Obeying Your Husband = God’s Bountiful Blessings

Edric and I usually don’t spend alot for birthday parties. With five children, that kind of expense can add up. However, we do like to celebrate their first year of life with a dedication ceremony that gives them back to the Lord. It’s the principle of “for God’s use only.” The Bible says, “The earth is the Lord and all it contains, the world and all who dwell in it.” (Psalm 24:1) Therefore our children, our possessions, our accomplishments all belong to Him.

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For Catalina, we waited until October to hold her birthday/dedication event so we could time it with our house dedication. We invited family, our bible study group, Edric’s best friends from high school, and a few of our neighbors. I wanted to invite more people but the headcount for our guests was somewhere around 140 (with kids and yayas) which was a sizable number to have in our home.

I wasn’t sure how we were going to feed everyone if the cooking was dependent on me. So I asked Edric what kind of budget we had to work with and he mouthed out a number that wasn’t too exciting. How in the world was I going to put together this event with such a small budget?

His reasons were valid. We just finished our home so expenses have been tighter. It’s saving mode time. But X amount for food, tables and chairs, décor, games and prizes? I racked my brain trying to figure out how to do it.

Here were my options:

1. Cook some of the food and order the rest. Borrow chaffing dishes from my mom. Rent the tables and chairs. Decorate on my own.

2. Get a more reasonable caterer that wouldn’t be able to style it but had good food. Decorate on my own.

3. Hire a caterer who could supply some of the food, bring tables and chairs and centerpieces, and I provide the rest of the menu.

4. Convince Edric to give me a bigger party fund so I could get someone who could decorate and cater for me and create the theme I wanted, and be stress-free!

Naturally, I desired option 4. It would have been the simplest way for me to hold the party. But I knew that Edric really wanted me to be frugal. So I did my part to plan and find suppliers.

I wrote a random post on Facebook asking for caterer recommendations. While I received a number of helpful responses, one of the suggestions really stood out — Passion Cooks Catering. I checked out their Facebook account and I thought, Here’s a company that will surely be able to execute the theme I wanted. 

Since I had no idea what their rates were like I sent them a message and explained my requirements. In response, I received a list of their prices. When I went through their price list, I was discouraged. Their costs weren’t within the range of my budget.

So I kept looking for suppliers and narrowed down my choices to three options. Passion Cooks was still one of them but I didn’t reply to their proposal right away. I was considering another caterer who had given me a proposal the included food, chairs and tables. In fact, I was inclined to finalize with them because the price was right, but I waited for a few more days. In the meantime, I received a Facebook message from Maja Martinez-Angeles, one of the owners of Passion Cooks Catering , asking if I reviewed their newest proposal.

She sent me another menu that was for a heavy merienda which I really liked, and she also offered to set-up chairs, tables, and decorations. But it didn’t indicate the cost. Here’s where my internal wrestling with submission to Edric came in. I knew that if I really begged him, he would allow me to increase my budget. He is sweet towards me like that. He’s often said, “You are my weakness.” However, if he did give in to me it would be due to manipulation on my part. And I didn’t want to do that. His desire to keep to a budget was a good one and I knew I should honor it.

Before I sent a reply to Maja, God convicted me very strongly to OBEY Edric. I was embarrassed to tell her the price per head that I needed but God told me, You obey Edric and tell Maja what your budget is. Be humble and honest. Be willing to settle for the other caterer because you should honor Edric. Don’t try to manipulate Edric to get your way.

Okay, okay. I replied to Maja saying that at this point in time, I only had such and such amount to work with and I would consider getting her for a future event instead. In a few minutes, Maja got back to me and said, “The menu I proposed to you is X amount.”

What?! Seriously?! I couldn’t believe it. It was even lower than what I had told her! But what about chairs and tables and décor? Maja told me she would include that in the cost.

I almost fell off my chair. In fact, I got teary-eyed. It seemed too good to be true.

She asked me to meet her so we could discuss details. We convened at a café where I also met her adorable daughter, Yuna, and to my surprise, she casually mentioned, “I forgot to tell you that I go to CCF (our church), and I’m under the discipleship group of Cindy Soriano (The wife of CCF Alabang’s head pastor, Joby Soriano). Oh, and I read your blog, too.”

By this time I knew it was definitely too good to be true! This was the Lord’s doing! Maja turned out to be such a wonderful, professional, experienced, and capable stylist/caterer/businesswoman. I was very impressed with how easy this all seemed to her. She understood exactly what I was hoping for in terms of a look for the event. For example, I wanted a rustic garden theme with folded white chairs (not the typical mono bloc covered ones or tiffany chairs), and wooden tables. Maja’s company had these. I also wanted more gourmet food which her menu options had. She even handed me packed food to taste without me asking for her to do this.

The food was delicious! Even my son, Elijah, exclaimed, “This is the best salad ever!” in reference to their Mango Salsa with Catfish Salad.

Through the course of our discussions, I also found out that Maja had six years of experience in New World Hotel after she graduated from college before starting her business. I believe this is one of the reasons why she has a keen eye for detail and sophistication. Following her work there, she partnered with her mom (who is a chef), to create Passion Cooks Catering.

She worked hard to build this business. When she was starting out, a certain venue told her that her chaffing dishes were outdated and didn’t “pass” their standards. Now, they more than welcome her business! I asked her how many people she can cater for in a day and she replied, “We can handle up to 2,500 people.” This translates to multiple events or one HUGE wedding! Today, Maja handles wedding occasions and her partners, Melissa Cabrera-Bolasco and Ivy Caparas, oversee kiddie parties and other celebrations.

After I met with Maja, I was very confident that she would be able to take care of everything. The stress I had felt as I scrambled to find caterers and brainstorm dissipated. All I had to do was complete my “assignments.” Send her photos of my inspirations, find a photographer, source a sound system, email her the dimensions of our yard, and give her the list of the kids’ games, etc.

Early Saturday morning, Maja sent her army of people to our home. Two hours before the event, Elijah came bounding up the stairs to drag me down to see all the décor. “You HAVE to come downstairs, mom!” I was in the middle of printing the game rules but he kept insisting.

The backyard was transformed into a stunning rustic garden theme…better than I imagined! Edric was thoroughly impressed. He had no idea what kind of coordination had happened behind the scenes when he was in the U.S. that week. When he saw our backyard, he couldn’t believe it! ESPECIALLY BECAUSE I STUCK TO HIS BUDGET AND OBEYED HIM.

He was so pleased that I did so, he even asked, “Do you need more money? How can I help you?” The context was this…A few hours before 3 PM (when the party was to start), I presented to him the cake that I made myself. I made this cake to save money. He forced down a chuckle because the icing had peeled off the cake on one side. It was an obvious disaster. So his heart went out to me and he told me that whatever I needed he would get for me! So we made an emergency trip to buy three rainbow cakes and other materials for the games.

In the meantime, Maja dropped by for a bit to check on the place. When I saw her I told her how amazed I was! But this wasn’t the end of the story…

She had told me to get a photographer and we knew a couple of photographer friends. Unfortunately, all of them were busy this past weekend. So Edric told Elijah to take pictures of the set-up. Well, Maja texted me that her friend, Joshua, was going to snap photos of the details before the guests arrived. It turned out that Joshua recognized Elijah from a photoshoot of our family last year, and he offered to photograph our family and send a team to cover Catalina’s party!

Joshua didn’t just take our family portrait, he also took the Tan-Chi family portrait. This was something my parents and siblings wanted to get done while my sister, Candy and her husband, Jeff , were visiting from the U.S. Initially, I asked my brother, Peter, to bring his camera to the party so we could do an informal shot of the family. He was prepared to do this but God provided a professional.

Joshua De Guzman is a 22-year old photographer who is spunky and very talented! Even though he is young, he is already a very experienced photographer. Check out his Facebook page: Little J Photography. This guy is going to go places.

During a quick lunch with him and Maja before the party, we found out that he used to be a fish vendor in Tuguegaraw before following his dream of becoming a photographer. Coming to Manila to study, his “calling card” was the blackboard/whiteboard, where he would write something like this, “If you want a free photoshoot, call me and bring a camera.” He didn’t even own his own camera but he used these opportunities to get lots of practice and train himself. Today he is living his dream at such a young age.

If I were to enumerate all the ways God blessed this day, this article would get very long. (It already is.) But, the last thing I wanted to share was how God held the weather. I checked the weather forecast for Saturday, October 4, every single day for two weeks prior to it. All the forecasts said to expect thunderstorms. Ack. Every day before Saturday, there was heavy rain in the afternoon. But October 4 was the best day to do it because my sister was leaving two days after and almost all of the people we invited were available on this day. So I just prayed really hard and asked family and friends to pray, too.

