I Have a Son Who Is Bigger Than Me 

It’s official. Elijah is nearly two inches taller than I am. I don’t know when it happened but he’s been shooting up since February of this year, the month he turned fourteen. He’s still looking like Gumby with his lanky arms and legs, and twelve pounds lighter than my weight. However, I strain my arms trying to cut his hair now since I hold the clippers up to his head. I think he’s growing an inch every month?! 

Does it make me feel old to have a young adult in my home? I don’t know. Sometimes, maybe. But then I have a four year old running all over the place, too, who convinces me that I can’t be that old because I need to keep up with her. 

A part of me thought that this transition into a different stage of motherhood was going to be more emotional for me. However, Elijah’s handled his physical and emotional changes pretty well. When I asked him how he processed his entrance into young adulthood, he replied, “Well I have you and dad and I am around adults so I see how they behave, which gives me a reference.” 

He also added that we equipped him to anticipate the changes by having many dialogues with him about what it means to be a young man. “There’s no such thing as the teenage years”, we would tell him. (The word “teenager” was a term coined by the Reader’s Digest, Life Magazine and Popular Mechanics post Depression-era, during the 1940s.)
“When you turn 13 you are officially a young man.” 

Edric also took him on a rite of passage and initiated a gathering with godly men in his life who offered their sound advice on what it means to be a man. 

Now I look at Elijah and feel a deep joy knowing that he is navigating these supposedly turbulent years with the grace I prayed he would have. Here are some of the things I appreciate about the age he is at:

1. He sets a wonderful example for his siblings when it comes to being disciplined with his quiet time with the Lord, responsibilities, and work. 

2. He is my in-house tech support. He understands computers like I never will. Whenever there is a tech issue in the home, Elijah can usually fix it. 

3. He keeps me accountable, in a polite way. Whether it is watching what I eat, like avoiding sweets, or minding my spending, he reminds me to be wise. 

4. He is still open with me and shares his concerns, feelings, and joys with me. I still get to peek into his heart.

5. He assists me with the younger girls and even his brothers. When I need a babysitter, he ably and patiently watches and attends to his sisters. He also keeps everyone in line when I am not around. 


6. He still gives me hugs and welcomes hugs from me. He isn’t embarrassed to be affectionate towards me, even in public. 

7. He’s my bodyguard and my young gentleman. When I need someone to be with me to complete my list at the grocery, carry my bags when they are too heavy, or keep me company at the hardware store, he gladly agrees to come along and help me out. 

Elijah has his moments when he gets agitated, loud, and emotional about blocked goals and failure. Yet, for the most part, he’s turning out to be a wise young man who loves the Lord, as well as his family and friends. He also seeks to make choices that honor God and his parents. 

I am sure every year will have its unique challenges for our kids and our parenting, but my encouragement is that God’s principles for raising children are sound and effective. His Word is dependable. When He declares, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is older he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6),” it is both a charge and a promise. 

If we do our part as parents, modeling the right values and character traits we want our children to espouse, and discipling them to become men and women who love God with all that they are, I know that we can bank on the Lord’s promise. He will produce the fruit we long to see in the lives of our kids. Our efforts will not be in vain, not because we are doing such a fantastic job as parents, but because the Lord is FAITHFUL. Although I cannot see the future or anticipate all the trying life situations my kids will go through, my fears are overridden by the hope I have in God’s faithfulness. 

1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” In the preceding verses Paul tells God’s people to examine everything carefully, to avoid evil, to cling to what is good, and the God of peace will sanctify us and preserve us till the end.  

As we invest in the lives of our children, teaching them to be discerning, to run away from sin, and to hold on to what is good, may God sanctify and preserve them! Let’s claim this by faith! 

Does Your Child Know You Like Her?

Most kids know that their parents love them, but they may not always feel like their parents LIKE them or LIKE being with them. This is an area of my own parenting that I have tried to work on, especially with my daughter, Tiana, who really looks up to me.

We just came from Niqua's Factory where both of us attended their bag making workshop with other friends and relatives and their daughters. What a fun activity!

Tiana did the wristlet bag (leather) for P950 and she thoroughly enjoyed the experience! It wasn't very easy but she persevered and she was very focused. I was so proud of her.

Edric has activities that he does with our three sons to bond with them and I am finding it necessary to be intentional with Tiana, too. Catalina is only four, and she naturally demands my attention, but Tiana is more soft-spoken. With her, I need to initiate building a relationship with her by engaging her through activities she enjoys.

Recently she expressed that she would like to do more arts and crafts which is why I jumped on the opportunity to go to Niqua with her after learning about their workshop from my friend, Mich. On the way to the workshop, Tiana spontaneously revealed, "I like being with you, mom."

She said this while sitting beside me in the car, with her legs crossed like a little lady. What a sweetheart!

Many years ago I learned about the principle of magic moments — spontaneous, unplanned moments when your child opens up his or her heart to you. These occasions happen when kids know that you find joy in being with them, participating in the activities that are important to them. During magic moments, kids believe their parents genuinely like them so they respond with trust and the willingness to be open and vulnerable.

Tiana feels liked by me when we do art together. That's when she comes alive and let's me into her world. Today, she worked diligently to finish her bag, which I thought she made for herself. Yet in the car, after the morning ended, she handed it to me. "I made this for you, mom."

I know how hard she labored to assemble the bag and hammer in the studs. Her fingers got sore at one point so it was very special when she offered the bag to me. When I asked her why she insisted on me having it, her response was, "Because I love you."

The older my kids get, the more convinced I become that raising kids isn't that complicated. Oh, I get how kids can get very complicated. When my children's needs aren't met, when they don't feel loved, important, or cherished, and when there isn't consistent discipline and discipleship from Edric and me, they act up, disobey, have bad attitudes, and antagonize each other. They are also susceptible to negative peer influence and ungodly media influences (which is also why we homeschool.) However, when Edric and I spend quality time with our children so we can invest in teaching, training, and building relationships with them, they are such a delight! They act very differently, in a positive way, when they experience what it means to be liked by us.

We can take a cue from Christ. When the disciples were preventing the parents from bringing their children to be blessed by Jesus, he stopped the disciples. Instead of seeing the children as an interruption or a bother, he gladly received them into his arms. (Mark 10:13-16) He honored them and gave them significance.

This is one of those tender passages about Christ that demonstrates how we, as parents, should treat our own kids. No matter how busy or hectic our lives may get, our kids need us to bless them. They need us to LIKE them and LIKE being with them.

Manuka Health Loves Moms!

To celebrate the gift of motherhood, Manuka Health is inviting all moms and expectant moms of all ages (grandmas, too!) to participate in a Mother’s Day contest.

The contest will be open from May 1 – 13, 2017. Winners will be announced on Mothers’ Day, May 14, 2017 in Manuka Health Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Here are the mechanics of the contest:

a. Post a photo with your kid/s on your Instagram and Facebook account. 

b. Share your motherhood experience by answering the question: “What do I like most about being a mom?” (Not more than 200 words.) 

c. Make sure to tag manukahealthph and teachwithjoy both in FB and IG so your entry can be tracked. 

d. Include the hashtag #ManukaHealthPHMoms #teachwithjoyforManukaHealthPH for the entry to be valid.

e. Make sure the post is public.

