Rags 2 Riches Launches a New Line of Decor

Rags 2 Riches, the home and design store that taps local craftsmen and women to weave their products recently collaborated with designer, Marilen Montenegro of Marilen.ph.

img_0788-1.jpgMarilen is a talented designer but she is also a model, tv personality, blogger, homeschooling mama and friend. One look at this home line tells me she’s mixed in all these aspects of her person into the handwoven planters, serving trays, poufs, and hampers. The colors pop and say happiness.

  
I could imagine one of the teal poufs on the floor of a homeschooling room. It’s something my own kids would enjoy sitting on to read a book. Here’s Marilen’s son, Santiago, enjoying his seat. He started bouncing on it later on, too. (As a mom of two energetic kids, I am sure she thought of that sort of thing when she had these made.)

img_0772.jpgOne of her serving tray designs followed the lines of her Marilen.ph logo – simple, clean, but far from boring with their textured handles and white washed finish. 

My top picks are the planters which remind me of the macrame projects my mom used to do. They look mid-century but with a colorful punch to them. 


And of course there’s the hamper which can also be used as a planter, which Marilen whispered to me she named Joy. And how joyful looking it is! The hue and style make you want to smile. I certainly did!


Be sure to stop by one of Rags 2 Riches’ stores to see the whole line. This one is in Podium, Ortigas. 

   

  

  

  



 

Things that matter…hmm…showing up for a friend’s product launch because you want her to know you’ve got her back. 

  
For more info, check out R2R’s social media accounts and website:

  
Visit Marilen.ph, too, for great tips on how to style your home with heart! 

 

Whom Do You Love More?

For all my young readers out there, this post is for you. I shared it during this morning’s church service and I hope it will bless and encourage you! 


Ever since I was a child I cared about what people thought about me. I was a self-conscious person and a people-pleaser. This character weakness was tested especially in college, when I was no longer homeschooled or in a Christian school.

After graduating from an American school for missionaries called Faith Academy, most of my friends left for the US or Europe after high school, and I had to make friends from scratch. I didn’t know people in college like most students did. 

Eventually, however, I had a group of friends I started hanging out with who kind of took me “under their wing.” They were a great bunch of friends – intelligent, beautiful, kind-hearted, and fun to be with. However, they also belonged to a crowd who enjoyed going out to bars and clubs on Wednesday nights and the weekends.

When I first started frequenting bars with my college friends I thought I would never drink alcohol. It didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t grow up in a home where alcohol or cigarettes were common. And the high school I went to didn’t allow students to have either. So I would sit around and watch everybody with some sort of booze in their one hand, most often beer, while they checked each other out and chatted each other up. A lot of it was flirting between guys and girls, or sitting around with your group of friends while some guy treated you all to drinks.

At the beginning, I thought, What am I doing here?! This is a slow way to die, inhaling all this second hand smoke! It was almost intolerable, but I would go anyway, to be with my girl friends. Almost always, I would feel out of place, uncomfortable about connecting with people in an environment that seemed to be the worst place to engage in genuine conversation.

Nevertheless, I wanted to fit in somehow. So I thought, Why not try just a little alcohol? It’s not like the Bible says that drinking is sinful. To be honest I didn’t like the taste at all at first, but participating in the same things my friends did made me feel closer to them, more accepted, and this mattered to me.

The tipping point for me was going on an out of town trip for a football match. Our team went to a bar afterwards to celebrate, and getting a buzz from my cocktails gave me an exhilarating sense of freedom. I felt more confident, more gregarious. I do recall receiving surprised and concerned looks from people who knew me to be the conservative Christian. But I rationalized, “Hey, I can do this. I am still in control and I’m not doing anything stupid.”

I would rarely drink to the point of tipsiness, but there were a few times that I got carried away and did some ridiculous things.  One time I kissed a friend in public (someone I would never ever have kissed) while wearing my angel outfit and halo at a halloween party. The irony. My girl friends rushed over to pry me away, scolding our friend when it wasn’t even his fault. Another time, I got drunk and threw up out of a window of a moving vehicle. Yet another time, I danced like an idiot on the ledge of a club that had a lot of lecherous looking old men in it. In Europe, on a month-long trip with my friends (which was a blast), we would be out every night we could dancing with strangers and going out with people we hardly knew.

Thankfully, this season of my life was short-lived. After a while, I thought to myself, Why am I doing these things? Do I really want to be this person? I don’t even like alcohol! Furthermore, I recognized that my root problem was not the actual drinking or nights out, but the desire to have people’s approval.