The entire morning was clear and the clouds started to darken in the early afternoon but the miracle was, we only had a light shower and no downpour. Since we had tents in the backyard, we were perfectly fine.

Let’s put this all together…

I didn’t want to follow Edric’s budget at first. But because I honored him as my husband, God gave me…

…the gift of a gorgeous party we could not afford

…styled by a brilliant artist-of-a-woman

…who happened to be a member of our same church

…who happened to be a reader of my blog

…so we could celebrate the life of a daughter and a home we do not deserve

…with friends and family who came despite the horrendous traffic

…on a day that should have had torrential rain but didn’t

…that was captured by a talented photographer

…who happened to be free to take photos of the event

…who also took our family portraits

…who volunteered his services

…who sent a team to cover the rest of the party

…who gave us amazing photos to remember an amazing day!

It’s not always easy for me to obey Edric. There are days when I don’t want to, when I want my own way. However, I remember principles like Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I need to prefer God’s will; to wholeheartedly follow His principles; to love His precepts; to want Him over my own desires.

If I had placed my desire for a beautiful, stress-free party above my obedience to Edric, I would have forfeited the extraordinary happenings of that day. Desire must follow delighting in God. In the end, obeying Edric resulted in God’s bountiful blessings. Furthermore, since Edric saw that I really tried my best, I had his favor, too.

Will this always be the case? I don’t know how God intends to reward us as wives every time we honor our husbands. However, I do know that in his perfect time and perfect way, he will bless us because he calls himself a REWARDER of those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

May you and I continually experience this truth in our lives and marriages!

MANY THANKS TO MAJA OF PASSION COOKS CATERING AND JOSHUA OF LITTLE J PHOTOGRAPHY! MAY THE LORD BLESS YOU IN INCREDIBLE WAYS FOR YOUR GENEROSITY OF SPIRIT, AND THE MANNER IN WHICH YOU CONSTANTLY GIVE GLORY TO HIM WITH YOUR ARTISTRY!

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Virginity

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My beautiful sister, Candy, is visiting from the U.S. with her family. She gave her testimony about purity to a group of young people two weekends ago. I asked her for a copy of what she shared for the benefit of all my single readers. May this post bless you!

CANDY: Growing up my parents always talked to us about staying pure, guarding our hearts and bodies from sexual sin, and saving ourselves for marriage. They said we have to make the choice ahead of time to stay pure and abstain from sex before marriage. If you don’t decide ahead of time, when the temptation comes, it will be harder to say no.   This applies to other areas of our lives…. Whether it be saying no to drinking, to smoking, to drugs, and even sexual orientation.

As a teenager, I actually struggled with the thought, what if I become a lesbian someday?  I played a lot of sports and I women from opposing teams were hitting on me…even while I was playing basketball against them! I talked to my mom about this and confessed my fears. I said I don’t want to be a lesbian because I know it’s against God’s word but I’m afraid I might become one. She said it is a choice. I just need to decide ahead of time to follow God’s design and trust in Him.

Amazingly, when I decided I would never become a lesbian or even experiment with things of this nature, I had a peace that came over me. The worry vanished. (I’m so glad I communicated with my Mom what was going on in my head, too, because she was able to help me.)

Another way my parents helped me was encouraging me not to be in an exclusive dating relationship until I was ready to get married. So in high school, I never had a boyfriend. However, when I started attending college, I told my parents that I needed to start dating so I would know what kind of man I wanted to marry. To me, that sounded logical and I thought I knew more than my parents about this subject. Their ideas were old fashioned to me.

Instead of reacting or belittling my ideas, we openly discussed this train of logic. I soon realized I had it backwards. First, to pray and decide what kind of man I wanted to marry… and then ONLY date the man that fit my criteria, a man who had the godly characteristics I longed for. I didn’t need to date a lot of guys to figure that out. It would be a waste of my time and open me up to more temptation.

Because I was able to internalize this truth while talking to my parents, God protected me from a lot of heartache, wasted relationships and time, and potential immorality. I still remember my Dad telling me… “someday there will come a point where you think you know more than me, but I will still know more than you.” Now that I’m an adult and have my own children, I full-heartedly believe that parents do know more than their children since they have the added wisdom of experience.

However, even though I believed my parents and wanted to protect my purity, I didn’t always listen to their advice. One of the guidelines my parents taught me was never be in a room alone with the opposite sex. Until dental school, I had never kissed a guy.  However, there was a man who started courting me. He was handsome, musical, and smart. One night we were in my room alone and before I knew it we were kissing. I remember feeling guilty afterwards and realized I shouldn’t have done that. I had wasted my first kiss on somebody that I wasn’t sure I was going to marry. Even though I knew this in my head, there was a strong temptation to be physical with him.

I finally shared with my parents what was going on with me and this guy. Being accountable to my parents gave me renewed strength to put boundaries when it came to the physical aspect. I also asked my parents if they could meet the guy because I didn’t want to get into a serious relationship unless they approved of him.

As my parents sat down with him and asked them questions about his plans and life goals, his answers made me realise that he wasn’t God’s best pick for me. With difficulty but conviction, I was able to end the dating relationship.  I praise God that my parents lovingly intervened to help me process and think through my affections for this guy. Because of their wisdom, it was apparent that I shouldn’t be with him.

After this experience, I committed to honor my parents and marry someone they approved of.  Second, I knew what kind of man I wanted to marry… someone who really loved the Lord and had a mature relationship with Him. In time, God brought His best choice to me with the full blessing of my parents. In fact, he was a man whom my father identified as someone I should consider. When my dad broached the idea to me this man, Jeff, had a girlfriend. But soon after Jeff broke up with her and began expressing interest in me.

Even though I had given my first kiss away, I was able to stay a virgin and give Jeff that gift when we got married. Seven years ago, we got married and today we are blessed with a growing family — three boys — Corban, Levi and Joshua. We are both dentists, serving the Lord together, and we share a burden for dental missions.

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God’s way is the Best Way. There is no better life lived than one that obeys and follows the Lord. God’s will for us is to be pure and to guard ourselves against sexual sin.  It takes commitment to be pure and holy, to preserve one’s virginity, and to set guidelines in order to avoid the temptation that is out there.  The decision must be made long before a relationship is in the picture. Furthermore, letting our parents have a say about a major choice like who we date and marry may not always turn out the way we hope, but he uses their wisdom and experience to protect us and help us make wise choices. I am so glad I didn’t continue in my relationship with the guy I was seeing before Jeff. If I hadn’t heeded the advice of my parents, I would have missed out on the blessings God intended for me.

To those who aren’t virgins, make the decision today to be pure. My husband wasn’t a virgin when we started dating. He had slept with his first girlfriend and deeply regretted what he did. I praise God that he was a changed man before we dated. He and I decided NOT to have sex together until we got married. So you can say that he was a spiritual virgin in our relationship.

Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart oh Lord, my God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

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MY POST NOTES…

As Candy’s older sister, I’ve witnessed first hand how God has directed the course of her life because she sought to honour him and his principles. By His grace, she was preserved from the heartaches that many women experience today. She bypassed the broken heartedness, deceit, betrayal, and depression that are very often the aftermath of sexual sin (not to mention the possibility of pregnancy and STD’s, too). As a bonus, God led her to a man who respected her for her convictions and who wanted to honour them. Yes, these men still exist in the world! Jeff is a man who loves God and Candy deeply. He is also intelligent, wise, successful, and good-looking. He may not have had a perfect past (none of us do), but when he gave his life to the Lord, he too committed to purity.

I have yet to meet a woman who celebrates her sexual exploits and experiences outside the context of marriage.  Sooner or later women come to a point of recognition — that sex as portrayed by a world that has rejected its DESIGNER, is a fleeting pleasure that doesn’t satisfy the greater longings for love and happiness. It may be fun at the onset, but the reality is we do not gain by giving away what is precious to us to a man who is not our husband. It is never a fair trade to exchange our bodies for the promise of their love and devotion. An honourable man will not expect a woman of worth to do this for him. This is a privilege reserved for the security and sanctity a marital relationship provides.

In contrast, I have met many women who committed to purity who are enjoying marriage as God intended them to. They do not carry the ugly baggage that sexual sin attaches to their souls. Although it is common to think casually about sex and to lose one’s virginity early, the blessings of purity are worth the wait — peace, joy, protection, and God’s favour.

When everyone is saying that sex is okay outside of marriage and giving hearty approval to those who engage in it, it’s easy to buy into the same perspective and do the same. So the company one keeps is important.Whether it is family members or a group of friends who share the same convictions, accountability makes the commitment to purity more plausible.

It’s also necessary to be sensitive to the values we are exposed to. From billboards, advertisements, TV shows, movies, internet sites, music, and even people we look up to and see as role-models, we are developing appetites and patterns of thinking that impact our concept of right or wrong. If we are constantly bombard by messages that tell us sex outside of marriage is the norm then we will believe this. Furthermore, what is to prevent us from remaining faithful to our spouse in marriage? Whatever habits we form before marriage will be difficult to undo later on.