The prizes:

a. MAJOR PRIZE – 3 winners to win 1000 pesos worth of GCs plus a Manuka Health Gift Bag which contains…

– MGO 100 Manuka Health Honey 250g


– Manuka Honey Premium Blend

– Manuka Health Suckles


b. MINOR PRIZE

– 5 winners will each win 1000 worth of GC

– 10 winners will each win 500 worth of GC

Advance Happy Mother’s Day, Moms! 

WHO AM I?

Although I grew up in a home where my parents affirmed me and taught me what it means to have God-confidence, I wrestled with deep-seated insecurity.

As a third-culture kid who was half-American and half-Chinese but living in the Philippines, I didn’t quite feel like I fit in, racially speaking, anywhere. I was too Asian looking to be called American, and I was too foreign looking to be called Filipino. A street kid once yelled into our car window, “Pekeng kano (fake American)!”, and  it actually troubled me.

When I got older, I entertained thoughts such as, Dad is prouder of my siblings more than he is of me because they are smarter, more accomplished, and less “sinful.” Although my parents always assured each one of us that we were equally loved, I compared myself to my brothers and sisters.

Since childhood I also struggled with body insecurities, which plague me to this very day. Anytime I weigh myself and see that I’m more than 118 pounds, I panic and feel like I’m fat and should punish myself by eating less or exercising. Since I have never been completely happy with how my body looks, I sometimes think of a hundred things I wish I could change.

Furthermore, I continue to have skin that is prone to break outs, which began in my teens, and blemishes tend to steal my peace as well. (How ironic that I became an endorser for Cetaphil! That’s God’s grace. Their products have helped me a lot.)

Edric, on the other hand, has smaller pores than I do. He doesn’t have skin problems which sometimes makes me so envious. About ten years ago he had a mole on his face that kept growing and I was really concerned about it, so I suggested that he get it checked. Since he wasn’t the kind of guy who fussed over his skin, he ignored it. Miraculously, the mole fell off! No scar. Nothing. Like the mole was never there. I thought, Wow, that’s not fair. Lord, how come he’s the guy in our marriage and he has the nicer skin. Why not me?!

One of the more serious symptoms of my insecurity was seeking the approval of people. For example, as an eight year old child, I wanted all my classmates to like me so I lied about having a variety of animals in our house. I made it sound like we had a zoo! Unfortunately this bloated narrative prevented me from inviting my classmates over because no such zoo existed in our home. Thank God my parents homeschooled me the year after so I never had to show proof of this zoo!

When it came to friends, I got into drinking just to feel like I belonged. While drinking isn’t wrong per se, it was my motivations for doing it. One year I went on a long trip to Europe with some of my girl friends and almost every night we would go to clubs. Though wildly fun, I never felt at peace each morning after.

At one point, we were hanging out with all kinds of guys and the guys would flirt with us, and one of the guys asked if he could take me home to his place. I knew what this meant, and I told him, “No, I’m not interested.” 

After rejecting his proposal, he made me feel like a loser for turning him down. This was one of the moments that got me thinking, If I continue down this path, if I do things to earn people’s favor because I want them to think I’m cool or fun then I’m going to destroy my life. Furthermore, and most importantly, I called myself a Christian, yet I didn’t honor Christ with my life. Plus, behind the exterior of my good girl façade, I knew there was something spiritually wrong with me.

Because I was always looking for affirmation, this carried over into the way I related with guys. I liked the attention I received from guys. It made me feel important and special, and I attached my self-worth to this.

So in high school I dated a guy who was popular, athletic, intelligent, and funny, even if my parents discouraged me from doing so. Our relationship became very physical. I let him manipulate me emotionally. If I wasn’t physical with him, he would ignore me, give me a hard time, or make me feel guilty, like I was a bad person. I allowed myself be treated this way for at least two years. After we broke up, he visited from the U.S. a couple of times and our encounters would turn physical again.

Ultimately, it was my choice to do the things I did because I desired my boyfriend’s approval more than obeying God. So I compromised to keep him interested in me, even if it was a very unhealthy relationship.

I struggled with purity again when I got into my second serious relationship. This time it was with Edric in college. However, this time I wasn’t forced into it. I willingly committed immorality and at times, initiated it. Although Edric and I didn’t have actual intercourse, the Holy Spirit kept convicting us of our sin. Both of us knew we weren’t pleasing God. 

Due to the series of unwise and sinful choices I made, I felt like a spiritually broken person after my college years. The disconnect between my private life and whom I claimed to be, bred fear and robbed me of peace. I didn’t want my parents, family, or friends to know my secret sins, so I hid for many years, by avoiding conversations about my relationships, or I lied to preserve my image. But this charade grew tiring, even for Edric. We could no longer stomach the spiritual fatigue of a sin-confess-sin-confess lifestyle. In order to honor God and seek after His will for us, we finally broke off our relationship two years into it.

When a friend of our family approached my mom and said, “I had a dream about your kids, all of them had a candle, except for Joy,” I secretly panicked. Deep down I knew that having NO candle basically meant that I had not been a light for Christ. So I wanted to change, but I felt like such a failure. 

Still battling this demon of insecurity, another unhealthy perspective began to surface in my life – that I was the worst of the “Tan-Chi” kids. My siblings were all better than me. I would never be as good as they were. They qualified as blessed but not me. Once again, it was all about comparing myself to others. So, I had to come to a point in my life where I saw myself as God saw me, not as I saw myself in comparison with others, or how I felt others saw me.

First, I was a sinner. There was nothing good in me apart from Him. But He loved me and died for me. Even if I had made the mistakes I had as a professed follower of Christ, even if I had been so displeasing to Him, He would love me still and He would forgive me if I truly repented. So my sense of security wasn’t in what I could do to perform or earn back God’s love, God’s grace. It was in what Jesus had done for me. I felt like the prodigal coming back to Him. But dealing with my wrong thinking was a process for me.

Second, I had to remember that I was a child of God, therefore my purpose was to represent Him, glorify Him, and lead others to Him. After Edric and I broke up, I recognized how directionless my my life was. My choices revolved around what made me feel good about myself, what made me feel significant or important. 

Therefore, it was time to make my own decision to follow God, not based on my family’s convictions, but my own. I had to accept God’s plan and purpose for my life– whom He created me to be and what He created me for. This conviction had to be birthed out of a true understanding of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Although I had been raised in a Christian home, did I really believe that following Christ was the best life to live? Did I really believe that I was set apart as 1 Peter 2:9 says? “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God for He called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”

Today, I still struggle with my insecurities.  At the root of it is pride, being self-focused. I once told someone, I think the struggles that we have as children, the weaknesses and character flaws that we dealt with when we were kids will continue to be the things we wrestle with even into our adulthood. Therefore, we have to remain dependent on the Holy Spirit to be victorious until God calls us home.

More recently, when I married my husband, Edric, my insecurities revolved around money. I knew that we weren’t starting off with a lot of money. As a starry-eyed bride caught up in the romance of our relationship, I wasn’t that worried. Maybe we wouldn’t be rich but I was certain we would have enough. 

Well, reality set in within the first year of our marriage. It wasn’t easy having just enough. Admittedly, coming from a family with means felt like a big contrast to what we had. Enough didn’t quite feel enough. I couldn’t travel. I had to stick to a tight budget. Even if I didn’t grow up seeing my parents spend on luxury goods because that wasn’t a value of theirs, we lived very comfortably because my dad was a successful businessman.

