Marriage and a Cramped Hotel Room

I chose a hotel that didn’t have a gym or restaurant because it’s fairly new so Edric was frustrated that I didn’t do my due diligence. He was right but I didn’t like his negativity so our evening was a little tense after we checked in to the hotel that had already been paid for in advance (we couldn’t rebook somewhere else without forfeiting the money).

In the past he probably would have stayed upset until the following morning, but last night, after going out for a bite to eat, he came back to the hotel room with a big bottle of water for me, to apologize for, in his words, “making me feel discouraged.”

His tone was sweet and understanding. It was like a Jekyll and Hyde instance where he left our room acting like the latter and came back as the former.

Truthfully I could have done a better job at picking the hotel when I had my assistant book the place. I merely scrolled trough Booking.com to select an option that was well-reviewed (which it was), and near the Hongkong Convention Center we had to be at everyday. However, Edric and I do enjoy our workouts and of course, we never skip out on breakfast. So these two were important considerations that I should have looked into. Plus, there was the space factor. It was the smallest hotel room we have ever stayed in. Ever. Like, if we had tripped in the room, we would have merely fallen against the wall instead of onto the floor because it wasn’t wide enough or deep enough to injure ourselves in!

Initially, Edric researched online to find another hotel to pay for even if it meant spending for two places since we couldn’t forfeit our reservation. That’s how upset he was.

Thankfully Edric forgave my mistake. I really prayed that God would speak to him when he left the hotel room because arguing about it would have escalated the issue into something ugly. Well, I am glad that the Lord ministered to his heart while he was out eating dim sum and noodles.

When he returned as a changed man, he explained, “I didn’t want to be a spoiled brat. That’s what God convicted me to think about. Why not be flexible and make the most of the situation?”

So that’s what we did.

The next morning, God allowed us to find a breakfast restaurant called The Flying Pan which served big American-type breakfasts on exceptionally large plates. Edric was in heaven. The next day we explored further and found the Brunch Club on Peel Street which was more my speed, quaint and tucked away. So one of our problems was solved — breakfast food.

As for the absence of a gym, we tried finding fitness clubs where we could pay per day but then decided to save money. After all, we did so much walking around. Edric managed to do push ups on the small space beside the bed. And I worked out my abs by the entrance to the bathroom.

Edric is the kind of person who tries to be thorough and exacting with himself. So when others mismanage his expectations it’s hard for him NOT to feel frustrated and disappointed. However, God gave him a wife like me, whose shortcomings he has to accommodate and be patient with.

As for me, I don’t like being around negative, demanding, and unappreciative people. Edric can sometimes fall into these behaviors when things aren’t to his liking or standards. However, I am happy to say that he is more often than not a positive person, especially in comparison to the Edric version 1.0 at the beginning of our marriage. Nevertheless, I need someone like Edric who refines me and keeps me from getting puffed up with pride. He is able to correct me areas of my life that others may not see. He also pushes me to keep improving and growing, which I need to do.

So there you have it…Two people who don’t always like each other’s opposing personalities, especially when circumstances highlight these differences. Yet we both know that God has given us to each other to chip away and cleanse the parts of us that need to be smoothened and purified. For Edric it’s his impatience. For me it’s my resistance to correction. (There are more undesirable qualities in us that God continues to reveal as well.) Therefore, both of us are better off with each other than without.

Perhaps I can summarize all of this with insights from Timothy Keller’s book, The Meaning of Marriage, where he writes the following…

The first part of making your marriage into a relationship that enhances growth is to accept this inherent feature of married life. Marriage by its very nature has the “power of truth” — the power to show you the truth about who you are. People are appalled when they get sharp, far-reaching criticisms from their spouses. They immediately begin think they married the wrong person. But you must realize that it isn’t ultimately your spouse who is exposing the sinfulness of your heart — it’s marriage itself. Marriage does not so much bring you to confrontation with your spouse as confront you with yourself. Marriage shows you a real, unflattering picture of who you are and then takes you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to pay attention to it…Don’t resist this power that marriage has. Give your spouse the right to talk to you about what is wrong with you.

Keller points out that marriage allows us to see ourselves for who we really are, then he explains that it also allows us to see whom our spouses can become.

When people first begin to see the flaws in their spouses, some flee marriage. Others withdraw, downscaling their expectations of happiness almost completely and just learn to get along. Others go into a long period of fighting and blaming their spouses for their unhappiness. All of these approaches share one thing in common, however. One spouse looks at his or her spouse’s weaknesses and says, “I need to find someone better than this.” But the great thing about the model of Christian marriage we are presenting here is that when you envision the “someone better,” you can think of the future version of the person to whom you are already married. The someone better is the spouse you already have. God has indeed given us the desire for a better spouse, but you should seek it in the one to whom you are married. Why discard this partner for someone else only to discover that person’s deep, hidden flaws? Some people with serial marriages go through the cycle of infatuation, disillusionment, rejection, and flight to someone else — over and over. The only way you’re going to actually begin to see another person’s glory-self is to stick with him or her…Do you obsess over your partner’s external shortcomings, or can you see the beauty within, and do you want to see it increasingly increased?

There are moments when I fall back into feeling resentment towards the parts of Edric’s personality that affront me. No doubt, he feels exactly the same way about me. Yet, I have seen God transform him in so many remarkable ways that these changes affirm why it’s worth it to stay married to your spouse.

Selfishly speaking, spouses upgrade! You get a better version of your spouse with each passing year as the Lord works on his or her character. Of course you and I have to cooperate with His principles so we can be instrumental to this upgrading and not a block to it.

The other, more important reason is not so much about what your spouse becomes for your own benefit, but what Christ is making you into. None of us, married or single, will ever grow in substance or character unless we experience heat and pressure likened to what coals go through in their pre-diamond state. Even though the process can feel ugly, God uses people (our spouses for the married) and circumstances to refine us till we shine with the beauty that is Him. So marriage is a lifetime of preparation for future glory! Isn’t that a comforting thought when incidences and personality differences irk us?

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Edric and I discovered that our cramped hotel room was a divinely appointed, diamond-making space of a place when we changed our perspective and attitudes. This is what happens when we adopt the mindset that the apostle Paul challenges us to have. “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For we died to this life, and our real life is hidden with Christ in God.” When we recognize this and live this way, someday, “when Christ, who is our life, is revealed to the whole world, we will share in all his glory.” (Colossians 3:2-4)

Loving Our Husbands When They are Weak

I consider my husband, Edric, to be a strong leader, especially as a husband and father. Yet there are seasons when he is emotionally and spiritually down. It’s during these occasions that I must love him by being his strong ally and supporter. Being strong doesn’t mean I take over his role or start wearing the pants. Rather it means that I must come along side him to help in whatever way he needs me to, which very often translates to encouragement and prayer.

This past week, Edric got into one of his emotional slumps due to our finances. Because of his decision to let go of ANC’s On the Money, as well as turn down speaking invitations for corporations to focus on the home education business for the balance of the year, he began to worry about our dwindling personal income. Although he tried to process his anxiety with spiritual lenses, it was one of those moments when he was yearning for assurance and needed someone to talk to.

