Why Do You Still Love Me?

Edric is a very demonstrative person. He often tells me things like, “I love you.” Or, “You are the highlight of my day.” Or, “I miss you. I just want to be with you.” This is partly because he grew up in a family where his parents and siblings vocalized their love for one another. They were “huggy” and “kissy” and very sweet to each other. (They still are, which is something I appreciate about my in-laws.)

I don’t think I am as lovable as Edric thinks me to be. This is primarily because I know my flaws and weaknesses as a person, as a wife. Sometimes it baffles me to think that after all these years, his affections haven’t waned. In fact, he told me recently that his love has grown deeper and more profound. We must have been on a date when I challenged him with the question, “Why do you still love me?” and he gave that answer. 

This is both the mystery and miracle of marriage when Christ is present in it. I have said it many times that we don’t have a perfect relationship. We still suffer through our conflicts and general annoyances towards one another. However, Edric is right. I feel the same way about him. The love I feel is an eyes-wide-open kind of love, where I know everything about him, the wonderful and the frustrating, and yet, I would still declare without hesitation, that he is the person I would marry all over again. 

We are past the stage where the physical ranks high to both of us. Initially, I have to admit that this mattered a lot. We were very physically attracted to each other. But as we aged and gravity kicked in, we realized that this can’t be the magnetizing factor between us. We still try our best to stay fit but we know the truth about where our bodies are headed! 

Of course, when I first got serious about Edric 18 or so years ago, we connected on more important levels beyond the physical, too. Conversations were easy. There was mutual trust and agreement about values, principles, and faith. 

In this season of our marriage, however, it’s the history, memories, companionship, shared passions, common goals, and oneness in the Lord that matter most. The truth is Edric and I are such polar opposites in a way that ought to repel each other. We discovered this to a greater extent in marriage. 

He is full of energy and highly excitable. I am chill and not as free with my emotions. He’s spontaneous and engaged in every moment. I tend to be cautious and reserved. He likes food to have variety, to be presented in a palatable, intentional way. I can eat tuyo or Paksiew na Bangus out of a pan every day. He is lofty and bold with his ideas. I prefer to be conservative in my estimations. When he gets into a sport, it’s about the competition. Sports are a form of exercise to me. He is accustomed to being served and catered to in the home. I was raised to self-serve. He can get up on a stage and lose all track of time as he speaks. I freak out when he does this, especially when we speak together. He is confident and friendly. I can be insecure and quiet. He sees the big picture. I look at the details. His nose can smell the faintest scents. I have olfactory issues. He gets OC about his desk in the office and his study room at home, and likes to draw imaginary boundaries which designate where his space is. That’s all too complicated for me. When he’s hurt, he feels it for a long time. I move on too quickly and can be insensitive. He generously expresses love. My version can be too economized. He holds himself to a high standard and labors to help others excel. I like high standards when it comes to work ethic, personal growth, and outcomes, but I don’t always know how to inspire this in others apart from my kids. He is more critical. I am more affirming. He likes to fix his closet and organize his stuff. I don’t always know where to find the stuff in my closet.

With such dissimilar personalities, it’s a wonder that we haven’t aggravated one another to the point of falling out of love. That love can grow, bloom, and root itself so deep into our hearts is clearly the doing of God. There can be no other rational explanation. I find all those difference between Edric and me to be a source of irritation. And I know he would echo the same sentiment. However, I told him the other day, “Even if we are so different, I am thankful that we are fundamentally the same.” 

It’s the fundamental sameness that counts, that binds us and cleaves us to one another, that makes us one. Edric and I love the Lord. We are committed to obeying Him and following His principles for our marriage and parenting. The more we pursue the aspects that make us one, the more we love one another, the more delight we find in our relationship. And yes, there is still a lot of romance. Thank you, Lord. 

I don’t think our differences will ever go away completely. Sometimes they kind of spill over and contaminate his personality or my personality so that we take on certain traits that originally didn’t belong to either of us. Or, we imitate what we like about each other. Yet for the most part, it’s a take it or leave it thing. Either I accept that Edric isn’t like me and vice versa, or we both end up miserably disappointed because those differences remain. 

Therefore, my encouragement to all married, soon to be married, and considering-marriage people is to think through what differences and similarities are present in the relationship you have. If the similarities supersede the differences because they cover important areas like faith, purpose, priorities, goals, and values, then you can enjoy the differences as the spice in your relationship. And if you are married and you keep defaulting to how aggravating the differences are, then work towards achieving sameness in faith, purpose, priorities, goals, and values. 

Here are some questions you can discuss together:

1. FAITH – What do we believe about God, the universe, mankind, and ourselves? Are they consistent with the truth in God’s Word?

2. PURPOSE – What are we on earth for? 

3. PRIORITIES – How will we prioritize our marriage and family? 

4. GOALS – What should we accomplish as a team, given the strengths, abilities, and burdens that God has given us? How will we continue to grow and improve our sleeves? 

5. VALUES – What principles about marriage, parenting, and money will dictate how we fulfill our roles and how we make wise choices? 

It’s the fundamental things in a marriage — faith, purpose, priorities, goals, and values — that make its foundation shakable or unshakable. So when your relationship begins to feel unstable and rocky, revisit the foundation. If you need to rebuild, then do it! As impossible as it may seem in certain situations, let’s be encouraged by this passage: “But He said, ‘The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.'” Luke‬ ‭18:27‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Don’t Settle Now Because It Will Matter Someday

After declaring to a group of friends that I hardly get sick, I was hit with a strange virus that left me physically weak and mentally impaired. It was two days of fever where my body crashed and I had no will to rise from my bed except to relieve myself in the bathroom. It was followed by a stomach bug that gave me abdominal pain and diarrhea. And then my entire body was peppered by a rash that turned itchy on the 6th day. The itching kept me up for two nights.

So for 7 days I found myself perpetually exhausted, sneaking in naps throughout the day to regain my strength. I still do not know what I got which was passed on to two of my kids and one of our household helps. But it was a week of forced stillness for me.

When you can’t do much but lie in bed it certainly makes you think about your life. Because I had to slow down and literally do nothing, it nearly drove me crazy with boredom. I couldn’t even think straight. It hurt my eyes and my head to do brain work. So there I was, bed-ridden like I haven’t been in years.

The good news in all of this was how Edric came to my rescue. He came home early from work during my sickness to be by my side. He had food brought to the room to encourage me to eat. And then he relieved me of certain responsibilities to alleviate my stress. Although he had many commitments this past week, he never complained or made me feel like an inconvenience for being sick.

As much as I hated being helpless and dependent while I recovered from my viral attack, I enjoyed his affections. In an age when the independent and self-reliant woman is celebrated, I am not going to pretend that I don’t like being rescued by my man. I love it!!! In fact it matters to me more today than it did in our dating stage. 

It matters more now because Edric has had years of repeated exposure to all my flaws and imperfections. Sometimes you wonder if this sort of reality will have a radioactive effect on your relationship. You wonder if your husband is going to grow tired of you or if his affections will dissipate because he’s seen all the ugliness. 

And yet, Edric remains committed to my well-being. Last night, he even facilitated a discussion with our household help on my behalf. (This isn’t something that normally falls under the list of things he likes to do.)

One of our helps is leaving us to go back home to her province so he assembled all of them for closure. Everyone got to air their concerns and voice out their problems with one another. In the meantime, I was upstairs resting, unaware that this meeting was transpiring.

As he replayed the conversation with our household help to me, he emphasized, “I told the girls to ‘take care of you because I love you very very much.'” He even had tears in his eyes as he said this. He’s a masculine guy but when it comes to declarations of love, he can actually get sappy. 

I am not awesome or interesting enough to captivate Edric’s affections forever. However, he remains committed to me just like he promised on our wedding day. Have there been occasions when he hasn’t felt loving feelings towards me? Yes, of course. Yet somehow this commitment to love me has been like a gravitational force that keeps him from falling out of orbit. At the core of this love is no doubt his love for the Lord. Like I said, it’s not me that keeps his love.

The longer I am married and the more couples Edric and I encounter through counseling and our social circles, the more I appreciate the gift of having a husband who has kept his promise to me, to the Lord. For richer, for poorer, in sickness, in health, till death do us part… 

I knew Edric was a wonderful man when I married him. But he’s version 15.0 now, fifteen years later, and still upgrading every year. 

Young ladies ask me about their relationships with guys via Facebook or through email, and I tell them, “Don’t settle.” Don’t settle for a guy who doesn’t love the Lord with all his heart. From this side of the fence, that’s what counts. 

This sincere love for God has got to be hard wired into a man’s person for him to be a good husband. It’s the one aspect of his person that will determine his motivation to improve and change for the better, and to keep his promise to you. I wish all women would get this and realize how significant a truth it is. 

Furthermore, you will know if a guy really loves God by the way he thinks and acts, by his habits and the people he surrounds himself with, the way he uses his time, treasure, and talents, his dreams and ambitions, and by the fruit of his life. There are many “posers” out there who can put on a show of godliness just to win the heart of a woman so be discerning, ladies. A man who loves God is worth saving your heart for! In the meantime, be the kind of woman a godly man will look for…

To all of us… “May the Lord direct your (our) hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭

Speak Life Words to Your Spouse

For the last few months, Edric and I have been on this romantic high. It’s been amazing to cross the 15 year marriage mark and still feel like it’s the honey moon stage. This is God’s grace.

However in the past two weeks, Edric and I have been in a state of conflict. Nothing explosive, just frequent annoyances with one another.

For example, last Saturday Edric and I were discussing ministry priorities and he began to share how frustrated he was with certain people we were ministering to. I have heard this same tune before. At first I gave suggestions on how he can reach out to people more intentionally and I felt like he was resisting my proposals. As for me I was thinking, Why is this an issue again? Ministry is messy. People are messy. This comes with the territory of serving the Lord. It’s never going to be easy.

But I failed to acknowledge his feelings by jumping in with my ideas too soon. As I listened more to Edric go on and on, I felt increasing agitation. So I kept throwing suggestions his way.