When I compared my state in life to my siblings and parents, jealousy and disappointment would settle in. Not having a lot of money actually made me feel insecure once again. 

God had to remind me repeatedly, I am your provider. I will take care of you and Edric, your family. You focus on honoring me and obeying me. 

After nearly sixteen years of marriage, I have seen his faithfulness in the area of provision.

Yet it’s no surprise that to this very day, I have to combat insecurity. Here are some practical measures that help me to embrace my identity in Christ and focus on living for Him:

Confess my struggle. When comparing, jealousy, approval-seeking, and fear of people begin to take root in my heart, I have to weed these out by coming before the Lord and admitting my weakness and negative thinking. Then I ask for His forgiveness, for my mind to be renewed. 

“if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Ephesians‬ ‭4:21-24‬ ‭

Detox from social media and other media. I intentionally avoid looking at things that fill my heart with discontent, that put in my heart an appetite for pursuits that aren’t aligned with God’s will for me. This past Holy Week, I took a break from checking social media. How liberating it was to leave my Instagram and Facebook accounts alone! 

Be grateful. “Thank you, Lord, for who I am, whom you made me to be, for the life you have given to me, and for empowering me to do the things you want me to.”

Someone once told me, “God has given you everything you need to do what He wants you to.”

I’ve never forgotten that statement. The family I was born in to, my genetics, racial background, appearance, resources, the talents and abilities that God has given me, as well as my inabilities, are everything I need to fulfill His calling and plan for my life. Most important of all, I have the Holy Spirit to empower me. As Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” 

Look to the needs of those around me, instead of focusing on myself. How can I be a blessing to others? How can I be a messenger of the gospel? How can I point people to Christ?

My mom has often encouraged me, “When you are with others, think of how you can bless them, how you can reach out to them.” 

It’s a great cure for self-centeredness! 

Evaluate my choices and motives by asking the questions, Am I doing this for God’s glory or for my own glory? Is there anything I am doing that is dishonoring to God’s name?

For example, whenever I read negative comments from readers that target me personally, I have to think through how I will respond because the tendency is to react and be defensive. Therefore I have to mentally review…Why am I doing what am I doing? Whom am I trying to draw attention to?

When I started this blog, my desire was to point people to Christ. So when people make an obvious attack on my biblical worldview, then I try not to take it personally.  However, if it is an accusation that addresses a character issue I need to fix, then I have to apologize and change.

It’s very easy to be cruel and vengeful on social media or on the Internet, so I remind myself that I represent Christ. Everything I do online and offline has to glorify Him. My persona online has to be consistent with my identity in Christ. Whatever platform I use and whatever platform God has given to me, the intention must be to glorify God.

Maybe you grew up in a good Christian home like I did. You were exposed to ministry experiences where you saw your parents wholeheartedly serve God. Or maybe you witnessed hypocrisy, with your parents preaching and teaching one thing and modeling the opposite at home.

Whichever category you fall under, I hope you will understand that you and I can’t make our choice to follow God dependent on our parents’ faith. Their passion for the Lord isn’t a genetically inherited trait. And their lack of passion isn’t an excuse for us to deny who we are and what we were made for. Each one of us has to ask the question, “Who am I?”

Colossians 1:16 tells us, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him.”‭‭‭

Every one of us was created by God and for Him. So it boils down to a personal decision – Will I embrace the identity that God made me to have? And will this identity define how I think, speak, and act? Or will I continue trying to find my identity apart from God? 

As for those of you who are parents like me, let’s not give up praying for our kids and affirming who they are in Christ. Although our children are accountable to God to make their personal faith decisions, we are also accountable to do our part to raise our children to know, love, serve, and obey God. 

My parents loved me unconditionally and walked along side me during my wayward years. They continued to pour into my heart and mind spiritual truth. Yet I am convinced that it was their faithful praying that saved me from the course I was on. By God’s grace, their prayers worked, too! There is hope in Christ! 

I Threw a Pencil, Ripped a Page, and Slammed the Door

So today I actually lost it, like really lost it as I was teaching math to my daughter, Tiana. She couldn’t grasp regrouping for addition, and even with the use of manipulatives and lots of reviewing to help her get it, our lesson turned into a massive fail because of my outburst. 

First, I threw a pencil at the window. Every one of my kids saw this. That was after lesson # 1 with Tiana. I apologized and replaced the pencil, mumbling some excuse to justify my annoyance.
We even prayed together and asked for the Lord to fill all of us. I confessed my anger to my kids aloud and asked for their forgiveness. 

Truthfully, I wasn’t really sorry. I probably should have abandoned the work Tiana had to do for about an hour to get a grip of my emotions. But I persisted, demanding that she finish the two pages of math work assigned for the day. Therefore the worst was yet to come.

By the time we got to the practice bit of the lesson, Tiana blanked out and forgot what to do… AGAIN. By this time, she most likely sensed my irritation growing by the way I sighed loudly and convoluted my face, like I was incredulous that something so simple could be so difficult for her. So when the mounting pressure of anger reached its climax, I pressed hard with her pencil and circled one of the numbers I wanted her to pay attention to…like twenty times! Then I stood up, absolutely peeved, grabbed her book in my hands and ripped the page we were supposed to work on next, yelled out in exasperation, and stormed out of the homeschool room. When I got to my bedroom I intentionally, as well as forcefully, slammed my bedroom door to emphasize how mad I was.

Throwing myself onto my bed, I cried out, “I can’t do this, Lord! I have had it! I give up! I can’t homeschool her! I don’t know what to do!”

After some minutes of my face plastered against my pillow, sobbing over my failure, and my body lying prostrate on the bed, reality jolted me out of my delirium. I knew that I had to get back to the kids. Hello! I was their teacher! I couldn’t leave them in our “classroom” and abandon my responsibilities. More importantly, they needed to hear an apology from me. Another one. A real one. I behaved like an emotionally immature adult and without a doubt, deeply wounded them. This moment needed repairing.

So I collected myself, and walked back to the homeschool room. Tiana was curled up beside Catalina, who broke the silence. “Mommy, will you forgive Tiana?” 

Forgive Tiana?! She had it all mixed up.

“Catalina, mommy was the wrong one. Will you forgive me?” 

I had to ask for forgiveness from all of them, especially when Tiana tearfully explained, “Mom, I-I-I felt bad because you were frustrated and ran to your room. I cried.”

Pulling her to myself, unable to give any sort of defense for my actions, I hugged and kissed her tightly. 

“I was so wrong, Tiana. Will you please forgive me. I am so sorry. I was a bad example.” 

Tiana nodded kindly and managed to smile. I didn’t deserve that smile. It was generous, forgiving, trusting. I know she meant it. 
We resumed with extra math practice, but I was guilt-ridden. The rest of the morning, I didn’t want to homeschool.

At some point, the kids, bless their hearts, sought to assist me. They took over the base ten rods and blocks and proceeded to explain the concept of adding to Tiana, encouraging her and patiently going over each problem she had to solve. 

I grabbed my phone to call Edric. He listened as I quietly begged, “Please come home early today. I need you. I lost it.” 