Amazingly, when I told my parents about my night time adventures and the places I went go to they were NOT reactive. They didn’t scold me or condemn my friends. They didn’t pressure me to live up to the expectations of a pastor’s kid (which would have probably incited me to rebellion). Instead, their style was to spend time with me and ask me questions like, “So why do you like to drink?” They tried to understand my motivations so they could better disciple me. After all, it wasn’t my behavior that was the issue to them. It was my heart. So they prayed faithfully for me. They prayed a lot! And they reminded me that I was accountable to God.

Since they weren’t the kind of parents who were suffocatingly strict and unreasonable, or the kind of parents who micromanaged every choice their kids made, I appreciated and respected their input. More importantly, their talk-less, listen-and-dialogue-more method of mentoring me gave the Holy Spirit the space to speak to me and convict me.

I began to be deeply disturbed about the trajectory I was headed in. I knew I was a follower of Jesus. Yet my motivations revealed that I valued what people thought about me more than God’s opinion of me. Did I really love Jesus with all my heart?

Furthermore if I really loved Jesus then I would live to please him above all else. My goal would be to glorify Him, and to pursue Christ likeness and righteousness. But at that point I couldn’t confidently say that my life inspired others to follow Christ. Living with this dichotomy — professing to love God yet having little fruit to show as evidence, troubled me. I didn’t have peace.

So I went back to the convictions that my parents passed on to me when I was younger — truths that hooked me back into the will of God before I wandered too far off course. I made the decision to honour God and glorify Him. If I truly loved Him, this would be a priority to me.  It wouldn’t even be about whether drinking was okay or not. (Sometimes we can be so legalistic and judgmental as followers of Christ, equating spirituality with this image of someone who doesn’t drink, smoke, dance, go to clubs or maybe even movie theaters! Nevertheless, I do believe that everyone who likes to do things like drink or smoke should assess why they do. And if their reasons signal red flags like addiction, dependence, peer acceptance, or remedies for stress, etc…then it may very well benefit them to ask the same questions I had to.)

For me the more important questions were, “How do I live in such a way that people will be attracted to Jesus Christ in me? What does God see when He looks into my heart?” In response, I changed my Wednesday and weekend habits. I stopped going to bars and clubs in order to “fit in.” 

This didn’t mean that I lost all my friends either. I loved these girls. I still do. And when we can, we get together for meals or coffee, occasions when we can really connect and talk.

Another, more serious test came when I had my second boyfriend, the same boyfriend who eventually became my husband whom you know as my one and only, Edric Mendoza. We struggled in the area of physical purity. We didn’t have sex but we pushed things to the absolute limit. I knew that I was making compromises that were not pleasing to God, but a part of me also wanted to hold on to Edric’s affections for me. There were moments when I would deceivingly think, this isn’t so bad. It’s not like we are having sex. But I had lowered my standards for holiness and purity by comparing my actions to what “other people are doing.”

Once again, I had to ask myself the same question, Do I really love Jesus more than I love Edric? 

Because the struggle with purity continued no matter what tricks we tried to avoid temptation, we were compelled to consider breaking up. Edric also loved God and wanted to do what was right. So we broke off the relationship without any timetable for getting back together. It was one of the most difficult things I had to do and Edric would say the same thing, but it was also one of the best decisions we ever made.

Edric was an idol in my life whom I had to surrender to God. When I did so, my passion for the Lord was rekindled. Prior to this, my struggle with purity had put a wedge and cap on my ability to grow spiritually. Edric also grew deeper in His faith.

Eventually, God allowed us to get married with the approval and blessing of our parents, and after full disclosure to them. By this time our hearts were prepared to love each other the way God called us to. We understood that in any relationship, Christ must be the center. A husband and wife must love Jesus first to love each other the way they should.

Not all love stories may end this same way, but I do believe that when we love God with all that we are He gives us His best in return, which is first and foremost Himself. Everything else is a bonus!

Mendoza_119Today I am happily married to Edric. We have five children. And we are serving the Lord as a team and teaching our children to love Him. The stories that I shared are almost twenty years old, but they remain significant because they were turning points in my life, when I made a conscious choice to love God and obey Him over something else or someone else that was important to me.

John 14:21 says, He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

We may have to sacrifice and experience challenges as we love God with all that we are, but He promises fullness of joy!