So my dear young people, I would like to encourage you to make God’s word the standard. Sexual purity isn’t about staying a virgin, it is much more than this. Virginity is first and foremost a condition of the heart towards God. It is about seeking to be holy in our thoughts and actions as He is holy.

1 Corinthians 6:20 “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

For those who have made choices that have not glorified God, there is hope. Purity is a byproduct of what we fill our minds with and what we believe about God and ourselves. Don’t focus on pursuing purity. Pursue God and his will for your life and he will be the one to purify you inside and out.

Some people have said, but what about the guys? Are there any guys out there who will save themselves for us? That’s God’s department. I was blessed to marry a guy who was a virgin. (I can talk about this in another post.) There are men out there who love God, who have also committed to purity, but I doubt you will encounter them at common social venues that one might expect to. Forget about bars, for instance. Broaden the horizon. I like what one pastor said and I will paraphrase it here… “If you want to find God’s best, run as hard and as fast as you can towards God, then look to your left or right. If you see someone running in the same direction, grab their hand.” Some of the sweetest marriages have happened when two persons who give themselves to God’s work find one another in the context of serving God. How amazing it is when we recognise a shared passion to build God’s kingdom in the heart of another. How greater still when this recognition leads to a marital union that makes two better as one!

 

 

Sweet Beedie Dies

What a sad morning.

Beedie, one of Edan’s cockatiels, died at about 10 AM. We were all pretty devastated. But Edan was especially despondent. When I pulled Beedie out of the cage and showed Edan his lifeless body, he walked away, up the stairs to be alone and cry.

I cried, too.

Beedie was the sweetest bird. And my heart ached for Edan.

Edan’s a pretty dutiful boy. He had a routine with his two cockatiels. Every morning he would change the water, feed them, and spend time playing with them. Beedie was his favorite because he was very good-natured. Whenever Edan would extend his fingers to him, Beedie would willingly climb on and chirp a happy tune.

I wish I hadn’t been the last to see him alive. He wasn’t doing too well early this morning. My dad used to breed cockatiels and parakeets so I knew that Beedie had all the symptoms of a sick bird. His head was bowed down, his eyes were closed and he refused to eat or drink anything. I didn’t expect him to survive for very much longer. But it was still hard to see him keeled over, his claws curled under him, with one eye shut and the other half open. He wasn’t breathing anymore. Geedie (Edan’s other cockatiel) looked on in a lonely sort of way.

Although I’m not entirely sure of what made him sick, I have a theory.  About two weeks ago I told Edan to quick tossing his cockatiels up into the air to make them fly. They came from the pet shop with their wings clipped so they couldn’t fly very far at all. Edan thought he was “helping them” learn how to fly. But I kept telling him that birds instinctively know how to fly. My fear was he was stressing them out by forcing them to fly when they obviously couldn’t because their wings were clipped.

Well, he forgot that I had told him this. A few days ago, Edan experimented with flying lessons again and Beedie accidentally dove into the pond in the garden because he couldn’t flap his wings very well. Edan freaked out and called Elijah who ran over to rescue Beedie. When the kids reported to me what happened, I reminded Edan that he wasn’t supposed to throw the birds up into the air. I also expressed concern that Beedie might get sick.

I know birds bathe in water but this was dirty pond water. And I’m pretty sure Beedie gulped in some of it. His feces were loose and the wrong color before he died.

Birds are really sensitive. And once they get sick, it’s not very likely that they will recover.

As a mom, I really wanted to spare Edan from experiencing the loss of his bird. But I couldn’t. I even prayed that he would live. But God didn’t let that happen.

To empathize with Edan, I held him for a while as we both cried about Beedie. We looked at the picture on my phone when we got him from the pet store and that made us cry even more.

This afternoon, I tried, in a very gentle way to ask Edan if he learned anything from this unfortunate experience…especially in the area of obedience. At the time he was hanging out with his cousins and his reply was, “Yes mom, but I don’t want to talk about it in front of my cousins.”

When it was just the two of us, I asked him again and he admitted to me that he should have obeyed and taken better care of Beedie, specifically, he should have NOT thrown him into the air to fly or twirled him around. As he went out the door of the study room, he also added, “The punishment of sin is death.” I actually laughed when he said this because I didn’t expect such an insightful comment from him. We both smiled at one another.

Obedience is a principle that my children will have to keep on learning as they grow up. The first command we teach our children is to obey. When our kids are younger, we emphasize it a lot. We even spank for disobedience. But as they get older, we don’t force them to obey. By about 6 or 7, they usually get obedience, and they understand why it is important. The next stage of their instruction when it comes to obeying is developing a conviction for it.

We want them to connect obedience with blessing. And when they don’t obey it’s beneficial for them to experience the consequences of their choices, even if hurts to watch this happen as a parent. My parents taught my siblings and I, “you are free to choose but not free to escape the consequences of your choices.”

As an 8 year old, Edan experienced a life lesson I hope he will not forget. It was painful for him to loose Beedie. But it would be more painful for him in the future if he didn’t internalize obedience this early on.

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36

For homeschooling today, I asked Edan to write a tribute to Beedie so he can remember him…

Beedie was my Cocktail and he died today. We had him for 18 days. He was a kind bird. I loved him so much…. He was also loving, and happy. He was my pet. Everyday we would play together. I would clean his cage every day. He was a child bird, not yet an adult. In the morning he would call out for me.

But today he was very sick. When I checked on him, he was weak and he wouldn’t eat or drink. A few hours later he died. I felt sad. I will miss him very much. I had lots of fun with him. He was my favourite pet….

_____

WAAAAHHH (THAT’S ME…) 

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Two Become One

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My parents are literally East meets West, a Chinese and an American. When they met one another in the Philippines, they were from two distinctly different cultures brought together by a common love for Jesus Christ and the desire to serve him. Now married for nearly 41 years, and still in love (more so than ever before), it is their identity in Christ — as one — that has kept them together.

While I was cleaning out old albums, I came across a published narrative of how God brought them together, and I was so blessed to read their story again. I’m hoping you will feel the same way…

“Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:13-24

PETER (DAD):

As I meditated on this passage one morning in December 1971, I was confident that if I asked anything in the name of Jesus, he would do it. There was great peace in my heart as  I prayed, “Lord, allow me to meet my future wife. I am tired of dating girls and wasting time.”

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20140329-180017.jpgI met Deonna in Janauary at the weekly Friday night meeting of Campus Crusade for Christ. She had arrived in the Philippines on November 21 as a member of the Crossroads, a musical team for Asia of the aforementioned Christian organization.

At that time, I never imaged that she was the Lord’s answer to my prayer. There were two incidents, however, which prompted me to become better acquainted with her. The first occurred when my younger sister, Beth, went shopping with her. Beth commented afterwards, “she is so simple and wise in her shopping.”

The other happened a week after our encounter. The Crossroads and I were having dinner together. As we were sharing our experiences with the Lord, I noticed that Deonna had a deep comprehension of life. She showed great spiritual discernment in what she was saying. I talked with her again at the next Friday night meeting. That evening, I asked her for a date on Sunday afternoon.

Our first date was a unique experience for me. My original plan was to show her some interesting places in the greater Manila area and get-to-know her at the same time. However, a few days before Sunday, a pastor-friend invited me to speak in his church on the same afternoon that I was to be with Deonna. I accepted the invitation. Not being well-acquainted with Deonna, I didn’t know what she would think about my acceptance of the speaking engagement. I hoped she would be willing to minister with me. I waited until Sunday to tell her. When I did, I was delighted because she welcomed the idea. She remarked that it is good to have a balance between being together and ministering together. That Sunday afternoon, she helped me by sharing her testimony at the church I spoke at.

This was how our relationship began. It was the type of relationship I prayed I would have with a girl. I had spent time with other girls but none of them had expressed a willingness to serve the Lord the way Deonna did. I was encouraged by the fact that we were closer to the Lord and to each other when we parted that evening.

After our first date, we committed the future of our relationship to the Lord. Although we saw each other frequently between the months of February and August, we had to be separated for a period of three and a half months. Deonna toured with the Crossroads in Indonesia and the Southern Philippines in March and April; then in July, I went to the U.S. for Campus Crusade for Christ’s Explo’ 72 and Lay Staff Training.

With the possibility of marriage in mind, Deonna and I thought it would be wise for me to visit her family while in the U.S. During the second week of my trip to the U.S., I spent four days in Florida with them. I discussed with her father what the Lord had been showing us in regards to our relationship. I left her family with the assurance that her parents would welcome our marriage if it were the Lord’s will.

