A Culture of Contentment at Home


For this past Sunday’s message, Edric was tasked to speak on the pitfall of materialism, so he asked me to share some practical ideas on how we try to instil contentment in the hearts of our children. I have to say that we are a work in progress as a family and we keep learning what it means to be content in the Lord, but here are some tips that have working so far…

WAIT.

There’s no surprise here, but wait, there’s more!

Waiting is something children ABSOLUTELY NEED to learn early. We have this symbol that we do with our kids, especially for our younger ones. It’s called “the hand.” We calmly say, “Wait,” when they want something and want it now, and we give them the hand symbol, palm facing towards them.

If anyone of our kids doesn’t receive this positively or they act up, like our youngest daughter used to do (and sometimes still does), then we tell them, “If you fuss, you will not get it at all.”


She now knows that the correct response is a respectful and cheerful, “Okay, mommy” Or, “Okay, daddy.”

It could be a snack, a toy, a gadget, anything that our kids feel they are entitled to at that moment, but if their attitude is demanding or we sense that it can be a training opportunity, we encourage them to wait.

One way we have done this is by practicing delayed gratification with Christmas presents and birthday presents. Since we have five kids, they get a ton of presents from relatives and friends. Although we let them unwrap each one, they don’t get to play with all of them. They can choose one or two and then the rest get put away for the next week or the weeks after.

Since I homeschool, it also works to my advantage because I use their gifts as motivational prizes. I say, “If you get your work done, you can play with a new toy!”

For our older kids, we challenge them to save up to buy a gadget or earn an app (virtual possession) that’s important to them instead of handing them the latest device or paying for a game that they want.


When our oldest son, Elijah, was eyeing an IPad some years ago, Edric gave him jobs to do like speaking in public during road shows or seminars. So he earned and saved up enough money to pay for 75% of his Ipad Air. He also had to canvas for the IPad and find the best deal himself. By the time he bought the IPad, it was after months and months of hard work, saving up, and researching.

Our second son, Edan, is one of those people who can obsess about something he likes. Last year he had his eyes set on a certain board game called Sushi Go Party. We made him wait for many weeks, maybe even months because the game wasn’t available locally. He wrestled with the waiting, but God knew he needed the lesson. Edan admitted that the desire for the game was so intense in a bad way that it was healthy for him NOT to get it right away. The protracted amount of time it took for him to wait for the board game taught him that he could be perfectly happy without it.

Because our older kids don’t like toys anymore and gravitate towards educational apps, books, and strategy board games, we have created guidelines such as, “Will this help you to grow in wisdom, stature, favor with God and men?” (This is based on the passage in Luke 2:52 that describes how Jesus Christ matured.)

This verse enables our children to filter through their emotions and excitement so they can discern whether a game (a virtual possession) will be profitable for them intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.

STEWARDSHIP.

To weed out the tendency of our kids to be selfish, we remind them that God owns everything. We are entrusted with blessings as His stewards. So when they are given a material possession, we tell them, “You are a steward of this. You are assigned to take care of it. You don’t own it.”

As they get older, this reality sinks in and they are more likely to share and not utter statements such as, “No, this is mine!”

If our kids fight over an object, toy, book, or food and refuse to share, we take it away and explain, “Since you are fighting over this, no one gets to have it.”

Most of the time, they will apologize to one another when the source of their conflict is removed and they come to their senses. Suddenly, their capacity to share kicks in and they say to one another, “Okay, you can have it.”

Since the Lord owns everything, we also encourage our kids to give by tithing. Our kids don’t get an allowance as homeschoolers so they have to tithe from jobs we give them, garage sales, or gifts. It’s not always easy. In fact, I remember an instance when they barely made money from a business idea they had, but they still chose to tithe. Their faithfulness ministered to me because they struggled to make the money they did. He wonderful bonus was that God allowed to sell all of the stocks that remained after their event so they ended up making much more! (And they tithed from that amount, too.)

GIVE TO OTHERS.

Besides tithing, we do periodic clean-ups at home where we ask our kids to comb through their belongings and give away or garage-sale their stuff for dirt cheap. Edric and I do the same. It’s like a massive exodus of items from the home that go out in boxes and large bags. The purging experience always has a positive effect on our entire family. We realize that we can be content with less and be a blessing to others, too. Plus, it keeps us from accumulating and hoarding, as well as getting overly attached to material things.

Tiana and me…going through my side of the closet.


When there are opportunities to participate in ministry outreaches to the less fortunate, we also get our kids involved so that their focus and giving can be directed outside of themselves. When they recognize how destitute other people are, it encourages them to contribute to the lives of others rather than mere takers.

“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.” (1 Timothy‬ ‭6:17-19‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

VALUE SIMPLICITY.

I grew up with parents who didn’t buy luxury brand clothes, shoes, or watches which protected my siblings and I from developing an appetite for these things. They also taught us not to develop a sense of identity or worth from what we had or owned. Observing their spending decisions encouraged me to be conscious of mine as well, and challenged me to find my identity in Christ, not in what I possessed.

I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy shopping or buying things. However, I learned, from their example that clothes, shoes, bags, accessories, make-up, while fun to have, don’t bring lasting joy. Neither do they define who I am.

“Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” (Luke‬ ‭12:15‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Since I have two girls, I have to be mindful about the way I spend on myself or even for them. With my three boys, it’s easy. They aren’t into fashion and they could care less about pretty things. However, with my girls, it’s a little more challenging.

In the car ride the other day, my daughter asked me when we were going to decorate her room and I answered, “Tiana, let’s wait, okay.”

I also added something like, “Why? Are you excited?” to which she replied with a big grin on her face, “Yes, because girls like things, right!?”

At first I laughed because she said this so honestly and innocently, but I realized that I need to be especially careful with her because, she DOES LIKE THINGS. When she sees sparkly, beautiful or cutesy thing, she gushes and exclaims, “Ooohhh, that’s so nice! Can I get it mommy?”

If she witnesses me being extravagant, it would be difficult for me to say, “No, or not right now..” However, I try my best to curb my own appetite so that I can exemplify simplicity for her and for my youngest daughter.


When I talk of simplicity I don’t mean neglect, or not trying, or being a plain Jane, or abandoning all forms of adornment. Simple in the beauty sense can mean elegant and tasteful, celebrating natural beauty versus the contrived, overly made-up, and flashy. Simple in the attitude sense can be about being appreciative rather than demanding, the ability to be content with a little rather than perpetually looking to stuff and material upgrades for happiness. 