When I was a younger wife my style was to point out the mistakes that Edric would make and challenge his decision-making by offering my own supposedly “great” ideas and advice. My intentions were to “help” by course-correcting – redirecting his decisions or telling him what he should do. However, I’ve come to realize that this approach only made him feel more frustrated with himself and others. In this sense I was doing him a disservice. I had to recognize that my role was to help him fix his eyes on Christ when he began to feel the weight and burden of leading our family and the organizations he was entrusted with.

What does this mean? When my husband is feeling emotionally or spiritually weak, I should…

Elevate God to his rightful place in both our hearts — as sovereign, all mighty, and good.

Be thankful for what the Lord has given us. Avoid dwelling on what He may be purposefully withholding. In doing so, my attitude of praise can have a positive impact on Edric.

Pray with and for Edric to keep following God, honoring Him, doing his best to be excellent in everything he has been called to do, to be endowed with supernatural wisdom and capacity, and to trust the Lord’s plans and His ways.

On the afternoon when he opened up to me we took a walk in our backyard to survey the progress of our garden project. I could sense Edric’s readiness to confide in me. Apart from the financial concerns there were a number of business issues that disappointed and frustrated him. So, I had to ready myself. Don’t add to Edric’s discouragement by complaining, belittling, judging, or getting anxious yourself. Tell him instead, God has never let us down. He will continue to take care of us and provide for us.

I believe this with all my heart. God is always faithful. Although I too worry when Edric gets anxious about his business decisions and our finances, I settle my emotions with the reality that God is bigger and greater, and He is ever in control. When I come from this point of truth, I am able to minister to Edric during his moments of honesty and vulnerability. I am able to come alongside him and speak life into him, reviving his spirit.

Our husbands need this from us, wives. I wish I could say that I had a perfect score for encouragement but there are times when I let my mouth speak before I’ve thought through how to respond and Edric. As a result he feels no better for having confided in me. In fact, he will sometimes think that he ought to have kept his woes and fears to himself, since I only magnified them with my panicky reactions.

The good news is that when I do a good “job” as his encourager, it makes him want to share with me again and again in the future. More importantly, his hope in the Lord is restored and he feels spiritually and emotionally strong enough to re-embrace his role as a leader.

Personally, I feel the best part is when he actually turns to me and gestures for a hug. He needs a big, long embrace after we talk, just to know that I am there for him, that we are in this together, with the Lord, as a team.

That afternoon, Edric and I hugged for a while. Then we lingered on the patio, enjoying the breeze of the evening air while taking in the last rays of light that faded into the backdrop of a darkening sky overhead. We ended our heart to heart moment with prayer.

Immediately afterwards, God brought his comfort and assurance. He let us hear the sound of our children laughing in the background, as they romped around in the yard, among the holes and dirt mounds that the laborers had worked on that day. Edric and I directed our attention to their playful banter, so amused at their merriment that we couldn’t help but smile ourselves. We watched them jump from one dirt hill to another, barefoot and soiled, neither tiring or caring that night had settled in as they continued in their play, oblivious to our conversation or the concerns we had exchanged.

Their laughing voices were a wonderful reminder from the Lord that there is much joy in our lives to praise Him for! To hear our children enjoying themselves so unreservedly while playing in the dirt! They were happy and well, by His grace. What more could we really ask for?

More significantly, we dwelled on the reality that we have the God of this Universe as our Heavenly Father. What other riches can be better than the fullness and infinite largeness of Him? If we have less and own less, our God’s capacity to provide isn’t lessened. He remains the owner and sustainer of all things. And He will continue to care for our needs as he always has so that we can also care for the needs of others.

“For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.” (2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:10-11‬)

Lastly, if our children found ways to celebrate holes and unremarkable dirt hills, might we not learn to see the win-less seasons of our lives with the same childlike wonder and faith, anticipating that we are merely stepping on a portion of God’s greater canvas? There’s a beautiful plan coming to fruition while pieces of us (our husbands’ lives as well as our lives) are under His divine construction. So why not perceive the mud as part of the adventure and enjoy it together?!

Well, the good news is that the Edric awoke the next day renewed in Spirit. God also spoke to Edric through His word and comforted him with promises.

“…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

What did I learn (relearn) as a wife? I need to love my husband and support him through his difficult and trying seasons, when he doesn’t always feel strong or in control. These are occasions when I get to live out what being a helpmate means — spiritually and emotionally supporting Edric (and giving him big hugs and affectionate embraces) so he can go out and fight the battles God has called him to with renewed vigor and resolve!

Let’s stand by our husbands, ladies!

Have Intentions vs. Expectations in Marriage

When author and speaker, Casey Carstens of the World Needs a Father Movement, joined our family for dinner during his recent trip to the Philippines, we had the opportunity to ask him about his relationship with his wife, Jenny. He was honest and humble about his shortcomings as a husband, as well as his past tendencies towards being harsh and temperamental. The operative word was “past”. What radically changed his marriage, according to him, was the principle of intentions versus expectations.

“The secret to a good marriage is to have no expectations of your spouse. Instead it is to have intentions…intentions to bless, to help them grow in her faith and walk, to become all she can be for the Lord, and to pursue Christ-likeness. It’s not about an exchange, I do this for you so that you can give me this or that. Or, I won’t do this unless you do this for me. Instead, it is, I will commit to think, speak, and act in a manner that intends your highest good. If I am about to think, speak, or act in a manner that has any hint of self-centeredness then I will not think, speak or act in that manner.”

Edric and I have chewed on this principle for a while, trying to digest how it applies to our marriage. Well, this past week we better understood how problematic expectations can be and why these can’t be the focus of our marriage.

Edric and I were in the middle of worship when the speakers sounded really loud on our side of the auditorium. To muffle the sound, he asked for tissue to plug his ears with. I usually have tissue in my bag. But when I felt for it, the only thing that remained was the plastic for the tissue. No more tissue.

When I leaned over to explain this to Edric, he looked disappointed. I shouldn’t have made a big deal out of his facial expression, but I confronted him with, “What? Are you upset?”

This spiraled into a ridiculous discussion while we were standing singing praise songs with the congregation. Goodness. Eventually we apologized to one another towards the latter part of the service, however this wasn’t the end of our conflict.

The next thing that happened was I gave him bad directions while he was driving back home from a party. We ended up getting stuck in traffic on a Sunday. Sensing his irritation I challenged him once again, “What’s wrong? Are you upset?!”

I didn’t understand why he had to be annoyed. It wasn’t like we were in a rush to go anywhere. So when he kept asking me to “waze” how long it would take us to get home, I let out a disrespectful, “Wait!”

I didn’t like him pestering me. Of course he didn’t appreciate my tone or attitude at all.

Two days later, when we were getting ready to go to bed he thought he might be coming down with something and asked for Manuka Honey for his throat. I responded with resistance.