My love for Deonna grew during the rest of my time in the U.S. For the first time in my life, I began to realize the meaning of Agape Love – an unconditional, unselfish love. I discovered within myself a freedom to love her without the fear of losing her or of becoming jealous. Regardless of her response to me, I knew I would still love her. I only desired the best for her.

In August, the Lord finally confirmed that he had chosen Deonna to be my wife. He did this through many Bible verses and through the love which He had placed within me for her. Knowing that Deonna was to be my wife, I was eager to see her. As soon as my responsibilities would allow me, I began my trip home.

I had to stop in Germany to attend to some business affairs. Although I originally intended to spend a few months in Germany to complete my business there, I was able to do everything in a week. Then, I immediately flew to the Philippines with the intention of asking Deonna to marry me.

Wasting no time, I proposed to Deonna on Sunday, the 27th of August, which was just one day after I returned to Manila. I did not know what the Lord had revealed to her concerning our future. I only knew that I loved her and that the Lord had showed me that Deonna was to be my wife. Trusting His promises me, I had the courage to ask her to marry me. But when I asked her, she did not answer me immediately. After a moment of silence, she said, “Peter, please get my Bible out of the car. I want to share with you what the Lord showed me concerning our relationship.”

I never expected her to respond this way! Nevertheless, I brought her Bible and “patiently” waited for thirty minutes while she read the many Bible verses God had shown her. When she finally finished, I asked, “Deonna, what is your answer?” Again, she surprised me by saying, “Peter, let’s pray.” Not knowing what to expect next, I bowed my head. At the end of her prayer to the Lord, I heard her say, “Father, before you and all of heaven I say ‘yes’ to Peter. I will be his wife.”

I opened my eyes and looked at her. I never though that the woman I would marry would say “yes” to me through a prayer to our heavenly Father. Yet, Deonna had done it! I was overjoyed as I thought, “I am looking at my wife to be. She is God’s gift to me.” I remember my prayer in December, “Lord, let me meet my future wife.” God faithfully fulfilled His promise to me…” Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do…” My heart was full of joy, praise, and thanksgiving to God for giving me such a wonderful woman.

I can honestly say, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

God is so good. He knows what is best for His children and when it is best to give it to us. Through this experience with Deonna, I have learned that “Faith” means to trust the Lord moment by moment, one step at a time.

 

DEONNA (MOM):

A week before leaving California for Asia, my mother entered the kitchen while I was cooking my lunch. “Deonna,” she said. “I am glad that you have chosen to obey the Lord by going to Asia to minster there as a member of the Crossroads.” Then I observed tears welling up in her eyes as she continued, “But honey, you are already 25. When will you get married?”

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20140329-204257.jpgI was deeply touched by her motherly concern. However, I had already given this problem to Christ and left it for Him to solve. Because of this, I was able to encourage her by replying, “Mother, if there was only one man in the world but the Lord Jesus Christ wanted me to marry him, then Jesus would bring me to him.” Then unexpectedly I added, “Who knows, Mom, maybe I’ll marry an Asian? God might have a permanent ministry planned for me in Asia.” This last statement certainly didn’t comfort her. She burst into tears at the thought of me staying in Asia for life.

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When I left Lost Angeles airport on November 14, 1971, I did not know that Jesus was actually taking me to meet a handsome Chinese man who would be my husband. Nor did I realize that I was leaving one way of life to eventually begin a new life with him in a foreign country. Unknowingly, Jesus had given me a glimpse of my future through my statement to my mom.

The Crossroads arrived in the Philippines on November 21. Manila had been chosen as our home base since the Asian Training Center for Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) was located there. Three weeks after arriving we attended the CCC Leadership Training Institute. On the second day of the institute, the topic of marriage came up again when Becky,  a newly married Filipino staff of CCC, shared with me that months before she met Ben, her husband, she had prayed for certain qualities to be in the man she married.

The results of Becky’s prayer inspired me to do the same. After the institute, I prayerfully made the list of qualities, which I wanted to be in the man I would marry. It was my desire that each quality would be pleasing to Lord. Let me share these qualities with you. I wanted:

  1. A true Christian – a man who has trusted Christ to forgive his sins and because of this, has Christ’s Spirit living in him.
  2. One who loves God more than he loves me.
  3. A man who allows Christ’s Spirit to control him and to guide his life.
  4. One chosen by the Lord to serve Him.
  5. One who understands that the Lord’s role for a Christian husband is to be the head of his home – to lead his wife through his love and not by force.
  6. A man with leadership ability.
  7. A man who is sensitive and understanding with others and wise in human relationships.
  8. One who is intelligent, has achieved the same level of education as I have, has a positive attitude toward life, and one who enjoys sports like swimming, (something that we can do together).

Although I didn’t know where this man was, I did know that the Lord would bring me to him someday. Until that time, I was content to pray for him and to wait.

In January, just one month after I had begun praying for my future husband, I met Peter. Our first meeting was very casual, and to be honest, very ordinary. We were at the weekly Friday night meeting of Campus Crusade for Christ. Approaching me with a friendly smile, he said, “Hi, I’m Peter.” I smiled and returned the greeting. I remember little of the rest of our one and a half minute conversation. But, I did take note of Peter and his personality. He appeared very friendly, sure of himself, and capable of leadership.

Later the following week, Peter invited the Crossroads to dinner. It was then that I learned he was in the textile business. The next Friday night at the Crusade meeting, he asked me to go sightseeing on Sunday afternoon. I accepted his invitation. However, our date did not turn out as I had expected. Since Peter had accepted a speaking engagement during our date, we ended Sunday afternoon ministering together in a small local church.

As I listened to him preach, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to minister together like this with my husband.” At that time, I did not realize that I would be ministering with Peter for the rest of my life. Standing before me was the man I would marry and for whom I had been praying. But, I didn’t know it.

After our first date, Peter and I began dating frequently. Each time we were with each other, we were drawn closer together. God also used the two of us, a blonde American lady and a dark-haired Chinese man, to bring many people to Christ. The more I was with Peter, the more I discovered that his qualities were identical to the qualities I had prayed to have in my husband.

Then in April, Peter told me that he believed the Lord was showing him that I was to be his wife. When he told me this, I became excited, but at the same time, I felt uneasy. To be married to a man with Peter’s qualities was in my prayer. Yet, to marry Peter meant marrying outside my own race. In order to make such a decision I had to know God’s attitude towards mixed marriages. I also had to be absolutely sure that it was God’s will for me to marry Peter. So, I replied, “Peter, I believe that a marriage relationship requires a mutual confirmation from the Lord that it is his will.” He agreed.

That night I returned home and wrote a list of practical questions to the Lord Jesus. I desired to know his perspective on mixed marriages, leaving my country, the future of our children, and the type of ministry Peter and I would have. I committed these questions to Him and expected Him to answer me from the Bible.

Finally, five months later on August 24 while I was returning by ship from the Southern Philippines, the Lord directed me to passages in the Bible which specifically answered all of my questions. Although I had many questions which He answered, I will only share with you His attitude towards races. In Galatians 3:26-28, He showed me that those of us who are in Christ are children of God. The earthly classifications of individuals by race and social status are replaced by a new classification for the children of God; we are one in Christ.

After he answered all my questions positively, I was confident that it was His will for Peter and me to be married. Bowing my head, I prayed, “Lord, thank you for showing me your will and for giving me to such a wonderful man as Peter.”

Two days after this revelation, Peter unexpectedly returned from his two months trip to the U.S. The day after his return, the 27th of August, he proposed to me. I did not expect him to ask me to marry him this soon after his return. I was excited but surprised.

I wanted to first share with him all the verses the Lord had given me in regards to our relationship before I answered him. After sharing the verses, I was still uneasy about the future. Even though I loved Peter, I realized that saying “yes” to him would change the entire course of my life. That was a difficult decision for me to make. However, God had clearly shown me that this was His perfect plan; that I should be Peter’s wife. I knew that I needed to pray in order to have the courage to make such a decision. I asked Peter to pray with me. I thanked the Lord for His plan for our lives, for Christ’s power to be obedient to His will, and most of all for Peter. While still praying, I said “yes” to the Lord and then “yes” to Peter.

THIS WAS PUBLISHED ON JULY 12, 1973.

Recently, my mom gave a shortened version of her testimony before our church and I want to add what she said:

My vows to Peter were consistent to the vow I had made to God.  As Ruth had said to Naoimi  in  Ruth 1:16 “…Where you go I will go … Your people shall be my people and your God, my God.”

When I first arrived in Manila, the Lord had given me a promise of blessing which I did not really understand at that time from Mark 10:29-30. Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brother or sister or mother or father or children or farms, for my sake and for the gospel’s sake but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms along with persecution; and in the age to come, eternal life.”