While fashion and beauty, as well as pretty things aren’t sinful in and of themselves (for example, we should try our best to look our best at whatever season we find ourselves in), it’s the focus and emphasis on these above the more important aspects of a person such as character and love for the Lord that can be spiritually dangerous.

1 John 2:15-17 very clearly states, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

It is also the motivations that drive our purchases and the acquiring, such as lust of the eyes (the incessant coveting) or the boastful pride of life (the desire to prove oneself and promote oneself), that we ought to guard our hearts against. The issue isn’t about whether we are lavish spenders or do bargain shopping, rather the weightier question is what is our purpose for the material things we spend our money on?

Working hard and striving for excellence are part of being stewards of the talents, opportunities, and abilities God has given us, and Proverbs tells us that God makes rich and adds no sorrow to it, but it’s also necessary to consider the reasons behind our lifestyle choices. 

“For the covetous heart, stuff always comes first. In a consumer culture, the obtaining and maintenance of stuff can determine our job choice, our leisure pursuits, our friendships, our house size, our local church. It can actually dictate the course of our lives…Covetousness chains the heart to things that are passing away.”  (God, My Heart, and Stuff by Dave Harvey)

WISELY EVALUATE INFLUENCES.

Edric and I find that being selective about whom we follow on social media, as well as paying attention to what we watch and listen to helps with cultivating a contentment culture at home.

Since we don’t want our children to have sub-cultures that compete with the values we are trying to instill in them, we don’t expose them to the social media phenomenon at early ages, too.

Till this day, our older sons don’t have social media accounts, and they don’t feel like they are missing out on an essential part of their youth. Eventually, they may need to connect with people online, but for now, they prefer to spend time with people face-to-face. Since they are homeschooled, we know most of their friends (and their friend’s families) very personally, and we know that they share similar values to us. Therefore it isn’t as difficult for us, as a family, to stick to our convictions on matters such as money and spending. We are on the same team. 

Many parents tell me that the pressures their children feel to acquire more and have the latest of everything are partly due to the peer exposure they have. Whether it’s online peer pressure or relationships with classmates and friends, we need to instruct our kids to filter through these influences wisely, and help them choose the friends they want to surround themselves with as close confidants. 

Let’s not discredit the fact that the TV shows, online programs, and music they watch and listen to also become a source of “peer pressure.” Young people glorifying materialism through their music videos, lyrics, and shows will inevitably influence our children and program their value system.

The same goes for us, as parents. If we are constantly watching, listening to, and filling our minds with images and/or having frequent interactions with people who tempt us to keep grabbing for more, then how can we expect to have the courage and conviction to live simply and model this to our kids?

When I was regularly entertaining myself with visits to fashion sites, or following people who promote physical beauty and the latest trends, I started to feel like my wardrobe was outdated and that it needed continual upgrades. This is one of the reasons why I subscribe to very few people and organizations on Instagram. I don’t want my account flooded with images that make me feel like I need more material things to be happy and fulfilled. (Edric only follows one person on Instagram. Oh, that’s me! Yey!)

I would caution restraint when we do online shopping, too. Amazon is my Waterloo. If I am scrolling through deals everyday, chances are I will buy most of the stuff I keep adding to my cart! Online shopping is amazing but there’s no end to what we can buy. Plus, there is such minimal effort involved in clicking the checkout symbol! So I have to flee the urge to window shop on Amazon by keeping myself from having too much idle time on my phone. 

I don’t want all of this to sound legalistic. The point is that we need to positively challenge ourselves and our kids to be discerning about what we continually expose ourselves to, whether it be through media or friends, because they will profoundly impact our value system. 

PRAY WITH THANKSGIVING.

Last year, our family was approached by an ad agency that proposed an endorsement deal guaranteeing we would be flown to Europe as a family. We signed with the company they represented in good faith. However, as the months progressed, we discovered that the trip, though approved by the local company, wasn’t approved regionally. As a result, the trip didn’t push through. Of course, the kids were disappointed.

Yet, I told the kids, “If God wants us to go, we will still get to go. If not, He has something better and we can trust Him.”

After all, just getting the endorsement deal was wonderful and something to be grateful for. Therefore, the trip, though implied throughout the preliminary discussions, would be a bonus if it ever happened.

Well, we didn’t get to go on the Europe trip in the month that we hoped to, however, it was a blessed year still. As we prayed for God’s will and trusted Him, we learned to be thankful and grateful for the many other opportunities and experiences He allowed us to share as a family.

God doesn’t always reward us with an amazing material blessing when we choose to trust Him. What He does reward us with is the gift of His presence, His joy, and His peace…infinitely better things. God’s greater will for us as found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is that we would experience what it means to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks all the time!

There are still instances when it’s tempting to compare what we don’t have with what others do. I struggle with this and I’m sure Edric and the kids do, too. However, we are all growing in area of trusting that God’s will is always what’s best for us. 

This also means that God’s will is what is best for others, too. When our kids notice that their cousins or friends have more possessions than we do because they have greater financial flexibility, we tell them, “Let’s rejoice for them!”

After all, God loves each person so much and so personally that He knows exactly when to give and when to withhold. This perspective liberates us to quit comparing and to rejoice when others are blessed.

When we choose to be content in the Lord, less becomes more! We grow MORE in our character, in our faith, in our dependence upon the Lord, and in our capacity to empathize and relate to other people’s struggles. We also have MORE opportunities to experience God’s abounding faithfulness and grace!

“When covetousness seeks to chain our hearts to things passing away, grace empowers us to enjoy the One who is not only necessary, but enough.” (God, My Heart, and My Stuff by Dave Harvey)
 

 

 

 

 

 

Kiddo TV

Do you have kids who enjoy music, art, science, and magic? I can’t think of a child who doesn’t like at least one of these things. My kids like all four!

 

When I was asked to review Kiddo TV, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they have episodes for a range of ages and shows that appeal to different learning needs and interests.

 

Younger children will enjoy the nursery rhymes and the Fitzy Monster show, where a lovable character named Fitzy teaches toddlers and early elementary-aged kids skills like how to brush their teeth, table manners, exercising, and much more.

 

Catalina sat on my lap and watched a couple of these. These videos were super short, and they were easy to watch.