He knew what I meant and chuckled. This wasn’t the first time. I have marched into his study room in the past ranting in exasperation about how hard it is to teach math to Tiana. 

“Okay,” He replied reassuringly, promising to head home as soon as he could. 

I felt him smiling at the other end of the phone. He didn’t mean to belittle my emotions. But in the midst of a major decision he needed to make about the business today, my issue probably seemed almost cute to him. 

Yet it wasn’t. There wasn’t anything cute about my outburst.

Truthfully, I hated myself this morning. I hated homeschooling. I hated Tiana’s math book and the inconvenience of having to teach something over and over again in futility.  I felt like I was a total failure as a mom and wondered if homeschooling is worth it. 

Why do I have to agonize over teaching when I can send my kids to school and let their education be an institution’s problem…not mine?

In fact, moments after I spoke to Edric on the phone, I messaged him, proposing that I should send Tiana to school so that I can avoid getting angry because I don’t want to hurt her emotionally. I have never suggested this about any of my kids. Sure, I have felt irritated at each one of my children for various reasons, but I have never felt such an intense frustration to the point that I want to throw objects, bang my head against the wall, jump up and down, break a pencil, tear a book in half, or scream at the top of my lungs just to let all the internal pressure out! It’s like those moments in the movies when a character is seated across another person, staring at them expressionlessly, seemingly calm on the outside, but then you get to peer inside the character’s mind and see them role-playing all kinds of violent scenes! 

The Bible says, “For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)

My anger didn’t inspire Tiana to try harder. It just made her feel insecure and incapable. Letting out all that pent up anger didn’t make me feel the relief I wanted to feel, either. And now the kids have a bad memory about mommy that they may well remember into their adulthood. 

In fact, Edan remarked, “Now, you have two things you’ve done in anger that we will remember.” (He was referring to one other incident some years ago when I threw a box of math manipulatives onto the floor, which terrified all of them.)

Edan also admitted as the hour was approaching noon, “Mom, when you are not happy, none of us feel happy.” 

Titus said, “Mom, I prayed for you, and I cried a little when you got mad.” 

Elijah added, “I was actually scared. And I was sad, and I knew you had a problem.”

When I got the chance to speak with Edric over dinner, he listened very understandingly to my narrative, but his take on the matter was this, “This is God’s way of humbling you. This is an opportunity to be dependent on Him.”

He’s right. Home schooling is hard work. It is miserably difficult sometimes, and mostly because parenting and homeschooling are interconnected and you have to be intentional about the former to be good at the latter. Home schooling magnifies your flaws and makes you realize how much you need the Lord, that you can never do it well for each child, through every season and for all the years that you do it apart from Him. The best homeschooling days are the ones when I remember this. The worst ones, like today, are the ones when I try to force my kids to learn and push them for the wrong reasons, mostly selfish ones.  

However, I will end by talking about how beautiful God’s grace is. Tiana returned to her cheerful self the rest of the day, almost like she forgot what happened. I’m sure she didn’t, she hasn’t, but I praise God for the opportunity to repair my mistake later on in the day. This is one of the reasons why home schooling has made such a positive difference in our family – the kids and I have so much time together, to build and rebuild our relationship. I had the rest of the day to hug, kiss, and affirm Tiana. By the evening, we prayed together and she fell asleep peacefully, knowing she was loved and treasured by me.

As for my four other kids (especially my two older ones), they were strangely comforted by my display of weakness. After I asked for forgiveness, one of them confessed, “You know, mom, I also feel mad at times and I can relate with how you felt.”

In other words, we get it, mom, none of us are perfect, we struggle with the same things.

Edric also came to my rescue (and Tiana’s), offering to help teach Tiana addition and subtraction. He knows how to add the element of fun in his instruction and not take the obstacles too seriously. Yeah!

I have to believe that God can still use a bad incident like this and use it for good in our homeschool journey. I’m ashamed about what happened, but I thought to share it as a reminder to myself that home schooling on my own power isn’t enough. On a practical level, I also need to walk away, maybe get a glass of water, say a quick prayer, breathe in deeply, or hum a happy tune when I feel the frustration rising in me so I don’t get to the point where I lose it on my kids. 

Is it just me? Can you all relate somehow? 
 

Breaking Down the Proverbs 31 Woman 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Loves Single Moms

After Edric and I give parenting talks, many single moms come up to us feeling discouraged and anxious because of our emphasis on the role of a father. They tend to fear that their children will not grow up with the support and mentoring they need from a dad. We often encourage them by saying that God is gracious and then give them practical tips on how to parent alone. However, our vantage point is still different and single parenting is best explained from the perspective of someone who is actually in a position to say what the challenges are and how to surmount them.


Last weekend, Edric and I were in Cebu with friends Mel and Cathy Po, where we had the privilege of speaking alongside actress, Jodi Sta. Maria to a large gathering of Ateneo parents. Jodi shared her journey as a single mother and she itemized these life lessons: 

Security – a child longs for security. It’s possible for a single parent to meet this need by being available and creating a home environment where a child knows that unconditional love and forgiveness abound.

Identity – a single mom’s identity has to be rooted in the Lord and she has to transfer this truth to her child/ren as well. God is father to the fatherless and husband to the husband-less. When a single mother understands how much God loves her, she doesn’t have to worry about how others label her or judge her. Her identity is hidden in Christ, therefore her joy and peace also come from her relationship with Him. These are not dependent on circumstances or others. 

Non-negotiable Date Time – Since single moms tend to get busy trying to provide financially for their child/children, it’s important to safeguard date nights with them. These are predictable moments in the week when children can look forward to bonding time with mom. 

God-centered Parenting – Pschologists, the media, and books will have all kinds of opinions about how single parents should teach, train, and raise their children. However, the best source is still God’s word. He is the author of parenting. Principles such as Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go so that when he is older he will not depart from it, and Deuteronomy 6:5-7 – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and teach your children to do the same, are still applicable to solo parents and their kids. 

Love as Motivation – Children are inspired to change, to improve, to excel when they know with certainty that they are loved. Unconditional love is a powerful motivator. Not only should our children be assured that we love them no matter what, we also have to make choices for them that are based on unconditional love verses selfishness. Whether single parent or not, this is a real struggle. “Let all that you do be done in love.”‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭16:14‬ ‭

Educate Yourself – Every parent needs a doctorate degree in parenting. But no school exists for this sort of degree! So we have to attend biblical parenting seminars, read books, and surround ourselves with parents who have successfully raised their own children so we can learn from their mistakes and victories. Edric and I continue to grow in our parenting from getting together with other couples who are also committed to teaching and training their children. We exchange “best practices.” Single parents can do the same. 

Memories Last Forever – Invest in memories. Some of my fondest memories are of my childhood years, sitting around the dinner table as a family, exercising together, traveling, and vacations. These are forever imprinted in my heart and mind…as they will also be for kids of single parents who deposit fond memories into the emotional banks of their kids. 

Overcome the Circumstance as a Family – I would like to add that you can have a new “team” of people who will become your child’s family to provide the emotional and spiritual support you both need. No parent should be an island. “It takes a village to raise a child” is such a true statement. So find that village of people. Maybe it’s your parents who can come along side you to help you parent. Or maybe it’s a sibling and his or her family who can be part of your child’s growing up years to fill in the gaps. 