Peter and I have now been married for nearly 41 wonderful years and looking back I can see that the Lord has literally fulfilled these promises to me. He gave me a wonderful husband whom I love and respect even more then ever!  And five children and in-law children who love and serve the Lord and thirteen, going on fifteen, amazing grandchildren! Of course, I also have many spiritual brothers and sisters whom I love who are also the fulfillment of God’s promise of blessing in my life as well. Truly it is the nature of God to bless us!  And He has blessed me beyond what I could have ever imagined! All by His grace!

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Correcting Children With Love

Titus, my third son, was reacting to having to eat Adobo for lunch a few days ago. It was reported to me that he had a bad attitude about his food so I had a talk with him. I took him aside, away from his brothers and sisters, and asked him, “Do you love Jesus? Is he in your heart?” He nodded but he didn’t want to look me in the eye.

In the gentlest voice possible, I encouraged him to tell me what went wrong. I wanted to find out, from his perspective, why he wasn’t happy about his lunch. He was hesitant at first but I told him, “You can tell mommy anything,” and I took his face in my hands to look into his eyes.

I know Titus. He can seem strong-willed and stubborn but he is a sweet son inside. I trust in the work of the Lord in his heart when he seems difficult to reach. But it is important that I approach him with kindness in my tone. If I bear down on him with irritation or badger him, demanding that he explain himself, he will withdraw from me all the more.

All my kids have different needs when it comes to training and discipleship but I have noticed that it is easier to influence them towards right attitudes and behavior when I do the following:

  1. Assure them that they are loved no matter what.
  2. Listen to their perspective without criticizing it.
  3. Ask them questions about their perspective and how they can change for the better…Ex. Is it right or wrong to have that kind of attitude? Is it right or wrong to treat others that way? This allows them to come to their own conclusions and convictions about sin.
  4. Communicate to them that I believe in the good work that Christ is doing in their lives and the positive change that will ensue because they love Jesus.
  5. Hug and kiss them.

Fifteen minutes later, Titus was with me in the kitchen, eating his Adobo with a smile on his face. All he asked for was a little more sauce to be put on it and he didn’t resist being told to eat it.

The key to this process of correcting wrong attitudes and behavior in my kids is Jesus. I cannot have these sorts of dialogues with my children if they don’t know Jesus and do not have a relationship with him. So as early as 3 years old, Edric and I share the gospel to them. And afterwards, we continue instructing their hearts so they grow spiritually.

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Although we are authoritative and set rules for our children, we aren’t tyrannical. We leave room for the Holy Spirit to operate and give our kids the opportunity to respond to him. When they don’t, then we know they don’t really have a personal relationship with Christ and we need to help them get to that point. Or they may claim to have one but they have to grow in the knowledge of him. It’s our responsibility to pass on this knowledge to them by encouraging them to read the Bible, having devotions as a family, praying for them and with them, and studying God’s word together.

When parents ask how Edric and I manage to parent 5 kids, we have nothing to boast about. It is the Lord’s work in the lives of our children. They have a personal relationship with him. This makes them receptive to instruction. We can only do what is within our control – love them, spend time with them, invest in their lives by being present during these tender years, model Christ-likeness and ask for forgiveness when we don’t. But, the grace to love God, to follow and obey him (and us) is ULTIMATELY the working of the Holy Spirit.DSC00797

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. (Galatians 6:1 NASB)

 

 

Do Not Aim For External Obedience

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My fourth child is Tiana.
She is a charming 3 year old and she knows it. Tiana will flutter her eyelashes, twinkle those big brown eyes of hers and flash a disarming smile, and voila! you forget that she needs to be disciplined for something. But Edric and I need to make sure that she doesn’t miss this critical stage of discipleship and discipline, which is largely about obedience. We want her to learn to obey because it is for her good and protection.

Since we have a lot of kids, the challenge when it comes to discipline is consistency. Each child may need a modified or personalized approach but we want the same end result — internalized obedience. Obedience is preached, practiced, and applied in our home, so we cannot allow Tiana to be an exemption.

For example, some time ago, the kids and I were hanging out at my parent’s place. And while I was putting them down for a nap, their cousin came in to rest with them. This would have been fine had my niece calmly gone to sleep. But she was singing, humming, buzzing, and trying to get their attention. I told her that if she kept that up, she would have to take a nap by herself. Well, she did not listen, so I took the kids out of the room and let them sleep elsewhere.

My niece is a sweet girl but she is not my daughter so I can only control what I do with my own kids. I wanted my children to see that I meant what I said and I would follow through. Their cousin wailed for a while because she was upset that she could not nap with everyone else. The kids could hear her in the other room but they understood why I couldn’t let them stay together. No one would be able to sleep.

After about fifteen minutes, my own kids settled down and were hitting that point where their eyes glaze over and they fall asleep. However, Tiana was moving about on the bed and playing with her pillow. So I told her, “If you do not obey mommy and lay down quietly you will be disciplined.” She acknowledged this but didn’t take me too seriously. As a result the other kids were unable to fall asleep. They knew that Tiana wasn’t obeying me and they were waiting to see how I would handle the situation.

I looked over at Tiana who was sitting up on her side of the bed, fiddling with the zipper on a memory foam pillow. She was not lying down. Honestly, I did not want to spank her. I was seated comfortably across the room looking up recipes on my Ipad. But I knew that if I didn’t deal with the situation, she would think, “I can get away with this sort of thing.” And there was the matter of her brothers looking on to see my next move. They knew that if they were in her shoes, they would have been disciplined.

So I picked her up, took her into the bathroom and explained to her that she did not obey. As a result, she would be getting a spanking. Edric and I don’t spank our kids a lot. We can count the number of times each of our children has been spanked. But when we do spank, our kids know that it is for disobedience. It is a rule that is clear to our children.

Tiana got a spanking. Afterwards, we talked about it and she said sorry for not obeying. She also laid down quietly like I had asked her to previously.

I love my kids and I don’t like to spank them. But because I love them, I want them to understand what it means to obey and submit to authority. It is for their greater good. Some people may not agree with using spanking as a form of discipline. In our home, however, we have used it in the context of a good relationship with our kids. It is not done in anger. It is primarily used to correct disobedience, especially while they are between the ages of 1 and 6. We also use other forms of discipline like withdrawal of privileges and natural logical consequences.

Harold Sala wrote, “You can discipline without love, but can you really love without discipline? ​Discipline is an integral part of love. Although discipline is actually a very old concept, there are many, today, who consider any form of discipline to be punishment. There is a vast difference between the two. Centuries ago, the writer of Scripture declared that discipline is the result of real parental love, just as God’s discipline for His children is the result of His love and concern for our lives.”

“My son do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12).

It’s interesting that discipline makes our children feel more secure because they know their boundaries. When parameters are set, our kids are aware of what we expect from them and what they need to work on in their character. They don’t have to guess or figure out what is right from wrong as they go along. As parents we tell them what is right based on God’s word and then make them accountable and responsible for choosing to do what we tell them to.

Tiana is still young so we have a lot to work on with her. As for her three older brothers, we are trying to ingrain in them the higher motivation for obedience — the desire and will to love the Lord and please him. After all, we aren’t after mere external compliance but the peace of knowing that our children will follow God’s word even when we aren’t watching them.

Someone asked me very recently, “How do you make your children obey?” I had a problem with that question. First, my goal is not to MAKE them obey. I want them to embrace obedience as God’s plan for their lives– for blessing, protection, and an abundant life. During the early years, we teach our kids that obedience is doing what we say, but eventually we teach them that obedience is doing what we say with a cheerful attitude. It is about the heart.

Second, obedience is something I want my kids to see modeled by Edric and I. God has established a chain of command in the home. Edric is the head and I am under his authority. If I don’t submit to Edric or if I do so with a bad attitude, I distort my children’s concept of obedience to authority. Furthermore, my authority over them is established only if I exemplify what I ask of them. If I ask them to obey me but they see me contradicting, disrespecting and undermining Edric’s authority then I can’t expect them to understand obedience from the heart.

If we have to keep MAKING our children obey there may be something wrong with our approach to discipline.
We may be focusing too much on the behavior and punishment instead of discipling the hearts of our kids. Discipline is necessary but we need to reinforce character instruction, highlight the blessings of obedience, and remind our children that when they obey us they are ultimately pleasing God. Furthermore, if our children aren’t obeying us we need to look at our own example. Do we obey the authorities in our lives with a cheerful attitude, especially our husbands? :)

Strawberry Yoghurt

While I struggled with my miserable cold two nights ago, trying to rest in the room alone, a commotion in the kitchen woke me up. With a raised and agitated tone, Titus said, “I don’t want that!” This wasn’t the sound of my usually sweet and happy Titus.