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” ‭‭John‬ ‭15:9-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬

By God’s grace, the best and sweetest years of my life so far have been those that I have given wholeheartedly to loving, following, obeying, and serving God. When I am tempted to replace this love for God with something else (because struggles still exist), I tell myself, Nothing is better than Christ. And nothing will ever satisfy me more than to seek Him and obey His will! 

The 6th Milkshake Run

 Family time is always important. We always look forward to weekends and holidays because it is an opportunity to spend time with family and loved ones, build new memories, and lasting relationships. I think you will all agree when I say that there is no amount of money and success that can take the place of time spent with family.
Mommy Mundo always promotes a healthy family life and finds different avenues to create unique activities and build lasting experiences with families. With this in mind, Mommy Mundo decided to bring back the Mommy Milkshake Run, now on it’s 6th year, this family fun run was first organized in 2007, and lasted uptil 2011. 

This year, they are bringing it back to complement their active parenting advocacy and bring the community together to celebrate active play and bonding. Come join the fun run on Sunday, March 6, 2016, as families bond together with other families to celebrate togetherness and the outdoors.

 The 6th Mommy Milkshake Run will be a 3km and 5km run along the BGC area. This fun run is a relatively relaxed run where every member of the family can join! Including, but not limited to, expectant moms, moms & dads (with or without slings and strollers), toddlers & kids. The run will have no time limit.
This will be a family friendly event with Portable Toilets, a Breastfeeding station and lounge for the nursing mom, a diaper changing area for parents with babies and toddlers, and ample water stations along the route to provide hydration for all participants. First Aid stations and Medics will be available for any untoward incidents

You won’t need to carry your little one for the entire race, as you can bring a stroller for them. However, they will not allow the use of bikes, skateboards, hover boards, and roller skates during the run. Pets are also not allowed.

Mommy Mundo will not be liable for any loss, we will have baggage claim area for all your belongings.

After the run, everyone will receive a certificate of participation, as well as a bag of goodies from the sponsors. Stay longer to enjoy a family fair with games, music, raffle prizes, food carts, special awarding ceremony, and an inflatable section for all the kids.

Here are a few things to remember from Mommy Mundo:

1. Registration period is from January 25 to February 14. We will accept payments until
February 15. We will follow the No payment, No run policy, so please be prompt. Registration is required for every participant, including children.

2. On February 13 and 14, you can register and pay at Planet Sports, BGC, from 12 noon to 8pm.

3. Registration Fee are as follows:
Children ages 2-12 years old = P300
*Children below 2 years of age can enter for free, but has to be registered. Adults
3k = P500
5k = P650

4. You can claim your Race Kits from February 22 to March 4 at the Creative Juice office in 2F Fun Ranch, Frontera Verde, Ortigas Ave. Pasig City. Other pick up sites will be announced in our social media pages.

5. Race kits include The 6th Mommy Milkshake Run Singlet, Map of the venue, and the 3k/5k route.

6. On Race day, it is important to know that registration will start at 5:30am, location of meet up, to be determined. Race bibs will be handed to you upon registration. For our pregnant participants, please provide a medical certificate from your doctor/OB Gyne, allowing you to join this race.

7. Opening Program starts at 6:00am, where we will stretch and warm up our bodies before the run.

8.Race starts at 6:30 am for the 5 km run and 6:40 am for the 3 km run.
For more details, please visit www.mommymundo.com/milkshakerun2016
The 2016 Mommy Milkshake Run is supported by Curves, Gatorade, Hi-Precision Diagnostics, and Growers.

Media Sponsor: The Fort City, Working Mom, and The Bull Runner

Venue Sponsor: Bonifacio Global City Estate
Medical Sponsor: Ambucore

For more information, please contact:
Monica Santiago | Creative Juice Communications Landline: (02) 5707827
Mobile: (0998) 5399216
Email: monica@creativejuiceph.com

For All the Sensible Germaphobes

There’s an amazing technology available for homes that can zap dangerous micro organisms to sanitize your home. It’s all about harnessing the power of UV-C rays. Bacteria and viruses have immunity towards UV-A and UV-B rays that come from the sun, but not UV-C rays. When UV-C rays come in contact with bacteria and viruses they alter their DNA structure and cause them to die swiftly. 

I wouldn’t have believed it. But a part of our home was swabbed to show how many micro organisms had accumulated to levels that are shockingly scary. I thought my house was pretty clean but after the swab test I discovered it may look clean to the naked eye but invisible organisms can be growing at alarming rates. Clean is not the same as sterilized.

