to eternity. It also prevents me from getting too comfortable on this earth. My body’s health problems point me to the hope of my eternal life with the Lord. They lesson the grip of this world on my heart as I remember that it is passing away.

“We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life…Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:2-4, 8

As I close, allow me to end with this insight…I did not choose my pain, but Jesus Christ willingly entered into your pain and my pain when He gave His life for us so that we might be healed of our greatest problem – the problem of sin. That’s our real disease. “And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)

When people ask me if I believe that God heals, my question is what is the healing that we seek? Is it merely to be liberated from physical pain? If that is the case, then isn’t that failing to understand the more important reason for Christ’s wounds? He gave His life “so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” as the passage explains above. Since our earthly existence is a dot in comparison to eternity, His priority is to heal our relationship with Him first. Mark 8:36, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

If we read verse 25, following 1 Peter 2:24, it says that we were straying like sheep (our real problem…turning away from our Creator) but now we have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (a picture of our spiritual healing, being reconciled to God).

So while I believe that God has the power to heal us from ailments and diseases and we should pray in faith for physical healing, I also believe that He may not always alleviate our physical suffering if it accomplishes a greater purpose in our lives and the lives of others, namely our spiritual healing and the spiritual healing of others. So here in lies the greatest gift of pain…when it reconciles us to God or draws us into a profoundly deeper relationship with Him.

I am still claiming healing in Jesus’ name for my Endometriosis and doing my part to make lifestyle changes. But even if God doesn’t make my life problem or pain-free, I still consider it a blessed life because He is my sustainer and provider. His grace and love never fail. His heart is for me and for my good. He is and will be with me through all the seasons of my life!

To the Greater Things

Five years ago, Edric guested on Tina Palma’s show, “Talk Back with Tina Palma”, where he answered questions about home education. After the show, he was asked by ANC if he ever considered being on television. Surprised, he quipped, “Maybe in a former life.”

However, the executives of the network were serious about recruiting him to host a personal finance show they were cooking up, called “On the Money”. When they mentioned the concept, Edric laughed and acknowledged that this wasn’t his professional background. Although he felt very unqualified, they actually weren’t looking for an expert in finance. They needed someone who would be able to engage guests on the show, someone who could simplify financial literacy for Filipinos.

Realizing this offer was a serious one, Edric and I prayed for God’s leading on the matter. This wasn’t a career path that had been on his radar at all. His main preoccupation was leading the homeschool organization, The Master’s Academy (now called Homeschool Global). As a businessman, he could set aside time to do the TV show, but he had to know if it was from the Lord or just a distraction from his priorities. 

After seeking counsel from several men who mentor him, as well as those outside of our church, who could offer their objective opinions, the answer was a yes. Finally, we prayed that the show would be pre-taped since traveling all the way to ABS-CBN every day would be impractical. Edric’s main focus was still running the homeschool program. In a matter of days Edric was informed that the show was going to be pre-taped! Hoorah! 

Just like that, Edric became the lead anchor of ANC’s On the Money show, which aired daily for the first four years that he was a part of it. At the beginning, he was terrified, knowing very little about the industry, the guests, and the environment of a studio. However, I’m proud to say that he adapted quickly on the job. God helped him to adjust to the culture of ANC, where he developed great friendships with the people he worked with. He also enriched his learning by acquiring an RFP (registered financial planner) certification. 

Although anchoring the show was a job, he often said it felt like an amazing education. He got to interview bank presidents, various finance and insurance executives, the stock exchange president, a number of Commissioners (like BIR, Customs, Insurance Commission, and SEC), tycoons, Ambassadors, fashionistas, Miss Universe winners, pop stars, former President Fidel Ramos (one of his favorites!), and countless others. He would often tell me, “If only I had learned all of this when I was younger! I could’ve have made wiser financial decisions!”

Of course, there were a lot of fun perks for him as a TV personality, too. People would ask him to speak on personal finance for companies and organizations around the country and in various parts of the world. He was paid to do endorsements (although ANC had to approve them first because they had strict rules for their talents.) Clothing brands sponsored his outfits, some of which were so expensive I can’t even discolose their amounts for prudence’s sake! 

What I appreciated observing in him during this journey was that he stayed the same in character. He was still the simple, down-to-earth guy I married. In many ways, he even became an improved version of himself. The show trained him to be a better listener and communicator, how to ask the right questions to draw out a person and make them comfortable. 

Beyond this, Edric grew in God-confidence since he had to deal with all kinds of people, from all walks of life. He depended on the Lord for wisdom and enabling in order to overcome his insecurities and lack of tenure as a tv anchor.

Throughout the years, I praise God that he stayed spiritually grounded, too. Even though he became the busiest he had ever been, he remained present as a husband and father. There were seasons when all of his commitments to different organizations, the business, as well as the show would converge in an overwhelming way, but God provided the grace to get through these. I always felt like he re-ordered and re-calibrated when necessary to avoid neglecting his relationship with the Lord, the kids, and me. 


We did have to deal with flirty fans every now and then, especially when he won awards like “cutest news anchor” by Spot.ph! However, I praise God that Edric and I talked openly about setting boundaries. He took Elijah, our oldest son, with him on trips when he was invited to speak out of town so he wasn’t alone. (This also became a homeschool opportunity as Elijah learned about investing early on and started to speak alongside his dad when he was nine yrs old.) 

As much as possible, he avoided selfies with attractive women who requested photos with him. He would pull in other people or grab Elijah to be in the photo with him. Of course, he couldn’t do this all the time, but he was careful about the way he related to women fans. He told me he had to be. He was vulnerable just like any other guy and needed to be intentional about protecting himself. (Of course I had to do my part, too, as a wife to meet his needs! But more on this in another post.)

Someone once asked me, “How do you deal with Edric being on tv?” I had never been asked that before, but I was glad to answer the question. “He’s the same guy,” I said with a smile.  


If, at the core, you know who you are in the Lord, circumstances shouldn’t alter you in a negative way. But if you are seeking for importance through what you do then the tendency is to compromise. It’s only by God’s grace that Edric’s core person didn’t grow ugly when he became a public figure. Did he struggle with pride issues and was he tempted to get his sense of self worth from being on tv? From time to time he did, which is why I said it was only by God’s grace that he survived with his spiritual person intact! 

The juggling act of wearing many hats had its stresses but Edric managed to do everything with a supernatural energy that came from the Lord. Yet, on year five of the show, he began to deal with some major crises in the homeschooling movement and on the personal front. The Department of Education grew difficult about policies and permits, and he had to make appeals, meet with them, and work with them to protect homeschoolers’ right to home educate their kids. 

Not many people may have known how stressful a time this was for him as he balanced the demands of the business and an impending merger, anchored for the tv show, preached, led our couples’ group, gave talks around the Philippines and even abroad, and attempted to write a book (besides being a husband and father). With all of this going on, Edric actually disappointed a number of people. He had people verbally mudslinging the Homeschool program he was leading for certain changes he made. He was personally criticized many times, too. Even some of his closest friends were frustrated with him for being too busy for them. 

Thankfully, the kids and I were fine! We still got to spend loads of time with him, but I knew he was weary and discouraged. He tried to repair relationships and correct the wrongs that were brought to his attention. Yet he was doing too much to be on top of everything in the excellent way he aimed to be. He did tell me several times how lonely it often felt being at the helm of things, too. We processed this all together and I encouraged him that he needn’t be overwhelmed by what was beyond his reach. For as long as he was walking with the Lord, obeying Him, and doing his best to serve others, as well as humbling himself when he made mistakes, then he was doing what mattered. 

In the midst of this trying time, Edric wondered if he had to cut back and focus. (Between Edric and I, he’s the one with the capacity to do many things. I can’t do what he does and it’s always been one of his impressive traits to have such boundless energy.)  Feeling the strain of juggling too much, he asked the executives of ANC if he could take a six-month leave, which they very kindly agreed to. This allowed him to channel his energies towards the demands of the homeschooling movement.  

Here is a point I must bring up about ABS-CBN’s news channel. Edric spoke very highly of ANC and had great respect for the people he worked with. From his co-host, Salve Duplito, to Executive Producer, Patrick Pascual, and Segment Producers, Aiza Lumbuan and Julian Cirineo, as well as News Head, Ging Reyes, and COO of ANC, Cilette Liboro-Co, Edric held them all in high regard. He was blessed to be part of a super team that cared for each other and were very understanding about what was important to him. What he valued, they also valued, such as family and relationships, and they were as flexible as they could be when these priorities were compromised. 

By January of 2017, the homeschooling movement regained its momentum as issues were solved. As committed, Edric was back on the show. Thankfully, God resolved a lot of the problems and issues (some still remain), but the major ones like working with the DepEd and business merger concerns were sorted. Once DepEd had a clearer grasp of home education, they were very accommodating and eager to find ways to help homeschoolers. 