Instead of saying, “Sure, hon,” I mumbled, “I’m already in bed and tired.” Truthfully, I was. And I didn’t think he was deathly ill to need me to get it for him.

When he acted disappointed with me, I offered to get the honey for him just to avoid a conflict but he muttered something about not wanting to be an inconvenience. I retorted, “It is inconvenient to serve you. But that’s how marriage is, right? Being inconvenienced for each other?”

He thought I was trying to instigate a conflict so he retaliated with stone cold silence at first and then we ended up discussing this idea of expectations in marriage again. We couldn’t find a resolution that satisfied both of us. It was more like, I didn’t like feeling like he was so easily disappointed with me, over small things, and he was struggling with not feeling embittered with me, over small things.

So for the duration of three days, Edric and I were not okay. On the outside we seemed fine, but underneath we were upset with one other, masking our frustrations with busy-ness and ban-aid fixes like cheap apologies. At a certain point he got dramatic and said, “I don’t know what to do. I am confused about what I should expect from you or if I should expect anything at all.”

It wasn’t like he didn’t want to fix this. He just didn’t get what Casey Carstens meant about having no expectations, especially in the area of wanting to be served by me. Frankly, neither did I. It seemed like a rather unrealistic concept to be faithful to.

Therefore, it wasn’t until Wednesday morning that Edric decided on a conclusion to end our strife. But first he sat down with a group of older men who are mentors to him in order to get their wisdom.

He asked them what they thought of the principle of intentions vs. expectations. They could relate to his struggle and added their insights. One of them shared that after he battled cancer, he learned to appreciate his wife more and not demand so much from her. My dad, one of the men in this group, also added, “I can relate. I also like to be served.”

He admitted that having no expectations of my mom was hard for him as well. (I also know this because my mom and I have conversations about how similar Edric and my dad can be when it comes to wanting to be served.)

Edric phoned me shortly after his meeting. His tone was kind. According to him, listening to the men encouraged him. He very sincerely asked me for forgiveness, adding, “I realize that I have been selfish. Instead of thinking of what you should be doing for me and not reacting when you don’t serve me the way I want to be served, I want to serve you. I remembered the Christ has a lavish love for His bride, the church, which ought to be how a husband loves his wife.”

Back in July he had this same realization, but the impact had sort of worn off, so he re-emphasized his need to be this kind of husband.

Of course, I was overjoyed!!!

I am not excusing my own behavior and disrespect. I also had to apologize to him and really mean it.

Since we have restored our relationship and I can now speak about it with a good conscience, I want to praise the Lord for working in the heart of Edric. He has since been extra patient with me, choosing to serve himself when he notices that I might be busy or preoccupied. Last night, he came into the bedroom with yoghurt and he jokingly asked, “Do you notice this? See, I can serve myself.”

He has also been very encouraging and appreciative, telling me that I’m doing a good job as a wife and mom. That makes my day!

This afternoon, he brought Titus and Elijah to the dentist, something that I usually have to do. Since I had an all-day shoot for Friso, a milk brand I am a brand ambassador for, Edric volunteered himself for their appointment. In his words, “Don’t worry, hon, I will take care of you.”

He’s been using that line a lot since Wednesday. In response, I’ve been inspired to serve him more. There’s this deep sense of gratitude for his efforts to be flexible and less demanding.

Sometimes, in a marriage, one person has to adjust first and choose humility before the other recognizes his or her wrong. If both refuse to submit to the Lord and remain hard-hearted and prideful, the marriage isn’t going to get better, and conflicts will remain unresolved and a source of increasing pain.

There are days when God prods me to be the catalyst for healing and other days when he speaks to Edric to initiate the healing (like he did during this past week). This principle of intentions vs. expectations is still sinking in for Edric and me as we try to grasp its implications in our marriage. However, we both know it definitely has something to do with us seeking out the good of the other before thinking of ourselves, and relying on the Holy Spirit for the capacity to do so.

Ultimately, what comforts me is that God is at work in our marriage. We continue to be imperfect and to wound each other when selfishness takes over, but the curve is still looking like it’s headed upwards, by God’s grace!

The principle that Casey Carstens shared with us may not be explicitly stated in the Bible, but there is a passage that somewhat captures the essence of it…

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:3-5‬ ‭

Smile at Your Husband

I had a meeting in Edric’s office that he wasn’t aware of, so when I tapped on the glass of the conference room he was in to wave hello he looked pleasantly surprised. After both our meetings were done, he found me and pulled me close to him to say, “It made my day to see you!”

This is not a cheesy entry to the beginning of a sappy romance novel, but it felt kind of like one of those moments that made me gushy inside. I still get that. Sigh. I’m a secret romantic. What can I say? When my husband takes me in his arms and flashes his dimpled smile at me like I’m the best thing he’s seen all day, it doesn’t matter what kind of stress I’ve had. I feel safe, special, and loved.

I think we all need to smile at our spouses more often. Why? Communication, as we have so often heard, is primarily non-verbal. If we don’t smile, our spouse will naturally assume that we aren’t happy with our relationship or happy with them. When we do smile it changes the climate of our relationship and the mood of the moment.

Okay…let me be honest, although I enjoy being with Edric and he’s my favorite human (I have to say human because God is my favorite person), there are days when his personality and decisions frustrate me and it’s really hard to smile! So yes, sometimes I have to think positive thoughts about him to squeeze out that smile. However, more than that, I have to focus on my own relationship with the Lord.

Like today, in the car, on the way back from a talk that Edric and I gave on “Leading from the Home,” I reacted towards Edric for asking me to hand our oldest son, Elijah, a plastic bag for his trash. Elijah had finished his packed lunch in the van and he needed a place to put it. Edric turned to me and asked, “Can you help him?”

Since I was the middle of something and he was already holding the plastic bag, I replied, “I’ve been helping everyone with their lunch,” hoping he wouldn’t rely on me. It wasn’t a nice comment, and I let it out because I felt like he was in the better position to hand Elijah the plastic bag.

Well, Edric didn’t understand why my tone and statement sounded so self-righteous, and we went back and forth discussing my claim that “I was helping everyone.” So I definitely wasn’t smiling and neither was he. However, I praise God for the spiritual spankings he gives me when I’m in the wrong. He told me to humble myself and apologize. I resisted for a bit but then I did. And no surprise here…the smile came! Edric also softened up and forgave me.

Now, all is well. He’s on his computer and I’m here, typing this entry. In fact, I just told him, “I love this! You, men, together doing things we enjoy.” He did just say I was weird for finding this moment so pleasurable, but I’m sure he meant that in a good way. (Think positive thoughts.)

If we aren’t smiling at our spouses it’s because there is probably something misaligned in us, on the inside. And more likely than not, I am pretty sure it has to do with our focus being off. We are looking at our husbands and depending on them to make us happy. Naturally then, our smiles will be few and far between. The great news is that we can be happy because of God is the source of our joy!  I really like what Proverbs 31:25 has to say about a woman who fears the Lord. It declares, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.”