Manage Your Time and Priorities – When I had the chance to ask Jodi (who is super humble and down to earth) how she balances being an actress and parenting her son, she revealed, “I don’t take on multiple projects at a time. I used to, but I don’t anymore.” 

She admitted that she has earned the freedom and respect from the industry to turn projects down, which is a blessing from the Lord. However, I am sure it’s not easy to say no to good sources of income as a single mom. Jodi is a great example of someone who works hard to be a provider but recognizes that God is her ultimate provider. Prioritizing her son, as well as giving time for her weekly discipleship group, speaks volumes about her desire to put what’s most important first. It’s no wonder God is also blessing her career! 

I want to end this entry with a passage that I read a few days ago that I feel is so perfect for single moms. Whether you are a widow or abandoned by the man who should have been committed father to your child, may this minister to you. God loves you, single mom! If you honor Him and obey Him, He will certainly uphold you and provide for you. 

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; and do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. ‘For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth. ‘For the LORD has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,’ says your God. 

‘For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,’ says the LORD your Redeemer.

‘For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ Says the LORD who has compassion on you. ‘O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires…All your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great.’

‘In righteousness you will be established; you will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; and from terror, for it will not come near you. No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their vindication is from Me,” declares the LORD.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭54:4-8, 10-11, 13-14, 17‬ ‭

We Don’t Need More Crazy Moms

I have been spending time with women friends, exchanging notes about their relationships with their mothers and it breaks my heart to hear story after story about their “crazy” moms– moms who are self-absorbed, bitter, broken, unkind, play favorites, and suffer from identity issues. 
There are valid reasons behind the bad parenting choices these moms have made, but they may never fully realize how deeply they have wounded their daughters, women who are my friends, who are moms just like me. It’s miraculous that these women friends are turning out to be such wonderful moms themselves. That’s the grace of God in their lives. However, it’s also sobering to be confronted by the reality that my thoughts, words, and actions matter so much to my own girls. I can become a version of “crazy” if I am not spirit-filled and resort to hurting them, too. 


To be honest, there are times when I do. As a homeschooling mom, wrestling with impatience is an everyday struggle. Even if I don’t yell at my kids, I feel very exasperated when they don’t understand a concept I have repeatedly taught them, or when it’s hard for them to exercise logic and common sense when a lesson seems easy and basic. Sometimes this aggravation manifests itself in deep sighs, rolling eyeballs, or negative comments that make my kids feel inadequate and insecure.

Just the other day, I was teaching Tiana math and she forgot how to count to 100 by 5s. Irked at how quickly the lesson faded from her consciousness, I snapped at her and gesticulated with my hands like I was in pain, “I don’t understand. This isn’t hard. What’s wrong? Why can’t you get it?” 
As I mouthed this out, I gripped the pages of her math book in my hands and motioned like I was going to tear it in half. Even if I wanted to, I really couldn’t have because I mistakenly held onto a portion of the book that was too thick. 

Tiana noticed all of this, of course. She self-consciously bowed her head to a point where I could still see her beautiful eyes, now troubled, looking up at me with concern and fear. She probably wondered what I would do next and the rest of the kids visibly displayed their anxiety as well. 

My heart sank. What was I doing?! An immediate apology was necessary to abate everyone’s tension. I took Tiana in my arms and said, “Please forgive me, Tiana, for getting irritated. I love you. I was wrong.” 

I felt horrid, a big time failure as a mom, as a homeschooler. 

Why was I so worked up about Tiana’s inability to count by 5s? And why did this display of frustration and rejection on my part have to happen again to my sweet girl? (I wrote about a similar entry earlier last year.) 

Well, just like the moms my friends described, I have the same tendency to be controlled by my emotions, to act out of arrogance, fear, and selfishness. The real me is an ugly person whose default mode is to express this ugliness unless I am controlled by the Holy Spirit. 
Over the past weekend, one of the topics of a retreat we attended as a family was the “Exchanged Life.” The speaker, a good friend of Edric and mine, delivered a powerful message that can be summed up in the phrase, NO LONGER I BUT CHRIST. 

I praise God that He didn’t just save us from our sins, He equipped us to overcome what is broken and ugly in all of us. He gave us the power to be victorious over our common follies and common mistakes by sending the Holy Spirit to dwell in us when we come into a relationship with Him through Christ. 

Most days I am not a crazy mom and this is because of the Holy Spirit’s work in my life but it doesn’t mean I don’t have “crazy” in me. It lurks and waits for opportune occasions to bear itself, fangs, horns, and all, and the damage is not to be diminished.  

To the moms who can identify with this struggle and to those who grew up in homes where they never felt unconditionally loved or accepted by their mothers, might I encourage you with this: We don’t have to pass on the hurts our mothers wounded us with, and we don’t have to be the kind of moms who give in to the crazy in us. We have a God who loves us and redeems our pasts, and who secures our future. He is committed to helping us be the moms we need to be, no matter how we were mothered ourselves or how challenging it may be to fulfill this role in the present. However, we have to make some hard choices.


First, we may need to ask for forgiveness from our daughters. And we may need to forgive our moms (even if they never say sorry.) If we don’t, bitterness will defile us and those whom we love. 

“Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:14-15‬ ‭

Next, we have to invest in relationship-building activities and routines that minister to the hearts of our daughters. It can be reading to them, learning to cook together, taking walks, having “tea or coffee” (my mom does this with my sisters, sisters-in-law, and me periodically), going to the grocery or doing errands together, giving random hugs and being generous with words of appreciation for their character, their talents, and abilities. The point is to do with them and for them what matters to them, what makes them feel special and important. 

Two nights ago, my eldest son, Elijah, reminded me to tuck Tiana into bed when he carried his little sister, Catalina, into the girls’ bedroom. Tiana remained awake, unwilling to retire until I prayed and kissed her goodnight. I happened to be caught up in a long conversation with a friend who needed some counseling so I assumed that Tiana fell asleep.
By this time, I had comfortably settled in to sleep but Elijah’s reminder encouraged me to inconvenience myself to be with her. I stepped into her darkened room quietly and caught sight of her sitting up in anticipation, hoping I hadn’t forgotten. She smiled with relief as I came to her side to smother her with a kiss and hug, and pray with her.

“Were you waiting for me?” 

She nodded and then peacefully slipped under the covers and closed her eyes. 

That moment gave me a picture of what daughters are like. All daughters, no matter what season or age, are hoping that we will notice them, accept them, and desire to be with them. Let us break the cycle of pain we inherited or the one we initiated by meeting their need for our affection, attention, and affirmation so that we can create a cycle love that our daughters will pass on to their future families. 

You Cannot Out-Give God

When I wrote the book, When a Good God Allows Rape, my purpose was to use my personal story to reach out to broken and wounded people and to give God the glory for what He has done in my life. By God’s grace, the book became a bestseller last year as reported to me by my publisher, OMF Literature. When the royalties came in a year later, God impressed upon my heart to give the money to Him, as my first fruits. After all, I had written the book for His purposes, so logically whatever I earned from it should go to His work.

However, this prodding came at a time when Edric and I were a little tight financially. Although we were getting by and we were still comfortable by God’s grace, Edric had taken a six-month leave from the show, ANC’s On the Money, in favor of focusing on Homeschool Global and the Homeschool Association of the Philippine Islands (HAPI). As result, he also gave up part of the income that came with him being the lead anchor. So any influx of money was good news!