Edric didn’t like my opinions. First of, he was opening up to me and hadn’t invited me to give my perspective yet (there would’ve been a moment for that later on). But I wanted to cut through all the emotional stuff and just help him fix the issue. (And to think I don’t like it when he does the same to me!)

I was giving my unsolicited advice while portraying him as problematic — a failure as a leader. Naturally, this irked him. He felt hurt. Especially when I lost it and finally mouthed out, “You know what? Just man up and move forward and do what you have to do!” (Wrong, wrong, wrong!)

He very calmly replied, “I would like to say expletives to you right now but I won’t. But what you are saying is hurtful.”

And then he corrected me about how I need to improve as a listener…How I tend to be opinionated at the wrong time. I didn’t take this well.

I retorted in a bad way, “Have you ever thought about how you don’t like me being opinionated because it’s your pride? Do you really want me to be the kind of wife that just keeps quiet and has no opinion? Because I can be like that. I will just be quiet all the time and not say anything contradictory.”

Of course this wasn’t his point, I was just being difficult and prideful.

Had I put myself in his shoes and attempted to understand him, he could have walked away from that conversation refreshed and recharged. Instead, he said something like this, “Opening up to you was a mistake. I don’t feel like I accomplished anything. In fact I feel worse.”

So we parted tensely without a resolution. a few hours we had to minister to a group of couples and this was the state we were in.

I was willing to discuss our differences after that meeting but Edric very humbly apologized to me IN FRONT of the couples. He normally doesn’t want to do any sort of ministry work if we aren’t okay as a couple so this is probably why he spontaneously apologized to me. Of course I was compelled by his humility and asked for his forgiveness for saying the things I did that were so disrespectful. Yet this sort of combative spirit lingered in me.

Throughout the days that followed I continued to challenge his ideas and get irritated for the smallest things. It came out in the way I talked and related to him…like rolling my eyeballs, burying my face in my hands in exasperation, sighing to signify my disappointment, looking away when I didn’t agree with what he was saying, challenging the integrity of his facts, or spitting out opinions that were laced with disdain or sarcasm. The most hurtful things were the words I spoke, ill-chosen and uncensored.

I really praise God for being merciful to me and telling me loud and clear, Joy, you are supposed to be a life giver along side Edric! You are not his shrink or his teacher. Sure, you may not always agree with him, and you may want to change the way he thinks. And yes he may be wrong at times. But it doesn’t give you license to step outside the bounds of the role I have given you, especially with the things you say. You are called to be his encourager. To pray for him, to speak life words into his heart so he will be motivated to follow Me and love Me.

In the Old Testament, Michal was a wife who criticized and scorned King David, her husband. When David danced before the Lord with all his might, stripping himself of his royal garb because he was delighted at the rerun of the Ark, she “despised him in her heart.”

She clung to this contempt and sarcastically said to David, “How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!” Rather than rejoice at the arrival of the Ark of God, she mocked her husband’s honest display of joy.

David resented her reproach and declared that he was not ashamed before the Lord. Bible
explains that “Michal had missed the essential significance of David’s career, that in spite of his failures he was a man after God’s own heart. As Alexander Whyte put it, ‘What was David’s meat was Michal’s poison. What was sweeter than honey to David was gall and wormwood to Michal…. At the despicable sight [of David dancing] she spat at him, and sank back in her seat with all hell in her heart…. Michal is a divine looking-glass for all angry and outspoken wives.'”

Michal didn’t give birth to children after this as a consequence for her scorn. Reading about her again showed me
an example to avoid as a wife. She did not honor God in her heart, therefore she did not honor her husband. Similarly, I did not honor Edric last Saturday or the past few days because I had not been honoring God in my private life. I wasn’t actively seeking to be intimate with Him. Busyness took over and I was too caught up in my own pursuits to minister to Edric.

Almost every time that I am reactive and annoyed with Edric, this disposition can be traced back to a lack of intimacy with the Lord on my part. I am not ready, spiritually, to minister to my husband in the way that he needs me to.

Edric and I have settled our issues and apologized to one another which is why I can write about this now. But I know that my propensity to be contentious towards him will not go away. It will continue to be a weakness that I struggle with unless I forsake my pride and ask the Holy Spirit to fill me.

Marriage so often reveals the areas where I need to grow as a person, and in this season it is to fully embrace what it means to be a life-speaking wife to Edric…not someone who reminds him of his mistakes and highlights his inadequacies under the guise of “helping him to be a better man.” It’s the Holy Spirit who makes him a better man. My role as a wife is to gently remind him that God loves him, that I love him, that God will give him the wisdom to make the right choices, and that I am here to prayerfully support him. Historically speaking, this has always proven to be the more effective way to open communication between us, too. When Edric feels affirmed and encouraged, he tends to want to hear my perspective and insights. So it’s a win-win approach!

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spouts folly. A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.” Proverbs‬ ‭15:1-2, 4‬ ‭

Fight for Your Marriage

In the past weeks, Edric and I have been counseling different couples about issues in their marriages, ranging from minimal to major. From our vantage point as counselors, the one thing that has been a consistent predictor of successful outcome in these relationships has been the individual choices of the persons involved to fight for their marriages by obeying God’s Word. 

Last night we spent time with a husband and wife who are emerging from a dark time in their marriage. Edric and I sat beside them in wonderment as we listened to the strides they have made since we first heard of a betrayal that could have (and should have) destroyed their relationship. As they spoke honestly about the challenges and the victories they have experienced in the last month it was like listening to two entirely different people – people who have been radically transformed by the grace of God.

We knew them to be great people before this difficult point in their history, but today there is 360 degree healing taking place in them that is clearly the handiwork of the Holy Spirit. Only God can search out the hidden wounds and cure the unseen hurts that have left us unable to know the abundant life that is described in John 10:10. In our discussion with this couple last night, I was reminded as the woman spoke of completeness, that it is God’s intention to mend and fix EVERYTHING that is broken in us. He’s not a God of partial healing. He is a God who specializes in COMPLETE HEALING. 

However, we cannot taste of this healing if we do not invite the grace of God into our hearts and minds by humbling ourselves to the point of repentance. About two months ago, I was dealing with anger issues towards Edric. Everytime he would do some thing that reminded me of our personality differences, I would feel agitated and think to myself, “Here he goes again. Why is like that?!” 

These thoughts would invade my consciousness often, and they were accompanied by discreet eye-ball rolling and snarly looking faces from me. It wasn’t until I had an outburst where I threw a toilet paper roll at him that I realized I had a serious problem. I was angry with Edric.

Yes, I loved him and I was committed to our marriage, but I also entertained negative thoughts, prideful comparisons, and bitter judgments about him. This made me susceptible to the influence of the evil one.

During one afternoon, I sat in on a bondage breaker session, which is basically a time when you identify areas in your life that have made you susceptible to demonic influences or oppression. The session wasn’t actually scheduled for me but for a friend who asked me to sit in with her to pray with her.

The list of areas to reflect on and revisit historically during a bondage breaker session is quite comprehensive. It includes things like sensuality, immoral relationships, pagan practices, witchcraft, sexual abuse, addictions, and emotional sins (as categories). Underneath each category are detailed experiences that a person may have knowingly or unknowingly participated in or been impacted by because of their ancestors. In the process of going through the list, a person is encouraged to name each of the sins, confess them in Jesus’ Name and renounce any demonic oppression that they may be suffering from due to these sins. It’s about acknowledging past and present sins and claiming victory in Christ over darkness. But it’s effective only if a person is truly repentant.

Even if the session wasn’t for me, I got really convicted when we crossed the part about anger. Edric’s name came to my mind. As we ended that time together, I prayed for the women who were with me and I also prayed for myself, confessing my anger aloud. 

Afterwards I had a discomfort in my stomach that stayed with me through the evening and into the morning of the next day. I kept feeling the need to burp. I don’t like to make a big deal out of demonic manifestations but I have seen some that were stomach-related. 

I also know that spiritual oppression can surface in physical ways and that spirits can terrorize us physically, even as followers of Jesus. If Jesus Christ is in us, an evil spirit cannot occupy the seat of our hearts because it belongs to Christ, but we are susceptible to demonic harassment due to sin. For some reason, my gutt was affected after I prayed with my two friends. Does this mean I was demonized or had been demonized somehow? Only God really knows. 

As for me, I did what was in my control. The next day, when I got up to run by myself, I declared out loud, “If there are any evil spirits oppressing me because of my anger, I cast you out in Jesus’ Name. If there are any spirits of anger in me, be gone in Jesus’ Name and do not return.” The uneasy feeling in my stomach went away. But the more important effect of the power of Jesus’ Name to liberate me from this anger was to be seen in the days and weeks to come.

Instead of feeling deeply aggravated at Edric each time he did something that bothered me, I felt unusually calm and unaffected. I’m not saying that I wasn’t tempted to react in irritation, but the incense that would typically inhabit me wasn’t there anymore.

In fact, instead of rage I actually felt sweet feelings toward Edric! This was the handiwork of the Lord. Surely the evil one couldn’t have placed those positive feelings in my heart for Edric since Edric was still doing the same sort of things that usually irked me.

Let me get to the point. This part isn’t so much about demonic oppression as it is about opening our eyes to the reality of spiritual warfare. We need to see what’s really going on. The evil one is hell bent on destroying our marriages. That’s been his game plan since God presented Adam and Even as husband and wife. He hates marriages. Marriage between a husband and wife is God’s showcase of His love. It’s intended to be a parallel to the relationship we have with him. As author and speaker John Piper so beautifully stated it, “marriage is the doing of God and the display of God.”

As Christ is to the church, so ought the man to love his wife and as the church is to Christ, so the woman is to submit to her husband. The evil one doesn’t want us to understand any of that. And once he breaks up a marriage, he is able to “kill several birds with one stone” very effectively – the couple, the children, and society. Think of all the lost and wounded people inhabiting this earth who are also hurting others because they have been victims of broken homes. It’s an epidemic. 

As Edric and I ended our conversation with the couple I referred to at the beginning of this post, my heart was overwhelmed with joy and hope. Sometimes we focus on the vast number of unhappy and unhealthy marriages out there and we tend to feel discouraged. But God is doing amazing things in marriages today.