Despite the positive turn of events, Edric never felt at peace when he went back to his regular tapings for On the Money. He enjoyed anchoring a lot, but he felt like it was no longer aligned with where God was leading him. He felt strongly called to zone in on the needs of the homeschooling program, and found that having to do his tapings and prepare for them side-tracked him from giving his best. He couldn’t do his best on the show, and likewise couldn’t give his best to the homeschooling movement. For a while, he vacillated and struggled, repeatedly asking for prayers and wisdom from mentors, family, friends, and me. 

It wasn’t a choice between a bad thing and a good thing. That would have been easy and obvious. Instead, he needed to know with certainty that God wanted him out of something good like TV anchoring and all-in with something also good like homeschooling…two good things, but what was the greater priority in this season? 

It took several months to arrive at the point where he finally decided to speak to the network heads to end his time at ANC. The journey to this moment was a hard one. Edric agonized over the pros and cons, what he would be giving up — the relationships, the extra income, the influence, and what he would have to face — the unknowns and the fears. 

A part of him admitted that he would also miss hearing viewers say, “Hey, I watch your show. Great job!”  

In fact, he shared in recent speaking engagements that he was beginning to derive a sense of self-worth and confidence from being a public figure and the respect that came with that. Subtle as it may have been, the recognition appealed to his desire, as a man, for significance. Since this struggle was real, it gave him added reason to consider leaving the show. He told me, “I need to find my identity solely in Christ.” 

From a worldly standpoint, where fame, fortune, and power are prized, it didn’t make sense for Edric to say goodbye to the show. What about the platform and influence that came with it? Wasn’t that a good thing? It was. It certainly was. What about the blessing of extra income? That was good, too! How about the relationships that he established with his colleagues and the connections with prominent people? That was amazing! These were all wonderful plusses in favor of pressing on as a tv anchor. Yet God’s Word reminds us, “His (God’s) thoughts are not like our thoughts, and His ways are far beyond what we can imagine.” (Isaiah 55:8)

As Edric’s wife, and for those who knew the wrestling he was dealing with, we understood why he finally decided to close this chapter of his life. His desire to order his God-given priorities was a great thing…the greater thing. There are many who can champion personal finance, but homeschooling in the Philippines doesn’t have many champions. It may not be glamorous to be an advocate of homeschooling, but Edric’s heart is for families. His mantra is to “change one family at a time for Jesus Christ,” and he believes that parent-led education is one of the best ways to do this. Furthermore, his conviction to walk away from a profession that detracted him from getting his self worth in Christ alone was another considerable factor.  

Sometimes he would ask me, “Did I do the right thing? Did I make the right decision?” 

My response often was, “Hon, I see your life. I know you love God and you walk with God. So if this is what He called you to do, I don’t doubt that He will bless it.”

During his last taping in July, Edric invited the kids and I to watch him. It was my first and last time to see the On the Money studio. Prior to this, I had never visited him on set or seen him at work in front of the camera. 


The kids and I hung out in a corner eating pancit which the crew thoughtfully handed to us. We tried to be as quiet as possible as Edric and Salve taped their final show together. Afterwards, there was a short ceremony to bid him goodbye. I could sense the sadness in Edric’s posture and expressions, even as he tried to crack jokes to keep things jovial. I also spied Edric’s eyes tearing up as hugs and well-wishes were exchanged.

We took a few shots on the set but I know Edric didn’t want to prolong the agony of saying his goodbyes, so we exited shortly after. 

The walk down the hallway from the studio was quiet as I held his hand. We both knew there was no way to end this season of his life without feeling the sting of it. He was going to miss everyone he worked with and his friendships with them, the camaraderie of pushing the show’s advocacy, building a brand together, seeing it through its difficult birthing stages to reveling in its successes, learning to get along despite each other’s differences, and appreciating each other’s strengths. How do you walk away from all of that history without feeling like you left a part of yourself behind and wounded a part of those who thought you were in this together, as a team, for the long term? 

The answer is you can’t. There will be hurt. There was. There still is at times. This is why important life decisions can never be made without much consultation and prayer. We have to walk intimately with God when it comes to choosing between good things in order to discern the greater thing, because good things will get sacrificed. So the greater thing at that particularly season of your life must be revealed clearly by God through prayer and the confirmation of His Word, circumstances, and those in authority over you, as well as your mentors and confidants who walk with the Lord, those who are informed about your weaknesses, strengths, and calling. 

When the answer is apparent, then take courage! Obey God’s voice. Do not be afraid to make a hard choice. These occasions when you and I are refined for God’s purposes by the stripping away and letting go of what hinders us from the trajectory He wants us to be on is for our ultimate good. 

First, the right decision made after much prayer will produce a peace that transcends understanding. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭

Furthermore, there will be clarity of purpose, renewed vigor and strength from the Holy Spirit to pursue it, and an excitement for what God has in store even if it is yet unseen. In the past few months, I have witnessed this in Edric. Being able to focus has made him more effective and available to institute systems and positive changes for Homeschool Global. He’s even enrolled in an online course on education with Harvard, eager to equip himself. 

God’s desire for all of us is fruitfulness…Fruit to more fruit to greater fruit. Saying farewell to ANC was a pruning experience for Edric, but the reassurance we both have is that this decision will amount to more fruitfulness, just as John 15 explains. “He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing…When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” John‬ ‭15:2-5, 8‬ ‭

Very often, Edric shares with me, “I love what I am doing. I look forward to work!” When he says this I know it’s God’s affirmation — the blessing of obedience. 

When his final episode aired two weeks ago and people asked what happened to him, there was no official statement made. So this is my informal and personal way (with Edric’s persmission) of explaining the story behind his exit. Will he ever return to television? Only God knows. In the meantime, let me leave you with this thought… 

The greater things God prods us to choose may not always lead to more prosperity and more popularity — images of success that often compel us to do what we do and make our choices. Instead, God calls us to leave a legacy, to do things that will outlast us and count for eternity, to live for the age to come. For Edric and our family, my prayer is that we will be used by God to transform hearts, families, nations, and the world for His glory. May we have the courage to abandon pursuits that compete with these.  

“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.” Psalms‬ ‭25:4‬ ‭

 

The Woman in the Elevator

Edric isn’t the type of guy to ogle at other women, but when we travel, he does notice attractive foreign women. Who doesn’t?! Even I do. At times, we even have conversations about beautiful women we see. “Did you notice her eyes?” Or, “Wow, she’s pretty!”

However, there are occasions when I know his eyes are drawn to women who exude sexiness, the kind of women who stick out in two prominent directions (front and back) and who like to flaunt their assets. You know what I mean…

(By the way, I have the permission of my husband to publish this very article. Please bear with me…this is a long one.)

A few weeks ago, Edric and I were out of the country in a restaurant having breakfast when a curvy woman walked into the buffet area. As wives we have special sensory organs for the sort of woman who attracts our husbands’ attention. My husband also has very big eyes so it’s always obvious when he glances in another direction, especially when we are engrossed in conversation. I saw him look over my shoulder so I quickly turned my head to see what distracted him. I didn’t need to gaze long to realize what he was looking at. Thankfully, he didn’t stare but I did ask him jokingly, “Were you checking her out?”

He looked reassuringly into my eyes and professed, “Don’t worry, baby, I have eyes only for you.”


It was a romantic and sweet pledge. But what did that sentence mean? Did the sentence “I have eyes only for you” mean that he would never use his eyes to notice another woman? Or did it mean that even if he noticed other women with his eyes, he had programmed them to desire me only?

Not wanting to latch on to his declaration with naïve gushy-ness, I cautiously accepted it with a smile and breakfast went on. We travel quite often and I knew better than to believe that this statement meant he would never ever look at the millions of gorgeous women in the world!

However, since I had been dealing with growing insecurity about my physical shape and form as well as Edric’s perceptions of me in the past few months (my secret has been revealed), I felt especially slighted when this disproportionately curvy woman kept distracting him. He claimed that she looked fake and that he wasn’t checking her out, but it certainly appeared as though his eyes kept being diverted in her direction. Maybe the word “check out” had a different connotation to him. (Men’s vocabulary can be very different from ours.) Whatever it was at the time, I felt like, in comparison to her, she was a spring chicken and I was, well, an autumn chicken.

What intensified my jealousy further was when Edric rushed to the elevator as we exited the buffet when that same woman entered into it. Sure, he hurried off to make sure we didn’t have to wait for another elevator, but it wasn’t characteristic of him to prefer an elevator that already had people in it when time wasn’t a factor. Both of us like to have lots of elbow room in enclosed spaces.

For the next twenty-four floors of our descent, I used my expert peripheral vision (which all women also have) to watch him closely. Had he not turned to notice the woman again, I would have jumped up and down inside and said to myself, “What a guy! Yes, he certainly has eyes only for me!”