 

Older kids (aged 6 to 10) might gravitate towards Easy Magic, where Max demonstrates how to dissect tricks that kids can wow their family and friends with.

 

There are also Art Lessons by Teacher Miki who is an energetic artist! She explains to a group of kids how to do simple but fun artwork with easy to find materials.

Then there’s Stroosh, who came from another planet and needs to be educated about the earth and how humans relate with one another. During each video, his friend Luca explains concepts to Stroosh that can scientific in nature or historical in nature, or he talks about values.

 

The only red flag I saw in the Stroosh shows was the one episode where Luca promoted meditation (not as a religious activity) but as a means to focus and relax. Luca was well-meaning and wanted to help Stroosh get a grip of his emotions. However, I did spy a miniature Buddha on his table as a prop. It was subtle and would probably miss this.

The great thing about Stroosh is that he is very teachable, proving to be a good example to kids. He is mild-mannered and wants to learn, receiving correction humbly.

There's also a cartoon Halloween video that might have some scary images for little kids but other than that, KIDDO TV is one of those channels that promotes safe edutainment for children and it is appropriate for their developmental ages. Easy Magic and Art Lessons take about fifteen minutes per episode since they cater to older kids and they are instructional, but the rest of the shows are short to keep little kids engaged. (Catalina is watching one of the nursery rhymes right now and thoroughly enjoying it!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hon, You Have to Be a Better Homemaker”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

God-Confidence in Kids

I am not an advocate of getting kids into modeling at a young age because it can make them focused on their external appearance as well as derive their sense of identity and worth from the way they look and how others perceive them.  However, I also believe that carefully chosen modeling or acting opportunities can be beneficial for kids, to break them out of their shells so they can shine for the Lord. 

From time to time our family gets offered endorsement opportunities and I praise God that these normally involve all of our kids and Edric and me, or some of our kids and Edric or me. In other words, it’s usually a family endorsement and more importantly, a product or service that is aligned with our values and principles. 

The milk brand, Friso Four, which is for kids above the age of three years old (past the breastfeeding age) is one such product. Their cows are hormone and antibiotic free, and they are cared for by farmers who are personally invested in their farms. Farmers basically own Friesland Campina, the mother company behind Friso. So they love their cows! 

Our family’s contract with Friso involved our daughters and me engaging one another through outdoor activities and play, and promoting the importance of nature in the lives of our kids — eating healthy, good sunlight, exercise, and exploration. 

For the shoot today, Tiana was tasked to memorize many lines. When she first saw the script she felt nervous and concerned about her ability to memorize and execute what was required of her. However, we prayed together and dedicated the shoot to the Lord, and her courage increased. She got through each part so well, and without compromising her personality as a sweet and demure girl. 

I was so proud of her! As a younger girl, Tiana struggled with self-consciousness and she worried about what people’s opinion of her. Sometimes she still does. However through the years I have encouraged her to consider the needs of others and bravely attempt to make friends and reach out to people instead of focusing on herself. It’s taken some time but in the last few months, I have seen her grow and mature in this area. She is friendlier towards kids, like her ballet classmates and art class friends, and she has a better understanding of God-confidence. 

God-confidence, as opposed to self-confidence or self-esteem, is knowing that God is the one who gives us the ability and capacity to do things that are difficult or out of our comfort zones. Self-confidence or self-esteem is believing in one’s strengths and who they are to accomplish what they want and need to. A God-confident person relies on Him to meet the challenges He calls him or her to. 

For example, I don’t like speaking in public. It’s still stressful for me to prepare a talk and muster up the courage to stand before an audience even if I have been involved in public speaking for years. Yet this is something I do as unto to the Lord, giving seminars and talks alongside my husband on relationships, marriage, parenting, and homeschooling. I have to remember that it’s not about me, it’s about being a blessing to others, a vessel to communicate God’s principles on these topics in order to help people. But I have to depend on the Lord and not myself if I am to be effective. 

Therefore, I am also teaching Tiana how to exhibit God-confidence when she is asked to do something that is beyond what’s comfortable for her. There were several instances when she teared today, primarily because she didn’t like it when she couldn’t do an excellent job with her lines or with the acting. Catalina assisted by wiping her forehead and handing her tissues when she would tear. The crew and I assured her that she was doing a wonderful job and that it was okay to fail. That’s what retakes were for. Plus, I told her I loved her no matter what and I was there for her. We prayed together several times. 


When she finished the difficult takes, she felt a sense of accomplishment, which is also why I encouraged her to complete her job even if it wasn’t easy. I didn’t force her. I just gave her a pep talk to calm her nerves. We also chatted about how I used to get scared and cry and we had a good laugh about it. 

Kids need to be conditioned to do hard things. For as long as these “things” aren’t abusive, against God’s Word, or imposed upon them because a parent is trying to live out their dreams through them, then kids can benefit from positive pressure, healthy competition, real world challenges, and difficult character-building tasks. However, it matters how we process the experiences with them, reminding them that motivations, purposes out to be for the Lord, and empowering ought to come from the Lord. 

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”‭‭ 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭

When I asked Tiana, “How were you able to do all your lines and acting?”, her sweet response was, “I have Jesus in me…” 


Teaching Bodily Discipline to Kids 

Growing up, I appreciated the weight my parents put on physical fitness and healthy eating. They encouraged my siblings and me to play outdoors everyday and they got us into sports. As a result, all of us excelled in our sport of choice in college. I played UAAP soccer (football) and my other siblings were on the UAAP basketball teams.

Some of the benefits that athleticism produced in my life were the ability to tolerate pain and to push myself to the limit. I believe this is one of the reasons why I was able to have five Lamaze births despite the death-like pain I had to endure. Of course, I ultimately credit the grace of God for making it through each birth. I would call out to him at the height of the excruciation and he would always come through for me. However, I also believe that I had to do my part, and being a sporty person made me physically, mentally, and emotionally strong.

This morning, as I was running on the treadmill, the passage in 1 Corinthians 9:27 came to mind, “But I buffet (discipline) my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

I kept chanting in my head as the pace of the treadmill increased, “Buffet my body! Buffet my body!”

It’s not just about physical fitness which can be an idol in the lives of so many people, including mine, if I am not careful about its proper place. The real reason why it’s necessary to discipline the body is because we train ourselves to accommodate pain, to wait for results, to say no to the wrong things, and to persevere. In our spiritual lives these abilities are very important which is why Paul told his disciple Timothy, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness…for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7-8) Since I don’t have loads of time to dedicate to exercise, I stick to a regimen that keeps me healthy and able-bodied.