If our husbands got the privilege of being around wives who smiled at the future, think of the impact it would make on them!

For those of you who can remember the days when you were dating your spouse, you know that your smile communicated 1. You were happy to see your man. 2. You enjoyed his company.

I could charm Edric over with a smile when we were dating. But guess what? It still works! And I’m not saying that because I manipulate Edric with my smiling. Today, the same is still true. When I’m with Edric and I smile, it communicates 1. I am happy to see him. 2. I enjoy his company.

For example, when Edric comes home and I greet him with a big smile and a “Hi, babe,” he smiles generously back at me and his instinct is to spend time with me. The opposite is true. When he comes home and I act moody or disinterested in him, forgetting to smile, then he will, more often than not, quip, “I guess you’re too busy,” and avoid me.

If we want a more satisfying relationship with our husbands, let’s smile, ladies! It’s a natural face-lift to make us look younger, and you will really appreciate this…Ron Gutman, the author of Smile: The Astonishing Powers of a Simple Act wrote that “British researchers found that one smile can generate the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate.” (Source: Psychology Today) What a ridiculously wonderful amount of endorphins!

So try it. Right now. If you are with your husband, smile. Feeling generous? You can even add, “Hon, I really enjoy being with you.”

If you’re struggling, remember the golden rule for relationships, “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:31) Do we want our husbands to smile at us? Then let’s smile at them!

Just Say Sorry

Lately, I have been practicing how to say sorry when I make mistakes, especially in marriage. I often expect my husband, Edric, to humble himself first and apologize to me. My stupid reason is, well, he’s the spiritual leader. So being the one to initiate reconciliation is not my default mode. I assume that it should be his.

Edric is a very good apologizer, too. There is no such word as apologizer but I couldn’t think of another descriptor. Usually, he will recognize that he is wrong soon after (when he is in fact in the wrong), and ask for my forgiveness soon after he wounds my feelings or does something to offend me. This convicts me to ask for his forgiveness, too, for my ugly responses and negativity.

However, waiting on him to make the first move allows me to get away with pride. It’s the selfish way of saying sorry. I don’t want to budge until he does because I keep thinking, he should repair this as the man.

I praise God that He is a loving Father who is committed to changing me everyday. So His recent character project is teaching me how to say sorry as immediately as possible versus letting me get so comfortable with my hostile silence.

Take for instance a few nights ago, after a meeting with friends, where Edric corrected me for cutting him off and contradicting him in front of others. At first I over explained myself and pointed out his errors, trying to avoid the root issue of my disrespect. Finally, God told me, “Just say sorry. Why do you have to excuse your behavior and try and shift the blame to him?”

He was right.

So I turned to Edric in the car ride and asked for his forgiveness. “Will you forgive me for my disrespect?”

He accepted my apology, but he wasn’t sweet towards me right away. I had to wait for his emotions to settle which annoyed me initially. Then I thought, Why should I be upset? Since I already apologized, I am liberated. Whether or not he says sorry to me for what he can improve on, and whether or not he treats me with kindness afterwards is no longer my problem. I am free! I did my part.

By the evening, however, our relationship was back to normal and we went to bed at peace before God and toward one another. Edric also identified areas that he could change in himself. There was no residual bitterness. Thankfully, our conflict was resolved pretty quickly, which is also why I believe I need to say sorry as soon as possible. It ministers to Edric’s heart when I do so and the hurt doesn’t linger into the next day. 

It’s still hard to say sorry first but once I manage to utter the words, “Will you forgive me,” it’s like unplugging a stuck up drain. The rest of what I need to say follows, and that release feels so spiritually cleansing and so right for our relationship.


I used to think that saying sorry before Edric does was the weak thing to do. But it’s not. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit manifested in us. Although Ruth Graham once said, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers,” I also think a happy marriage is the union of two good apologizers. Forgivers and apologizers similarly require humility and both are necessary for healthy communication, conflict resolution, and intimacy in marriage.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭

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.

It’s Possible 2 Be 1 

Every husband and wife-to-be with their glinting eyes, standing at the altar on their wedding day, believes their love is special.  

I felt that way. I felt like a princess in a fairytale sashaying down the aisle to my prince charming with my billowing gown (I wanted a poufy one just to feel like royalty). My wedding was magical and dreamy, better than I had imagined it to be, and I bet most brides would say the same about the day they got married.  

However, in time, all of us married people will have to wrestle with the annoying personality quirks of our spouse, poor communication leading to poor intimacy, mismatched priorities, busyness and pragmatism that ease out the romance, neglected roles, and unmet longings that chafe at the desire to stay faithful to the promises that we made. 

Those of us who have been married for at least five years know what I am talking about. Edric and I recently celebrated sixteen years of marriage. To this day, it’s still a challenge to love and forgive one another unconditionally. While each year gets better in many ways, other aspects of our relationship get harder. In other words, there has never been a year of marriage when it’s felt like twelve months of pure bliss.

However, I would tell you in a heart beat that Edric is the only man I would ever want to be married to, and yes, there it still plenty of cheesy romance and intimacy between us. Despite the imperfections of married life, we stand in awe of God every year as he preserves us and upholds us so that we are able to declare, “This was our best year ever!”


Early on, Edric and I were blessed to have mentors who taught us biblical principles on marriage and how to pursue God’s design for it. We attended numerous seminars and retreats, and read helpful books. Furthermore, we tried our best to apply what we learned. When and where we failed, we asked for forgiveness and changed for the better. However, the principles, positive role models and life pegs, as well as the seminars, retreats and books would have made little difference had Edric and I not begun our relationship by confronting our spiritual brokenness. 

Tim Keller, in his book, The Meaning of Marriage, writes, “If our views of marriage are too romantic and idealistic, we underestimate the influence of sin on human life. If they are pessimistic and cynical, we misunderstand marriage’s divine origin. If we somehow manage, as our modern culture has, to do both at once, we are doubly burdened by a distorted vision. The trouble is not within the institution of marriage but within ourselves.” 

 I wholly agree with Keller that the problem lies within us. Each person, single or married, is sinful and spiritually broken. Neither the state of being without a spouse or being with one makes us any better off inside. In fact, those of us who have never acknowledged our spiritual desperation and need for saving are likely to experience greater misery married rather than single. As one pastor in our church aptly put it, “Marriage magnifies what is in our hearts.” Unresolved heart issues get uglier in marriage. 

Therefore, we need to experience the grace and love of our Savior first. As John Piper explained, “Since Christ’s new covenant with this church is created by and sustained by blood-bought grace, therefore, human marriages are meant to showcase that new-covenant grace. And the way they showcase it is by resting in the experience of God’s grace and bending it out from a vertical experience with God into a horizontal experience with their spouse. In other words, in marriage you live hour by hour in glad dependence on God’s forgiveness and justification and promised future grace, and you bend it out toward your spouse hour by hour — as an extension of God’s forgiveness and justification and promised help.”