Well, as you can probably guess by now, he still tried to look at her, albeit with as much discretion as he could apply, ahem…being the gentleman that he is. I kept my cool, ahem…being the lady that I am, not wanting to admit that I felt threatened in any way.

When we finally entered our hotel room to prepare for the series of talks we were scheduled to speak that afternoon, I casually asked, “Hey, so did you rush into the elevator because that woman was in there?”

There was no aggression in my tone…at first. Yet, when Edric replied, “No, of course not” just as casually as I had asked my question, I felt irritated, judging him as untruthful.

“Are you sure? Because you still looked at her while we were in the elevator, and you usually don’t try to catch an elevator that’s got people in it when we aren’t in a rush to go anywhere.”

Once again, he denied having any hidden agenda.

Since his response seemed inconsistent with his actions I persisted. Naturally, this annoyed him terribly so he became quiet. For the rest of the morning, as we prepared to speak on marriage and parenting, we stayed on opposite sides of the room and avoided speaking to one another. We busied ourselves with our notes and slides, but it was obvious that we hadn’t settled the issue.

When it was finally time for lunch, we were sitting in Nandos, a place we have enjoyed multiple times in the past for its South African deliciousness. I wasn’t too excited about eating in it this time around since Edric and I weren’t okay. On the outside everything seemed fine.


The waitress energetically placed one of Nando’s large, juicy chicken skewers on our table, oblivious to the tension between us. We thanked her politely, of course, not giving away the fact that this huge skewer, which obstructed our view of each other’s faces, very aptly symbolized our emotional divide.

“Why do you seem upset?” This was my dumb way of initiating conversation.

“I don’t like being treated like a child. You were treating me like a child,” he quipped, referring to how I badgered him about the woman in the elevator.

“I just wanted to know if you went into that particular elevator because she was in there, because you were checking her out.”

“Are we really going to talk about this? What’s the real issue anyway? Did I go into the elevator because she was in there? No. But was it more interesting that she was in the elevator? Yes.”

What’s the difference?, I thought. He is making this about semantics! So, I said, “Can’t you just admit that you have a problem, that you have an issue with disciplining your eyes. After you said that you have eyes only for me, you still kept looking at the girl. It seemed inconsistent, and I have experienced this during our other trips.”

“Okay, you know what this is? This is the devil trying to divide us before we do ministry this afternoon. This is not a big deal.” Edric tried to take the higher, spiritual plane as he uttered these words.

However, since I was choosing to linger on the lower, very carnal plane, I disrespectfully replied, “So don’t be the devil!”

Where did that come from? I don’t know. Oh wait, yes I do. I thought he was being the devil for being the source of my pain. I felt hurt and jealous. Had he just been consistent about having eyes only for me this wouldnt have happened! 

Needless to say, Edric felt very disrespected. This was the first time he had been called a devil by me from across the table, with the half-eaten chicken skewer still dangling between us. He was about to say something he probably would’ve regretted, but surprisingly, he breathed in deeply and closed his eyes instead.

What in the world?! Oh, my goodness, he was praying!

Not the prayer card! He’s getting all spiritual! (Can you believe I was thinking these things?!)

When he opened his eyes again his expression changed from defensive to humble, and he very sincerely said, “You know what, you are right. I do have a problem. I can improve. I can be more disciplined about my eyes.”

Wow.

Okay, obviously, the devil doesn’t do things like that! He wasn’t the devil. I was!

Out of guilt, I apologized to Edric for my disrespect. He dealt with our conflict with such spiritual maturity that I felt I needed to humble myself, too, but my heart wasn’t right with the Lord just yet. How do I know this? When Edric suggested that I pray for our event, I dismissed him. “You already prayed. I don’t have anything to pray about.”

Admittedly, my reaction to what transpired at the buffet and in the elevator was ridiculous, especially to people who may read this who actually deal with infidelity in their marriages. So Edric looked at a beautiful woman more times than he usually does when he sees someone attractive…big deal…so what?! It wasn’t like he was going to abandon his vow to me for this total stranger.

Why did the event make me so hostile? I was looking to Edric to affirm me and make me feel unparalleled and unrivaled in his eyes. Yes, I know it was such a self-centered desire, but for someone like me who has struggled with body esteem issues over the years, the pain felt so real. I actually had this achy feeling in my heart as I thought, This is so NOT Disney anymore! Things have changed…the romance, the undying love and affection, and eyes-only-for-you-professions! Blah, blah, blah. Whatever!”

How could I have been thinking these thoughts before a talk about biblical marriage and parenting?! This was the sadder part of it all. I was so broken over a trivial episode when so many people in the audience were actually hurting from real problems in their marriages and families!

Edric proceeded to the venue to set up his computer and I took a detour by stopping at the toilet. I knew that I couldn’t walk into that hall with all the emotional and spiritual junk I had in my heart. I couldn’t possibly face all the people and speak with integrity, knowing that I hadn’t settled the restlessness in me.

In the women’s restroom cubicle, I teared in frustration for acting like the kind of wife I never wanted to be – distrusting, insecure, demanding, and unpleasant to be around. Thankfully, the toilet was so private, like a prayer cell that was walled in on all sides. I stood in that toilet, in the quiet, thinking I was all alone in my ridiculous pain, when I heard God’s voice in my head say to me, Why are you so upset? Do you not know how much I love you? Don’t you know that I am the only one who will ever love you the way that you want to be loved, the way you long to be loved? I love you more than Edric ever will. What you want from him only I can give you.

Instead of assuring me that Edric loved me, God reminded me that HE (GOD) loved me. That’s all He had to whisper to me. For the first time in a very long while, I recognized that my disappointment with Edric wasn’t due to him looking at another woman. It was due to a flaw in my focus. I wanted Edric to make me feel beautiful, cherished, and important.

On the one hand this desire was a natural consequence of giving myself wholly to him in marriage. I gave my heart to him, after having evaluated that he was the safest person on this planet to give my heart to. However, it came with an unspoken expectation – Edric, you better make me feel special. I better be the most special woman to you. I think it was short of saying, “Worship me as the queen of your heart.”

Yikes.

For as long as I enjoyed the attention of Edric, for as long as I was certain that he had eyes only for me as he claimed to have, then I felt good about myself. Since the foundation of my peace was built on something so fragile and so easily stolen, I got upset with a minor incident that made me feel like I wasn’t the most special woman to him when it came to physical attractiveness. The reality of aging, feeling like an autumn chicken compared to this perky spring chicken of a woman made feel dethroned in my husband’s eyes, and it was so injurious to my ego that I absolutely needed to hear what the Lord said to me in the toilet.

Here’s my paraphrase of what the Lord was basically telling me…Joy, just stop it! Stop being so needy for the love and adoration of your husband. I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, SO PERFECTLY, JUST AS YOU ARE, FLAWS AND ALL, AND I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU COMPLETELY AND NEVER MAKE YOU FEEL COMPARED TO ANYONE.

After this moment with the Lord, I just had to tell all the women in the audience the same message! Before doing so, I spoke to Edric in private and asked him for forgiveness (a real sorry this time) and I got his permission to share what happened between us. Many women came up to me afterwards thanking me for telling the story.

Whether single or married, all of us women need to find our worth in the Lord, not in people, circumstances, beauty, or achievements. Possessions, fame, the way we look, and our accomplishments will always be trumped by another person eventually. Yet God’s love for us will never change. It won’t change when we fail, make mistakes, get cast aside, forgotten, or even when we grow old.

The very next day, on the plane ride home, God gave me a special verse in Isaiah which read, “…I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. ‘To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?'” Isaiah 46:3-5 NLT

What a tender image of God’s fatherly love for His children! For me! For you!

For the last two weeks, I have dwelt on this passage and let it wash over my heart and mind to renew my perspective on Edric, myself, and my marriage.

Who can love me like the Lord can, like the Lord does? No one. Until I embrace this truth, I will always be striving to feel good enough, to feel worthy, even in my husband’s eyes. My comfort is that God doesn’t love me because I have something special to offer Him. Instead He makes me special because He loves me. He gave His life for me as proof that He does. There is no guy, no Edric on this earth who has the power or the perfection to do that for me.