However, I want to focus on the higher purpose for fitness, which is something that all of us need to pass on to our kids as well. Admittedly, Edric and I have been less intentional with our own kids when it comes to their athletics. We agreed that the academic side of the homeschooling would be handled by me and Edric would take over the kids’ sports’ programs. However, Edric’s busy-ness has prevented him from giving their physical development the focus that he would like to give it (apart from the kids playing outdoors and signing them up for random PE classes).

This was an area of our parenting that we discussed recently because it disappointed me that our sons’ athleticism wasn’t his priority. Edric was also a varsity athlete in his highschool and college years. Given that we were both athletes, having kids who weren’t into competitive sports concerned me. We experienced the amazing benefits of working with teams, pushing our bodies, and dealing with the failures and successes of the games and tournaments we participated in. I wanted our sons to experience the same things to help them grow in character.

However, I couldn’t keep nagging Edric about this. After all the kids were excelling in other areas and they did have exercise time. Plus, they tried a number of sports – basketball, swimming, tennis, football, etc. They did pretty well in tennis and swimming, but over the summer they took a break and we haven’t re-enrolled them. Well, I figured that as they got into the high school years, Edric would direct our sons to sports that they could focus on (since that’s when it will matter in preparation for college.)

Thankfully, my parents spent a good two weeks with our kids while Edric and I were in Australia. Being the very purposeful grandparents that they are, they had our kids swim every morning and they signed up our two older sons for a basketball camp. The best thing that came out of this was that my dad spoke to Edric after we got back and emphasized that he should prioritize the boys’ training in sports. Hallelujah!

Edric really respects my dad and has a great relationship with him. So he received the suggestion positively. Just a few days before we got back to Manila Edric also showed me his revised yearly plan for our kids, which included him being more hands-on with the boys in the area of their physical development. So God was already speaking to Edric’s heart about this.

This is one of the things I appreciate about my husband. When he recognizes an area that he needs to improve on, he will do something about it. It may not always be right at the moment when the issue is brought up to him, but he will eventually take action.

Since we arrived home, he has lovingly forced our sons to exercise and he intends to involve them in his daily workouts. The boys are excited and so am I! This will provide our sons with great bonding time with their dad, and they will acquire traits like perseverance, hard work, as well as mental and physical toughness. He’s also thinking through what sports to enrol them in again.

I get our kids to go running with me but it’s different when Edric pushes them. He is able to connect with their masculinity and draw it out as well.

As for our girls, they do ballet pretty consistently. I’ve already seen the benefits in their own lives. They’ve become more confident with making friends and performing in front of others during their recitals, and they are more graceful and coordinated. Should they choose to do a more competitive sport then that would be wonderful, too. In fact, I’ve told my girls, “We need to be fit and strong as women. God has called us to care for the needs of our families. And someday, you may become moms, too. Moms need to be strong!” (Of course, women have to be physically strong for many other reasons!)

Tiana, my fourth child, echoes this to me now. When we are running around the village and I begin to see signs of fatigue in her, I ask her if she wants to rest but she will usually reply, “It’s okay, I want to become strong!”


That’s my girl!

I’m really praying that this year Edric and I will be much better at instilling bodily discipline in our kids. And beyond this, I also hope that Edric will consistently come along side our sons and guide them in the area of athletics. There are so many present and future benefits to be had, especially in the areas of their emotional, mental, and spiritual development that we have to give it importance as parents.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Love Letter”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teaching Kids to Organize Their Things

As much as possible, I try to instill in my kids the value and discipline of picking up after themselves. Even little Catalina, at three years old, is learning this habit. I need to repeat instructions with her more often than my older kids. However, they all know that in our home, your mess is your responsibility. When they forget, I remind them.

The homeschool room gets the messiest, especially at the end of the morning when cut and torn paper, writing instruments, craft materials, books and notebooks, as well as a few toys pepper the room. Catalina probably contributes to seventy percent of the disarray. 

Tiana, who doesn’t like disorder, will grab a broom and begin sweeping. Edan takes the initiative to return his books to their proper location. As for Titus and Elijah, they need some gentle pushing to motivate them to clean up as well. Everyone is supposed to put their own books away, on their designated shelves. It’s part of their learning experience, and something that I am pretty sure my future daughters and sons-in-law will thank me for. Wink. 

I have also instructed the household help to reinforce the cleaning-up-after-themselves habit for my kids. It’s so easy to be lazy and delegate tidying up to others, but my kids won’t learn about stewardship, responsibility, or organization this way.

I am not at the level of tidiness that my sister-in-law, Jenny, is…someone who is a neat freak in a good way. She’s my peg for orderliness. Yet, I would like to think that I have improved over the years of being married to a wonderful husband whose idea of a cathartic experience is to clean out his closet and de-clutter. He is strong and masculine, but I find it adorable when I see him standing in front of his side of the walk-in closet, humming a tune while taking stock of what to throw out or give away, how to re-arrange his shoes, or thoughtfully line up his shirts and pants. 

Living with someone who abhors clutter, who feels ruffled when his things are moved an inch from their original location, has caused a little bit of his OCD behavior to rub off on me. I am still messy in comparison. But we do share a common liking for keeping the home tidy. 

Very simply put…we prefer to avoid stacks of objects, books, and papers on desks or cabinets, and we throw away, donate or garage-sale surplus and unused possessions that needlessly collect dust. As I share this, I actually feel guilty about three areas in the home that require sorting yet again — the linen closet with two bins that I haven’t opened in a number of months, the guest room closet which the househelp recently stuffed with miscellaneous items, and the storage room, which is, well, collecting more storage. 

Going back to training the kids…

Recently, I was asked to write about Simply Modular: “the first modular storage system designed for those who like to constantly change interior layout and move around through the use of simple connectable planks. Planks come in different colors are self-assembled into different styles to meet the individual needs of the furniture.” 


My boys jumped on the opportunity to assemble the planks. The experience served as an application for geometry and logic. They had to configure the planks according to their design. And when they made mistakes, it was easy to take the planks apart again. 


Naturally, Titus, my mechanical son, was very eager to participate in this. Elijah, too, took charge of the building. He even instructed me what to do. 