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I would have preferred to remain in my rested state and ignore the situation. But I could not willfully do so. Titus had lost his temper. There was an issue that needed to be dealt with. Intervention was in order. So I got up and called him out of the kitchen to talk about what happened.

Apparently, he wanted a strawberry yoghurt drink that ended up in the hands of Edan. He was offered an orange flavored one by our househelp, Joan, which upset him. Edan, on the other hand, was apathetically sipping the last few drops of the coveted drink. Titus looked on with quiet anger, convinced that he had been done a great injustice.

Taking Titus aside, I tried to understand where he was coming from. But my attempt to have a dialogue with him as his two older brothers curiously stood on the sidelines and his youngest sister called out, “Titus is going to get a spanking!” was counterproductive. So I brought Titus to my bedroom.

He thought he was going to get a spanking but my intent was to get to the root of the issue. This was not something that could be solved with a spanking. There was a much deeper problem here. Titus’ spirit was not right. There was hardness and frustration.

He stood in front of me while I sat across from him. We engaged in a conversation that involved me explaining to him why his attitude was wrong, why shouting was not okay, and how he needed to learn to share. His part was to acknowledge and respond in repentance. Did it work? Maybe a little. But I could sense that his compliance was external. It was void of real conviction.

So I called him to my side, hugged him really tightly and said, “Titus, I love you no matter what.” I assured him that I was after his greater good. His countenance softened and he started to tear. All my lecturing had not produced this sort of heart-felt response. It was not until I took him in my arms and held him that I could sense a motivation to change his attitude.

With my arms around him, I went on, “Because I love you, I want to teach you to do what pleases God.” Appealing to his own love for Christ, I reminded him that getting angry and being selfish were wrong behaviors because Jesus didn’t want him to do those things. I asked him what he thought would make Jesus happy and he acknowledged that he had to learn “to share, to say sorry, and that he shouldn’t get angry.” When I was convinced that he sincerely meant this, I let him go back to the kitchen to say sorry to those whom he had hurt.

He walked up to Edan and Joan to ask for forgiveness. There was humility in his tone and disposition, and he bounced back to his smiley, cheerful self. I affirmed him for doing what was right and I peacefully went back to my bedroom to go back to sleep. Strawberry yoghurt training case closed.

—-

Training is such a challenge. First, it takes commitment. Second, it must be personalized. Third, it must be purposeful — the pursuit of Christlikeness. Fourth, it must be cradled by love.

Sometimes, I am tempted to short cut the training part and make behavior the priority. But fruitful discipline and training must seek to restore our children’s hearts to us and to the Lord. It must heal what is broken inside them and be redemptive, effecting much more than behavioral change.

If we want real fruit in our children, we must consider these heart questions: Do our children know that we love them? Are they absolutely convinced that we want what is best for them? Do they love Jesus? Do they know that he loves them?

1 Corinthians 13:8 says that love never fails. When I think of that statement, I think of how it can be applied to training our children. Love does not fail to motivate or inspire change. When our children are convinced that they are loved and accepted, flaws and all, they respond to our teaching. More importantly, when they love Jesus with all that they are, they desire to please him and live for him.

It’s like Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”(John 14:15 NASB)

Titus painted this earlier on in the day for me. I thought it was a great reminder that our children give us their hearts to handle with care. What are their hearts telling us about their spiritual condition? What are we doing about it?

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Balloons and Marriage

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Balloons were 50 pesos each

Just when I think I have gotten submission to Edric, I end up making some sort of silly compromise in this area that gets me into trouble!

Yesterday, my brother, Peter, and I went hunting for restaurants that were open. Given that it was Holy Week, we had several fails. But we were on a mission to find anything, something to feed the 20 people that were hanging out in his house — nieces, nephews, and adults. We were happy to discover that KFC was open. And in the parking lot, there was a man selling character balloons. Yippee! Peter and I both thought the younger children would like them. I bought a dolphin and Minnie Mouse for Titus and Tiana. And he got Dora, Strawberry Shortcake and Lighting McQueen.

We got back to his place with KFC and the balloons. As expected, the kids screamed with delight. For about fifteen minutes they were running around with their balloons, and afterwards, they kept them tied to their fingers or hands.

Naturally, when it was time to go home, the kids wanted to bring their balloons with them.

Addressing the kids, Edric said, “No. Leave them here. You can play with them when you come back.”

From across the room, I thought, Come back? These are balloons. They won’t keep their helium for much longer than a few days. Why does he have to make such an inane suggestion? What a party pooper! Why am I thinking about my wonderful husband with such criticism?! 

Well, I offered my opinion on the matter. “I think they should just bring the balloons, hon.”

We didn’t have the chance to debate about the pros and cons of keeping the balloons because we were rushing to get home, so Edric didn’t insist on leaving the balloons. Yeah! That’s not really being insubordinate, right? I simply expressed my conviction in a sweet manner. He didn’t really say no afterwards.

On the way to the car, he asked me why I bought the balloons in the first place. He thought it was a waste of money and he couldn’t believe I got suckered into buying them. Okay, I was kind of suckered. They weren’t too cheap. But it was worth the smiles I saw on the kids’ faces. (To a husband who hosts a money show this was not a compelling reason. He certainly loves our children but balloons would not be his way of showing it.)

We managed to get home without the balloons blocking his rear view mirror and all was quiet until…

In the evening, our nieces and nephews came over for dinner. They brought their balloons over, too! What fun! It was going really well until Titus dragged all the balloons and they snagged on a huge, glass vase that I had on display in the living room. Without thinking, he yanked and yanked at the strings and CRASH! The vase fell and shattered. It was quite an expensive one, too.

The vase was a gift during our wedding. Sigh.

The vase was a gift during our wedding. Sigh.

Since I was in the bedroom, I came out to inspect what happened. I saw Titus on the verge of tears, the vase destroyed, and little kids trying to run away from the glass shards that had scattered everywhere.  Thankfully, no one was injured.

After reassuring Titus that it wasn’t his fault, that it was an accident, and getting the kids out of harms way so the mess could be cleaned up, I walked the hallway back to the bedroom where I knew my judgment awaited. Oh dear. I couldn’t help but think how in trouble I would be when Edric found out what caused all the chaos. And sure enough, I received exactly what I deserved. “Hon, this wouldn’t have happened if you had obeyed me,” Edric said.

Lord, do my mistakes have to be so dramatically magnified?! Is submission this serious a command? Over balloons! Why are you so strict with me?! Waahhh. 

I’ve written stories about the blessings of submission and the pitfalls of not obeying my husband, and still, here I am, a work in progress. I am reminded that God does not only transforms a person’s mindset, desires, purpose, and destiny – he is a refiner. This means he is committed to refining my character daily, in big and small ways.

After all, the standard for character is himself, not my spouse, or friends, or Hollywood (oh my), or cultural norms, or trends… He loves me too much to allow me to remain myself, to plateau, to just cruise along, to stagnate, or even digress. Nothing slips his notice and watchful gaze.  So if it means using balloons and marriage as an object lesson to teach me greater obedience, well, that’s what he will do!

Psalm 66:8-10 Bless our God, O peoples, and sound His praise abroad, who keeps us in life and does not allow our feet to slip. For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.

 

 

 

When They Don’t Get Their Candy

From time to time parents ask me how to discipline a child who is misbehaving. They want to know if spanking is the solution. Some wonder about time-outs. Others propose dialoguing with their child and reasoning with them.

I really am no expert. My kids are still a work in progress but I do want to share a truth that has helped Edric and I to understand the why behind disciplining our kids. All children have a fundamental problem. It’s called sin.

No matter how cute or angelic they may seem as little babies, children will disobey or misbehave at some point. Some are more obvious in their defiance, others may be subtle and quiet about it. As parents, we have to realize that our children were born with fallen natures — a propensity for rebellion against God and his ordained authorities (for example, mom and dad.) According to the book of Proverbs, folly is bound up in the heart of a child.

John Rosemond, most well-read parenting expert in America, says that the earlier a parent realizes that their sweet darling is born with the capacity for wrong and evil, the better they will understand their role as parents in shaping the character of their children and disciplining them. I have softened the language a bit because he outrightly says that kids were born bad. His point, however, is that children need discipline and training. There is no shortcut to raising well-behaved children.

Although a psychologist himself, Rosemond threw away the mumbo-jumbo theories that surfaced in the 1960s which revolutionized the way parents began to raise their children. He calls it “the big wet blanket of psychobabble that has smothered parenting common sense.” He believes that disregarding the traditional approaches to raising children was a big mistake and we are seeing the detrimental affects today.

According to Rosemond, “Fifty years ago, it was unheard of for a child who had reached aged three to hit his parents; today, it is not unusual to find children five and six years of age who are hitting their parents (usually their northers) on a regular basis. Biting is another example of culture wide disciplinary decay…Fifty years ago, children were mischievous, but the rare child was belligerently defiant; today, the once-rare insolent child is everywhere. Fifty years ago, tantrums had stopped by age three. Today, it’s not at all unusual for children still to be having major emotional meltdowns well into their elementary school years.”