In his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller writes, “He (Jesus) loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely.” (pg. 109)

He also explains, “Each of us comes to marriage with a disordered inner being. Many of us have sought to overcome self-doubts by giving ourselves to our careers. That will mean we will choose our work over our spouse and family to the detriment of our marriage. Others of us hope that unending affection and affirmation from a beautiful, brilliant romantic partner will finally make us feel good about ourselves. That turns the relationship into a form of salvation, and no relationship can live up to that…If I look to my marriage to fill the God-sized spiritual vacuum in my heart, I will not be in a position to serve my spouse. Only God can fill a God-sized hole. Until God has the proper place in my life, I will always be complaining that my spouse is not loving me well enough, not respecting me enough, not supporting me enough…” (pg. 72 – 73)


My conflict with Edric ended when I stopped focusing on what I wanted him to do for me to make me feel good about myself, and when I started focusing on what God has done for me so I could do good to others, especially to Edric. Edric has made his own resolutions with the Lord about guarding his eyes, which I appreciate, but that’s between him and the Lord. If he does his best to have eyes only for me even as I age then what a wonderful bonus! If he struggles here and there, my hope is in God as 1 Peter 3 reminds me… “This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God…” (v.5)

I don’t know where you are at in your marriage, or whether this entry resonates with you somehow, but I hope you will answer the question, Who is God in your life? What you and I think about Him will profoundly impact how we view ourselves, as well as our relationship with our spouses. We can’t love our spouses unconditionally if we don’t understand how deeply and perfectly loved we are by God. And, we won’t be happy in our marriages if we keep replacing God with our spouses, ourselves, and other things.

Why Reconciliation is Possible

I shamed my husband, Edric, in front of two of our sons last night, as dinner came to a close. It was one of those moments when I didn’t mind my tongue like I should have. 

Elijah asked his dad to pass the dipping sauce, but Edric, who was caught up in another conversation, failed to hear him. Finally, I handed the sauce to Elijah who commented, “Dad didn’t hear me even when I kept asking.” 

Perhaps it was the manner in which he released the words from his mouth that Edric found disrespectful. There may have been a hint of contempt in his tone which disturbed Edric and incited him to address Elijah rather sternly, “Were you mocking me? Don’t mock me.”

I felt like Edric came across too strong, like a male wildcat trying to subjugate another for posing a threat to his position as alpha. (We just came from a Safari so pardon the paltry attempt at including wildlife imagery.) 

When Edric asked Elijah to apologize to him for his disrespect, I blurted out, albeit in a soft voice to seem less combative, “You (Edric) should also apologize to Elijah.”

“Excuse me?” Edric didn’t appreciate my meddling. 

“The way you said what you did was hurtful,” I retorted matter-of-factly.

He requested that I stay out of the dialogue between Elijah and him but something primal in me kicked in (there I go again with the wildlife), and my maternal instinct to protect what I perceived to be a wounded child became manifest in an ugly way. I should have bit my tongue and waited for a more opportune moment to give my perspective, which Edric would have received peaceably. However, I wanted to say what I wanted to say and I hastily pointed out what I interpreted as a parenting error on Edric’s part. So I added, “If you want to be respected, be respectable.”

Oh my!!! How could I have said that in front of the kids?! 

Further exacerbating the situation for me was the fact that in the weeks prior we had been serving from a platform, talking about parenting! How could we be violating the very principles we shared so passionately to others to apply in their families? 

Edric gave me a dagger look that warned me to quit because we were contending with one another in front of our sons. So I kept silent until they exited the table to join their siblings upstairs. 

Meanwhile, Edric and I duked out our issues. There was no shouting, cursing or heated dialoguing but we wrestled with our prideful spirits which reared their heads at different points in the hour that passed. We talked about what we both did wrong and what we didn’t like about what each other did or said. Edric was obviously offended and hurt by the statements I made and the untimeliness of my interjection. And I thought he had been more reactive towards our kids as of late. 

In the end, we came to the conclusion that Edric would apologize to Elijah for his style of correcting and I apologized to Edric for cutting into his discussion with Elijah, and for disrespecting him. Furthermore, we had a family conference with our kids to ask how we could improve after asking for forgiveness from them for our bad examples. The kids readily forgave us and went on to play the game “Marco Polo Freeze” in our bedroom with Edric. 

Edric and I were able to go to bed at peace having resolved our conflict. Although it wasn’t easy to suppress our pride when we addressed the areas we needed to change, we both knew that the God-honoring thing was to humble ourselves, ask for forgiveness, and commit to be better spouses to each other and better parents to our kids. 

If I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus it would be nearly impossible for Edric and I to reconcile our differences. We are so opposite in our personalities. Sometimes our personalities polarize us and it’s a struggle to bridge the gap that divides us. There are things about him that I immensely dislike and there are things about me that totally annoy him, too. (I praise God that through the years I have learned to appreciate most everything about him, even the aspects of his person that I used to react to.)

The crazy thing is this morning I woke up to the sight of him as he sat on the edge of our bed readying himself to face the day and my first thought was, I love him so much! There was no trace of anger. In fact I forgot about our quarrel. 

How could I think so positively about him when last night I felt such intense irritation towards him? (Is this a schizophrenic relationship or what?!)

Edric and I are two flawed, selfish, and prideful individuals. These personalities are present in both of us. Yet we also gave our lives to Jesus Christ many years ago, and till this day He works in Edric and me, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to weed out what is undesirable so that we act more like Him and less like our ugly selves. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.” (Romans‬ ‭8:2-3‬) ‬‬

The above passages explains that Christ set us free from our sinful tendencies like pride, anger, and selfishness by giving His life up for us. It goes on to say in Romans 8:5-8, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God…” 

In other words, when we don’t have Christ, we cannot make decisions and choices that lead to true life and peace. We cannot fix our marriages or our relationships because we simply do not have the capacity to. It reveals how we cannot even please God because we are enemies of God and what He wills for us. 

It’s no wonder why so many of us quit on our marriages when God is against us doing so. Apart from the Spirit at work in us, we will follow what our flesh desires and wants. We will insist on our wills. But there is hope! Let’s look at the rest of Romans 8…

“However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him…”

We can think and act differently from what is expected of our fleshly selves (like I can be reconciled to my husband, ask for forgiveness and choose to love him), because of the Spirit of God. Since we can think and act in ways that please God because of the Holy Spirit, then we very well should! We should not live “according to the flesh” which still exists in us, but “put to death the deeds of the body.” (Romans 8:12-14) 

In eternity, we will not have to deal with the weaknesses of the flesh. Whew. Thank God. Instead there will be a “redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23) We can look forward to the hope that one day we will be set free COMPLETELY from having to battle the inclinations of the flesh. 

Now what does this have to do with marriage and reconciliation? If Edric and I didn’t have the Holy Spirit in our lives, we would not be together today. We would not be enjoying our marriage the way we do. I know countless other couples who would echo the same. 


Last night’s example of a fight would have escalated further or we would have buried the hurt and resurfaced it as anger and bitterness. But thanks be to God because reconciliation is possible time and time again. The cycle of new-mercies-every-morning is not dependent on us, as flawed, changeable human beings. It is dependent on who God is and His Spirit in us, transforming us from within so we can love and forgive. 

When I think about how Edric and I will journey into the future, fully conscious that we still have the propensity to hurt each other and make mistakes, my heart is filled with hope. It’s not because we have a great marriage, but because we have a GREAT GOD who is committed to us! 

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians‬ ‭1:6)‬ ‭

 

Life’s Divine Interruptions

Our family was on its way to a speaking engagement when the door of our van jammed open (not shut). The kids and I dropped by Edric’s office to pick him up and when he opened the sliding door of our van, it wouldn’t budge back into place. Ordinarily, we could have waited for the driver to bring the van to the nearest dealer to have it serviced and hung out in Edric’s office. However, we had forty minutes to get to the venue of our speaking engagement so the best recourse was to get an Uber ride. 

By God’s grace, Edric remained calm and composed although I knew he was stressed by the untimeliness of the problem. He asked the kids and I to stay in a cafe while he sorted out what to do next. In about ten minutes he made arrangements to have the van brought to the dealer and coordinated for our uber vehicle. Our ride came shortly after and the kids and I piled into the back seats. (It was actually my first time to take Uber and I was amazed at how convenient it was!)

On the way to our event, Edric and I began chatting with the driver, who was a very nice gentleman. He opened up about his history and family, and told us that he nearly lost his life in a motor cycle accident. Edric and I both felt prodded to share the gospel with him. As we proceeded to do so, telling him that there are no coincidences in life and that God wanted him to know that he is loved and there’s a plan and purpose for his life, Edric segued to the importance of trusting in Christ alone for our salvation. 

The driver listened and interacted with us, answering our questions honestly and responding positively to the gospel message. By the end of the thirty minute ride, Edric prayed with him and he willingly accepted Christ to be his Lord and Savior. 

This occasion was a reminder that God interrupts our plans in order to fulfill His. At first, I was anxious about how we would honor our commitment to speak and get our family to the venue on time. Plus, I felt frustrated that the van surfaced such a ridiculous issue when we were in a hurry. (It turned it to be a fluke, too, after it was inspected at the dealer.) 