Since the planks were made of lightweight and durable plastic, they could be assembled and transferred to any place in the house. So my kids designed the furniture pieces in the living room and then we carried them to the girls’ room. 

Tiana and Catalina were thrilled! Tiana, as I said, gets really excited about organizing her things. I know, it’s kind of weird, but nice. 

She went to work right away and begged me to help her. Since I had to leave for an appointment, I requested that we resume the task another time. Her response, “You promise, okay?” 

My goodness. This girl likes to be clean and to organize!


The only objective feedback I have on the planks is that the doors don’t close completely. I am trying to figure out a fix for this. But other than that, Simply Modular has provided me with a quick and easy solution for the girls’ storage needs. Plus, we can always redesign and remodel the planks to serve another purpose. 

Other ideas from Simply Modular:

Simply Modular Furniture System, which started in Hong Kong, Japan and Korea, is quickly earning popularity among millenials with fast-paced and ever-changing lifestyles, as well as condo investors. It is fun, flexible, practical, durable and affordable, as it combines function, quality, design and value – with sustainability in mind. It is the first of its kind in the country.

Simply Modular are connectable panels that are self-assembled to form different types of furniture – a shelf, cabinet, console table, closet, bed, desk, bench, etc. They may be reused and morphed into different styles and sizes as needed. Storing the panels takes up minimal space as they are flatly stacked in a box, easily transportable. All parts, made from high quality ABS plastic, are 100% waterproof, termite-proof, rust-proof, and can hold up to 200 kilos.
More info on Simply Modular:

G/F SMDC M Place Panay Avenue Quezon City 

Tel No: 0917-637-4152 

Store Hours: 10AM – 8PM Mon – Sun

E-mail: hello@simplymodular.ph

My First Colon Cleanse

My sister, Carolyn, is one of the doctors at the newly opened Centro Holisto branch in the Grove by Rockwell. I walked in yesterday hoping to spend some time with her and she suggested that I get the colon cleanse because of the digestive issues I have been having as of late. (They have promos right now, too.)

It was my first time to do this. She didn’t tell me that it’s actually pretty painful, like the crampy feeling of giving birth and diarrhea. But the sensation of pain dissipates when you expel the liquid.

I don’t mean to overshare here, but the good news is that afterwards, I felt great! Lighter, more energized! Strangely or not so strangely I lost about over a pound, too. Bleck. Probably from the waste in my colon. Oversharing again, sorry. 

Here’s what I had to lie down on and you can pretty much guess where everything went during and after the procedure…


Nurse Tin, whom I also got to have a nice chat with about the spiritual realities of life, pumped about 15 liters of coffee + liver detox solution and water into me to clean me out. She stayed with me the whole time, massaging my lower abdomen to facilitate the cleansing process. I couldn’t believe she did this every single time with every single patient. (Actually, she goes through the experience herself on a regular basis.) 

At first I felt like a geriatric lying there at the mercy of the solution perched high up on a shelf for gravitational effectivity. Yet, Nurse Tin maintained her composure and calm throughout the entire time. She made me feel at ease.

We talked quite a bit, Nurse Tin and I, which helped to pass the thirty or forty minutes that it took to finish the procedure. I praise God that I got to share the gospel with her in between the stabs of pain I felt. Afterwards I was handed a hot pad for my stomach and a cup of ginger tea. It was delicious! Just the drink I needed to soothe my stomach. 

I didn’t know what to eat after my experience but Edric and I went on a dinner and movie date where I settled for Filipino cuisine. The next day (today) everything worked just fine, maybe even a little better than usual. 

Dr. Carolyn Pedro (aka sister dear) recommended three times of colon cleansing during the first week, followed by once a week for the remaining three weeks in the month and then maintenance cleanses, either bi-monthly or once a month. 

Since I don’t have constipation issues, I may not need to do this as frequently, but I do think it’s beneficial to do the cleanse, especially for someone like me who needs to heal and protect her gut. 

Dr. Candy Dalman-Drilon and Dr. Carolyn Pedro of Centro Holistico highlight the top benefits of colon cleansing: 

1. Detoxifies the liver

2. Increases your antioxidant levels that neutralizes free radicals. Helps the body produce 700x more glutathione than what it would do on its own which helps to remove the free radicals

3. Removes or cleans out the top layer of the colon which can then be replaced with probiotics. 

4. Eliminates toxic residues from environmental sources 

If I might add, it’s also beneficial to kick start a weight loss program, increase energy levels, and sharpen the sluggish mind. 

I have been to the Alabang branch of Centro  Holistico but this one is much more accessible to me. It’s very near where Edric works and where my kids have their music, art and pe classes. And of course, my sister holds her clinic here on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons so it’s convenient for me to see her.  Dr. Carolyn taking my live blood analysis…


Centro Holistico’s approach to health and wellness is integrative medicine. Its medical doctors “combine both traditional and western medicine methods, and complementary and alternative medical theories and treatments.”

Here are some of the treatments, services, and health programs offered at Centro Holistico: 



Address and contact info:

2/F The Retail Row

The Grove by Rockwell

E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave (C5)

1604 Pasig City

Landline: (02) 477-4574

Mobile: (0917) 120-7058

Email: centroholistico.thegrove@gmail.com

What to Model to Our Children

Modeling who we want our children to become is one of the most effective ways to influence them positively. 


Model the Right Character – Christ-likeness

I grew up in a home where my parents loved God, served God, and taught us to do the same. They weren’t perfect, but I saw a genuine desire and faithfulness to live out the principles they preached. The best version of themselves was at home, with us. I would see my dad delivering sermons at the pulpit and I would think, I trust what he is saying because he lives it out at home. There’s no hypocrisy. 


My dad didn’t yell or shout at us. He was strict and he disciplined us (I was probably the most disciplined, he he) but like my mom, he was an encouraging person. Generally speaking, his even-temperedness kept the climate of the home positive. Although I feared him out of respect, I knew that he wasn’t going to blow up or hurt us when people in the home made mistakes.

Even towards my mom, he was very patient. My mom once joked that she spilled stuff on him during every airplane ride. (He finally decided to sit across the aisle from her rather than right beside her to avoid getting hurt by hot tea or coffee.) I saw what my mom meant when we were having a family dinner and my mom accidentally knocked over a cup of hot tea on him as she reached across the table. He didn’t raise his voice or react in irritation. Instead, he calmly wiped his arm and continued conversing with all of us. I was like, wow. If that was me…I don’t know if I would be so composed!