Is it really possible to have a loving marriage that lasts a lifetime? Or are we going to resign ourselves to the common marriage story that begins as a fairy tale, plays out like a drama in the middle, and ends like a horror film?

By God’s grace, it doesn’t have to be that way. God’s grace is there. It is powerful. It is present. 

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:14-16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The couple we were counseling should have become a statistic…another failed marriage, another broken home. But against all human reason, they are more happily married than they ever were. They have a renewed love for one another. Communication with their kids has improved significantly. And their sex life is unexplainably amazing! What?! How is this possible?!

It’s possible because they both chose to respond to God’s grace. Very specifically, they chose to:

  • Humbly confess and acknowledge their sins against God, against one another, and others. 
  • Repent and renounce any addiction or sin that was standing in the way of their relationship with Christ and each other.  

2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret to that kind of sorrow. But the worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.”

  • Identify the history of hurt and problems in their individual lives and marriage. They were completely honest with one another and with us.
  • Forgive each other unconditionally and forgive themselves.
  • Commit to change the areas that they needed (and need) to.
  • Pursue intimacy with God by reading His Word, praying fervently, and meeting with other couples for accountability.
  • Hope in God’s good plan for their lives, marriage, and family.
  • Seek to minister to other couples in order to help them have Christ-centered marriages, too.

I wrote this to encourage everyone of us to do whatever it takes to fight for our marriages. Some us may think we cannot do this. Perhaps this is because our threshold for enduring a difficult marriage is adjusted to our own preferences, what we want for ourselves. And perhaps it’s because we have misunderstood what marriage is all about when we first committed to it. But our situation, as unique as it may seem, is not more painful than what every other couple is going through at this very moment. 

Marriage is HARD. It’s hard for everybody. There will always be irreconcilable differences and things we just don’t like about our spouses. They will do things that make us want to quit. And no matter how wonderful our spouses are there will be times when we want to decapitate them (and probably have the right to.) 

Yet, instead of sulking and pitying ourselves when it gets tough, and thinking we ought to be happy and deserve someone better, let’s not look for or imagine the nearest exit. What we want for ourselves will not be beyond those exit doors. Temporarily maybe. But it’s not going to cure what’s inherently wrong with us or our marriages. 

What’s inherently wrong is our hearts. We don’t know God well enough or seek Him intimately enough to understand that He loves us, that He is for us, that He wants to bless us, that our marriage is not about us but about Him. 

The question is are we willing to do whatever it takes to fight for our marriages? Are we willing to wait patiently on Him and obey Him UNTIL we see the blessings of doing so? 

Fighying for our marriages is saying that I will no longer live for myself but for Christ

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

It is saying…

I will stay in my marriage not for myself but for Christ.

I will love my spouse because I love Christ.

I will reject the habits, desires, and selfish and sinful actions I do that hurt my marriage because I don’t want to hurt Christ.

I will obey God’s design for my life and marriage because I want to obey Christ.

I will fulfill my role as a husband or wife because Christ asks me to.

I will be and I CAN BE a better husband or wife because Christ is in me.

To those of us who are married, we must DO EVERYTHING IT TAKES FIGHT FOR OUR MARRIAGES not for pride’s sake but because the name of the Lord is at stake and the lives of people around us are at stake. We are responsible to our spouse, to our children, to a lost and dying world. (If you don’t want this responsibility then don’t get married in the first place.) But if you are married like me and you profess to be a follower of Jesus then you and I must be committed to having Christ-centered, Christ-glorifying marriages, NO MATTER WHAT! And the amazing thing is, when we follow God and obey Him, His glory in our lives becomes our greatest happiness! 

Let me end this what what John Piper said…

The greatest joy is joy in God. This is plain from Psalm 16:11: “You [God] will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Fullness of joy and eternal joy cannot be improved. Nothing is fuller than full, and nothing is longer than eternal. And this joy is owing to the presence of God, not the accomplishments of man. Therefore, if God wants to love us infinitely and delight us fully and eternally, he must preserve for us the one thing that will satisfy us totally and eternally; namely, the presence and worth of his own glory. He alone is the source of full and lasting pleasure. Therefore, his commitment to uphold and display his glory is not vain, but virtuous. God is the one being for whom self-exaltation is an infinitely loving act. 

John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God

The Good Things vs. the Great Things

Early on in my marriage, my husband, Edric, was into computer games. It took some years for him to wean himself away from this addiction. Although I must say that his addiction wasn’t like the very destructive kind that paralyzes a lot of young people (and grown-ups) today. Apparently, some kids cut their classes to play computer games. That’s a different level of addiction. Edric’s was mild in comparison.

However, I had a brother who played computer games obsessively until a few years ago when God got a hold of his heart and convicted him to change for good. So I’ve nursed a little bit of paranoia that leaked out of me whenever Edric’s interest in computer games got piqued.

As a young wife and mother, it bothered me immensely whenever I would see him seated on our living room couch, fixated on the screen, with his eyes hardly blinking and his fingers moving furiously. I would think to myself, How can this person lead our family?! Worst of all, I would say cutting and disrespectful statements in the attempt to make him stop.

Eventually, I learned to pray for him instead of nagging which resulted in miraculous intervening from the Lord. As a result, I am happy to say that he generally avoided computer games for the majority of our marriage. Although there were some seasons when he would get into it again, they were short-lived. He got busier and busier through the years, leaving little room for this sort of entertainment. He got to the point where he preferred to channel his attentions towards the kids and me, and find ways to hang out with us.

A few months ago, however, he decided to join an NBA2K league again with his good friends. His main purpose was to reach out to them and have some clean, boyish fun. So he purchased the NBA game while we were in the U.S. in the first quarter of the year, and started practicing for this league.

At first, it didn’t bother me. Edric didn’t have much time to practice so he reserved this for the late evenings or days when he wanted to unwind after a grueling day at work. His practice sessions didn’t really interfere with family time. It wasn’t like he was neglecting his priorities.

However, as the tournament drew closer, his competitive bug kicked into full gear and I noticed that he disappeared more frequently during what should have been “family times.” I mentioned my concern on a few occasions but I knew this was a sensitive topic so I avoided saying too much. Plus, he also assured me that he was renewing his game-playing just for the tournament season.

Instead of making a big deal out of it, I continued to pray that God would give him wisdom as the leader of our family. After all, I knew Edric’s heart, that he sincerely and truthfully loved God and had a relationship with Him. Therefore, if he was straying from the course that God would have him on, then surely God would get his attention in an effective way to correct his trajectory.

On Friday before his tournament, the kids had their music recital. It was the culminating activity for the quarter, covering a little over two months (about the amount of time that Edric had been playing computer games again.)

Many years ago, Edric and I agreed that MAPE classes would fall under his department for our homeschooling. I would focus on the academics. So, technically speaking, making sure the kids practiced for their violin performances was his lookout. But Edric hadn’t been very aware of what was going on with the kids over the last few weeks because his default mode was to come home and “practice” for the big tournament day.

Before the recital I mentioned to Edric that the boys were struggling through their pieces and were ill-prepared for their recital. I was terrified for their sake. They obviously hadn’t practiced hard enough. Yet at that point, there was nothing I could really do to salvage the situation except allow them to learn from their choices.

When the boys played on stage, Edric turned over to me, with a mortified and shocked look on his face. Our kids got through their songs but our two younger boys squeaked through their pieces. (The violin instrument is probably the most unpleasant instrument to listen to when played incorrectly.) Edric couldn’t believe how unprepared they were.

Afterwards, he decided to have a talk with the boys which began by asking them, “How do you think you did, boys? Did you do your best?”

Titus confidently declared, “Yes!” (This made us laugh because his answer revealed more about his half-full vs. half-empty kind of perspective on life rather than his ability to accurately access his own performance.)

Our two older boys were more realistic and admitted that they hadn’t practiced the way they should have.

Edric concluded by encouraging them to do their best in everything that they pursue, for God’s glory. He attempted to be gracious while insisting that practice was a non-negotiable part of their daily disciplines.

Well, the day ended with the kids learning a life lesson, and the next day was Edric’s NBA2k tourney. He woke up totally excited and energized for the event. I stayed home with the kids as he road away with one of his close friends.

During the rest of the day I assumed that all was well until I received a call from him at 2 PM. These were his words: “I lost EVERY. SINGLE. GAME.” He sounded upset and humiliated.

According to him, he did so horribly that some of the guys weren’t even looking at the screen while competing against him! But he did include a positive note about sharing the gospel with one of the men who joined the tournament.

In an attempt to diffuse his disappointment over losing, I welcomed him home with a good dinner spread. I also knew that he must have come away from the experience with wonderful reflections and I was eager to hear these.

He told me, “God reminded me that I must replace the good things in my life with the great things. Hanging out with the guys playing computer games isn’t a bad thing. It can be a good thing when it’s about reaching out to guys to build relationships to win them over to Christ. But computer game playing is not a great thing, either. After I watched the kids violin performance yesterday, I was convicted about how my attention was diverted by my own ‘practice’ sessions. Had I been more zoned in to what was happening with the kids, I would have recognized that they slacked off with their violin practices. I would have stepped in to do something about it. But I was distracted. I wasn’t there.”

I am able to write about this experience now because I have my husband back…every part of him! Hooray! Today he told me how excited he was to spend time with the kids. His plan is to take them outdoors to go biking or running this afternoon.

As I shared in the beginning of this entry, it’s only by God’s grace that Edric doesn’t have major issues when it comes to computer gaming. However every single person in our family needs him to be present, wholly there. And for him, computer games is one of those things that takes him away from us. This detour from his more-often-than-not engaged husband and father mode caused some funkiness to develop in our kids. Maybe even in me! Yet, I’m thankful to the Lord that He nipped the issue quickly!

The game playing could have progressed to something really unhealthy for Edric and our family had he won the tournament and emerged as the champ. The win would have affirmed the time he spent training for the tournament. It would have given him cause to defend his title for the next one. But no such thing came to pass. God’s kindness to him was allowing every single defeat in order to send a loud and clear life principle: Choose the great things over the good things.