Our agendas, no matter how important we may think them to be, do not take precedence over the Lord’s agendas. And one of His desires is that the lost be found and that people are reconciled to Himself. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:20‬ ‭

It was actually a privilege to sit in that Uber vehicle with that driver and tell him about God’s grace and love, but Edric and I had to be mindful of the fact that God allowed the inconvenient circumstance of our van door jamming so we could spend time with this man. 

More and more I am learning that it is our spiritual perspective and response to problems and issues that determines whether or not God will get the glory in our lives, and whether or not we will enjoy the honor of participating in His work. He certainly doesn’t need us to make a difference, but He allows us to, and it is tragic that we can overlook the opportunities He sends our way because we focus on the frustration over disappointments we face instead of perceiving them as life’s divine interruptions. Maybe the interruption is an invitation to tell another person about the Lord, to be a blessing, to be grateful, or to give God glory. Whatever the divine purpose God has elected the interruption for, may we receive His grace, wisdom, and courage to respond the way He wants us to! 

“Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.” (Psalms‬ ‭25:4‬)

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.‭‭” Proverbs‬ ‭16:9

 

When a Child is Gifted

After watching the movie, Gifted, I had a crisis of doubt over homeschooling my oldest son, Elijah. When he was six years old, he was diagnosed as a gifted child. At the time I didn’t give it much thought. Edric and I believed that it wasn’t necessary to overemphasize this aspect of his person. After all, our greater priority was to instill godly character in him. The academic ability presented itself as a nice bonus but not as the focal point of our home education for him.

However, fast-forward to some weeks ago when Elijah broke down. He expressed worry over having accomplished “nothing” with his life, accompanied with the fear that he was not good at anything. Plus, he thought his opportunities would be over by the age of eighteen. (He tends to be hyperbolic in his assessments of himself.)

I listened to my fourteen year old son wondering why in the world such a bright young man could suffer these thoughts. Really?! Not good at anything? I mean, that makes me seem like I have a cockroach’s brain compared to him! (Now you know where he gets his exaggeration tendencies from…)

Here’s the truth. Elijah is able to program ridiculously well for a fourteen year old, having taught himself at least five coding languages. God has also given him an amazing ability to remember science facts and encyclopedia-like information. We call him our resident Google. He can read a four hundred page book in one sitting if no one interrupted him. At age eight, he started public speaking. At age nine, he attended a three hour seminar about stocks investing and started his own portfolio. He has finished the Bible six times since the age of seven. When he turned thirteen, he survived Mt. Apo. 

To me all of these sounded like he had done quite a bit for his age. However, I didn’t want to be insensitive or dismissive about his sentiments, so I probed further and tried my best to empathize. 

Where was he coming from? Why was he feeling these emotions?

One possible reason was that he had just lost a tennis match with his dad, where he played in a manner that he described as “pitiful.” Being similarly competitive in nature to his father, he didn’t take to the defeat too well.

Secondly, he compared himself to Edric and me He stated, “Mom, I don’t think I will be able to do what you and dad do. You guys have done so much with your life.”

At this point, I had to interject, “Hon, you don’t have to do the same things that mom and dad have done. God has a specific plan for YOUR life. You don’t need to compare.”

That past week, our homeschooling schedule had also been erratic because of other commitments Edric and I, as well as our kids needed to attend to. As a result, Elijah felt unproductive in terms of his responsibilities for the week.

As he verbally listed the reasons why he was stressed, accompanied by tears he tried to hold back, I thought, Are these his hormones kicking in to high gear because he is going through puberty?!

When Edric entered the restaurant where Elijah and I had this conversation, I signaled him with my eyes to let him know that something serious and important needed his participation. So Edric added his perspective to encourage Elijah. But his approach was to come up with practical plans. 

Elijah has since changed his opinion about himself and his future. Whew. Maybe he just needed listening to. He’s back to his positive self. When I asked him what altered his perceptions of himself, he replied, “When you told me that I have to focus on obeying God and following His will for my life, then I will accomplish what He wants me to.”


Because of his “break down” I continued to give his education considerable thought in the past weeks. Then, half-way through watching the movie, Gifted last Monday, I felt troubled. The uncle who had taken it upon himself to raise his extraordinarily intelligent niece, wondered if he was doing her a disservice by not putting her in a school for the gifted. Since his genius sister (the mother of his niece) took her life due to the pressure the mother burdened her with to solve a millennial problem in mathematics, he didn’t want to see his niece end up the same way. Instead, he believed his niece needed a more balanced life, one where she could enjoy playing, the outdoors, having friends her age, and going to a school that was for “normal” kids. 

As he wrestled with doubt, I sat in the theater seat wondering similar things. Should Elijah still be homeschooled? Does he need to be enrolled in a school where he can benchmark himself against others? Should he got to a science high school? Does he need to apply his skills in other ways that are beyond my capacity to provide as his teacher? How can he better maximize his talents and abilities? Are Edric and I doing him a disservice somehow because he is gifted? 

One of the things that resonated with me was how the uncle emphasized the importance of character in his niece. He didn’t think that focusing on how much of a prodigy she was would do her emotional and mental good in the long run. 

This is the same conviction Edric and I have about our kids. We talked about these things after the movie. 

I believe each one of them are gifted and extraordinary. Elijah just happens to display this in the area of academics. Yet what is more valuable to us is their character. Furthermore, unlike the uncle in the movie who philosophized the existence of God and therefore lacked spiritual emphasis in his parenting, we believe this ought to be paramount to our children’s upbringing. Whatever exceptionality our children may have, should God will this, they are His children first. Their identity and their purpose must be anchored on this truth. 

Therefore the goal of Elijah’s education has to be loftier – he was gifted for the glory of God, not for his glory, and not for our glory. We want him to grow up loving God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. (The same goes for all our other kids.) 

Keeping these goals in mind affords us with a filter for the plans we make for him. The framework we will continue to focus on is largely based upon Luke 2:52, which says that Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, favor with God, and favor with man.

I started to worry about Elijah and his future after his break down and the movie because I temporarily lost sight of the why of our home schooling. Thankfully, Edric comforted me. He’ has often quoted one of the founders of Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), Mike Smith, who wisely said, “We don’t homeschool for Harvard. We homeschool for heaven.” 

But hey, a lot of homeschoolers do get into Harvard. Not that this is our plan for Elijah. Our plan is to follow God’s leading for him. 

So far this is what we’ve come up with for his ninth grade…

1. WISDOM – Elijah will intern with a company so he can use his coding and programming skills to complete projects that are meaningful and beneficial to others. He is starting on Monday and will be tasked to help develop and improve the systems of two organizations. A few weeks back he admitted to me that he liked the idea of hacking into systems (uh-oh), so I had to remind him that he must be wise about the applications of his ability. (Wisdom is making choices that honor God. Intelligence without wisdom can be destructive.)


2. STATURE – Elijah will zone in on two sports – swimming and tennis. Instead of experimenting with different options, these are the two that suit his physical build and interest. He will continue to pursue his violin studies as well.


3. FAVOR WITH GOD – Elijah needs to have a vision for his life. He doesn’t have to compare himself to anyone. If he follows and obeys God’s plan for him, he will become whom God wants him to be. 

4. FAVOR WITH MAN – Edric signed Elijah up for the High Unite Summer Camp called Revolution, It Starts with You. It’s a high school retreat organized by homeschoolers from Home school Global for their fellow homeschoolers. This will be a good opportunity for him to reach out to others and possibly form a small group that he can mentor.


There’s a scene in the movie of Gifted where the uncle reflects as he takes his seven year old niece in his arms, “If you are turning out to be a happy, smart, and kind person then I must be doing something right.”

This part made me tear because it also dawned upon me that if Elijah is turning out to be a young man who is joyful, wise, kind, and who loves God then homeschooling must be working. And this is to the Lord’s credit because he supplies the daily grace. 

In fact, should any of our children turn out well all glory ought to go to the Lord. In the meantime Edric and I will train, disciple, steward, encourage, guide, and love our children. Home schooling is not a perfect science to raising kids. Yet it allows us to pursue the parenting goals that are most meaningful to us.

Breaking Down the Proverbs 31 Woman 

Anyone who has read about the Proverbs 31 woman, knows that, Biblically speaking, women can by all means work and earn money. In fact, they can be successful businesswomen and very enterprising. However, the text sets the bar even higher for all of us as women. It doesn’t merely focus on how to be financially successful, it highlights excellence in every area of a woman’s life. Therefore, we would do well to emulate the traits of this extraordinary Proverbs 31 woman. 

I really like the NLT version of this passage because it’s easier to understand. It begins with, “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” 

First off, she is virtuous and reputable. Her godly character defines her, followed by her competence and accomplishments, chief of which is that her husband has absolute confidence and trust in her. 

All of us have specific responsibilities and expectations that our husbands hold us to. The question is, do they feel like we prioritize what they want us to focus on and get done? We may evaluate ourselves as “good wives,” but it’s our husbands who can say whether this is true or not.

