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? 

Why Reconciliation is Possible

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

 

The “Love Letter”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be “Into” Your Husband 

For the longest time I took it for granted that Edric and I had healthy intimacy. I always felt like we were an affectionate, PDA sort of couple that had no issues when it came to sweetness and lovey-dovey-ness. I mean, at times, we were probably annoyingly affectionate with one another, irritating people who saw us out in public. So it never really occurred to me to put in extra effort to cultivate intimacy. The chemistry between us was always so natural. 

However, in recent years, the number of children, fatigue, and busy-ness have taken its toll on me physically, and Edric has, more than once, remarked about my seeming disinterest in being intimate with him. My excuses often revolved around timing. Why did it have to happen at the last hour of the evening when I was dead tired? I am not just talking about sex, but even kissing and hugging, and holding one another before falling asleep. Many times he felt like I was just not that into him.

My dismissiveness would make him feel hurt and rejected. For a while, I thought I was in the right, that he was the selfish and inconsiderate one for pursuing invitations when I was exhausted. Yet God convicted me through this latest trip we took together in Kenya. After observing the tender exchanges between a forty-two year married couple…aka my parents, I realized I have a lot to improve on.

Edric and I had hours of bonding time together with my mom and dad during our vacation league of the trip (the first part was more ministry). During the safari, my parents occupied the row of seats in front of Edric and me, so we both noticed how sweetly they interacted with one another. Dad would frequently smile tenderly at my mom and hold her hand. Mom often said, “I find you so handsome (to my dad), and I really enjoy being with you.”

I know these moments weren’t to put on a show for us. They simply enjoyed being together. After forty years, they are still so into each other.

Although my parents were always loving, it’s been pretty special for me to see them still tender (if not more so) in this season of their lives. Even if they are senior citizens, they act like a young couple in love. They still put effort into cultivating intimacy with one another.

Whether it was appreciating each other verbally, deliberately seeking to meet each other’s emotional needs, sharing jokes, or exhibiting patience and restraint during conflicts, they both showed me how to be a better spouse during this trip. While Edric and I have a great marriage by God’s grace, I know I can still up my effort levels in the areas of tenderness and responsiveness, especially after seeing the dynamic between my parents.

Very often I encourage wives to consider that we are the only, legitimate, godly option for intimacy, for our husbands. Yet if I were to honestly assess myself, my past six months’ performance has been wanting. I haven’t tried my best to meet Edric’s need for intimacy. I would give myself a mediocre score in this area because I haven’t been as into him as I ought to be. My mom and dad were great examples of what it means to delight in each other as husband and wife.

Sometimes I forget to appreciate how special Edric is, and how blessed I am to have a husband who loves God, loves me and our kids, and who wants to be a good husband and father. I need to be more like the woman in Song of Solomon and be a more passionately in love wife! “Come, my love, let us go out to the fields and spend the night among the wildflowers. Let us get up early and go to the vineyards to see if the grapevines have budded, if the blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love.” ‭‭Song of Songs‬ ‭7:11-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Don’t Be Selfish

It takes two joyful persons in the Lord to make a happy marriage and just one person to poison it with his or her selfishness. 

This past week I reacted with selfishness towards Edric because I judged him for not meeting my expectations. One of the more painful statements I made towards him was my life doesn’t revolve around you when he asked me to spend time with him and forego a previous engagement with girl friends. In my annoyance I spewed it out rather venomously. 

During the week prior Edric had been preoccupied and busy so I felt emotionally neglected. My instinct was to “do my own thing” and keep busy myself. However, when his schedule opened up on a Friday afternoon, he wanted me to spend time with him and drop everything I was doing. In fact, he sat me on the bed and asked, “Can’t you just cancel your event?” 

I interpreted this request to abandon my commitment as selfishness on his part which is why I carelessly commented, “My life doesn’t revolve around you.”

Instead, I should’ve sweetly appealed, “Hon, I really want to be with you but I made this commitment. I hope you understand. But I will make it up to you when I get back, okay?”

My cutting response, laced with pride, was meant to injure him emotionally because I entertained this it’s-not-fair mentality about my marriage. 

I thought, Why is that I am the one who has to adjust and be available to him? Sure, he is a rescuer when it comes to the big things and he will drop things for me, but on the day to day, I have to wait for him to be done with his preoccupations. In contrast, it feels like I am supposed to be “on call,” always ready to drop everything and anything for him.

My ugly, selfish and prideful self resented this. 

The rest of the week that followed I leaked out this resentment in various forms, draining the life out of my marriage and pushing Edric away. As a result he began to withdraw to avoid being hurt by my reactiveness and snappiness. 

It took the duration of a week (last week) for me to apologize sincerely to him and realize that my thoughts and actions weren’t honoring to the Lord. When I opened up to my mom about it, after Edric and I had reconciled with one another, she offered the more spiritual perspective about my marriage. She told me that I may have judged Edric as selfish but I was also selfish. She was right. I needed to hear that. (One of the things I appreciate about my mom is that she doesn’t take sides. Her advice is always about what God wants for Edric, for me, for our marriage.)