As for me, I’m rejoicing because I know God loves Edric so much that He protects him from going off-course. Even the slightest of Edric’s missteps are visible to the Lord. I want to continue to pray that God will not let him slip.

“Bless our God, O peoples, and sound His praise abroad. Who keeps us in life and does not allow our feet to slip.” (Psalm 66:8-9 NASB)

God loves every single man in our lives. If there is anything that troubles or unsettles us about the men we love (be it a husband, boyfriend, father, brother, etc.), we can be assured that God sees the areas that they need to improve on to become more like Him.

Sometimes, it’s very tempting to get in the way and nag them to death or try and manipulate circumstances so we can facilitate their growth process faster. However, we must learn to rest in God’s love for them and avoid rushing into the scene to “fix” things.

If we continue to pray for the men we love and surrender them to the Lord, doing our part to obey God, too, then we can be confident that God will intervene in His way and time. He will direct them and order their steps in accordance with His will.

How do we know this? Because He loves them immeasurably more than we can ever love them. And He is faithful and able to transform their hearts to desire and pursue what pleases Him — the great things.

“This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭48:17‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Give Priority to Your Spouse

Edric and I seem to get busier year after year, but one thing I appreciate about him is that he prioritizes me. If I were to tell him that I needed him, not in a crying-wolf sort of way, but genuinely and sincerely, he would drop everything for me.

The past two weeks were spent traveling, speaking, counseling and meeting with people about various issues, plus a section of the rip-rap of our house collapsed. By Tuesday afternoon, I didn’t want to attend another event. I just wanted to go home.

It takes me a while to get to this point of emotional and spiritual exhaustion. However, people issues can quickly do this to me. As much as I enjoy dealing with people and seeing God transform their lives, there are periods when it’s deeply discouraging, too.

For example, when I can’t force people to make the right choices (although I sometimes wish mind-control was a super power I possessed), and I see them make decisions that are against God’s will, it saddens and frustrates me. I have to wait on the Lord to speak to them and bring conviction to their hearts. In the meantime, it wearies me when people stew in their wrong emotions instead of actively pursuing God-honoring solutions or listening to biblical advice.

Yet this is what ministry is all about, patiently dealing with the messiness of imperfect people (myself included, of course), and pointing each other to God’s love and grace so that we might all be radically changed by it.

Compared to what church leaders have to contend with, I think that I’ve been exposed to the softer side of the battle. When I think of what my parents have to contend with on a daily basis as they shepherd a mega church, I know that my own dealings with people issues are quite minor. Nevertheless, it’s important that I seek out ways to recharge.

First, when I start to feel burdened and anxious, I return to my anchor – Jesus Christ. Prayer, filling my mind with His truth, and recognizing that He is present takes my focus off people and onto Him. As Hebrews 12:2 puts it, we need to keep “fixing your (our) eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith…”

Second, I’m thankful to God that I have my husband, Edric, to turn to. Whether it’s holding my hand, embracing me, praying with me and for me, offering words of comfort, or helping me to have the right perspective, he brings much needed calm to my spirit.

I can’t run away from the storms that come with the terrain of ministry, and I know I can’t run away from people because God’s Word tells me to love people, even when they display themselves as unlovable. But sometimes, I just need a break.

That Tuesday afternoon, before we were supposed to attend another ministry event, I expressed to Edric how tired I was. At first, he gently attempted to convince me to go to it. In fact, I was dressed for it as I sat in his office waiting for him to finish up with work. However, as he listened to me and took in the sight of my demeanor and posture, he sensed that I wasn’t alright.

So he reassuringly said, “I’ll take care of you.” Then he called in his assistant to inform her that we would be passing on the dinner affair. He requested that she ask if we could get out of our commitment to the person who invited us, and to send our apologies.

His sensitivity to recognize that I was running on empty meant a great deal to me. His consideration spelled L-O-V-E. Even if it was important for us to be at the gathering, he knew that ministry to me, as his wife, took precedence. When we got home, I went to bed a little past 7:30 and slept for about 12 hours!

Edric and I aren’t the type to beg off from a ministry activity we’ve said yes to so this incident was an exception rather than the norm. Lest this be interpreted as an example of why it’s okay to break commitments to people when your spouse needs you, this isn’t what I intended by this entry.

Indeed, there may be occasions when this may be necessary, but the point I’m trying to make is that prioritizing one’s spouse is one way we can affirm our love for them.

Sometimes it’s putting the gadgets away and out of reach when you are having a conversation with your husband or wife so you can give them your full attention. Or…

It’s letting go of a habit or activity that takes time away from your spouse…

It’s going on that much needed date night so you can be together, just the two of you, and leaving the kids at home…

It’s avoiding a course of action that you know will wound your spouse…

It’s honoring your vow to stay pure and keep the marriage bed holy…

It’s taking the time to listen to your spouse’s feelings even when you would rather do something else or be somewhere else…

It’s taking your spouse’s call while you are in the middle of a meeting…

It’s doing your best to resolve a conflict between the two of you because you know that lingering in the hurt isn’t healthy for your marriage…

It’s purposefully praying for one another…

It’s keeping your promise about something you told your spouse you would get done for him or her…

It’s speaking your spouse’s love language whether it be words of affirmation, gifts, time, acts of service, or affection…

It’s seeking to meet their heartfelt needs even if it requires sacrifice from you…

I don’t know what giving your spouse priority might mean in your marriage, but I do believe it’s one of the most convincing ways to communicate, “I love you.” Bold and grand gestures of devotion are great, but there’s nothing that can top the consistency of letting your spouse know every single day that they are the important, that second to the Lord, they have priority over your earthly relationships and pursuits.


Many things in our lives will scream IMPORTANT, so let us pray for the wisdom to sift through the things that demand our attention and ask, which ones will destroy our relationship with God, our marriage and family if we neglect them or engage in them?

I don’t know who Brandon Sanderson is but he said something very insightful: “The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones.” If we want to have a good, solid marriage (and even a romantic one), we must recognise it as a vital thing and commit to treat it that way EVERY DAY.


Your Husband is Special

On rare occasions I get to step into my husband’s work-world and experience what it’s like to do what he does. Today was one of those times. I got a glimpse of what taping for tv shows entails.

Last year I was invited to host a show (I will announce it eventually), and I am in the process of taping the episodes. It’s an interstitial show so the episodes will be short. But each one takes about two hours to film, besides all the setting up and prep work that is involved to stage each scene.

The best part of this experience is meeting people and learning from my guests. I have thouroughly enjoyed talking with some amazing women. However, I am a total rookie at this so I am still adjusting to the learning curve.

Since this is something outside of my comfort zone, it can be emotionally and physically draining…maybe even slightly terrifying for a closet introvert like me. I’ve been praying a lot to prepare myself. But for the first time, I understood what my husband goes through whenever he tapes his On the Money shows. It seems easy to sit and interview people when I watch him on tv but it’s actually quite exhausting!

I have only taped two episodes and he’s done over a thousand! Today’s experience taught me to appreciate my husband. I tell him I do but now I mean it more than ever. Stepping into his “world” for a change doubled my respect for him.

When he walked through the door after he got home from the studio, I looked at him with new admiration. Wow, I thought, I am so blessed to be married to this guy!

Sometimes I am tempted to think he’s lucky to have me, but that’s when I am focused on myself. The reality is I am blessed to have him. He is a special guy.

I believe all wives need to say that about their husbands. Each one of us is married to a special man. We can forget this sometimes. In fact, we married them because we knew they were one of a kind, uniquely gifted and amazing — the one person we wanted to love forever. However, the realities of marriage and our own selfishness (I am speaking for myself at least), can cloud over how special they are because we zone in to their MINOR flaws.

When I had time with him alone, I profusely thanked him. “Hon, I just want you to know how much I appreciate you. You are amazing, what you do and what you go through. I am so thankful to be married to you.”

When I asked him if it matters to him that I say these things, his reply was, “Super! It super matters. It emboldens and empowers me as a man!”

He also added, “In general, I deal with a lot of criticism and correction from people, so it’s nice to hear you say that.” His smile was from ear to ear.

Like I have said before, husbands can be the most under appreciated people in the world, and it’s up to us, as wives, to build them up and encourage them. We are the ones who can uniquely minister to their hearts in this way. Let’s make the most of that privilege!

Have you complimented and affirmed your man today? Tell him how special and wonderful he is. And give him a kiss to prove it, too! I am sure it will make his day.

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another…” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭

“An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil All the days of her life.” Proverbs‬ ‭31:10-12‬

It’s Never Okay to Throw a Toilet Paper Roll at Your Husband

After writing an article last week on “Fighting with Gentleness,” I messed up big time. I mean, BIG TIME. I’ve been honest with my readers about my mistakes as a wife and mother, so I’m not going to plaster over this one.
During an argument with Edric two Sundays ago (after church, mind you), I threw a toilet paper roll at him. Yes, a toilet paper roll! Why?!

What triggered this outburst in me? What happened to me?! I’m not a thrower.

Okay, I’m not going to lie. There was one other time that I threw something. It was four years ago. Edric and I were agitated at one another. I flung the remote control towards the other end of the room where it crashed into the wall and fell apart.

I had to apologize profusely and ask for forgiveness for my display of violence. Thankfully, Edric dispensed his forgiveness in a very sweet and gracious way, assuring me that he loved me no matter what. But I regretted that moment for many months after. I still regret it.

So why did I revert to throwing again? And this time, a toilet paper roll?

Let me go back to the beginning, when a discussion took place about breakfast. (We have at least one altercation a year that deals with breakfast. I don’t know why. It just happens.)

Edric’s first statement was to serve variations of scrambled eggs. We eat pretty hearty breakfasts. Eggs are a big part of our morning meals. For a while, we were doing more scrambled eggs than fried or boiled. Then Edric asked to add more fried eggs to the menu. Finally, a few weeks ago, he was tired of the sunny side up eggs and requested for more stylized scrambled eggs.