Edric and I had a date last night and when I asked him how I can improve as a wife, he replied that he appreciated my attempts to plan each day’s menu and manage the home, but I can still do better. Whew. I am glad I got a passing mark this time but the fact remains that there is room for further improvement. Since delicious food and an efficiently-running home matter to Edric, then these ought to matter to me, too. 

I have listed the rest of the Proverbs 31 woman’s traits here for us to study together:

1. Proactive and hardworking. “She finds wool and flax and busily spins it.” 

I don’t know how long it takes to spin something wearable, but this woman obviously learned a valuable skill. Wool clothing for colder days and flax as raw material to make linen for hotter weather. Whuuut?! Amazing! 

Perhaps today’s equivalent would be developing a talent and hobby that benefits the family. Sewing? Cooking? Baking? Woodworking? Interior Design? Whatever it is, we see a woman who stretches her capacities and doesn’t burden her husband with problems and needs that she can solve. 

She’s like, We don’t have clothes? I will go out and shear a sheep, and harvest some of the flax growing in my backyard and make some clothing! I am not going to be a complainer. I am going to be a doer! 

2. Tasteful and cultured. “She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.” 

Merchant ships conjure images of the finest produce and exquisite things. This woman’s intention in sourcing the extraordinary to feed her family speaks of her desire to offer them the best.

I am reminded of my mother-in-law, Daisy, who decorates her table every time she entertains guests. She delights in hosting dinners and gatherings and her food is superb. It’s no wonder Edric likes his meals to be prepared and presented with thoughtfulness. My mom-in-law set the standard high, in a good way. 

3. Organized and on top of things. “She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work for her servant girls.” 

This sounds like one disciplined lady. She’s establishes healthy routines for herself and family. Even though she oversees servant girls, she is personally involved in the management of her home. And she is a woman after my own heart — she knows the importance of breakfast! 

4. Business and investment sense. “She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard…She makes sure her dealings are profitable.” 

Instead of spending on frivolous, material goods for herself, she is future-wise and puts money into real estate and a profitable business. 

Very often, my temptation is to spend when I have money. Since my income is a bonus on top of what Edric makes, I think, yey, I have money, I can get something for the kids, buy more groceries, or treat myself. So this is a great reminder to build wealth and steward it faithfully. 

Edric, who has done over a thousand interviews about personal finance for the show, On the Money, often tells the kids and me that leaving money in a savings account is poor investing. Instead, look for opportunities to generate income. Since this isn’t really my area of expertise, I let Edric decide on these things. We pool our earnings into a shared account to use for business purposes. 

5. Physically fit and able-bodied. “She is energetic and strong, a hard worker…” 

There’s no excuse for us, ladies! If we want to have the energy to serve our families, then we can’t compromise on our health and wellness. 

This woman obviously didn’t go to the gym, but she built up her strength naturally, perhaps by doing chores, working with her hands, exercising through gardening, walking, or tending to her field or animals. She didn’t laze about and eat potato chips. 

6. Excellent worth ethic. “…her lamp burns late into the night. Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber.” 

At the end of the day, with her extra time, she goes back to spinning. It reads like spinning was a hobby of hers. The point is, she found a craft and preoccupation that she enjoyed that was useful. Similarly, do we make time for healthy hobbies and activities? (Being on social media late at night when everyone is asleep doesn’t count.) 

7. Involved in community outreach and ministry to the poor. “She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy.” 

Big-hearted and kind, this woman isn’t too busy or wrapped up in being a superwife and mom to see the greater needs around her. 

One of the women I admire most is my mom. Giving defines her. She set up a good works foundation, which is the physical aspect of meeting needs, but her more urgent mission is to address people’s spiritual needs. During one instance when a thief snatched her bag at a mall,  my mom ran after the lady. When the snatcher was apprehended by a guard and my mom was asked if she wanted to file a report, my mom’s unexpected response was, “I just want to talk to the lady.” 

She took the thief aside and shared the gospel message to her! Retrieving her bag was important but my mom’s greater priority was to talk about God’s love to someone who was spiritually lost. 

Throughout her life as a follower of Christ, my mom has had a contagious zeal for the gospel. Even if she is busier than most women I know, she understands that people are precious to God. I hope to imitate her example in this regard but I have a long way to go. 

8. Preparedness and planning. “She has no fear of winter for her household, for everyone has warm clothes.” 

All that spinning of wool pays off! Having anticipated a future-need and planned accordingly, this woman is not stressed out or caught off-guard by changing circumstances. She has readied herself and everyone in her home for life’s difficult seasons. 

9. Multi-talented. “She makes her own bedspreads.” 

Okay, whew, I can actually do this. This makes me feel a little better…Anything where you sew straight lines, I can do. Just don’t include zippers. 

10. Dresses well and takes care of herself. “She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.” 

As women, we ought to put effort into looking our best. After having kids the tendency is to focus on child-rearing and forget that our husband’s are hoping we will still glam ourselves up for them once in a while. We may also want to avoid wearing ill-fitting house clothes that basically say to him, “I stopped being a sexual being for you.”

Edric has called me out on this on several occasions about the comfortable baggy t-shirts and shorts I wear at home. “Hon, that outfit is like totally unattractive.” 

We already know this Proverbs 31 woman is wise about spending money so I don’t think she is extravagant about shopping for herself, but she has an eye for elegance and knows how to put herself together. 

Beyond dressing up for our husbands, we also represent our Creator, God. Do we give Him glory and celebrate how fearfully and wonderfully we are made by dressing well? I don’t mean showing off our bodies or buying expensive clothes that draw attention to ourselves. I mean, do we try to look our best at whatever season or age we are in? 
11. Empowers her husband to lead. “Her husband is well known at the city gates, where he sits with the other civic leaders.” 

Interestingly, the passage inserts this bit about the husband and his standing in society to inform us that the Proverbs 31 woman inspires leadership in him. Rulers gave counsel and made decisions at the city gates so we know that her husband is someone important and respected. A positive reputation and a high office attest to the Proverbs 31 woman’s ability to manage affairs, liberating him to focus on his responsibilities and fulfill them with excellence. 

12. Enterprising. “She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.” 
Since she is skilled at spinning flax to make linen, she monetizes her hobby. I have many women friends who have turned their passions into profitable businesses. There are many ways to start enterprises from the home, instead of working in corporations that take us away from our children. This is one creative way to help out with the family’s needs without sacrificing being available to them. 

For example, I use social media to earn income. This was never my intention when I started writing and posting, but when people approached me with endorsement proposals that were aligned with my values and didn’t take me away from my priorities, then I gladly accepted them. Edric appreciated this, too. Although he didn’t expect me to earn money or contribute monetarily, since he chose to make this his burden so I could home educate our kids, he liked the bonus of extra money which increased our capacity to give and invest.  

13. Positive outlook and inner strength. “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

This Proverbs 31 lady is undoubtedly a woman of substance. Behind her successes lies her character. While she fears not the uncertainties of what lies ahead, we will see later on in the passage that she fears the Lord. This is the secret to her strength, wisdom, and positive outlook. I would love to have this woman as a friend! 

14. Full of wisdom, and one who teaches with wisdom. “When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. 

Have you ever spent time with women who walk with God and asked for their advice on an issue or problem? If you have you will understand what I mean when I say that they will most probably give you an answer that you don’t want to hear but need to. 

My mom is a wise woman. I have opened up to her on many occasions and each time she has filled my heart with truths I need to hear. She is never the type of person to side with me just because I am her daughter. Instead she points me in the direction that she knows God intends for me to go. She does this so effectively because she has an intimate relationship with God and spends time reading and meditating on His Word. Plus, she knows how to speak the truth in love, with kindness. 


We can all be women who are full of wisdom. What a blessing we will be to the people in our lives! But we have to do our part to saturate our minds with truth. On a practical level this may mean avoiding literature, sites, shows or music that conform our thinking to worldly values. 

15. A good home manager. “She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness.”

This is convicting me to stop putting off changing the broken light bulbs in several rooms of the house! 

16. Highly spoken of by her children and husband. “Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: ‘There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!'”

If there is any group of persons whose applause I want to hear (apart from my Heavenly Father’s), it would be that of Edric and my children. They see my life up close and know all my flaws and shortcomings. I pray that at the end of my time on earth, I would, by God’s grace, hear them say that I was the best wife and mother to them. 

17. Fears the Lord. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.”

Since I am an older woman now, having turned 40 at the end of 2016, I feel, for the first time in my life the fear of aging. Edric has reminded me not to make health and wellness an idol. I want to do my part to be healthy, but I also know that my physical self isn’t what it used to be. There are moments when I struggle with envy and jealousy, comparing myself to worldly standards of beauty. Yet as a follower of Jesus, I know that the pursuit of eternal youth isn’t God’s plan for my life. It is to know, love, obey, serve, and worship Him…to live for His glory. 