Truthfully, marriage is the most difficult relationship I have ever been in but it has been the best relationship to teach me selflessness and what it means to love and forgive unconditionally. My tendency is to think of my marriage with Edric as a barter sort of relationship. I will be grateful and sweet if you do this and that for me. Yet a marriage based on fair exchanges is self-seeking and self-centered. It is conditional and therefore bound to end up broken.

The key to rising above this is to fix my eyes on Jesus Christ, not Edric. It’s true that my life shouldn’t revolve around Edric, but I don’t have to declare this as an independent woman who prides herself in being captain of her own ship. Instead my life should revolve around Christ so I can make the right choices when my marriage is not such a happy place. I can still be sweet, grateful, and dispense grace when being married feels unpleasant and wanting. Why? Because of Christ in me, the source of my joy and strength. 

Admittedly, I have much growing to do in this regard since selfishness is so easy to succumb to when I don’t feel important or appreciated by Edric. Sometimes I fail like I did this past week, basing my responses on how Edric treated me.

However, the good news is that when I started to seek what Christ would have me think, say, and do rather than give in to the selfishness, Edric and I began to experience intimacy and healing in our marriage once again. We ended today with a heart to heart conversation about how we could both improve and we have begun to rebuild what was broken by selfishness. He fell asleep whispering “I love you,” and I will follow him to dreamland after I post this. All is well once again…

Allow me to end with this passage in James which I find to be a fitting reflection on selfishness: 

‭“For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” ‭(James‬ ‭3:15-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

A Husband’s Hero Halo 

Early Monday morning, at about 3 A.M., I woke up to escalating stomach pain. Edric wanted to rule out appendicitis, so he insisted on taking me to the E.R. 

The pain had been troubling me since Sunday and I couldn’t find a comfortable position to alleviate it. Since I wasn’t able to eat much either, Edric grew concerned, especially since he knew I wasn’t the kind of person to complain about pain. 

Even if he had a full day of meetings on Monday, he was prepared to drop everything for me. I finally asked him in a playful tone, “Why is it that you tend to get annoyed when I do things that inconvenience you but when I am helpless like this, you gladly play the role of hero and will go out of your way to take care of me? Can you explain this (paradox) to me?” 

He smiled, pounding on his chest like a champion, “Of course! I love you.” 

“Yes, but it’s kind of weird isn’t it? You don’t feel the same sweet emotions towards me when I don’t need you. In fact, when I act assertive and independent, you aren’t as gentle towards me. I know you love me but it’s different. So be honest, is it also because you also like it when I am a ‘damsel in distress’?” 

His playful grin gave him away. 

Maybe the feminists out there will criticize him for this, but they aren’t married to him so it doesn’t matter. It matters to me. Most of the time, I can fend for myself and I don’t depend on him to take care of me, but there’s something hard-wired into Edric that likes to be the rescuer. And I am thankful for this aspect of his personality.

He heard me crying in pain in the middle of the night and I would have suffered through it till morning. However, his hero-adrenaline kicked in, causing him to think of nothing else but my well-being. For someone who values his eight hours of sleep, this was a big deal. I didn’t want to trouble him but he was resolute about taking me to the E.R.

After a blood test and urinalysis, and a general physical exam, the doctors found nothing remarkable about my pain. They put an IV line to give me something to relieve the pain but I was sent home two hours later. The entire time, Edric sat by my side and didn’t complain about the wait. He gladly took care of me and settled all the paperwork of our insurance. 

Thankfully, the pain diminished significantly three days later. Today, I feel just fine but I am planning to see my Ob-Gynecologist to rule out any possible issues with my reproductive organs. 

During our date night, I thanked Edric for being there for me. In fact, I had a renewed appreciation for him. 

He kidded, “Now I have a hero halo right?” 

We both laughed as he followed up the comment with a ridiculous hero pose.

I don’t expect Edric to go out of his way to protect or care for me. After all, I was raised by a mom who was pretty independent and I grew up seeing her brave difficult situations, not as a damsel in distress, but a damsel whose strength was in the Lord. 

From her history, I know she left her homeland in her early twenties to go to Asia, to travel with a singing group and do mission work. Eventually, she met my dad, a Chinese businessman who loved the Lord, whose heart beat for the same thing — that of sharing the gospel message of Christ in Asia. 

They had five kids of which I am the second, and my mom has shared with me that every time she gave birth (following her first delivery), she encouraged my dad to go play golf! She preferred to labor on her own without worrying about my dad waiting during the eighteen hours  that it often took her to labor. Her request was that he come back right when she was about to deliver, for the highlight of it all. My dad, being the practical man that he was, conceded to her request. (Edric is too much of a romantic to do this!) 

Anyway, that’s the kind of mom I had and in many ways, I am similar to her. I know Edric likes the side of me that is indepedent and strong in the same way that my mom is. 


However, he really likes it when I need him. He rises to any occasion where he can demonstrate his gallantry. 

I don’t think it implies weakness or incapacity when I let him fulfill this role, either. He delights in being a hero to me. And I have to admit that there is something hard-wired into me as well that likes to be rescued by him. 

This is one of the beautiful things about being a woman — balancing that inner strength and courage that comes from the Lord and the willingness to be vulnerable and weak in the arms of the one you love.