Let me put this simply…Our horizontal relationship with our spouse is dependent upon our vertical relationship with God. If we have not embraced our need for His grace and forgiveness, there’s no way we can be gracious and forgiving towards our spouse. Why? Our default mode as human beings is self-centered and selfish.

In the beginning of our marriages, we are sustained and exhilarated by the pleasures of young love, sweet love. We keep the rose-colored glasses on. Yet, weeks, months, and years into the relationship, when the novelty wanes and issues arise, the predisposition to selfishness emerges. The glasses come off and our tendency is to prioritize and preserve “me, myself, and I”.

“Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become whole and happy.” (Duke University Ethics Professor, Stanley Hauerwas) 

How did this play out in my own marriage? When I began to notice that Edric wasn’t always the prince charming I hoped he would be, then I retaliated and became very un-princess-like. My self-centered thoughts were, “If you aren’t going to treat me the way I think you should then I am not going to put up with it. I am not going to be a doormat in this relationship. No way!”

Where did that get me? Edric and I had lots of fights in the first year of our marriage. Sometimes it was over the most inane, insubstantial things like not covering the toothpaste tube properly or leaving clothes on the floor. Other times it escalated to conflicts over priorities and sinful behaviors. Because we were both self-centered, also known as prideful, we wanted to win every argument over preserving the relationship. One of us ended up wounded and hurt more than the other.  

At the end of the first year, Edric and I were emotionally exhausted. We wanted our marriage to work, we knew we loved one another, but the gushy, tender feelings that once pulled us together had dissipated. Our differences polarized us. Since we were followers of Christ, annulment and divorce weren’t something we would ever consider. However, we wondered why we got married in the first place.

Thankfully, and by the grace of God, He spoke to both of us apart from the other. He whispered hope that our relationship could be redeemed and restored according to His beautiful design. Yet the challenge we had to wholeheartedly accept was this: Were we willing to surrender ourselves completely, along with our desires, expectations, dreams, and longings to the Lord? Were we willing to say, “Lord whatever you want me to do in my own life, whatever it takes to really follow you, I will do. I will focus on you and not my spouse. I surrender my spouse to you.”

The Bible gives us hope that all marriages can be rebuilt and restored no matter what state they are in. I firmly believe this, not because people can fix their relationships on their own but because God makes all things possible. 

When Christ used the statement, “With God all things are possible,” it was in the context of a conversation with a religious leader who asked him what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus’ answer to the religious leader culminated with the challenge to sell all he owned, give everything to the poor, then follow Him. The rich man’s countenance fell, unable to surrender his earthly possessions to do so. He thought he had been pious enough to earn eternal life, but Jesus knew his heart best and targeted his question to address the one thing that he couldn’t let go of. Sadly, the religious leader walked away disappointed, and Christ remarked, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” 

Those who heard this reacted, “Then who in the world can be saved?” 

He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.” (Luke 18:22-27)

Although the rich man’s question was not about marriage, many of us married, soon to be married, or hoping to be married people have a similar question. “What we can do to have that happily-ever kind of marriage?”

Ephesians 5:21-30 and 1 Peter 3:1-7 gives us the formula — wives honor, submit to, and respect your husbands, and husbands, love, nourish, and cherish your wives, and seek to understand them. However, many women have criticized me for highlighting what we need to do to enjoy God’s design, scoffing at these principles like it’s anti-feminist to come under the authority of a husband and to be his helpmate. 

The resistance to our roles points to the deeper issue of selfishness and pride that plagues all of us. We don’t want anyone dictating what we should do or how we should live or love. Therefore, we throw out the Bible and call it outdated and irrelevant to our times because it’s inconvenient to follow it. We draw the line when we have to give up something precious, when we have to change. So, we walk away just like the rich man did, shaking our heads and thinking to ourselves, “What God is asking for is not plausible! I can’t do that!”

Truthfully, no one can. No one can abide by the biblical principles for marriage without supernatural help. That’s why Christ’s encouragement to us was, “With God all things are possible.”

Edric and I have witnessed miraculous healings of marriages by Christ — the seemingly irreparable and irreconcilable transformed into loving, joy-filled, and God-honoring relationships when individuals were willing to humble themselves. They set their “selves” aside in order to receive Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives and marriages. Whether it’s was an issue of adultery or other sexual sins, exasperation over personality differences, never-ending conflict over priorities, and bitterness and un-forgiveness, God’s grace covered all and abounds in their marriages today.

Some of these very persons are in our present discipleship groups. The smiles on their faces and the affectionate exchanges with their spouses today are a testament to the power of God to do the impossible. Our deep joy is seeing them help other hurting marriages, too!

If you are at the point where your marriage feels impossible or you know a couple who is desperate about the state of their marriage, please consider the 2Be1 retreat on September 28 to October 1, 2017. It’s an Executive Couple’s Retreat in Baguio Country Club facilitated by my parents, Peter and Deonna Tan-Chi. The retreat isn’t a cure-all for marriages but it’s very often a catalyst for healing. It’s also an eye-opening experience that results in life-changing decisions for those who are suffering from personal brokenness or those who have abandoned God’s design for marriage. For Edric and myself, as well as our couple friends, it is a time to renew our commitment to the Lord, and to one another and get fresh perspective on our relationships with our spouses.

We hope to see you there!

Registration Link: 2Be1 Registration

Contact Information:

Ellen Lopez
Christ’s Commission Fellowship
E-mail: ccf2be1@gmail.com
Telephone: +632 866-9911

Retreat organizer: Kelly Liuson – 0918-990-5577

My Speechless Husband

Our home has been more quiet than usual since the ENT banned Edric from speaking for a week. He has nodules in his larynx that may require surgery if he doesn’t rest his voice completely. So he writes the kids and I notes or communicates through sign language. Thankfully, he is a man of many talents and knows how to sign the alphabet. Consequently, I have been forced to learn it as well. I am still very slow.

It’s strange to be married to such a silent husband. Between the two of us, Edric is the talker. Meals are always more exciting when he is present because he engages everyone and likes to joke around with the kids and me. We usually spend our evenings chatting about his day and telling each other the highlights and lowlights. 

Now, I must avoid overwhelming him with questions that require him to answer through tedious writing. So our relationship has been about being together physically and paying attention to each other’s body languages, as well as appreciating shared stillness. 
His forced silence has also been such a great example of what it means to control the tongue. On Saturday when the movers destroyed part of the piano we had delivered to our home and chipped the new tiles we had installed last week, I knew that Edric was fuming inside. Yet, he couldn’t vocalize his anger. I mean, he could have, technically speaking, used his voice but he chose not to. His eyes did enlarge to twice their size and he breathed in very heavily to control himself. I thought he might combust from the internal pressure of so much restraint! 

Amazingly, his frustration subsided which allowed me to keep my cool, too. Needless to say I was so upset at the movers’ horrible service because their damages will be costly. Beyond this, I found it incredulous that they had nothing to say for themselves and didn’t think it a big deal that they were so unprofessional in their handling of the piano, besides chipping our tiles. When I eventually explained to them how disappointed I was at their service they did apologize but they were obviously in no position to remedy their mistake as hired hands. Thankfully, we have a wonderful friend, Architect Michael Doria, who is helping us do renovation works and he will send his guys to fix the tiles again. 