Yet I praise God for Edric’s response to God’s leading about the royalties (even though he didn’t struggle a little!). When I told Edric that God convicted me to give the money from my book’s earnings back to Him, Edric fully supported me. He said, “Go for it!” 

Even if Edric knew that money could have been useful for us at that period in time, he understood the principle of giving back to the Lord what belongs to Him in the first place.

How true it is that you cannot out-give God! Shortly after, an agency set up an appointment with Edric and me to pitch an idea for a year-long campaign involving our family. It was for the milk brand, Friso, by Frisland Campina, a company based out of the Netherlands.

Previously, I had also been approached to be part of another milk company’s marketing efforts but that fell through. However, God knew that Friso was a better fit for our family because of its philosophy. 

Unlike other formulas, Friso is committed to making its milk easy on the tummy of children. The process it goes through before going into the can is a gentle one. It receives heat treatment only once, which means that it preserves the integrity of its proteins so that kids are less prone to constipation when they drink Friso.

I am also a breastfeeding advocate, so formula is only an option above two or three years old for me. Thankfully, the specific product of Friso they were asking me to represent was for three years old and up which means I didn’t have to compromise my conviction about breastfeeding.

Furthermore, Friso keeps their product as natural as possible, without neglecting nutrition. All the farmers of Frisland Campina are the owners of the company, so they are personally involved and invested in the care of their cattle. Their cows have a very happy life! They have required grazing times outdoors and they aren’t forced into machines to be milked. Farmers also pass on their trade to their children and teach them the science behind raising cows, the quality of the grass that they feed on, and how to create an environment that stimulates the optimum production of milk. 

Watching the videos of the farmers mattered to me a lot. Since I homeschool my kids, I’ve never been one of those moms who gets suckered by the pitch of milk companies who say that their milk increases the IQ of children. Although I believe that nutrition certainly enables brain development, most milk brands provide good nutrition. However, since homeschooling is one-on-one, I know that my kids’ education is customized in such a way as to maximize their giftedness, interests, and strengths, as well as augment their weaknesses. So when Friso told me that their milk brand protects gut-health in kids because of the process that’s involved in getting it from the grass to the glass, then that interested me! And when I was shown fat cows grazing happily outdoors and scenes of fathers mentoring their sons about their trade that resonated with me!

Plus, I couldn’t help but see a parallel between the cows and my own kids. As the farmers of Frisland Campina are concerned about keeping a natural environment to ensure that their cows are as healthy as possible, I would like to think that God has given me, through homeschooling, the most natural setting for my kids to mature and develop holistically. My kids aren’t rushed to and from school, they don’t spend useless hours in traffic, they aren’t robbed of ample time each day to play and explore, and they have good friends whose families I am well acquainted with. They stick to a schedule, but they also get to learn beyond the books we use, and they aren’t taught with cookie-cutter approaches that classrooms have to implore for large groups of kids.  


 
I’m sharing all of this to magnify how good God is, how He opened the door for our family to be a part of Friso’s campaign as endorsers, a company that is aligned with our own values, and one that offered a financial deal that far surpassed what I gave to the Lord from my book’s royalties. This all happened after I obeyed God’s nudging to present my first fruits to Him instead of hording it for myself, which I was tempted to do.
 
May this entry encourage you to trust in God’s goodness, too. I want you to know that God is a magnanimous God who delights for us to experience His blessings. There are occasions in our lives when He intentionally withholds material comforts, but there are other moments when He deems it the best time to release His generous provision.
 
What this experience taught me and continues to teach me is that God often tests the condition of our hearts by way of our pockets. Exodus 23:19 says, “You shall bring the very first of the first fruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God.”

Money affords us this façade of security and it’s very easy to adopt the perspective that the money we earn belongs to us because we worked hard for it. However, provision ultimately comes from God’s hand, therefore our greatest security is not in acquiring more money but in obeying Him and following His leading in our lives. 1 Chronicles 29:12 rightfully declares, “Both riches and honor come from You (God), and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.”


 

Teaching Kids To Be Responsible for their Choices 

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid rescuing my kids when they make mistakes. I have to resist the urge to save them because my maternal instinct tells me to protect and cradle my children. However, some of them aren’t tiny tots anymore. They don’t need pampering from me. In fact, to do so might even be a disservice to their character growth in the area of learning responsibility and accountability. 

A few months ago, one of my sons lost his temper while playing on the piano. In his irritation, he banged on the keys with full force. Since it was an older piano, something inside (too technical for me to explain) collapsed, causing all the keys to become unplayable. He confessed his mistake to me which I appreciated, however an appropriate consequence was necessary. His hard-earned garage money went to paying for the repair of the piano. 

Did I feel like showing him mercy? Of course! But I knew this consequence would instill in him the values of stewardship and exercising self-control over one’s emotions. 

As my kids grow up, their consequences have to be modified. For example, after the age of 6 or 7, spanking isn’t as appropriate a form of punishment anymore. Furthermore, they pretty much get obedience and respect. Praise God! It’s the other character areas that begin to need work…things like discipline and responsibility. 

Very recently, I encouraged the kids to get rid of some of our cats by entrusting them to friends or family members who were willing to take them. However, they insisted on keeping all the cats for themselves. We now have seven. Too many! Five Siamese and three black and yellow-eyes ones. (The black ones I don’t particularly fancy because of their naughtiness). It’s impractical for us to feed this many felines and the impact on our monthly groceries is significant. 

My deal with the kids when it comes to their animals is, “I will take care of you, my kids (aka my animals), and you will take care of your animals.” 

So whatever needs the cats have beyond food is their look-out. When their kittens got some sort of skin problem, the kids begged me to bring them to the vet. They kept asking me to but it wasn’t a priority for me because of the busy-ness of the holiday season. However a a week ago when the hustle and bustle died down there was a window to take the cats to the vet. 

At first, I thought of inconveniencing myself to do it for them. But then a lightbulb went on in my head as I realized that this could be a great learning experience for my kids. 

I told my kids, “You guys will be the one to bring the cats and pay for the fees incurred by the visit to the vet.” 

Thankfully, there was minimal resistance. I armed them with my cell phone, but asked them to take along their own cash. I did hand Elijah my ATM just in case they didn’t have enough of their own money. Looking back, this was a bad idea, for safety reasons. Plus, I caught Elijah trying to slip my ATM into his shoe for safekeeping! Thankfully, I saw him before he plowed his foot on top of it. 

The extent of my meddling was preventing him from crushing my ATM with his foot and advising him to carry a man-purse with his iPad in it, my phone, and the ATM. This was the extent of my meddling, but I did ask the driver to keep an eye out for them (without facilitating the discussion with the vet).

My four older kids dressed up, put their cats in cages and spent the morning at the pet clinic. They had to speak with the vet, explain the problem, ask their questions, and pay their fees. It took about three hours for them to wait their turn. They returned home hungry and tired for a late lunch at 1 P.M.

Admittedly, a part of me was concerned about whether they would be able to accomplish the task. Yet, every time I picked up Edric’s phone in order to call the kids, Edric dissuaded me, encouraging me to let them be and give them room to figure out what to do.