Over the weekend, I was asked to counsel a 10 year old child who hardly looked at me in the eye. I couldn’t get through to her. She remained hard and cold towards me. A 10 year old! I couldn’t help her because she refused to be helped. She rejected my attempts at reaching out to her. I actually found it very disrespectful and insolent. But a part of me also felt very sad. How do children get to that point? The best I could do was pray for her. According to the woman who was with her it was a wonder that she didn’t kick me while I was praying.

Personally, I believe that when parents move away from biblical parenting, we tend to get lost in all the popular theories that are circulating in the world today and become ineffective at raising our children. We don’t have a clear goal or a clear roadmap.

Two years ago, I struggled with parenting my third son, Titus. He was a very curious child but at times this curiosity would make him dismantle toys, tear up his books, break household items, write on walls and objects that he shouldn’t write on, and get himself into predicaments that were precarious.

There were many occasions when this deeply aggravated me and it put a strain on our relationship, but these things were not really the challenging part. It was his attitude. He was determined to get his way and would defy authority figures when he was told “No.”

Edric and I had to assess our parenting style, our methods and our goals because it was getting a bit overwhelming trying to deal with Titus. To keep it simple, we went back to a few core things. First, we established our authority. We didn’t let Titus manipulate us and we didn’t give in to his whining or sulking when he was between the ages of 2 and 3 — the height of it. So he stopped using that tactic. Second, we focused on instilling obedience. We were clear about rules and we disciplined him for breaking them. Third, Edric shared the gospel with Titus so he could begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. This brought about a transformation of his heart. A spiritual tenderness began to develop in him so that obedience became more about pleasing God instead of mere compliance. Fourth, we continue to disciple him, discipline him, and address his heart issues. We pay close attention to areas of weakness and strength. Fifth, we communicate unconditional love and acceptance. Sixth, we do no shout, compare, or belittle him when he does frustrating things because this will negate our training and teaching efforts. Seventh, we affirm him and build him up. We have chosen to appreciate the way God made him and celebrate his uniqueness. He truly is special (just like all our kids). When I see him make right choices, I commend him for it and call it out.

He is only 4 years old, but I can honestly say that his tendency is more towards obedience than it is towards misbehaving. And the reason is we have followed biblical parenting. God’s word keeps parenting simple for us. We set the goal of teaching our kids to love God and we disciple them accordingly.

Last night, during our family devotion, Edric taught the kids 1 Peter 5:7 “Be on the alert! Your enemy, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion…”

Each of the kids shared their insights on the verse and it was the cutest thing when Titus was explaining what the verse meant to him. He said, “I will be aware if there is candy and I should not eat a lot of it.”

Of all my kids, he likes candy the most. And it’s hard for him to resist the urge to put another piece of candy into his mouth when it’s in front of him. This is his temptation. He told us during the devotion, that he would not give in to the devil when he wants to eat more if mommy says thats enough.

Before bedtime, I was reading to the kids when Titus disappeared for a bit then reappeared with a bag of chocolate chips. He asked me if he could eat them and I said, “No.” He asked me why and I told him it was too late to eat sweets and he could have some the next morning. He responded with, “Okay, mom.” Out of curiosity, I asked Elijah to spy on Titus after he left the room. Elijah came back and reported to me that Titus walked right back to the kitchen and returned the bag of chips without taking anything from it. This incident delighted me because it was an example of how God is at work in Titus’ heart.

One of the spiritual fruits we want to see in our children is that they fall deep in love with Jesus and choose to keep loving him. If they love him, they will obey. So when we get overwhelmed or confused by the parenting mumbo jumbo that is out there, we look towards that goal and ask ourselves, are our children headed in that direction? If they are, then praise God. If not, what should we change?

A few days ago, as I was leaving the house to do an errand, Titus called out to me, “Bye, mom! I love you, mom! I love you a lot but I love Jesus more!” It was the sweetest thing.

My prayer is that Edric and I can keep encouraging his love for the Lord. He still misbehaves once in a while despite his profession of love for God. But that is why we have to keep discipling him. I really believe that the real antidote to misbehaving children is not so much a question of how do I discipline but how do I disciple my child so that they will love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

If you have a child who is misbehaving or seemingly uncontrollable, perhaps you and your spouse can ask the following questions: What is the goal of our parenting? What is the game plan going to be as we parent our child towards that goal? What are his areas of weakness and strength? Are we aligned about our role as parents, that we are his authority and need to establish that? Are we clear about our rules and following through with discipline when these rules are broken? Do we need to spend more time with him so he knows, beyond a doubt, that we love him and enjoy being with him? Do we need to stop wrong behavior or attitudes that he may be copying in us? Are we focusing on character in our parenting? Are we praying regularly for him? Does he know Jesus? If he does, is there evidence of spiritual fruit because of his relationship with Jesus?

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It Takes All Day

It takes all day to homeschool. I’m not talking about the part where we use books and workbooks or do homeschool “projects.” I’m talking about everything in between.

For example, today I had a talk with my second son, Edan. He was in a difficult mood yesterday when I was homeschooling him. But I knew that if I had tried to correct his attitude then, it wouldn’t have been effective. He was not ready.

He hovered over his math book like it was some form of torture. I looked at the page he had to complete and I knew, as his teacher, that it wasn’t anything beyond his capacity. It was merely a review of concepts he had already understood just a few weeks prior. I took the book away from him and told him to go to his room and pray about his attitude.

The last thing I want to do when I’m homeschooling my kids is force them to learn when they aren’t spiritually ready. Since I am available to them almost 24 hours, I know we have many more moments in the day to address the heart issues they face. I am not going to ballistic over a page or two of math work. But I won’t let my kids’ negative attitudes linger without addressing them either.

When they act de-motivated, I take a step back, compose myself before losing my cool, and let my kids isolate themselves to think and pray about their actions and attitudes. When they are ready, they will come back to me with some sort of resolution. If not, then I pursue them relationally and sit down with them to talk.

I had asked Edan in the car yesterday if he would like to explain to me why he didn’t want to do his work. He asked me if we could talk privately. This morning, I invited him to a conversation, just the two of us.

It’s amazing how a serious dialogue between a parent and child, without time pressure, can do much to unlock what’s going on inside a child’s heart. I suppose one of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that I’m not rushing my kids off to school or stressing out at the end of the day about their homework, test-preparation, etc. We can be together for extended periods of time to deal with whatever needs to be dealt with. Top on my list is the discipleship of my kids…their character.

So we sat there, on the bed and I asked him a few questions. He can be a tough nut to crack because he tends to be quiet about his feelings. When he is upset, he will go lie on his bed and cry. Rarely will he display dramatics. My eldest, Elijah, tends to be the more intense one so he’s more entertaining to watch when he is upset. (Did I just say that? What I mean is, it’s not difficult to guess what he’s feeling.)

With Edan, he has to be pried open gently and the right factors have to be present. When I asked him to come to my room to talk, he knew it was a safe place to tell me whatever he was thinking or feeling. “Can you tell me why you didn’t feel like doing your work yesterday? Mommy wants to be able to help you.” The conversation began along those lines. At first, he wanted to bury his face in a pillow and look at me out of just one eye, while the other one was covered. But I asked him to look directly at me. After a few seconds, he began to share about how he didn’t like books that only had two colors. That made absolute sense coming from a child who is a visual learner. I just didn’t know it made such a big difference to him. And so, I asked, “Do you think it is okay to have a bad attitude if you don’t like your book?” We talked some more about how he was feeling and then I reminded him about the character trait of gratefulness.

A couple months ago, we had covered this topic for our family bible study. My husband, Edric, had asked the kids to memorize the verse, “In everything give thanks.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) I shared with him that it was important to thank God for the blessings that we do have. We talked about how we could apply this in our homeschooling.

In between, Titus tried to spy on us. He poked his head around the door and stood there for a while, hoping to find out what we were talking about. I asked him to close the door and leave us for a bit. He acted like he was closing it but kept a part open so he could still spy on us. I saw his shadow, and said, “Titus…close the door.” Curious little Titus finally shut it.

The conversation between Edan and I resumed. It took a while but we finally arrived at a conclusion. Edan said he would choose to do the right thing and change his attitude. We prayed together. I also shared with him that there are times when I don’t have good attitude…like when “Daddy asks me to do something,” so I also have to work on this area. We both confessed our sins and Edan was back to his old smiley self.

Was he ready to be instructed after that? Yes.