As for my mom, she was predictably and contagiously joyful when I was a kid. Till this day she is one of my favorite persons to hang out with. There’s something very attractive about her joy in the Lord. 

In fact, when I was struggling with my role as a wife in my early married years Edric would actually tell me, “Why don’t you spend some time with mom? I am sure being with her will make you feel better.” 

He knew that I would come away from my time with her recharged and spiritually energized. And more importantly, she imparted to me godly advice. 

Sometimes, when I am unusually positive, he still asks jokingly, “Did you spend time with mom today?! Why are you so cheerful?!”

The culture of a Christ-centered family has to begin with us, as parents. It’s a top-down thing. What my siblings and I saw in my parents, we copied (the good and the bad, but praise God there was much more good to copy). 

My parents’ positive role-modeling coupled with their intentional discipleship bore fruit in the lives of my siblings and me. Today, my siblings and I, along with our spouse, share the same core values and beliefs as my parents. Even if we have discussions and disagreements every now and then, by God’s grace, we share unity in Him.
I once told my father, “Dad, it feels a little bit like heaven when we all get together. It’s like a foretaste of what heaven might be like someday.”

We talk about what God is doing in our lives, share the victories and the struggles, and come along side one another to encourage and lovingly correct each other so we can all grow in our faith. Furthermore, there’s so much laughter and talking we sometimes get lost in all the conversation and forget what time it is. 

At the center of our family is Jesus Christ and all glory goes to Him. My parents were great parents not because they were special, but because they were committed to Christ. As the apostle Paul said, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1

Model the Right Mission – a passion for the gospel / compassion for the lost

Besides their Christ-likeness, one of the most significant things I saw in my parents’ lives was a passion to share the word of God, to share the gospel. My parents would come home from their out of town or overseas trips and tell us, “Guess what, I shared the gospel with the person beside me on the plane.” 

Or, they would finish a golf game and say, “My caddy accepted the Lord today.” 

As a younger woman, I remember going with my mom to malls and during her encounters with check-out counter clerks, salesladies, waiters, or whoever was serving her, she tried to share the gospel. These moments made such an impression on my heart about the importance of the gospel. 

One of the more dramatic gospel stories of my mom was when she ran after a thief who stole her bag in Trinoma mall. She chased after this woman in her high heels. When a guard finally apprehended the thief, my mom caught up to her and retrieved her purse. 

The guard asked if my mom wanted to file a report against the thief, but she replied, “Oh no, I just want to talk to her for a bit.”

Her more urgent priority was to tell the woman, “There must be some reason why you took my bag. There must be a greater need that you have and so I want to tell you about Jesus.”

The woman thief prayed with my mom to receive Jesus into her heart! 

I needed to see my parents model a passion for the gospel so that it would become a priority for me. The same is true for my own kids. Our second son, Edan, has asked Edric and me numerous times about the realities of heaven and hell. He has struggled with questions like, “What if someone never hears the gospel. Is if fair that they go to hell?”

So whenever he sees us sharing the gospel with people, it matters to him. A few weeks ago, I shared the gospel with one of our household help. Edan overheard me and when I got to the prayer part, I saw him tearing.

Asking if he was okay, he revealed, “Mom, I thought about the verse in the Bible, about how there is rejoicing in heaven when people come to Jesus, and I just felt happy.”

When we had a shoot the other day and he heard me explaining the gospel to one of the moms I had met, he came up to me during the break and asked, “When are you going to do the closure mom? To pray with her?”

“Oh, you were listening?”

“Of course, Mom.” 

Another one of my sons corrected me for not bringing gospel tracts to give to a student who was soliciting money from us when we were at a coffee shop. He reminded me, “I think you should always have a gospel track mom, so you can give it to people.”

“You are right, son.” 

If we don’t show a sense of urgency or compassion for the lost, why will our kids ever grow up to do the same?

Edric and I also believe in involving our children in ministry with us. We don’t want them to feel like ministry takes us away from them. Instead, we want them to witness transformed lives and develop a conviction to be a blessing to others as they accompany us.

When I still lived at home, it was a privilege to observe my parents in action, ministering to others. This is one of the reasons why the principles of God’s word made sense to me. Since my siblings and I would be invited to listen to my parents counsel other couples or singles at the dinner table, we would make the connection – when you follow God, you are blessed, when you don’t, there are painful consequences. We perceived that the people who had joy and peace were the ones who obeyed God’s word. It was also reassuring to see how God could redeem the mistakes of people.

Model the Right Values

Because we live in a world where our children are assaulted daily by values that are contradictory to ours, it’s necessary for us to model the right ones for them. Whether it is the way we deal with conflict and difficult people, how we process trying circumstances, the way we choose to spend our time, talents and money, the habits we have, or the friends we surround ourselves with, our children are watching us closely. They are taking their cues from us.  

What we put emphasis on, they will, too. Take for instance being extravagant. If we want our kids to be frugal and discerning about what they spend on, if we want them to avoid materialism, do they see these convictions lived out in us? Do we demonstrate to them what it means to be a steward of God’s resources? 

One time, I asked my kids, “What do you think mom and dad are most passionate about?”

I was hoping they would immediately volunteer the answer, “You are passionate about God!” 

Instead, I got a very innocent and honest response, “Mom, you are passionate about your phone.” 

Oh my goodness, I thought. What have I been modeling for them?

I tried to explain, “You know that I use my phone for ministry, right? And my bible is on my phone? And I reach out to people through my phone?”

However, I just looked silly trying to defend myself. What my kids were basically telling me was that I spent a lot of time on my phone. So I had to change.

Even in small things, Edric and I have to be careful. We enjoy Netflix, but we have to be mindful of what we watch, even what we listen to because our kids copy us. We can’t say to them, “Don’t watch this show, it’s only for adults.”

As much as possible, we try to watch shows that we can all enjoy as a family. If it’s defiling for our kids to watch something, then why do we think it’s okay for us? Aren’t we called to honor the same temple?  

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

This passage also applies to exercise and health. Our kids need to see us being disciplined about our eating, sleeping, and diet. We can’t emphasize healthiness in the home if it’s not backed up by our examples.