The good news was that the cat skin problem turned out to be a very curable lice issue that isn’t contagious to humans. The better news was that our kids matured during this experience, and learned a valuable lesson on responsibility. 

Waiting for three hours at the vet with dogs yapping all around them, and seeing one of their seven cats scratch up the arm of the attendant till it was bloodied, proved to be a new and unpleasant ordeal for my kids. However, they came home feeling a sense of pride for having braved through the experience without Edric or me to hand-hold them. And, they finally embraced what it means to be responsible pet owners. It’s costly to care of pets and they need to understand that it’s not the househelp’s or my role to worry about their animals. 

As for me, I am trying to transition out of the coddling parent stage with my older kids, especially because they are boys. They don’t need a hovering mother who micromanages them and fixes all their problems. It’s not easy for me to watch them fail, suffer the consequences of their choices when they make mistakes, or allow them to be “off on their own.” However, when I take a back seat during situations like these they learn accountability and responsibility effectively. My job is to partner with Edric to mentor them, pray, and entrust them to the Lord.

 

Relax, Mom. It’s All Part of the Grand Plan.

On the flight to Dubai, after five hours of insufficient sleep, I decided to watch the movie, Bad Moms. Contrary to what its title implies, there were some insightful principles in it about motherhood. I don’t necessarily recommend the movie because of its immoral elements but I do think it had something to say about how we try to be so perfect as mothers that we kind of drive ourselves crazy living up to this expectation of ourselves. We stress out!

Sometimes we need to just chill and remember that God is in control. We need to rest in Him. 

This message came at just the right time for me. Recently, I have felt very inadequate as a mom. Elijah is going through puberty and Edan is dealing with doubts about faith and truth. Plus I still have a rambunctious toddler, Catalina, who attaches herself to me like glue. In between, are Titus and Tiana who still need me to be very hands-on as a homeschool parent. So on some days I want to find a rock to crawl under.

Of particular concern to me lately has been Edan. He is swimming in questions about theology and faith, struggling to understand mysteries like the Trinity, predestination, the sovereignty of God, the inerrancy of Scripture and its divine inspiration, and I am not always able to allay his doubts. Who can explain the Trinity?! 


Sometimes Edan ends up crying and confused, wondering how he can believe in truths he cannot fully grasp. It hurts to watch him on this journey because I cannot force him along or hurry him. The battle is inside, beyond where I can see and go as a mother. I have cried to the Lord in prayer for Edan. And there are moments when my heart turns critical, maddened by his inability to connect dots and reason sensibly, or apply faith when necessary.

In Ecclesiastes it says, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven- A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.”

It goes on to read, “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart…” (Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-8, 11a)

Even though I have read these passages numerous times, they ministered to me in a new way by reminding me of the following:

– There is an APPOINTED TIME for everything. 

– There is a TIME FOR EVERY EVENT under heaven.

– He (God) has made everything APPROPRIATE in its time.

– He has also SET ETERNITY IN OUR HEARTS. 

An appointed time implies purpose, intentionality. There is nothing accidental or chance-like about what happens in our lives, or in the lives of our children. Even if this juncture in the timeline of my history as a mom may feel out of control and chaotic, it’s a designated season. It is God-ordained. The same is true for Edan’s endless spiritual questioning and struggling. This is part of God’s plan for him.

Secondly, since there is a time for every event under heaven, this tells me that this season is important and necessary. And whew, it also implies that it’s temporal. Edan won’t linger in this state forever. 

Some seasons are easy, some are hard and painful, others are devastating, and still others, hopeful and joyous. This season of motherhood is painful for me…not in a tragic sort of manner but in a sobering sense. My two older sons are moving past the age of childhood. It’s a transition accompanied by emotional and spiritual complexities and I have to quit panicking! I can’t dwell on the changes they are going thorough (especially the changes in Edan), and think, I am losing my sons. 

Ecclesiastes continues by revealing that He (God) has made everything appropriate—a word which sounds so comfortingly like “customized and personalized.” In other words, God’s sovereign hand directs the course of every event in our lives and our children’s. His wisdom decides when the length of a season is enough, and what sort of season we need to walk through in order to build our character. 

My kids are growing in character, and I often think that they need to. But guess what? I need to grow in character, too! 

In the early months of this year, I kind of felt like I hit a good groove as a mom. My homeschooling was going well. The kids seemed behaved and “manageable.” I no longer had an infant, and breastfeeding came to an end. To be honest, I slacked off with my prayer time and switched to cruise control. 

However, when Edan began bombarding me with difficult questions and Elijah’s hormonal changes started to impact his moods and lower his threshold for frustration, I was jolted out of my complacency. Suddenly I felt insecure and lost as a mom.

Yet God used this for my good. Confronted by the reality that all my efforts at teaching, training and modeling cannot force my kids to desire God or His will drove me to pray fervently and tearfully for my children. My ambitions for my kids were whittled down to the most important of all—that they might grow up to know, love, obey, serve, and worship God. 

I know this, right? I have said it over and over again in my posts. But wow, this is when the rubber hits the road. 

Edan’s conversation with me a few weeks ago made me realize that my greatest longing as a mom is that my kids enter into eternity, to be welcomed by their Heavenly Father with the words, “Well done.” Wealth, power, fame, worldly accomplishments and accolades pale against this highest goal, especially when I consider the possibility that my kids’ souls are at risk. 

Mark 8:36 begs me to ponder, “For what does it profit a man (my child) to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” ‭

As Edan and I carried on a lengthy and exhausting dialogue about whether Jesus Christ’s claims were real, I delved into the wonders of faith-filled living, excited to illuminate for him the uncommon peace and joy that mark the lives of those who follow Christ. Beyond historical and prophetical evidence for the existence of Christ, this was another way for me to prove to Edan that Jesus is real. I thought it was a solid pitch.

Contrary to my expectations, Edan’s eyes welled up as he replied to me, “Mom, those are your experiences. I have yet to experience those things for myself.” 

My bubble of enthusiasm burst as I recognized, for the first time, that Edan’s main issue with truth was that it had been “secondhand” for him since he was a young boy. He needed to encounter Christ personally. 

Of course my heart collapsed at that moment when the sincerity of his tears and my inability to comfort him met each other. It was at this point that I surrendered to the reality that God has to be to be the one to open Edan’s eyes. Only God can cause the years of Bible reading, family devotions, the memorization of Scriptural truth, parental instruction and training, and the example Edric and I displayed for Edan to come to a point of convergence so that he sees and understands who God is. The decision to know, love, obey, serve, and worship God must be Edan’s. It can’t be something Edric and I impose on him. 

So where lies my hope?

Like Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus, I am praying that the “God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to EDAN a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of EDAN’s heart may be enlightened, so that he will know what is the hope of His (Christ’s) calling, what are the riches of the glory of His (Christ’s) inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His (Christ’s) power toward those who believe…” (Ephesians‬ ‭1:16-18)‬ ‭

The day when it all makes sense to Edan will come at its appointed time. Till then, I am learning to relax as a mom. Everything that is happening in our family at present is part of God’s grand plan. And my kids going through difficult changes and seasons in their lives doesn’t mean I have been a bad mom — neglectful, hypocritical, or ill-tempered. By God’s grace I haven’t been those things. However, there’s much room for character improvement in me still. This is an appointed time in my life for me to embrace humble dependence on the Lord, to acknowledge that I don’t have it all together, that I am insufficient and incapable of performing the greater heart work that only God can do effectively in my kids. 