Someday, I will leave this form behind. Therefore my focus ought to be living with eternity in mind. Are my life choices, the thoughts I entertain, and the words I speak beautiful in God’s eyes? 

18. Well known by her deeds. “Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.”

A woman who has pursued what is most important in this life will be recognized for it, not because she has praised herself and presented her doings to receive affirmation and attention from others, but because she has left a lasting legacy behind.  

Proverbs‬ ‭31:10-31‬ ‭portrays a standard of excellence. It’s not the 10 commandments. But it certainly gives us insight into the capabilities and possibilities that we have available to us as women. God has given each one of us unique gifts and circumstances. We need not compare ourselves to one another or perform to earn His love and the approval of others. What counts is that we are faithful with the time, treasures, and talents He has entrusted to us. 

Helping Kids Work Through Their Emotions

On the day I took my second son, Edan, to renew his passport, the event turned into a mom and son bonding time. Troubled by an incident with his friends the night before, Edan revealed to me that there was something he wanted to divulge, something that deeply bothered him. The tears came first before he blurted out, in between sobbing, that his friends made fun of him. 

Edan, being the emotional onion that he is, took about five minutes to actually speak about his pain. I had to wait on his silence to drag on until I finally commanded him to obey and tell me what was wrong. After all, he initiated bringing up the issue in the first place so this meant he actually planned to tell me about it.

So he did. He proceeded to explain that his friends created a storyline that highlighted him as one of the main characters. In the story, as narrated by his friends, Edan insisted that they give him one hundred hotdogs to eat as payment for opening the door of a room they wanted to enter. The hotdogs made him fat and everyone cackled at the image this fictional tale conjured. Edan said he joined in the laughter but deep inside he harbored hurt and resentment. For a good part of the evening, he remained withdrawn, which was very unusual for him as an outgoing person.

I listened to his woeful tale, trying to understand where he was coming from. As I probed further, Edan confessed to making fun of his friends, too. He admitted that creating stories with friends as characters in them was originally his idea. Some weeks ago he told these stories in a manner that embarrassed his friends. 

Once I had all the facts, I helped him process what he went through:

First, when people say things that aren’t true, we don’t have to let their statements or claims wound us. Instead, we need to remember our worth in Christ. He loves us and values us so that when others don’t, we can take comfort in the security that our relationship with Him provides. In fact, I encouraged him to laugh along, playing their game. Next time, he can add to the comedy and say, “How come you only made me eat one hundred hotdogs? Why not, one thousand?” The point is to be able to laugh at oneself without taking it personally.

If, however, people say things that are true, then we ought to humble ourselves and acknowledge the reality that change is necessary, and ask for forgiveness when we have been the offensive persons.

Since Edan is a natural leader, I also had to correct his example.

“Edan, God made you a leader. People follow you, look up to you, and want your favor. This is a big responsibility. Therefore, you need to always think through your motivations. Are your choices glorifying God?” 

I added, “When you made fun of your friends, that wasn’t kind or glorifying to God, and your friends copied your example.” 

Edan chewed on this and acknowledged that he hadn’t been a good example. He smiled sheepishly as he realized that the offense began with him.

Afterwards, I told him about how we can respond with graciousness when people hurt us. I talked about my own encounters with people who don’t like me because of my convictions and what I stand for.

Some months ago, a lady who was very irate with me, accused me of projecting an image of perfection to my readers, stabbed at my parenting efforts, and ridiculed my children. She made some bold remarks that attacked my character and motivations, and wrote these as a long comment after one of my posts, generously expressing her disdain towards me.

Since I didn’t see the comment right away, it wasn’t till weeks later that I discovered it and saw a thread of replies by other readers who defended me. (To those of you who did so, thank you. I was so touched by your desire to come to my rescue.)

Here were my options:

1. Verbally argue and defend myself (very tempting!)

2. Ignore the person (easy to do) 

3. Apply graciousness (hardest to do)

God convicted me to go with number three. However, I still had to carefully filter through my motives before crafting a response.

I told Edan that as followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to respond with grace to persons who use their tongues or written word to accuse, berate, and make fun of us. He listened intently, noting the parallel to what happened to him. 

“So what did you say, mom?”

Before summarizing the gist of my reply to this woman, I shared with Edan how I struggled with vengefulness, which he could relate with. However, I had to remember that I don’t represent myself. Therefore my intentions and actions had to mirror Christ in me.

“The reason why it’s possible to be gracious to others,” I added, “is because God extended grace to us. When He sacrificed Himself for us, to pay for our sins, it was an act of grace, something we did not deserve. Therefore, we can do the same to people who don’t deserve grace from us.” 

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Ephesians‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. Ephesians‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭

“Grace,” I explained, “goes beyond withholding and controlling our emotions, like when we are mad and try to control our tempers or refrain from speaking. It’s about choosing to love and bless persons who have hurt us because we want them to know Jesus, too. That’s what it means to give a gracious response when we are offended.”

Edan took a moment to digest this thought.

“So what did the person say, mom? After you wrote back?

He was so eager to know the conclusion of our dialogue.

Unfortunately the person didn’t comment back, even after I asked for her forgiveness for entries or things written by me that declared I was a perfect parent. This was never my intention. I also suggested that we meet face to face so we could get to know each other better and then she could form an accurate conclusion about my kids and me. And then I ended by telling her that I cared about her, that I didn’t think of her as an enemy.

Since she never got back to me, I explained to Edan that there may be occasions in our lives when we extend grace and it is not reciprocated or received well. This is beyond our control. What’s within our control is that we choose to respond correctly. 

After relating this experience to Edan’s incident with his friends, we reviewed our discussion:

We will encounter people in our lives who will say hurtful things. That’s a given, an avoidable reality. However, we can choose how we will respond, which is within our control. Most importantly, we represent Jesus Christ and His interests. So while it is normal to feel bad and discouraged as a result of people’s negative words or verbal bullying, we must process the instinct to be vengeful, harbor anger, or emotionally withdraw, remembering that our security is in Christ and that our goal is to glorify Him and connect people to Him.  


Emotions are a good gauge for the deeper issues of the heart. As a parent, I’m learning to listen to my kids’ feelings and avoid dismissing these as sinful or wrong (which can be my tendency.) However, I also need to teach my kids how to think through their emotions, the causes and the implications of entertaining feelings to the point where they forego making the right decisions or internalize wrong perspectives. 

Edan is eager to hang out with his friends once again. Whew. 

He decided not to take their teasing personally and he learned how to be a better friend and example to others. By the end of our mother and son date, he was all smiles, too! 

Here are some questions that may help our older kids (and us) process feelings in a healthy way:

How does this situation or person make me feel?

Why do I feel this way?

What need may this person have that caused him or her to do or say hurtful things? 

What is the most God-honoring response towards this situation or person?

How can I use this moment as an opportunity to lead this person to Christ?

What would exemplifying God’s grace look like at this moment?

 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

We Don’t Need to Have it All this 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Today, my priorities are…

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

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

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

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

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

So how will this translate into practical goals:

– Finish reading my Bible again

– Pray more consistently – Colossians 4:2

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Be more affirming and encouraging to Edric and the kids

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

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

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

– Read to them more often 

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

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

– Drink veggie and fruit shakes consistently

– Sleep early in the evenings 

– Exercise at least three times a week 

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year! 

Giving Birth and Why the Context Matters

I saw this photo in my files. This was the night I gave birth to Catalina in St. Luke’s Medical Center in BGC. It reminds me of the pain I went through and the joy that came after.

I appreciated that my doctor let me walk around, stretch, even jog a little on the floor where I gave birth so that I could “help” Catalina descend. This was actually my longest labor but God sustained me and I was still able to give birth Lamaze.

It’s so important that you find a doctor who understands your birth preferences but who will also tell you when science must intervene. My doctor, Dr. Regina Capistrano, has always respected my desire to give birth without anesthesia, and she’s allowed me flexibility when I am in labor, but she’s managed my expectations, too. When needed, she applied her expertise as a doctor and prescribed procedures to ensure that my babies and I were healthy.

I praise God that I gave birth Lamaze to all five kids but this isn’t to my credit. I prayed hard when the pain made me feel like I was going to die! God rescued me each time! But I was also thankful that my doctor was present to go through the experience with me and see it through to the end.

Of course, Edric provided emotional and spiritual support which I badly needed. He played music for me, attended to me, and stayed right by my side. And many times, my mom would show up to be there for me and family members and friends would visit shortly after to offer congratulations.

As I reflect back on my pregnancies and births, I have come to realize all the more that birth was meant to be experienced in the context of relationships — a husband and wife, family, people whom you trust. It doesn’t make it any easier to have a baby, but it certainly magnifies the joy!