At the same time, we can’t be obsessed about wellness either. When Elijah started to act like a hypochondriac, I realized it was my example feeding him with fears. 

So there has to be a balance. Taking care of our bodies is a good thing but not when it moves into the realm of idolatry. 

Model the Right Perspective – A spiritual perspective 

My family experienced a major crisis when I was fifteen. However, long before this event I had observed the manner in which my parents handled various crises in their own lives. When people wronged them, betrayed them, or maligned them, they didn’t take it personally or hold grudges. Instead they processed difficult people and circumstances with spiritual lenses. 

When something or someone was beyond their control, they did their part to fix what they could but they also prayed instead of panicked. They often reminded my siblings and me that God was in control, sovereign, and causing all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)  

Our children are bound to encounter their own set of challenges in life. Seeing how we respond with faith and trust in God during times of testing will strengthen them for the storms that will come their way. 

Model the Right Kind of Authenticity – Be humble when you make mistakes 

The reality is that we make mistakes as parents. Edric and I have hurt our kids and been bad examples at certain points, and our kids know that we have our weaknesses. But one thing that we have learned is that the best remedy is to humbly ask for their forgiveness and commit to change when we mess up.

 Last year Edric and I had a speaking engagement in Baguio on parenting young kids. On the way, we had an issue. One of our kids passed gas in the car and the smell was terrible. Edric was preparing his message and the smell bothered him so much he asked, “Who passed gas?”

A hand went up in the backseat and someone said, “I’m sorry dad, I did.”

Since Edric is sensitive to smells, he felt annoyed, and declared an ultimatum, “Kids, no one is allowed to pass gas in the car EVER.”

When I heard him say this, I felt annoyed. How can this ridiculous, exasperating rule be imposed on young children? We have a three year old!

So, my mistake was I disrespectfully challenged Edric in front of the kids, “So you mean to tell me you never pass gas in the car, hon?”

The kids were listening to us go back and forth as we dragged the verbal arguing on. Finally, we got to the venue and I didn’t want to speak about parenting. I felt like we were parenting failures at that moment.

God convicted me to apologize for my disrespect to Edric and the kids which I did. As for Edric, I just prayed that God would speak to him, especially since one of our sons whispered to my ear, “It’s kind of hypocritical of dad to tell us not to pass gas.”

I replied in faith, “I’m sure your dad will talk to you and you can share this with him.”

Thankfully, that’s exactly what Edric did. He too was convicted about what happened in the car and he apologized to me, to the kids, to everyone. Peace and joy were restored and Edric and I could truthfully stand in front of the audience with our kids sitting in the back.

Since we are imperfect parents, we will make mistakes, but the good news is that the willingness to say sorry and ask for forgiveness keeps our children’s hearts soft. 

James 5:16 reminds us, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”

To encourage the parents out there, God is committed to helping us fulfill our role. He will continue to change us and mold us into the persons He wants us to be. However, we have to be willing to repent and change when we make mistakes. 

I want to end by sharing what Edric and I learned from an Easter family breakthrough retreat. Every parent has to be able to ask their children, “How have I hurt you? How can I improve? And will you forgive me for…”

We can try our best to be a model of Christlikeness but if we fail, these questions will keep our kids from developing bitterness and hard hearts towards us and towards following God.

Model the Right Roles 

This part was written by my fourteen year old, Elijah: 

Around a year ago, right before my thirteenth birthday, my Dad took me to climb Mt. Apo, as sort of a “rite-of-passage” ritual into manhood. He modeled how to be a man. Being very responsible and prepared, Dad created a checklist of things we needed to bring, and pitched a tent in our yard so we could practice for the real thing (it was actually much harder than the real thing, being in our rocky yard), then finally took out our little burner and grilled some food out in our yard, too. But we still ate some of the dinner cooked by Mom. Because we learned from our mistakes, we were able to camp more comfortably on the actual mountain. 

At one point during our climb to Mt. Apo, my Dad was so exhausted that he told me, “I’ll probably climb back down and call a helicopter to pick me up.”

However, he kept pushing and made it to the summit. He even shared the gospel with a few people at the top. 

During my time with him on the mountain he showed me how to live with very little and be content with it. Although it was difficult, we had a lot of fun. Dad pushing himself made me want to push myself too. I reached the top second! (Of course, our guide got there first.)

Another way my dad teaches me to be a man is through speaking engagements he brings me on, showing me what he does and exposing me to all kinds of people. I learn how a man should conduct himself, how one can communicate effectively, and how to have God-confidence. In his talks, he tries to insert the Gospel as much as spossible, no matter what he is speaking about. This assures me that I, too, can be confident to put verses in my sharing and not be afraid to share God’s word. 

Model the Right Priorities

Significantly, one of the most recent things Dad has taught me is the value of priorities. Through the years, Dad has showed me how to give up good things to make way for great things. 

Back in September 2015, my Dad got an offer to be an anchor for Mornings@ANC, a morning news show. He told us that he was so excited about the opportunity because it was a major show which paid good money. We also thought that it would be great as a platform for God. So, my Dad took the job after praying about it and getting advice from others. 

Initially, it was fun to have him come home after the show to catch us at breakfast and share all the goodies and freebies he would get. And my Dad seemed to enjoy it as he would share stories with my Mom. 

However, his schedule was crazy. You see, he had to wake up at 3:30am to be at the studio by 4:30am. To wake up at this time, he had to sleep by around 7:30pm. But this was just a show on top of his other work. So when he got home from the Morning Show, we would catch him for breakfast briefly, then he would leave for work and come home just in time for dinner then head off early to bed.

To be honest, after a few months of this, I felt that Dad wasn’t spending enough time with me anymore, and I am a time person. I hardly got to talk with Dad and I didn’t see him a lot because of his difficult schedule. I tried to forget about it, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it because I missed him. So one day, I told my Mom how I felt. 

“I feel like Dad has been out too often. His show is taking him away from us.” While I was talking, my eyes started to perspire (because men don’t cry; their eyes only perspire). 

Apparently, I was not the only one feeling this way as my brother Edan also shared the same thing to my Mom. Also with eyes tearing. 

Because of this, Mom told Dad about it privately. That very same night, Dad spoke to my brother and me. He started the conversation by asking us, “How can I improve?” 

Edan and I told him that he was way too busy, and that we missed him. Since I was getting emotional, I stood up for a bit and as I walked away to compose myself, I said to my Dad, “There are more important things in life than money. I will pray for you Dad.” 