Yet another incident happened this evening to annoy Edric but he kept quiet. Our neighbor’s guest blocked the road with their cars thereby preventing us from getting home. Edric was tired from a two hour drive but he couldn’t voice out his frustration as we waited for at least ten minutes for the vehicle to be moved out of the way. 

Normally, Edric would have lots to say about the two incidences that I just shared. He would have spoken his mind with liberality and included heightened emotion in his tone. However, the need to preserve his vocal chords triumphed his desire to express irritation. 

I find his unusual situation to be a fitting illustration for how we should all guard our tongues. If we internalize how important it is to preserve our testimony and honor God with the words we speak, then I am sure we wouldn’t be so careless about the things we say. 

The book of James expounds on the difficulty of controlling our speech and I can completely relate to this because I often err with my tongue. 

“Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way…And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” James‬ ‭3:2, 6-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Here’s are three insights I have gotten from Edric’s speaking haitus:

1. Even though taming the tongue is so difficult Edric’s self-control tells me it is possible to guard the tongue when the motivation is strong enough. The question is what should our motivation(s) be

Personally, the motivation is two-fold. God has redeemed my tongue for his glory, to be used as a blessing, to praise Him, to declare His gospel message, and not to hurt, curse, slander, or injure others. 

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength.” (Psalm 19:14)

Secondly, I fear God and I am accountable to him for the words I speak.

“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew‬ ‭12:36-37‬)

This verse always comes to mind when I speak ill about someone. It deeply convicts me because I know that I will be held accountable. Someday, everything that I thought was whispered in private will be announced and brought to light.

When I was in high school I remember talking about someone behind her back and she was actually behind my back, sitting on a seat just inches away from me!  I was mortified! Had I realized that the person was there I wouldn’t have spoken the words I did. 

Well, since I know that God hears everything I say in public and private then shouldn’t that make me extremely cautious about speaking negatively about anyone, even if he or she isn’t around? 

2. Since signing and writing are much slower for Edric, and acting to communicate take so much more energy, he evaluates what is worth saying and not saying. Similarly, if I just took a thoughtful pause before I let words out of my mouth, especially when they have to do with another person or in reaction to a person, I bet I would avoid a lot of inappropriate and un-Christlike statements. 

Often, it is the unbridled tongue that lights a fire. Whenever Edric thinks I am crossing the line by divulging too much information or complaining about something or someone, he looks over at me and chimes, “Loose lips sink ships.” Or, he simply warns, “Hon, be careful.” Then I get the picture and stop myself. 

“Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” (Proverbs 21:23)

The passage talks about guarding our mouths which means that our tongues have criminal potential! It’s one of those body parts that can quickly go out of control if we aren’t checking on it regularly. Before letting it lose, we need to ask ourselves, “Do I have any junk in my heart that’s going to come out in an ugly way when I speak?”

Heart junk is stuff like anger, bitterness, insecurity, fear, anxiety, and the like, which we need to deal with and speak to the Lord about first before speaking to others. 

3. Edric can’t even whisper. It’s actually worse than speaking. Since he cannot vocalize any sort of sound, there is no agitated tone coming out of his mouth at any moment of the day. I am so sensitive to tone and this is an area where we have conflict. When his tone is abrasive I get hurt easily. For the past few days, however, I have heard no such tone! Our marriage has been very peaceful! 

It just got me thinking about how big a difference tone makes when we are communicating with one another. Guarding our tongues isn’t just about the words we speak or don’t speak. It’s also about how we say what we say. 

The secret to guarding our tongues is of course spiritual in nature and not a vocal chord injury. It’s being filled with the Holy Spirit. When we are controlled by the Spirit then we can “speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” (‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:19-20‬)

I miss having conversations with Edric and we have a few more days to go before they stick a strobe into his throat to check his larynx. Lord willing, the nodules will shrink and nothing alarming will be found. In the meantime, I have to stay by his side as much as possible everywhere we go in order to translate for him and be his mouth piece. 

As much as I enjoy his sweet messages through his phone or the way he signs statements like, “I love you,” and as much as I appreciate the insights that his silence is teaching me, I can’t wait to hear his voice again! I don’t think I can get used to a speechless husband! 

I Want A Three Kiss Wife

Edric whispered the statement, “I want a three-kiss-wife,” after he asked me to rate his preaching last week with three kisses on the cheek as proof that I really liked it, and I gave him just one. 

It was a wonderful message on de-materializing our lives and I know he prepared long and hard to deliver it. Still, instead of encouraging him by saying, “It was a great message!,” and smothering him with kisses, I blurted out matter-of-factly, “You went overtime.” 

To this he quipped, “I want a three-kiss-wife.” (In other words, where was my lavish praise and appreciation?) He went on to insinuate that he felt pressured to perform for me because I wasn’t “pleased” with him as of late. 

Hmm…why wasn’t I more encouraging? 

I will get to that.

Edric and I shared the exchange about three kisses right before my dad preached on a topic called, “entitle-litis,” or the prevailing “entitlement mentality” that most of us wrestle with. 

My dad explained that “Entitle-litis is a spiritual disease in which an individual believes that privileges are rights, and benefits are to be expected as a matter of rights.”

At first I thought, This is a great message for Edric! Something he needs to work on in our marriage! Yes! 

Yet, as I listened to my father speak, I realized I was acting like the entitled one, holding Edric to a set of unreasonable expectations such as, “You BETTER treat me with respect ALL THE TIME,” “You OWE IT TO ME to be considerate and less demanding,” “You OUGHT TO be mindful of your tone with me,” or “You SHOULD BE more positive.” 

On the one hand, these were honest longings from me as a wife. But entitlement gave birth to demands and expectations, sucking the joy out of our marriage. Since I felt like Edric wasn’t meeting up to my expectations, I was so ill-tempered and waspish towards him this past week. I simply couldn’t enjoy being with him since I was on the lookout for his negatives, like I had my radar set to identify each of his mistakes so I could point them out just to prove that he was the problem and not me. 

Here were some examples of how nit-picky I was…

I contended with Him about accuracy when he mouthed out supposed facts from the stage or with the kids, asking him to verify his sources. I contradicted his opinions at the dinner table. When someone on Facebook insinuated that I was like a dog to my husband (master) after I wrote the article on how I needed to improve on my homemaking, the observation poisoned my thoughts for a few days. Even though I initially shrugged it off as a point made my someone who had an inherently different worldview, I began to question whether Edric’s treatment of me could be likened to a master-slave relationship, which resulted in my attempts to resist being told what to do. The entertainment of such thoughts turned me critical of Edric, so that I questioned his motives and assumed many times that he was acting selfishly and not in my best interest. 