People often quote the passage that says, “Children are a gift from the Lord,” and I agree with this. At the same time, I also believe that we need to consider the gift we will give to the children born to us. They need a mother, a father, a family, and a community who will love them and raise them up to understand their worth and value…how loved they are by God…that He has a wonderful plan for their lives.

If you come from a broken home and can’t provide this, do not lose heart. God says He is father to the fatherless. You can also find mentors who will come along side your child to meet his or her different needs.

But my appeal is to the single, yet to be married person out there. Seek God’s plan and design for family, for children, which He intended for our joy and our good.

Recently I struggled in my heart with a revelation that someone I know intentionally got pregnant outside of marriage. My heart ached for the realities that she and this child will be up against.

Pregnancy and post pregnancy bring with it a hailstorm of emotions because of hormones. The struggle to parent a child feels much more uphill when you are alone, without a spouse. A boyfriend who acts the part of biological parent does not provide the same security of a father figure. And the truth is, many children born out of wedlock experience abandonment by their biological father and grow up with father wounds.

There are no short cuts to true happiness. Sin is not the route to joy. Maybe there’s the appeal of temporal pleasure and euphoria, but not real joy. Real joy comes when we pursue God’s will, even if it’s hard to wait on His timing for unfulfilled longings and desires. It comes when we obey Him and abide in His love, preferring His statues and His presence in our lives to our own wants and substitutes for Him.

As I write this, I may sound impassioned and my tone may sound like rebuke. But my intention is not to point a finger at the guilty to penalize them with shame. I believe in God’s redemptive grace to all who repent and seek Him. And I have seen God repair people’s mistakes. However, the journey often robs us of peace and the casualties along the way are many.

My real intent is to encourage all of us to renew our thinking. I appreciate how the New Living Testament of the Bible says it so overtly, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans‬ ‭12:2

The Apostle Paul specified this because he knows our vulnerability. We all prefer the route of self-gratification and following our own will, especially when we are immersed in cultures where it seems so corny and irrelevant to practice righteousness. Yet, God’s will is good and pleasing and perfect. Children aren’t supposed to be born to unwed women. (Sadly, it’s a growing statistic all around the world.)

Until we stop rationalizing and basing our convictions on the moral trends of the world, we will not prefer God’s will. And the fact remains that God’s will is best for us. It’s true for our children, too. So let’s not do them a disservice by allowing their conception to happen outside the bounds of God’s will, which sets them up for future heartache. They may not have a choice in the matter, but we do. Our choice to practice purity and the pursuit of God’s will is our precious gift to them. 

I Just Want to Be With You, Mommy

 Girls, girls, girls. I’m not used to dealing with the drama of daughters. For a good many years it was just boys and their havoc-wrecking testosterone. Yet now that my two youngest girls are moving past the baby-ish stage, it’s evident that I’ve got two “emotionals” on my hand.


Growing up, I wasn’t an emotional child. I was feminine and girly, but I leaned towards processing circumstances cerebrally. Plus, moodiness wasn’t allowed in our home. My mom emphasized this often. She modeled it, too. Furthermore, I compartmentalized my emotions as a post-trauma method of coping with what I went through as a teenager (for those of you who know.) So I always believed that a person should be able to switch off the emo-button.

This has been both a good and bad thing. It allows me to focus on tasks. Yet the down side is, it makes me less sensitive to people’s emotions, which can be problematic when you are a wife and mom, and a friend! Edric has told me numerous times that I need to improve on listening and hearing him out, and not dishing out unsolicited advice, quoting Bible verses and telling him how he should process what he is going through. By God’s grace, I’m improving but I have to make a conscious effort to be more tender and gentle as a wife.

I have to tell myself…Be a blessing. How can you minister to Edric? How can I meet his need?

As a mom, I’m having to balance firmness and softness with my girls. They feel things so intensely and for longer stretches of time than my boys do. Tiana goes crazy over fluffy toys and animals. When I see her clasp her hands and breathe in deeply like something is the cutest thing she has ever seen while squealing in delight, I just don’t get it. Sometimes, I admit that I would love to be able to remote-control my girls into toning down their hysterics.

I remember telling Catalina the other day, “Stop crying. That’s enough.” She wasn’t being fussy, she was just lingering in the sentiment of being slighted by someone. Can a three year old really do this? Switch off? Apparently it’s difficult to do. In between her sniffling, she struggled to say, “Buuut I I I I can’t ssstttooop.” The tears kept falling. And then she just looked terribly adorable. (She is a toughie but like Tiana, she’s emotional).

Thankfully, I have Edric to help me change in this area and a sister like Candy, who is amazing at relating to people. She goes out of her way to make others feel appreciated, loved, and important. She used to be the one to elbow me (literally), or pull me aside and say things like, “Hey, I think you need to call so-and-so and reach out to her.” Or, “Hey, I think that person wants to spend time with you. You should connect with her.”

And I would be like, “Yes, you are right. I should.” She was like my emotional conscience! Well, she’s gone back to the U.S. so I’m slightly handicapped.

Yet, God is using my wonderful, emotional daughters to transform me. Praise God! There’s hope! Just because it’s not in my personality to be tender and soft, I must consider their needs as more important than what’s comfortable for me. This might mean extra hugs and kisses, and a milder tone of voice. It may mean sitting on the bed to read princess stories for the nth time. Or, it may involve extended craft times together. Sometimes it may also mean patiently waiting for them to work through their feelings and then processing circumstances with them after they’ve been given an opportunity to air their thoughts and opinions. Whatever it is, I’ve got to remember that they long to have a relationship with me in a way that no other human person can fulfill and that’s a precious, precious thing.

Plus, it’s not wrong to be an emotional person. I told this to a lady I have been counseling for a couple of weeks. God uses sympathetic and empathetic people all the time. They tend to be great at understanding others which is badly needed in this world.

My girls happen to need more TLC and it’s my role (and privilege) to make them feel secure and special. So last night, when Edric reported to me that Tiana was teary-eyed when she said, “I just want to be near mommy,” as he tucked the girls into bed, a stimulus-response light bulb switched on in my head. Stop what you are doing, Joy, and go to your daughter.

I was in the middle of a big project that I was stressed out about but God encouraged me. Your daughter needs you. She’s your priority.

Tiana is entering into some sort of phase as a girl. The other day I attempted to articulate how I was feeling about it to Edric by saying, “You know, I’m struggling with my role as a mom to the girls, especially Tiana. It’s like she’s looking to me for her sense of identity and I’m not sure what to do. It’s a challenge.”

Well, it doesn’t matter that it’s a phase that confounds me. I have to develop better parenting skills with my girls and I have to adjust. After Edric delivered Tiana’s message about wanting to be near me, I slid the laptop off my lap, got off my bed and peeked into the girls’ room. Tiana and Catalina were snuggled up under their covers but still awake. I went over to hug Tiana and lay by her side.

“Are you okay?”

She shook her head.

“Is something wrong?”

“I just want to be with you.” She had tears in her eyes.

“Okay, I will stay with you.”

She was relieved.

Across the room, I heard a heard a whimpering Catalina who wanted to be noticed. So I picked her up, held her in my arms and brought her to Tiana’s bed where I sat for a while. I stroked Tiana’s head to calm her down and prayed with the girls. When I was pretty confident that they were emotionally settled, I returned Catalina to her bed and kissed them both good night. Tiana requested for an extra hug, which I gladly obliged to. They slept soundly and woke up as their happy selves this morning.

My productivity may have been disrupted yesterday evening but I should never think of my kids as an interruption. They are my priority. Sure, there are seasons when I have to get projects done and I can’t drop everything for them. But as much as possible, and because I control my time, I can certainly postpone things like finishing a keynote presentation if my kids S.O.S. me for attention. And it’s amazing how even little doses of attention and affection deposit big feelings of love in the hearts of my kids.

I was watching my girls jump around playfully this morning and I thought to myself, I’m so thankful and grateful for them. Each of my kids is a gift from the Lord not only because children are so delightful, but because God uses each of their personalities – Elijah, Edan, Titus, Tiana and Catalina — to humble me and teach me how to live and love.

Love is not about what’s easy or comfortable for me. It’s about sacrifice and commitment to meeting the heart-felt longings of others. It’s about seeking to change and improve in order to grow in love. It’s not about controlling others for my benefit. It’s about being a channel of Christ’s selflessness even when it’s so much easier to be self-serving. It’s about waiting for people to bloom in God’s time and in His way, and leading them gently into this becoming.

It’s impossible for me to be this person if Christ wasn’t present in me. Time and time again I see that I am a work in progress as a mom. I want to be and I strive to be better, but often I fall short and it can be discouraging to be confronted with my imperfections. However, my hope is in Jesus who doesn’t let me be, who sends me sweet angels in the form of daughters to show me beauty, to show me love in a form that I’m learning to appreciate and recognise as necessary in this world.

But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14