When parents ask me, “How long do you homeschool for?”, I usually say, the kids do their work in the morning. But a more accurate answer to that question would really be, homeschooling takes all day. It’s not just about covering subject matter and saying, “Yes, it was a good day. We got all our ‘work’ done.” So much of what happens in between the work, throughout the many interactions I have with my kids, is the actual homeschooling. I consider this to be the more important part of what I do.

It’s very hard to explain this to parents who are on the outside looking in. And I understand where they are coming from because their concerns center around, “How many subjects do I have to teach? How much time will it take?” After all, this often seems like the most intimidating aspect of homeschooling. Many parents feel inadequate before they ever begin because the very word “homeschooling” sounds a whole lot like school-at-home. And we associate “school” with school-related work like learning about math, English, science, history, Filipino, social Studies, geography, music, art, etc. (Oh and don’t forget Bible and character!) We look at the line up of subject areas and it’s like, “How the heck am I going to teach all that?” I’m not a professional teacher!”

My encouragement to parents who feel this way is this…teaching subjects is the easier task when discipleship is a priority. Discipleship is primary. Once we make the acquisition of knowledge the priority, we start homeschooling for the wrong reasons and we can start teaching the wrong way, too. Outbursts of anger, irritation, impatience will surface when we feel that our “academic” goals for our kids are blocked. For example, when they aren’t cooperative and they aren’t motivated we get annoyed. And we want to push, push, push. What are we pushing towards? They may comply externally and complete ten pages of their math workbook in one sitting but their heart is far away from us, far away from the Lord.

I can’t settle for that kind of education in our home. My prayer is that each year our children grow deeper in love with Jesus, that their hearts remain teachable and receptive to our instruction, and they make leaps and bounds in the area of godly character. That is homeschooling. And that takes all day, every day, until God says they are ready to go out into the world to be his instruments of change, to bear his gospel, and to pursue the mission he has called them to.

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Food Fight

20120923-191401.jpg During lunch, our boys had an “incident.” After Edric and I had excused ourselves from the table, we left the two younger boys to finish what was left of their curry meal. Fifteen minutes later, both of them came into our bedroom and looked very guilty. Edan was on the verge of tears and Titus was already crying. What was going on?

Edric calmed them down and asked them to explain what happened. They wanted to confess that they had a food fight. It took several minutes to extract this but they admitted to it.

Apparently, they playfully started chucking rice and bits of beef curry across the table to hit each other. This resulted in a big mess. When Elijah saw it, he encouraged them to tell us what they had done. At first, they were afraid because they didn’t want to get spankings for not following eating rules. But they wanted to be honest (according to Edan).

I watched the two of them stand side-by-side facing Edric. Edan had one hand to his eyes, trying to wipe the tears away. Titus was red with snot coming down his nose. Edric handled the situation and got to the bottom of it all.

Honestly, I kind of think that food fighting is pretty cool! The mess part wasn’t really a big deal, except that we have eating rules. One of these rules is, eat everything on your plate. The boys ended up throwing whatever was left on their plates. They knew they were wrong.

However, since they told the truth, Edric extended grace to them. But Edric said that he was concerned about Titus. He explained to me that Edan was very repentant but Titus was more like “yey!” no spanking.

I offered to talk to Titus. Titus was all smiles as he came into our bedroom. I sat him on the bed beside me and I looked into his eyes to let him know that we were about to have a serious conversation. But I kept my tone gentle. We talked about what it means to really love Jesus. I also explained to him that Jesus wants to bless us, protect us, and take care of us. And I told him that there is also the Devil who wants us to do things like disobey and lie. He doesn’t like us at all and he wants to hurt us and destroy us. Titus asked me questions about this and I explained to him more about what the Devil is like.

I used the example of eating too much candy to let him realize that the Devil always wants to harm us. “Remember how mommy and daddy tell you not to eat too much candy because it’s not healthy? But the Devil will tell you things like, ‘It’s okay to eat candy. It’s yummy. You really like it!’ Just eat it anyway when no one is looking. If you listen to him and keep disobeying mommy and daddy what do you think will happen?”

Titus replied, “All my teeth will fall out!”

“Well, you may get cavities and the Devil will be so happy because he got to hurt you. But mommy and daddy, we don’t want you to get hurt. And that’s how Jesus is. Jesus doesn’t want you to get hurt, either. That’s why you need to learn to obey. And if you love Jesus, you will obey him.”

Titus listened intently and understood what I was trying to say. (I asked him a couple of questions just to check if he really got what I was talking about.) Afterwards, I affirmed him and told him that he was a good son. He really is a wonderful son, but he needs to be trained and guided, just like his siblings.

My purpose for having one-on-one time with Titus was to help him understand that the rules we make are not meant to make his life less fun or deprive him of something good. We want what is best for him. We love him and we are concerned about his heart. But he needs to guard his heart from the Evil One. And he needs to guard his heart so that he always loves Jesus.

When I talk to my kids like this I am reminded that the battle for our children’s hearts is so real, so serious, so spiritual in nature. Each one of them is developing a set of values and principles that will define and determine their choices. And many times it will take some parenting detective work to investigate what is going on inside them. With Titus, I wasn’t as concerned about the food flinging as I was about the possibility that he has not internalized that obedience is for his greater good.

Since he is just 4 years old, we will need many more dialogues together to talk about this truth. Dialogued are really important. The more we interact and communicate with our children, the easier it is to identify the “weeds” in their hearts. Weeds can grow anytime, and they can grow undetected and root themselves deeply into our children’s hearts if we don’t catch them early.

This is one reason why I am a big believer in homeschooling. Homeschooling gives Edric and I numerous, daily encounters with our children. We get to ask then questions, draw them out, and uncover wrong thinking, unbiblical world-views, secret sins, unhealthy patterns, deceptions, or fears. (Oh and pray like heck for them.)

Edric and I don’t always know what to do but the guiding principle for us has been to keep turning our children’s hearts back to Jesus. Jesus will be the one to take our children from immaturity to maturity, from foolishness to wisdom, from obedience out of fear to obedience out of love, from desiring self-will to desiring God’s will.

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

“No”

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Titus, who has a special attachment to marbles, wanted to bring some from our house to my parents’ place. When he asked me if he could pack them, I said, “No. You can’t bring your marbles.”

He started to pout and cry. He wanted sympathy from our househelp, but I was stern and clear that he could not bring the marbles. I explained to him that the last time he brought metal marbles over to my parents’ place, he lost them. So he would not get to bring anything over.

It’s hard to see my kids disappointed when they don’t get what they want. But they need to learn to accept “no” for an answer with the right spirit. When they show resistance and anger, this concerns me.

Titus was lingering in his negative emotions. He sat behind me in the car sulking. I saw him give me that hard, upset look.

Instead of scolding him for it, I appealed to his heart. “Titus when mommy and daddy say no, what are you supposed to say?” He turned his head away to avoid eye contact, but I didn’t let him get away with that. “What are you supposed to say?” I asked him again and I told him to look at me.

He had to force it out of himself but he managed to say, “Okay, mommy.” This is the response I ask of my kids when I give them a rule or command, or when I tell them “no.” It reveals to me that they acknowledge what I am saying and there is a spirit of agreement and submission.

But I could still sense that he was not okay. So I encouraged him, “Where is your smile, Titus?” He resisted. I pursued him. He tried to bury his face into the arm of his yaya. I did not relent.

“Would Jesus want you to smile? Jesus is in your heart right?” This was my attempt to appeal to the good that was in him, courtesy of the Holy Spirit.

And then I saw his countenance change. There was a tiny smile followed by a genuine sparkly one and his eyes became kind.

“There it is! That’s a wonderful smile!”

When we got home, I pulled him aside and affirmed him profusely. I complimented him for changing his attitude and for smiling when I asked him to, even when he didn’t get what he wanted. And I gave him a big hug and kiss. He was beaming.

Toward the end of our conversation, I asked him, “Who helped you do the right thing?”

“Jesus!” was his joyful reply.

As parents we need to appeal to the spirit of the Lord in the hearts of our kids. Otherwise, it’s hard to teach them and train them. To do this, it is important to connect them to Jesus when they are little. Share the gospel with them as soon as possible, so God can begin his sanctifying work in their lives. This does not guarantee that they will be perfect angels, but it certainly makes them more receptive and responsive to correction and discipline.

Of course, we need to do our part by being positive when we teach and train them. We need to avoid shouting. We need to exercise authority without being cruel or despotic, assuring them that we love them. And our goal must be redemptive — reconnecting their hearts back to the Lord.

I have noticed that it helps alot to just mind my tone and decibel levels when I address my children’s wrong behavior. Keeping a calm talking voice also allows me to consider my words more carefully. It’s not always easy but it is more effective.

I like how Galatians puts it. We must correct with gentleness and not from a position of self-righteousness. And we don’t need to lose our temper to be taken seriously by our children.

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. (Galatians 6:1-3 NASB)

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