My fault was forgetting to inform our househelp right away. So I had to apologize to Edric for not implementing his instruction immediately. This initial conversation was fine. But the breakfast discussion continued. Edric commented about how his morning meal is often cold. So he specified that breakfast be served at 6:15 AM instead of at 6 AM.

This kind of irked me because it seemed so nit-picky. A difference of 15 minutes? Really? But I got it. Ever since I can remember, he has disliked eating re-heated food and wants everything served hot right before he sits down at the table. So I tried to avoid over-reacting.

However, when I asked him what time he wanted breakfast served on Saturday and Sunday, he answered, “That’s flexible.” I got confused. If hot meals were so important to him then why say that the timing for breakfast on the weekends was flexible? When I bugged Edric to give me a time, he began to be annoyed. So I said something like, “Look, you’re the only one who has a problem with cold food, so please say a time that we can all work with for the weekends, too.”

Edric rebutted, “Everyone has a problem with cold food.”

“Everyone?” I challenged. “It’s just you who has this issue.”

Then I proceeded to interview each of the kids sitting in the back (such a disrespectful thing to do), and they all supported Edric’s hot food perspective. Oops. I was the loser.

He snapped at me and said something he never has. “You’re bringing the kids into this? You are so pathetic!” It wasn’t a shout but there was emphasis and anger in his tone.

Oh my. It was on. I forgot everything I wrote about fighting with gentleness in my article, and the war began.

Defensively I quipped, “Well, not everyone has a problem with cold food because I, for example, don’t care if food is hot or not. In fact, I don’t even like hot food.” (I seriously don’t because it burns my tongue.)

“You mean you don’t like freshly cooked, warm food?” Edric asked doubtfully.

“Yes I do, but I can live without it,” was my response.

“So if you go to Shang-rila buffet, you won’t mind it if the food they served wasn’t hot?” Edric cynically questioned my logic.

“That’s a totally different scenario. My point is, if you are so picky about hot food then you should decide a specific time for breakfast to be served on the weekends, too, so we can all adjust to you,” I replied.

He still refused to give a time, claiming that it was my responsibility as a homemanager to institute these things. But, since he was micromanaging weekday breakfast schedules then why not do the same for the weekend, too?

When we got home and the kids vacated the car, I nearly pinched him on the shoulder and snapped at him, “Don’t ever say something like that to me!” (I was referring to the pathetic statement.)

He fired back at me, “No, you don’t do that!” (Referring to my disrespect and attempt to pinch him.)

Some of the older kids heard this. This situation was awful. We had argued in front of the kids and dishonored one another. Up to the bedroom we both stomped.

Edric wasn’t going to brush this conflict aside. He sat across from me on the bed and initiated conflict resolution. I can’t narrate everything that was said, but it was a convoluted mess of tears, frustration, exaggeration, blaming, judging, and yes, a toilet paper roll at the height of it all. That was my doing. I stormed out of the bathroom with the toilet paper in my hand and meant to hit his body with it but I totally missed. He was only two feet away, too. (My aim is terrible when I’m emotional.)

He volunteered his body to be hit again as a taunt, and I half jokingly claimed that I needed a bigger object to throw at him. Of course I didn’t take him up on his offer!

Somewhere in the middle, Edric pulled the “you are going to have your period” card to explain my irrational reactiveness, which got me worked up again because my period was far, far away. And he pulled out his phone to video our conversation as evidence of my emotional instability. He planned to archive the video for future reference. This didn’t help towards resolution.

We must have been in our bedroom for over an hour, with the door locked and the kids pounding on it several times calling us down to lunch. We had to gently shoo them away, explaining that, “Mommy and daddy need to talk.” The older kids understood, but the younger ones returned several times. In the end, Edric and I asked for forgiveness from one another and from our children. Peace returned to our home.

But, wow. I couldn’t believe the incident happened in the first place, and over a breakfast conversation! It was so wrong of me to hurl that toilet paper roll at Edric. It was so wrong of me to snap at him and be disrespectfully irritated. When I think about that incident I am reminded of a very important life principle: Never let your spiritual guard down.

1 Peter 5:8 so sensibly put it: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Edric and I spent the first quarter of 2016 serving the Lord and ministering to others. Yet, serving the Lord and doing ministry doesn’t guarantee spiritual perfection. In fact, it sometimes has the tendency to make one complacent about their spiritual walk. To be honest, I wasn’t praying as faithfully. I may have been reading my Bible, but I wasn’t living with dependence on the Holy Spirit every single day.

When I’m not controlled by the Holy Spirit, I am the WORST version of myself. Impatient, prideful, spiteful, unkind, judgmental, unmerciful, bitter, and vengeful…these are just a few of my un-shining characteristics. And yes, I can even go so far as to throw a toilet paper roll at my husband! It’s only by God’s mercy that I missed. The point is, there’s not an ounce of goodness in me apart from Christ. I can’t cruise along the Christian life and assume that I’m not going to revert back to my old self. Therefore, I always need to acknowledge my need for God’s power to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

Furthermore, God is opening up more opportunities for me to have a more public platform. Now, more than ever, I have to be careful, conscious, and intentional about walking intimately with Him. In a climb with some of the ladies in my discipleship group, I saw a sign at the summit that read, DANGER. Whenever we experience successes in life, this is when we are most vulnerable to falling and failing spiritually. My dad used to say, “Prosperity is more dangerous than poverty.” In the same way, I believe that accomplishing much makes our hearts more prone to pride, selfishness and other sins of the heart that are deadly to the human soul.

The day after Edric and I fought, I went on a run and cried out to the Lord. I felt so broken and discouraged. As I was running, the Bible passage that came to mind was 2 Chronicles 7:14, “and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” I prayed, Lord, please forgive me and please heal my marriage.

God was gracious to me. I didn’t deserve grace, but the next day, He caused Edric to be extra sweet and kind to me. Edric acknowledged that he had to take better care of me, to cherish and nourish me as His wife. It was an affirmation that I must keep praying for my marriage. Jesus Christ is the only one who can restore and heal it when it needs fixing. And He’s the only one who can protect it when the evil one seeks to divide Edric and me. 

Psalm 16:2 declares, “You are my Lord; I have no good beside You.” That’s my declaration at the end of this post. Lord, I cling to you. If you aren’t in my life, I am a completely lost, broken and unholy person who damages those around her. But I don’t want to be that way. Please help me. Be the goodness in me that pours forth into the lives of those around me, into the lives of my husband and my children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Maybe you are like me and you’ve messed up at one point in your marriage, or many at many points, or you are messing up right now. Don’t lose heart. You can change, you can be restored, you can find grace and help in your time of need. I pray you will seek the Lord as the answer. 


Submission to My Husband Is a Heart Issue


    I never quite graduate from learning what it means to submit to my husband’s authority. Just when I think I’m doing all right in this area, a new challenge appears that reminds that I’m still in the process of becoming the wife God wants me to be.

About two weeks ago, my dad, who was going to preach on Sunday, asked Edric and I to recommend people who can share about how small group discipleship has positively impacted their relationship with Jesus Christ. Several persons came to mind. Two of them were a husband and wife who went through major marital problems but are now in the process of restoring their marriage. When we first met them they had deep wounds they were working through, but today, they are committed to one another, they love the Lord, and have a passion to tell others about Him.

Although their shared testimony would surely encourage the church audience, Edric and I sensed that talking about what happened to their marriage in public was premature. Even if we have witnessed amazing change in their lives, they needed more time to heal. So we parked them as an option and thought to ask someone else.

Later on in the week, however, my dad messaged me again. Sunday was fast approaching and he was still looking for someone to share his or her testimony to add impact to his message on small group discipleship. I felt like it was up to me to help him.

Before I go on, I need to admit to something. Edric has lovingly cautioned me about this before, that in my desire to honor my dad or mom, I sometimes move ahead of him, without getting his approval for decisions I make. Whenever my parents ask me for help it is, more often than not, ministry-related. And when it’s for ministry, I interpret the request as valid.

While I don’t always say yes to them, there have been occasions where I have taken on speaking engagements or activities that they ask me to be a part of before asking Edric for permission. My thought bubble often is, This is for ministry. Edric will understand. But my presumptuousness gets me into trouble because conflicts in schedules arise and Edric and the kids are inconvenienced by my decisions. More often than not, Edric is a good sport about it because he loves dad and mom and knows that their intentions are virtuous. So the issue is not between my parents and Edric who have a great relationship. The issue is I don’t consult him first and he ends up feeling pressured or manipulated to accommodate the choices I make.

Over the years I’ve tried to be more sensitive about this. Even if I love my dad and mom, I cannot make rash decisions in their favor without seeking Edric’s approval. Serving them is not more important than submitting to my husband, who ought to be my priority.

When I got married, Edric became my authority. God’s word is clear about the principle of leaving and cleaving when you are married. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) Although both of us seek to honor his parents and my parents, it cannot be at the expense of our own marriage.

Furthermore, it isn’t my parents whom I’m directly accountable to anymore. I’m under my husband’s authority. Ephesians says. “Wives be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be subject to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24

Let me return to the story I began with to illustrate how crucial it is that I obey this command of the Lord and do not move ahead of my husband. When I received the message from my dad, asking for a person or persons to share their testimony, I thought, Perhaps it’s alright if the couple (the one I referred to at the beginning) give their testimony anyway.

At that moment, Edric was busy speaking at a conference so I couldn’t broach the idea to him. Furthermore, I came up with the rationalization that my intentions were right. This was for the Lord, for ministry. Edric would understand. I will just confer with him after he is done his talk.

There was a small voice telling me this wasn’t the best idea, that I was acting impulsively, but I ignored the prodding of the Holy Spirit to check with Edric first. In my haste, I called the wife and proposed the idea to her. I asked her if she would be willing to give her testimony with her husband. I even sent her a sample outline to guide her and her husband as they thought through what to share. And then I added that Edric would call her husband to confirm everything.

My plan was to tell Edric after he finished his speaking engagement, which was to end about forty minutes later. (What was forty minutes? I really could’ve waited!) I hoped that Edric would approve of my decision and see the positive in it.