So this is me…relaxing…or at least, trying to! 


As my husband, Edric, advised, “Let’s continue to do our part and be faithful. Beyond that, don’t worry, hon. God is in control.” 

I hope this comforts you today, moms! 

Math and Mommy Meltdowns

I can’t remember a time when I’ve cried in front of my children because I was so frustrated with homeschooling. But I suppose there is a first time for everything.

Two weekends ago, I attended the Philippine Homeschool Conference. The Monday after, I was full of hopeful expectation. After listening to inspiring talks and workshop speakers, I eagerly began the week thinking that all would go well. Furthermore, our family housed one of the speakers – a pastor who told endless stories about parenting and homeschooling his 10 kids. (Yes, 10.) His wonderful recollections about their farm life and the Christ-centered culture of their family fueled me with aspirations about the kind of homeschooling experience Edric and I ought to have with our kids.

However, on Monday my kids woke up de-motivated, disinterested, and difficult to teach. The older boys whined about the amount of work they had to get done. Tiana struggled with comprehension issues as we did her Singapore math.

I know the bonds thing can be difficult to understand in Singapore Math (like when you separate 10s from 1s when you are subtracting), but I thought for sure Tiana would have at least remembered what “ + “ and “ – “ mean. We had been doing addition and subtraction for a while so it surprised me when I asked her simple questions like, “So what’s 7 – 2?” and she answered with uncertainty, guessing her way to the right solution.

This went on for a few more math problems. And she kept confusing addition and subtraction and couldn’t add past 10. Then she forgot what the = sign stood for, too. My thought bubble was, You’re kidding me. This isn’t happening! Arghhh!!!

My other kids heard the stress in my voice as I interrogated Tiana several times. “Why can’t you get it? You know this already. This is not complicated.”

I wanted to scream but of course I couldn’t do that. During the conference I gave a seminar along side my mom about laying the right foundation for homeschooling and I encouraged parents not to yell at their kids…primarily because it renders us ineffective at teaching them to love God due to hypocrisy. So the frustration emerged via my tears. Burying my face in my arms and laying my head on the table, I busted out crying.

The room turned quiet. Seeing me cry while teaching was peculiar for my kids to witness. There was a moment when no one knew how to respond. Everyone paused what they were doing until I lifted my head, tears running down my cheeks and declared, “I’m a horrible teacher! I don’t know what to do! I can’t teach well. Tiana just can’t get it and I don’t understand why…” Part of me mouthed this out just to get my children’s sympathy and attention. This isn’t a tactic I recommend to homeschooling parents because it can be manipulative.

Poor Tiana looked on, no doubt embarrassed that I singled her out like this in front of her siblings, and shocked that her math book brought me to tears. My boys felt anxious and attempted to comfort me.

Elijah patted my back with one arm, and stretched out the other arm like a shield to ward off Catalina who was fast approaching me. “No, don’t disturb, mommy, Catalina.” He motioned to give me space.

Edan whispered, “I’ll help teach her, mom,” and he began to fold white paper to make flashcards for her. (What a sweetie!)

How could I react this way to such tender-hearted children? I love my kids. I love them even if they don’t “perform” academically. But I certainly didn’t make Tiana feel that way. And I’m sure the boys were burdened with guilt for complaining about their homeschool work that morning.

It didn’t make sense to continue math lessons with Tiana, especially on the topic of addition and subtraction using bonds, so I asked her to take a break. (Later on, I had to talk with her and apologized for hurting her feelings.) We all dismissed for lunch not too long after and I had time to process what triggered my meltdown.  

Maybe you can relate…

1. My expectations were high having come from the Philippine Homeschool Conference over the weekend. I wanted my kids to behave like perfect students – good attitudes, energized, and eager to listen to me and to learn. When they fell short of this expectation, I felt resentful.

2. I was relying on myself. I didn’t pause to pray or seek help from the Lord when the frustration built up. Had I translated circumstances from a spiritual perspective, I would have concluded that this was an opportunity to beseech the Lord and humble myself.

3. Tiana was being pressured to do math work that she wasn’t ready for. Even if it was required of her level, she simply hadn’t had enough concrete reinforcement for learning addition and subtraction, and she hadn’t had enough practice. Instead of insisting that she remember and “get it,” I should have said, “It’s okay, let’s do some reviewing first and then we will return to this lesson.”

Well, the next day, that’s exactly what I did. I set Tiana’s required math book aside. Eventually I intended to come back to it, but we needed to take a few steps back to give her more time to get comfortable with counting (backwards and forwards), and easy addition and subtraction.

Amazingly, she breezed through the work I gave her to do without needing much supervision from me. After a few days of remedial lessons she no longer confused her addition and subtraction symbols and she very ably solved her math problems.

Ironically, I advise parents to do the same thing when I give seminars on homeschooling. Don’t ignore the gaps in your child’s learning. Mind these gaps and backtrack if necessary. However, I wasn’t willing to take this advice myself! I wanted Tiana to be like her brothers, who easily understood arithmetic at her age. But God designed her differently. It’s me who has to adjust and accommodate her uniqueness, and to appreciate the pace at which she is learning concepts and skills.

Although we normally perceive U-turns and backtracking as inconvenient interruptions on the way to our academic goals, sometimes our kids need to go backwards in order to move forward. When our kids feel lost and insecure about tackling a lesson because they don’t have foundational skills or a solid grasp of the content to go further, then it’s our job to equip them by patiently addressing their gaps so they can progress towards where they ought to be. It’s a deterrent to their progress to force them to learn what they are not prepared to. And it drives us nuts to do so anyway!

To deal with the issue of my other kids who were complaining that Monday, I finally printed out their revised weekly schedules so they know exactly what to expect each day of the week. I’ve thought through the mix of activities and lessons they have to cover as well, so there is a good mix of rigor and fun.

How about me? What can I improve on as a homeschooling mom? I can think of 10 things! But I will focus on the one issue that is related to my Monday experience. I shouldn’t get my sense of identity or self-worth from homeschooling. Even though I’m so invested as a mom, putting in the time and making sacrifices to teach my kids, I shouldn’t let the outcome of each homeschooling day dictate my joy and peace. There will be good days and bad days. Therefore, joy and peace ought to flow from my relationship with God, resulting in my ability to channel these to my children so I can bless them and minister to them. Then I can teach them the way I ought to even when the circumstances aren’t favorable.

More importantly, my job is not to churn out trophy kids as a tribute to myself. My job is to teach them what it means to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to model this everyday. It is to train them and prepare their hearts and minds to serve God and His purposes.


In light of these aims, what is one Monday when my daughter can’t understand her Singapore Math or my kids groan over their books? Rather than shedding dramatic tears to express my frustration because my children aren’t doing what I want them to, these instances provide me with an opportunity to ask God to show up and take over. If I let Him take over me and take over my kids then He accomplishes His agenda for that day, and it becomes a good day!

Over the past week and a half, I haven’t seen exceptional homeschool days. It’s still hard work to homeschool five kids. But God has saved me from math meltdown situations because I’ve changed my perspective. There may be homeschooling obstacles too big for me, but certainly not for Him! Let’s rest in that thought, moms!