What an ugly road to walk down, resulting in offensive mannerisms and words on my part. I grew contentious and difficult, easily finding fault with him. It’s no surprise that within the short span of a week, I managed to hurt Edric terribly, forcing him to withdraw emotionally and distance himself to avoid my tempestuousness. 

We managed to have a break from this unhealthy atmosphere when we went on a date on Saturday night, using our GCs to enjoy a sumptuous and borderline gluttonous buffet at Shang-rila’s High Street Cafe, followed by the use of another set of GCs to indulge in Swedish massages at Villa 5 in The Spa. (All in all we only spent only P350 for our date!) 

The date somewhat repaired our problematic communication, giving me an opportunity to apologize for my behavior. However, it wasn’t until the next morning while sitting in church that I was able to identify the root cause of my antagonism towards Edric. It boiled down to Entitle-litis. 

My dad shared that the effective antidote for this spiritual problem is gratitude. Expounding on gratitude, he shared that we need to count our blessings versus complaining, have a positive perspective, and recognize that we are recipients of grace so we can surrender our rights to the Lord. While listening to him, I knew I was 0 for 3 from this list. Edric may have had his areas to change, but the more obvious offender had been me. (And to think that I just wrote about what it means to be content and thankful! Ay!)

When we had family accountability with my parents and siblings last night (something we do weekly when my parents are in Manila), my dad asked us how we would apply the message on entitlement. As we went around answering this question, I admitted that I needed to improve on being more positive towards Edric, and raising my appreciation of him. Edric smiled at me knowingly. The wonderful bonus was that he also shared that he wanted to be less critical of others, especially me. So it turned out to be a win-win for our marriage last night! 

After being convicted about what an ungrateful person I had been towards Edric, I also started reflecting on all his resoundingly positive traits — his godliness, wisdom, faithful love for the children and me, humility and the willingness to change, generosity, leadership, integrity, hard work, and being loads of fun. (I could go on and on.) 

During his message, my dad challenged every married person to think of 10 things to appreciate about their spouse. This practical exercise in gratitude changes one’s perspective on their spouse very quickly! 

When I focus on what an amazing husband, father, and person Edric is I don’t want to be a three-kisses-kind-of-wife to him, I want to be a ten-thousand-kisses-kind-of-wife! And I want to be sweeter and more smiley around him, and someone whom he thoroughly enjoys being around! 


“It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife.” Proverbs‬ ‭21:19‬ ‭

“Hon, You Have to Be a Better Homemaker”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Judge Your Spouse

Before the weekend of our 16th wedding anniversary, it was fasting week for our church. As a result I was in a totally different zone mentally, emotionally, and physically. Having slowed down my activities significantly to quiet my soul and spend time with the Lord, I actually forgot about our anniversary!

The day of our anniversary, Edric and I had ended our fast, and we got ready to go to a homeschool event — Family Fun Day, not greeting one another that morning. It slipped my mind. (I assumed it slipped his, too, when I whispered to him in the later part of the morning, "Happy Anniversary.")

Honestly, the day didn't start out right for us. Edric nagged the kids and I to leave by 7 AM to make it to Family Fun Day by 8 AM. Note that this was supposed to be a FAMILY event and we were supposed to go TOGETHER. However, I left my phone and realized it three hundred meters away from our home, so we did a u-turn to go back and Edric was visibly annoyed.

After speeding home to retrieve it, I jumped out of the car and Edric insisted that the kids and me all ride in another vehicle with the driver. He quickly left us without saying goodbye and without giving me to time to comment about this plan. The kids and I stood in the driveway in shock as he took off hurriedly on his own.

FAMILY FUN DAY wasn't staring out to as a family thing or fun!

Inside I was peeved. I didn't want to mouth this out in front of the kids to disrespect Edric behind his back. So I messaged him instead…

"I don't know why you did that. The kids don't understand either. Do you think it was necessary? ESP since they wanted to ride with you?"

No reply.

When the kids and I arrived at the venue, I semi-ignored him until I realized that it was our anniversary! That's when I whispered, "Happy Anniversary" when I finally locked eyes with him. But I mouthed it out with a sarcastic look on my face.

I felt hurt by the way he dismissed us that morning, so I was nursing it, entertaining all kinds of thoughts like, "Why couldn't he have been more patient? Why does it seem like he can't be inconvenienced? If I had been in his shoes, I would have wanted the family to be together, on the way to a FAMILY fun day." (Let it be said that the reason why he was running late in the first place was because of the kids and me, so we weren't exactly innocent. And he made a commitment to the team to be at the event early so he could pray with them and check on things.)

Anyway, there I was, with Catalina on my lap at the venue, feeling like the "righteous," good mother of our five children…the one who was dutifully taking care of them while he attended to business concerns.

Well, it turns out I was the unrighteous, judgmental one.

When Edric sensed that there was tension between us, he pulled me close and said, "Fine, since you are being so difficult, I am going to tell you that I have a surprise for you, for our anniversary. That's why I have been so preoccupied. That's why I left you guys earlier. Don't ask anymore questions. Just know that I love you."

"Really?!!!" Big smile on my face, followed by an apology for being so reactive. Boy, did I feel stupid and childish for misinterpreting his actions.

Later in the afternoon, Edric got home ahead of the kids and me and set up this sweet surprise which involved me walking down the stairs with my eyes covered to the end of the hall beside the living room. He decorated the massive wall with all our kissing photos, scenes from various places of the world that we traveled to.

He also included a timeline of photos from courtship to marriage to one, two, three, four, five children, and the present. Of course I teared as I took in the sight of it all, and I was humbled, ashamed, feeling very small and unworthy, and just amazed at how thoughtful his gift was. Edric is an extremely busy man but he painstakingly sorted through thousands of photos, coordinated with our friends, Jessie and Mags David to print out the photos on canvas, he solicited the help of our older sons to edit and caption the photos, he rearranged furniture to create a wall space for the photos, and had someone drill holes into our wall so he could arrange all the photos.

As for me, what did I have to offer him for our anniversary…nothing. I hadn't prepared a single gift, not even a card, because I had been so wrapped up in being "spiritual" that I forgot all about the most important person in my life, next to the Lord — my husband. Nearly one week later, I ended up buying him an exercise program that he wanted. Yet it was a pitiful offering in comparison to his gift for me. The contrast certainly revealed the disparity between our heart conditions. He was thinking of me, and I was thinking only of myself.

When I reviewed the video that my son took of Edric and me I teared again. And when I asked Edric, "Why did you do this?", his reply was, "God reminded me during this fasting week, that I must love you like Christ loved the church, be 'all-in' as a husband, and keep the 'husband bar' high for myself."

He also added, "Christ has a lavish love for His church, I want to have a lavish love for you."

(Gulp. Oh, someone stab me now for being such an emotional criminal!)

I messed up. I judged him and assumed the worst about him! The Lord dealt with me and my pride, and taught me through this magical anniversary surprise that I have a lot to work on as a wife, as a person. Deep inside, I can be this vicious person who entertains such negative thoughts about my husband and imagines these flame-throwing scenes where I scorch him with my words!