However, when I first told him that I had proposed to the wife that she and her husband share on Sunday, he was like, “I thought we agreed that they weren’t ready. Did you manipulate things again?”

Manipulate things? That seemed like a harsh way to put it. But maybe he was right. Maybe I had maneuvered circumstances in such a way that he had to go along with my plan. After a little persuasion, he agreed that the couple’s testimony would have impact and minister to the hearts of the audience. But, it was I who had set the ball in motion.

Edric called the couple and set the phone on speaker mode to discuss what they would be sharing at the pulpit. This was Friday evening. In the meantime, I contacted dad letting him know that we had found someone to share. I felt like I was a good daughter who had done him a favor.

After our conversation with the couple, they seemed eager and excited. The wife forwarded me her version of their story and it was beautiful. Everything seemed to be working out just fine. We challenged them to write their testimony as a team, where the wife would give one portion and the husband would give the other. They had until midnight to get back to us, which they did. There were no barriers so far.

However, at about 2 AM, I received a text message from the wife explaining that they wouldn’t be able to share anymore. Certain emotions and histories were unearthed that needed to be dealt with and the husband, in particular, wasn’t ready. He felt terrible about backing out because he wanted to honor God by serving Him in this way, but the reality was he couldn’t stand before an audience at this point in time to declare the things he wanted to. It had been a tearful night for them.

My heart was crushed. I knew this was my fault. The stress this couple went through as they tried to piece together their sides of their marriage journey could’ve been prevented had I not gone ahead of Edric and operated outside of the covering of his authority. We should have let them be as we initially discussed, trusting God’s time-table for their healing, instead of putting them in this predicament. As a result, they felt discouraged and disheartened, especially the husband, who felt like he had failed the Lord for not being ready to declare His goodness in their lives. (Of course this wasn’t true and Edric reached out to him to minister to him.)

As for me, I read through the message of the wife, and started to tear myself. This couple became a victim of my decision to go against God’s design for marriage. I presumed to know better and to justify my conclusions about their readiness before getting permission from Edric. Had I asked Edric before making that call to the wife, he who would have repeated what we originally established, that it wasn’t the right time for them to share their testimony publicly. But I chose to push it anyway because of my dad’s pressing need. The results were disastrous, in my estimation, and the pain the couple went through, unnecessary. In the end, I had to apologize to the wife, hoping that she would extend my apology to her husband. And I had to tell my father that he had to look for someone else to share on Sunday…the next day. Of course, I also had to say sorry to Edric.

When I confessed to Edric the chain of events, he was frustrated with me and highlighted my faulty decision-making process. I sought to come to my dad’s aid but went about it in the wrong way. Instead, I should have followed what Edric and I had decided earlier that week about the couple’s status, and remained resolute about it. Instead, I caved in to what I perceived as an urgent need and the couple became a casualty of my insubordination.

Edric was correct. I had no defense to give to minimize the guilt I felt. I simply had to embrace that the root issue was my failure to internalize what submission to my husband is – it’s a heart thing. Do I really want God’s blessing and favor in my life, in my marriage and family? Do I really believe that God’s principles are for my protection and my good, and the good of those around me?

I chose to forget this on Friday when I made that phone call in haste. I chose to believe that it was up to me to find someone to fill in the space for a Sunday sharer. What was I thinking?! God could have found someone to stand before the church with a powerful testimony to give that would bring glory and honor to His name! I wasn’t greater than God’s hand!

Indeed, God provided the perfect person to share. Venus Raj, former beauty queen of the Philippines, and a committed follower of Jesus Christ, stood at the pulpit when my dad called her up in the middle of his message, to talk about the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was in awe as I listened to what God has done in her life. She was radiant with an inner beauty that far surpassed her reputation as a beauty queen. It was the beauty of a woman who found love, joy, and peace in the Lord.

What did I learn that weekend? I learned that my good intentions must never bypass God’s word and instruction in my life. I cannot say, “Well, I’m doing this for the Lord, but contradict an instruction such as submit to your husband.”

I also learned that there are no contradictions when it comes to honoring my parents and honoring my husband. When I am faced with a decision that must favor one over the other (and neither are asking me to do something against the word of God), I must choose to obey my husband first. In doing so, I bring honor to my parents. God will bless the decision I make to submit to Edric by blessing them, too. How is this so? Edric may choose to change his mind about a matter that he was originally not in favor with. Or, God will provide for the need of my parents or answer their concern in a way that is greater than my capacity to do so.

  In His sovereignty, God is able to cause all circumstances to work together for the good of those who love Him as it says in Romans 8:28. But this is a promise for those who love Him. And those who love Him are those who obey Him and delight to obey Him.

I wrote this post because I understand what it is like to be a wife who struggles with submission. There are times I get it right, but there are occasions, like I shared above, when I think I know better or I see submission as a deterrent to accomplish a goal that I desire to happen. God continues to teach me that submission is a heart issue. It’s between God and me, and whether I want to obey Him with all that I am.

Allow me to close with this passage in Leviticus 26, which holds for us the promise of blessing when we obey God. “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land... So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you... 11 Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. 12 I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.”




I Am Glad I Married a Man Who Didn’t Sleep Around

Edric and I will be fifteen years married in July. That’s not a milestone by some standards, but in a day and age when many marriages don’t make it past the five year mark, I’m deeply grateful. First, I’m grateful to the Lord because he’s the reason why we are still together. Second, I’m grateful to Edric who chooses to love me everyday, even when I’m not always lovable.

 Since it is the “love month” I decided to write a piece to thank my husband for being the kind of man that didn’t sleep around before marriage. It sounds very unromantic for me to put it this way, but if you read through this, you might begin to believe, as I have, that this is one of the most romantic gifts a husband can ever give his wife (and vice versa). How I wish I could have offered virginity to Edric, but as many of you readers know, I was once upon a time a victim of rape. (Read about my story in my book: When A Good God Allows Rape)

When I met Edric in college, I thought he was a good-looking guy. He told me to say “handsome” when he read this part over my shoulder. It was his unpretentiousness that kept me interested, second to the fact that we connected on a spiritual level. He didn’t mask his person behind a façade. He was sincere, honest, and easy to trust. 

As we got to know each other, he opened up about his past relationships, and I found out he was still a virgin. A virgin? Even in our day they were becoming a rare breed, especially for guys. Although he admitted to me that he struggled with pornography, he didn’t ever sleep with any of his girlfriends or other women. (Edric shared about his pornography struggle in my book so I’m being open about something he has already been open about.)

I knew it was important to preserve one’s purity. Events in my life took that away from me, but I still committed NOT to have consensual sex with anyone until I got married. I hoped to meet a guy who valued the same standards, too, so it mattered a lot that Edric had stayed pure. It told me something about his character as a man. I know he wrestled with the realities of what happened to me but I praise God it didn’t turn his heart away from me. Very much a rescuer, it inspired him to be my protector.

Our courtship wasn’t perfect, however. I have confessed this in other articles I have written about us and in my book. We got physical and stumbled along the way, but I praise God we didn’t experience sexual union until we were married. Prior to marriage, Edric and I also told our parents about the physical struggles in our relationship. We admitted to the wrong choices we made that brought us very close to the edge of what would have been the greatest mistake of our history. This was part of coming clean. 

The Bible says, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Hebrews‬ ‭13:4‬ ‭

We wanted to begin our relationship anew, with everything out in the open to honor the marriage bed. We also kept our engagement short — 4 months — to avoid further temptation. 

I was blessed to be able to look forward to our honeymoon because it the first time for me to experience sexual intimacy as God designed it. (My encounter with abuse didn’t count, of course!) Edric whisked me away from our reception at a very early 9 PM. He concocted an elaborate plan to escape through the funicular that connected Tagaytay Midlands to the Highlands. This is where we got married. I don’t even think we said goodbye to people, which seemed like the socially inappropriate thing to do but he could not wait for our “celebration” to begin. 

We spent our first night together as husband and wife in Tagaytay Highland’s Spa & Lodge. In keeping with tradition, he insisted on carrying me over the threshold of the doorway of our room. Attendants and onlookers smiled in a congratulatory way. All this while I found Edric’s energy amusing as he acted like someone on an adrenaline high. But it made me feel special, treasured, and wanted. 

The next day we headed to Baguio where we had a cabin all to ourselves. We didn’t need a grand trip to Europe or a foreign country to look forward to. All we cared about was a nice room somewhere cold. Think about the olden days when all that was necessary was a tent. Since we didn’t have a lot of money when we started out, Baguio provided the perfect setting for lots of cuddling.

During our honeymoon, I didn’t have insecurities about how it would go. I trusted Edric. I knew he had saved himself for marriage and didn’t have multiple partners to compare me to. This doesn’t mean that I wasn’t nervous. And I am not going to inappropriately divulge the details of our first night. It was not “perfect” because we weren’t experts in the bedroom, but that’s what made it so perfect! We had nothing to prove to one another. There were no benchmarks to measure ourselves against. I remember feeling like it was the beginning of a beautiful journey of discovery, just between us — sacred, tender, profound. Edric gave me the privilege of being the first and the promise of being the last, till death do us part. 

The sex act in marriage is a pledge and a seal. It is the becoming of one flesh before God — the real ceremony of matrimony. In the Genesis account of Adam and Eve’s marriage the word marriage was not used at all. When Eve was presented to Adam by God, it reads, “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (Genesis‬ ‭2:23-25‬) The ceremony was simple and uncomplicated. Adam was joined to Eve and they became one. Similarly, the person God has made for you is the only one you are supposed to be joined to as one flesh — physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

God, in his wisdom, didn’t make many versions of Eve for Adam to choose from, either. (He wouldn’t have any ribs left. Just kidding!) God made just one. And he knew exactly what she should be like and what Adam would like. I think it’s important to say this because sometimes we don’t trust God to give us what we really want in a spouse. 

However these passages of scripture tell me that God always knows better. He knows the desires and longings of our hearts. He is mindful of our needs and He provides the best answer to them, better than we can ever imagine or hope for. Adam didn’t know what he was missing out on. He didn’t declare himself alone. It was God who said it wasn’t good for him to be alone. 