My Dad then gathered us together and embraced us tightly and looked at us with a smile, and said he would do something about it.

You know what? A few days later my Dad called us to gather around him as a family, saying he had something to share. He then told us that he had resigned from the show! I know it was hard for him because I saw sadness in his eyes. After all, he was turning down such a good opportunity and he would lose income. 

When I saw this, I felt like I wanted to take back what I said. But instead, I ended up saying, “Thank you for choosing to be with us.” Then I hugged him tightly. 

My dad started to make lots of time for us. We got to spend a lot more time together. So when he didn’t win an award he was nominated for called the Oustanding Young Man award and he felt discouraged, I told him, “You don’t need that award dad. You are the most oustanding man to me.”  

Inspired by his example, I try my best to prioritize too. One way is by reading my Bible and praying first thing in the morning, which should be my greatest priority. After that, I try my best to get my responsibilities done like practicing violin and completing homeschool work. 

One of the last things I am learning about modeling is that it is not just from my parents to us children, but also from us to our siblings. For instance, I have noticed that my siblings copy me when I read my Bible and practice instruments in the morning. Even Catalina, my three-year-old sister, who cannot read, will pick up her picture Bible and pretend to read.

To be honest, I don’t always model the right things—I don’t always read my Bible like this and I don’t always prioritize my responsibilities. Sometimes, I lose my temper, get impatient, and fight with my siblings. When this happens, I realize that I need to ask for forgiveness and try to improve. That’s something I see my parents do when they too make mistakes and it encourages me to do the same.

Ultimately, their goal and my goal is to copy Christ—he is the perfect model. So please pray Please that I will copy Christ more and more, through the years, and that when I fail, I will be humble and willing to improve. Please pray the same for my parents, that they will be humble and ask for forgiveness when they mess up. I’m sure they would appreciate it. God bless you all!


 

 

Time to Play 

Nothing trumps nature as the best setting for free play, also known as unstructured play. Several years back my kids went to Disney Land and Universal Studios in California but their favorite vacation memories revolved around visits to the park and Lake Tahoe, where they enjoyed hours of romping around the snow. 

Recently, we traveled to Dubai, and as much as they enjoyed all the amusement parks and touristy locations, the desert proved to be top on their list of places we visited. What did they do in the desert? They scaled the dunes and rolled down them! 

In the Philippines, their destination of choice is the beach. But of course! We have the best beaches in the world! 

For my kids, there is never enough time spent on the sand and swimming in the sea. 


Over the weekend, we went to Acea in Subic Bay. It’s a newly opened resort and still working through its birthing pains in the area of customer service. Yet, the place is beautiful, the ala carte meals delicious, and the staff are helpful and friendly. Besides the swimming amenities, there’s a gym and an indoor play place for the kids. Kids will not be bored. 


Furthermore, one of the owners is from the same church we go to so yes, I am biased. We like this place a lot! 


The kids hit the water as soon as we arrived and they were happy as can be, building their sand structures, throwing sand bombs at one another, and paddling in the sea. Acea also had a large pool and outdoor kiddie splash area which my youngest, Catalina, kept returning to. 

Had it not been for the severity of the sun at certain hours and the need to eat meals, I would have let the kids stay out all day. Even Eljah, as a fourteen year old, relapsed into early childhood with a shovel in hand, digging into the sand. The boys pounded one another and their friends with sand balls. There was no point to the game except to revel in the satisfaction of hitting their targets. A few adults chided them when their bombs accidentally hit innocent bystanders and swimmers. Yet, all in all, it was good and clean childhood fun. No adults dictated their activities or rules of play, but watchful moms kept a lookout for everyone’s safety. (And some of us played ourselves…beach volleyball versus men and well, we won! He he…When Edric joined our team.) 





Why is free play so beneficial to kids? 

First, it contributes to their healthy social development. They have to cooperate with one another, practice communication skills, deal fairly, and manage their emotions when they win, lose, or encounter difficult personalities. 

They also implore creative problem solving. How do you create a sand castle that will withstand the rising tide (if that is even possible)? How deep a hole do you need to dig to create a protective moat around your castle? What makes a sand bomb effective? Kids think through questions like these as they play.  So their brains, along with their bodies, must commit to resolving the challenges they face. 

Kids discover their unique bents and talents when they play, too. I know Titus is a tinkerer because he gravitates towards activities that involve building, dismantling, and figuring out how things work. As for Edan, he is a natural-born leader. When he plays, he gives other kids roles and responsibilities, and he comes up with rules and mechanics to create order. He likes being in charge. Tiana enjoys cleaning up. She feels a deep sense of gratitude when mess is managed. Elijah is a problem-solver. When a challenge presents itself during play, he thinks of mathematical or scientific solutions. Catalina can be very helpful when she is assigned a task by her siblings that makes her feel included in their play.  

I believe play makes kids smarter, too, and it allows children to discover who they are and whom God made them to be. Play gives children the opportunity to apply what they learn. It’s experience-based learning which is far more effective than filling in worksheets and answering test questions. Furthermore, when kids realize their limitations and capacities through play, they grow to understand themselves better. What are they good at? What can they improve on? 

The act of playing, which usually means they are having loads of fun, motivates them to see how far they can go in order to accomplish their goals. Whether it’s exerting themselves physically or mentally, kids are inclined to persevere because play is delightful. Titus figured out how to bike without training wheels, snowboard, roller blade, and use the scooter in a span of two weeks when we were in the U.S. for Christmas. He fell down and injured himself but he got right back up to pursue his goal, learning how to balance.

It is during play that children form cherished memories of their childhood as well. Whenever I reminisce about my younger years, it is the hours of play that I remember best. I developed a deep attachment to my home and my family because of our play times together. 

How sad to hear of children who have nothing left of the weekday to enjoy playing because of the time spent going to and from school, in school, and attending afte-school tutoring sessions. That’s not the kind of childhood our children ought to have. And it’s no wonder why they can’t wait for summer! 

I am not saying that kids shouldn’t work hard to get a good education. Yet, I wonder if we have tilted the balance too far in the direction of classroom-based academic rigor, where learning goals and parameters are dictated upon kids rather than allowing children to be in environments where they learn through play. Personally, I feel that there is something disturbingly unnatural about a childhood without the joys of unstructured play. 

What do you think? 

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! 

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.