It's just wrong. So wrong. I desperately need God's grace to change me so I can be a better wife.

DO NOT JUDGE YOUR SPOUSE. That's what I learned. Do not judge people, for that matter.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)

Some weeks ago my husband made a statement after counseling a couple who seemed to misinterpret each other's words and actions which led to much conflict in their relationship. Edric surmised, "Out of the heart, the ears hear," and, I will add, "out of the heart, the eyes perceive."

In other words, if you and I have spiritual and emotional junk in our hearts, be it fear, anger, insecurity, and the like, we are going to manifest this in the way we interpret what people say and do. We will hear and see others negatively.

One of the tests of a heart that is pure-hearted and right with the Lord when we can choose to think well of others instead of judging them.

Well, I stand guilty!

The good news is that there is a remedy, and it is found in the rest of the verses after Matthew 7:2, "Don't look at the speck in someone else's eye. Pay attention to the log in your own! Don't be a hypocrite! Judge yourself first so you can perceive others properly." (That's my paraphrase of the next verses.)

Before coming to conclusions about Edric or any other person so rashly, I ought to examine myself to determine if my thoughts, my words, and my actions are innocent of selfishness and pride. Are they Christ-like, or are they self-centered? If Christ is my focus, then I can choose to believe the best about my husband and others.

What if people are so obviously awful and don't want to admit it. Here's something comforting to hold on to: God sees every person's heart, and as an all-knowing and all-powerful God, He can expose people for who they really are. Therefore, let's leave the judging to Him.

"For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all." (Luke 8:17)

"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

He’s Not the Same Man I Married

I got that title idea from Rose Fres Fauto when she recently interviewed Edric and I for her Facebook page, FQ Mom. During the interview I shared that one of Edric’s endearing qualities was his willingness to change. She looked surprised and said with a smile, “Really? I always thought Edric was a stubborn person.”

This comment got Edric and I laughing, and I explained that he is stubborn about his convictions, which is a good thing. However, when he recognizes that there’s a valid area to change in his personality, he will do it. In fact, he declared this commitment in his vows to me when we got married. He didn’t promise to be the perfect person but to be willing to change and improve for the better.

Rose interjected, “So he’s not the same man you married…”

“Exactly! And what a great title for an entry! I will use that!”

Truly, Edric is a different man. Every year he has become a better version of the man I married. In the first years of our marriage, I used to get so annoyed at his temperamental personality…the irony, me getting temperamental about him being temperamental! We had numerous conversations about this, sometimes over frustrating tears from both of us as we struggled to understand and adjust to each other. (It’s never easy to change a personality trait.) Edric’s reasons for his temper were often due to the high standard he held for himself and then imposing high expectations on those around him, including me.

I had to come to understand this as a strength of his, but he also learned to lower expectations of others and raise appreciation, and to verbalize praise when people did a good job. However, the more compelling reason for his change was his love for God. He knew that as a husband, God called him to “live with his wife (me) in an understanding way.”

Here’s where that principle comes from: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.” 1 Peter‬ ‭3:7

When the Bible says “weaker vessel” it is referring to the physical frame of a woman versus that of a man. It’s not saying that we are less important. This is not to say that women can’t develop muscles or even be more “fit” than a man either. Yet genetically speaking, most men are larger in bone structure than women. This is one of the reasons why it’s not fair for women to challenge men in Olympic sports, for example.

Given that a woman is the “weaker vessel”, God calls a husband not to look down on her but to honor her as a fellow recipient of His grace.

Considering that the text was written during a time when women were treated as second-class citizens, this tells us that God’s heart has always been turned towards us. And he required husbands to treat their wives with respect and to value them.

In fact, God blesses the husband who treasures his wife, who considers her vulnerabilities, and her need for care. Not all husbands may realize that this is God’s mandate but I am glad that Edric discovered this for himself as he walked with God. I couldn’t, after all, preach this passage of scripture to him to force him to change. I had to utilize the secret weapon — prayer! I prayed for him and gave the Holy Spirit room to work in his heart instead of standing in the way by being contentious and demanding.

Honestly, it was hard and there were occasions when I failed miserably. I, too, needed to improve as a wife, with my respectfulness and tone. God also worked in my own heart over the years to show me that I was called to respect and honor Edric. (This is something I need to re-learn and apply over and over again.)

I want to encourage women who are praying for a future husband and give madried women hope. When I look at Edric today, sixteen years later, I think to myself, God gave me the greatest husband in the world! Whatever disappointment I felt at the beginning of marriage has been replaced many times over by a renewed appreciation for him and for the man he continues to become.

I know many women who are waiting for the perfect guy to come along. Well, the bad news is there is NO perfect guy. No one guy can fulfill every hope, expectation, need, and dream of a woman he marries. The good news is you can look for a guy who has the seed of potential. That’s what I saw in Edric.

Pray for eyes to detect the seed of potential in a man, someone you can come alongside to support so that he can reach his fullest potential. For example, he doesn’t have to be rich, but he should be hardworking and willing to do what it takes to support a family. He doesn’t have to be a bible teacher, but he should be someone who loves God with all his heart as evidenced by his convictions and the fruit of the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t have to have everything figured out yet but does his internal compass point in the direction of pleasing God? Does he have a general idea of where he wants to go, at least a five year plan? He doesn’t have to be the smartest person in the world but he should be humble enough to listen to wise counsel and surround himself with people who will encourage him to make right choices.

A few days ago, a guy emailed me asking if he should pursue a girl who is from a wealthy family when he is just a simple guy. I included Edric in the response and told him something like this, “If she can’t see you for who you are inside and will base her judgements on what you can give materially then she isn’t worth it. There’s so much more to you as a man who loves God than your economic status.” (He was someone who was also working very hard and doing his part to earn what he could do bravo for him.) Edric encouraged him to “be himself” since he had nothing to prove. I totally agree!

When God made Adam he had much to do and much to accomplish to become all that God planned for him to be. He was still “in the raw.” God elected for him to have a helpmate and strong supporter to rule the world and subdue it. He created Eve. Similarly, there is a guy out there for you who may be a diamond in the rough at present, to use the cliché, but God is molding and shaping him into someone who will do amazing things for God’s glory, who will be an amazing husband, and an amazing dad. So you can pass him by because he doesn’t sparkle yet or you can be there as an enabler in his life and be witness to the transformation.

To us married women, there’s a gem of a man in every husband, too. Had I focused on the layers I didn’t like, that buried my gem of a husband and hid him from view, I wouldn’t have had the privilege of seeing him shine for the Lord now. Edric is not the same man I married. By God’s grace, he’s a better man every year because of the Lord.

It takes faith to wait on the Lord’s transformative work in a spouse. Edric, too, chooses to be patient as God changes me. We are sticking around, that’s for sure, to be present for the process in each other’s lives and in our own. There’s a wonderful reminder from Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”


Do we have faith to believe that God can do mighty things in our spouses and in our marriages? That God can take our imperfect selves and change us into someone completely different, someone more like Him?