Amazingly, when Adam saw Eve he felt a bond and connectedness to her that was unlike any other that he felt with God’s creatures. As he beheld her she appeared to him comfortingly familiar and yet mysteriously and wonderfully different. Can you imagine for a moment what the Lord must have been thinking as He saw Adam’s eyes lock onto Eve’s with delight? I am sure He reveled in their joy, as he does in our joy when we get married.

As designer of marriage, God is also the best matchmaker. But we struggle with waiting on Him to bring this person to us. As a result we rush into relationships that feel right and many times end up broken inside when we have to leave them. God demonstrated from the very beginning that this was not his design. Marriage was between one man and one woman that he made for each other. He didn’t intend for us to suffer through the break ups and heartaches that come when we commit ourselves to many other people before marriage. And He most certainly didn’t purpose for us to bring those hurts into our marriages. 

We don’t often have the foresight to anticipate how past sexual experiences will affect our relationship to our spouse. Enjoying the intensity of sexual union and achieving oneness becomes complicated. Firstly, we program ourselves to view sex as a tool to achieve something that is self-serving. Some women control their boyfriends by using sex to keep them interested, others thrive on the attention men give them for their sexiness. Some men pressure women to sleep with them under the pretense of expressing love when what they really want is to enjoy the pleasures of sex. Still others like the conquest involved in being able to bed a woman — the more, the better. Sadly this self-seeking paradigm is brought into marriage and a spouse looks at sex as something that is for their benefit. It’s not about giving but about taking. 

Secondly, sex before marriage stimulates a desire for the illicit. And when it becomes monogamous, couples ache for the excitement that once came with the forbidden. 

Thirdly, it’s hard to remove images of sex with others or feelings about past relationships when a person engages in sex with their spouse. They don’t want to remember the things they did with others but it invades their minds anyway. Guilt overcomes them which results in the inability to perform with liberty and freedom.

Lastly, one’s sexual history can cause trust issues in marriage. It’s not so far fetched to think, “If my husband slept with women before, what’s to keep him from doing so when we are married?” If he didn’t internalize the sacredness of sex in marriage when he was single, there’s no guarantee that he won’t explore the same behavior when he is married. 

Interestingly, people think it’s okay to have sex with others before they get married but not afterwards. But sleeping around before marriage is like conditioning oneself for unfaithfulness and adultery (of the body and mind) when sex is viewed so casually prior to the committed and permanent relationship of marriage. 

Marriage won’t guarantee faithfulness. I am not saying Edric and I are impervious to adultery because we didn’t have casual sex with people when we were single. It’s only by God’s grace that we stay faithful to one another, and we will only finish well by God’s grace. But moral purity is a discipline. And Edric often tells me, look at track record. That matters. If a guy sleeps around before marriage, it doesn’t matter whom they marry. She can be the most beautiful woman in the world but she will not be good enough to keep him pure. I am not discounting the grace and power of God to deliver someone from their past but there are real problems that we carry into our future when we violate God’s commands. Galatians 6:7 tells us, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” 

1 Timothy 4:7-8 says, “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

A person who has disciplined himself to say no to sex before marriage will find it easier to say no to sex outside of marriage when he becomes a husband. He has made it a habit to please God. His default is to run away from sin rather than towards it. Certainly other factors play a role, too, like having good communication as husband and wife, meeting each other’s heartfelt needs, exerting effort to upgrade your marital sex life, being willing to improve to better satisfy one another, being connected to people who can hold you accountable for sexual purity, etc. The truth remains that sex outside of marriage is not something you can do and walk away from without consequence to your entire person or your future spouse. 

Some years ago I was speaking to a friend who confessed to me that she would think about her sexual experiences with her ex-boyfriend when she had sex with her husband. And her experience with her ex was better! Another friend told me that her husband felt rage every time he saw her ex-boyfriend. This ex-boyfriend was the first person my friend had lost her virginity to, and he couldn’t get over it. Yet another friend admitted to me that her martial sex life was not exciting because they explored everything before marriage. In marriage they hardly had sex. Some other friends had issues with faithfulness because their spouse programmed their appetites to enjoy elicit sex. Having slept with multiple people before marriage, monogamous sex wasn’t as desirable. 

Sex isn’t the only thing to enjoy in marriage but it is a big part of what makes marriage a special relationship. And we need to do everything we can to protect it. I praise God that I am reaping the benefits of being married to a man who didn’t sleep around. But at the end of the day it’s not his love for me that saved him from promiscuity. It was and is his love for God. 

As I age physically, he remains committed to honoring his purity for me and guarding his eyes and heart. This conviction comes from his relationship with God and not necessarily his undying devotion to me. Love for God is evidenced in the choices we make, whether single or married, and the history of a man’s choices will tell you whether he truly loves God, especially in the area where he is prone to weakness and great temptation — the area of sexual purity. 

Therefore if you aren’t married, take a good and honest look at the man you are with in a dating relationship or the man you want to marry. The man he is today will not miraculously change into a holy, righteous person who will be committed to pursuing purity as a husband if he is not making it his current priority to please God. Furthermore, the same weaknesses he struggles with at present will become the same chink in his armor when he is married.

So don’t settle for a man who hasn’t valued his purity, yours, or other womens’. And don’t give your purity to a man who claims he loves you who isn’t your spouse. Sexual promiscuity and experimentation may be portrayed as pleasurable and normal in this world but they are not God’s design for us. He purposed for a man and woman to present themselves to one another “naked and unashamed” as Adam and Eve did, husband and wife, without the guilt, sorrow, or fear that many people deal with today. At the same time, God is a redeemer. If you have failed to value purity the way He wants you to, it’s not too late to repent and start committing to it. You can still honor God with your mind and body. You can still flee immorality and receive the grace and power of God to live a life that pleases him. 

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John‬ ‭1:9‬

It’s About Surrendering to God, Not Your Spouse

  My struggle with pride is so often tested in the context of marriage. It is most apparent when I have to apologize to Edric, too. Why? Because I tend to think that I am right and he is wrong (which doesn’t make me right!) I also think that offering an apology means to raise the white flag of surrender — to give up a strategic advantage in a verbal conflict. (Also wrong.)

    Let me illustrate this problem of mine in a story. On Monday I felt weak, like I was coming down with the flu. My body was heavy, my brain was foggy, and I had little appetite. Being overwhelmed by the kids’ homeschool portfolios heightened my feelings of malaise, too. If I could have laid down to sleep off the fatigue I would have but the kids needed me and I had responsibilities to get done.

    Since it was date night and Edric and I were set to enjoy a buffet dinner together, my mid-afternoon phone call about changing the plans came as a disappointment to him. But in my state I wouldn’t have been much fun and the thought of eating a huge meal when I couldn’t appreciate it was unconscionable. So I requested to do date night at home, with a movie on the couch. Not too exciting. Edric agreed but he wasn’t thrilled.

    When he got home, I didn’t greet him immediately, either, which was a mistake. He hollered for a bit while awaiting my appearance at the bottom of the stairs to run into his arms. However, I stayed upstairs on my bed, half resting, half hovering over papers, trying to grade Elijah’s physical science tests. When Edric saw me, he commented, “Oh so this is why you wanted to stay home, because you had to get homeschool work done.” 

    “No, I really am not feeling well,” I replied. 

    Perceiving me as preoccupied, he took the kids to the garden to throw the ball around. 

    When evening settled in and dinner was done, Edric and I asked the kids to give us some time alone in the family room. We talked about Edric’s day — the highlights and lowlights. He opened up about a major problem at work which disheartened him so we spent some moments in prayer together, lifting up the issue to the Lord. I thought that this exchange qualified as a good substitute for a conversation we might have had over if we had gone out that night. Afterwards, we watched the film, Unbroken. (A great film!)

    Interested in the true life story of the character being portrayed, Louie Zamparini, I googled the guy and read an online biography about him. When the movie ended I was still on my phone reading so Edric interjected, “So you’re still busy.” 

    “Nope. I was just reading about Zamparini.” Shortly after I put my phone down, too.

    When we retired to bed, he didn’t attempt to cap off the night with a conversation. Instead, he turned over to his side and said flatly, “Goodnight. I love you.”

    After nearly fifteen years of marriage and almost twenty years of knowing one another, I am very sensitive to Edric’s mannerisms and tone of voice. I most certainly know when he is upset. So I asked, “What’s wrong? Are you upset?” 

    No answer came. I waited for a few moments. Absolute silence. Then, in my irritation I said, “I really feel hurt when you don’t answer me.”

    He didn’t like this comment at all. It roused him from his pretend slumber and he turned around to face me. Then he proceeded to enumerate the different ways I disappointed him that afternoon and evening. His primary sentiment was, I didn’t give him the time and attention he expected to receive. I was too busy for him. Plus, he hoped to end the evening with intimacy, but he felt like I was not interested because I was sick.

    Since the evening didn’t play out the way he imagined it would he decided to go to bed. And my question and comment to him about not answering me felt like an insult that he explained as, “turning the tables around and projecting him as the bad guy.” With indignation he asked, “What do you want from me?” 

    I responded in a feeling-holier-than-thou sort of way, “I want you to be spirit filled when you respond to me.” 

    He took this as a verbal jab. Okay…it was. I didn’t like his aggressive tone and I felt like he was only looking at things from his perspective. Wasn’t I the sick one here? I had a long day, too. And didn’t we have a wonderful moment on the couch to talk and pray together? 

    I even added at one point, “So are you faulting me for being sick?” 

    He responded with, “Are you about to get your period?” 

    “No and this has nothing to do with getting my period.” (Why do husbands always think this is a reason?!)

    There was silence again. His corner and my corner.

    As I wrestled in the quiet with my feelings, more specifically, my pride, I prayed that God would help Edric to see that HE WAS THE WRONG ONE, that he was the one over-reacting. Then I waited for Edric to be convicted. 

    It didn’t happen. 

    Instead, I heard God address me and my attitude. He told me, very clearly, YOU HUMBLE YOURSELF. Initiate saying sorry. You said you wanted to improve in this area, so humble yourself. You be the one to ask for forgiveness first…for your tone, your irritation and not prioritizing him.

    I wanted to ignore the prodding but it was incessant. Furthermore, Edric remained unmoved. Finally I remembered reading about loving God during a recent morning quiet time: TO LOVE GOD IS TO OBEY GOD. 
    “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John‬ ‭14:21‬

    Would I dare to defy and resist God himself?! No way. Not when it came down to that. This wasn’t a fight between Edric and me, this was an occasion that revealed the real war raging beneath the surface — me vs. obeying God by choosing humility over pride. 

    So I yielded. With gentleness (which could have only come for the Lord) and with quietness of spirit (which also came from Him), I asked Edric to forgive me for my disrespect — for not prioritizing him, for being angry, and for saying the things I did during our conversation. 

    I found out later on that Edric was shocked by this uncharacteristic behavior of mine. I am ashamed to admit that he usually apologizes first.

    But I am also happy to say that after surrendering my rights and feelings, and entrusting them to the Lord, my vindictiveness dissipated. I cried for a little bit to myself, which felt like being cleansed somehow…like ugliness was draining out of me. I was honest with God, “Sometimes it’s so hard to follow you. It’s so HUMBLING!” But He comforted me with his sweet presence as I lay there, in the dark, with my head pressed against my pillow. What followed was relief and liberty, like I had made I through a spiritual test. 

    Then came something unprecedented. God asked me to initiate intimacy with Edric. “Tell him you will also have sex with him.” 

    “What?! Lord! That’s too much! That’s giving in too much!” 

    But I knew why God was asking me to do this. (Let’s not get uncomfortable about sex, okay? This is what you are supposed to do in marriage!) Offering to have sex to Edric, in the context of an argument or at the conclusion of one, was to abandon my tower of pride and to break down my walls of self-preservation. Inviting him to intimacy was to tell him, “I still love you. I still forgive you.” It was an offering of grace.

    Edric also revealed to me later on that he didn’t know what to say because I don’t EVER tell him this when we have come from an argument! He was too shocked to say yes! How awkward was this?! But I was thinking…Yey, he didn’t say yes! But Lord, please see that I obeyed by asking, okay?

    Two days after Edric and I had a great conversation to repair and heal our relationship. Edric also owned up to the areas where he should have been kinder and sweeter to me.

    What’s my point in sharing this very personal story? Humility in marriage doesn’t make me the loser like I wrongfully think it does. It’s being prideful that does. When I always want to win an argument, discussion, or maintain my fighting position, the effect is more pain and anger for Edric and me. In contrast, when I aim to please God and obey Him when he tells me to say sorry, admit my shortcomings, and move towards Edric with a sincere desire to reconcile and restore our marriage, this act of emptying myself of ME invites Christ to fill the space that pride has vacated. What pride refuses to do, Christ enables me to — to wholeheartedly love and forgive Edric, and to enjoy him again. It’s always a gain to choose God’s ways over mine. And always a win when God is glorified. 

    I don’t know what kind of marriage you are in or what kind of struggles you have as a spouse. But all of us ought to love the way Christ loves us. And a lot of times this may mean denying our prideful-ness and replacing it with the grace He gives to apologize, forgive, accept, hope, and remain committed to the one we vowed to love. So whenever you say sorry first, admitting to the hurt you have caused in your marriage, think of it as surrendering to God, not your spouse. 

    My father said that “grace is more than unmerited favor, it is the ability to accomplish God’s will.”  As Titus 2:11-12 explains, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”

    Let me leave you with an insight from author, speaker, and apologist, Ravi Zacharias. “Love is a commitment that will be tested in the most vulnerable areas of spirituality, a commitment that will force you to make some very difficult choices. It is a commitment that demands that you deal with your lust, your greed, your pride, your power, your desire to control, your temper, your patience, and every area of temptation that the Bible clearly talks about. It demands the quality of commitment that Jesus demonstrates in His relationship to us.”   


    Number Our Days

    Edric spoke on numbering our days during the Sunday Service two days ago. It was an inspiring message that challenged the audience to consider how we use the time we have.

    Psalm 90:12 says, So teach us to number our days that we may present to You (God) a heart of wisdom.

    Life is short. Our friend, Steve Reed, passed away at 30. Another friend of the family, Jay Lucas, died of cancer shortly after it relapsed. And my grandfather (Angkong) departed at 96. None of us know the length of our days on this earth. It can be a few years or many, but in the end, it’s merely a dash between the year we are born and the year we die. 

    Therefore, Edric challenged us to adopt the perspective of Kerry and Chris Shook in their book, “One Month to Live.” Edric read this back in 2008, but it tied in perfectly with his New Year’s challenge for us. 

    If each of us had only one month to live, what would we do differently? Why aren’t we doing these things now? 

    He pulled out three points from their book: Live passionately, love completely, and learn humbly. 

    Live passionately for the Lord. This is about building God’s kingdom and not our own. Do we look to meet the spiritual needs of those around us and minister to them? Or, are we too busy pursuing the temporal things — money, fame, power?

    Personally, I need to improve on sharing the gospel with people in a one-on-one context. I talk about Jesus on my site, the gospel story is in my book, and I insert the gospel message when I speak in front of audiences, but sometimes, I am too preoccupied to strike up a conversation with a sales lady, clerk, beautician, massage therapist, etc, and I forget that these are missed opportunities to tell them that they are infinitely loved by God, that He wants to have a personal relationship with them. Instead, I am thinking about whether they are serving me the way they ought to, or if I am getting my goals accomplished. People become a means to an end. But God wants me to consider their end. My mom, who talks about Jesus as often as she can, says, “When we don’t share the gospel, it’s like telling people to go to hell.” 

    Very recently, I read Ezekiel again, and I highlighted the passage that speaks about how we are accountable to tell people the truth. Whether they receive it isn’t our problem, but if we don’t declare God’s Word He will hold us responsible as His “watchmen.”

    “”Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand.” Ezekiel‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭

    Living passionately for the Lord is also about being contagious Christians. Do we do our best at work, home, ministry? Do we use our talents, gifts and abilities to glorify God? If people were to examine our lives closely, would they be able to conclude with absolute certainty that we are followers of Christ? Would they be attracted to the joy, peace and love they see, and desire the same for themselves? 

    “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭

    Love completely is about forgiving and unconditionally accepting the people in our lives. If we were to number our days, knowing that life is too short to squander on anger and bitterness, would we choose to end our days with unresolved conflicts or issues in our marriages, with our children, siblings or others? 
    “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.‭‭” Colossians‬ ‭3:12-14‬ ‭

    Learn humbly involves the willingness to change, to listen and receive correction and criticism, or to seek to grow and mature in areas of weakness. 

      God gave Edric and me the perfect opportunity to apply all three aspects of numbering our days. We traveled to the beach with the kids without yayas. Catalina is two so I am trying to help her become more independent. But it’s never simple to travel with five kids. It’s a lot of fun but it requires Edric and me to be hands-on at all times. Thankfully, our older sons are a big blessing. They give us breaks and take over when they can. Yet like I said, family vacations can be a good test of living passionately, loving completely and learning humbly. 

      Just today, on the way home from the beach, we nearly lost Catalina who walked off to go exploring in the hotel. Edric panicked and raised his voice at Elijah, whom he assumed was tasked to babysit her because she was last seen with him. Elijah darted off in tears, looking for Catalina, feeling terrible. The other kids said, “Why did dad shout?”

    I glared at Edric for losing his cool in front of the children and went hunting for Catalina. She wasn’t lost at all. I found her playing with her cousin in the dining area, unaware of the distress her momentary disappearance had caused everyone. 

    In the car, there was an icy silence as Edric and I anticipated who would apologize first. He began by identifying who was to blame and commanded me to say sorry to everyone for being the main person responsible for Catalina. After I did, I retorted, “You need to apologize, too, for shouting at Elijah. Shouting doesn’t help anyone solve a problem. You simply agitated everyone with your response. It wasn’t right.” 

    I usually keep quiet and let the Holy Spirit convict him, but I was so annoyed that I let the words roll off my tongue without restraint. He didn’t appreciate this at all, but he did ask for our forgiveness to be a good example. Neither of us were satisfied with each other’s apology. We sense the lingering frustration and anger between us. (It’s only by God’s grace that we are able to recover from these situations.)
    When both ended up re-doing our apologies with sincerity and we also chose to forgive one another and let go of the resentment. We applied the principle of “numbering our days.”

    First, we were un-Christlike examples to our kids. And living passionately for the Lord must be evident to our most sensitive audience first — our children. Edric spoke to Elijah and really humbled himself before all of us. I also asked for forgiveness for being disrespectful towards Edric. 

    Second, loving completely means I needed to forgive Edric as he needed to forgive me. We didn’t feel like it. AT ALL. We were thoroughly aggravated with one another for the mistakes we made. But God asks us to forgive, just as He has forgiven us. After we did so, the anger dissipated. 

    Third, we learned humbly by acknowledging our wrongs to one another. When Edric was correcting me and criticizing me for neglecting Catalina, I wanted to defend myself and list down the many ways I took care of her during the trip. I felt like he took that one moment and gave me a rating of “F” for my mother skills. But I apologized because it only takes one accident or careless instance to lose a child and I did mess up. I did not keep a diligent eye on her and assumed that Elijah was entertaining her with an educational game. Furthermore, I made Edric look badly in front of the kids with my tone and words when I could have spoke to him in private about raising his voice. This was wrong. 

    I praise God that by the end of our journey all was resolved and our relationships were restored.
    We all need to number our days, to consider how we want to spend the time God has gifted us with. Are we living passionately for Him, loving others completely (especially our spouse and children), and learning humbly by choosing to become more like Christ? 

    God will hold us accountable for the manner in which we invest each moment, each hour, each day, each year, and each lifetime. May He find us faithful and wise, people who understand the brevity of life and make choices that please Him! 

    ““The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together! ’” Matthew‬ ‭25:21‬ ‭