   


Thankfully, there is a fix that is wonderfully effective. Okay, it isn’t cheap (the hospital grade size machine is 80K), but I know people who have paid more for one of those water based cleaning contraptions that are ridiculously expensive. And they don’t kill bacteria or viruses as effectively. Neither do they zap dust mites the way this UV machine can. 

After exposing the swabbed area to thirty minutes of UV light, the micro organisms count dropped down to safe levels. And all my kids had to do was switch on the light and exit the room, closing the door behind them when the device did its magic.

But it’s not magic at all. It is science. I can’t explain all the technical details of this machine but I am posting their FAQs below. (By the way, I wasn’t paid to write about this. I offered to do so after I saw how it worked.)

The kids were fascinated with the technology so the demo of the product became a science lesson.

   
  

     

   
 
   

   

     
Maybe you are one of those parents who is utterly frustrated and discouraged because your kids keep getting sick. This may be worth the investment for you. I am trying to convince Edric to get one! My youngest daughter, Catalina, and third son, Titus, are susceptible to respiratory infections so this will help them a lot.

My sister, Candy, was like, “Hey maybe we can buy one as a clan and just pass it around!” (That’s the Chinese mentality in us!) 

 A smaller version of this machine will be available in the near future. In the meantime, this one is hospital grade and just the right size of you have big rooms in your house. Other products include a hand held wand for disinfecting gadgets, and a toothbrush sterilizer. 

The recommended use for the room sterilizer is once a week. This will significantly minimize the amount of pathogens and unwanted germs that your household is exposed to. And no harmful cleaning chemicals needed! Eventually, you can switch to once a month.

As a precautionary note, the machine should be turned on in a room with no one inside. Otherwise it can cause reddening of the skin, like a sunburn. But the device has a safety feature that turns off when the motion sensor detects movement. Furthermore, the light doesn’t go through glass or walls. There’s also a timer that activates so you have time to exit a room before it turns on.

UV-Care Room Sanitizer is a product of Intech Group Innovations Corp. Contact info: 0977-822-8556 / email: customercare@uvcare.net

Facts about UV-Care Room Sanitizer:

UV-Care LIGHT

It penetrates the membranes of viruses, bacteria, mold, and dust mites—attacking their DNA—terminating them and their ability to spread. The UV-Care Room Sanitizer emits a blue spectrum of light to help you see the surface area you are cleaning.

UV-Care LIGHT ELIMINATES GERMS AND BACTERIA

Hospitals, food processing facilities, water treatment and HVAC systems use UV-C light to eliminate biological contaminants and germs. Research has been conducted by universities and published in journals. They also have real-life applications used in public health uses in urban areas in the United States and Canada. It is also currently used in medicine and dentistry for sterilising medical tools. 

YOU’LL SMELL AND FEEL THE DIFFERENCE

Bedding and couches will smell and feel fresh with consistent use of the UV-Care Room Sanitizer. Musty smells and pet odors can be virtually eliminated. 

SUSTAINABLE SANITIZING

Sanitizing with UV-Care Room Sanitizer means you don’t need harsh chemicals that pollute our water and add unnecessary product packaging to our landfills. Reduced production of household cleansers means fewer chemicals in our environment and reduced fuel expenditures for transporting them to the marketplace.

Q: How often should I use UV-Care Room Sanitizer?

A: The effects of cleaning with UV-Care Room Sanitizer are cumulative, so more frequent use will result in greater sanitization of a surface. Once a comfortable level of clean has been established, pollutants can usually be controlled with a weekly sanitizing regimen to maintain the effect. Some surfaces, like those in kitchens and bathrooms, should be treated when they come in contact with contaminants. A cleaning regimen of other surfaces such as beds and couches can be done weekly, or even more frequently if required.

Q: How long should I treat an area?

A: Different bacteria require different exposure. For example: a 24” x 36” countertop requires three minutes of exposure to eliminate Salmonella or two minutes for Staphylococcus.

Q: How do I know if its working?

A: Most contaminants are microscopic, so just like using a chemical cleanser, you can’t directly see the effects. However, in many cases people report being able to feel the effects and you may notice that biological and/or organic odors are eliminated as well. Laboratory test also proves that UV-Care Room Sanitizer works.

Q: Can I use the UV-Care Room Sanitizer on myself, family members or pets?

A: No. The UV-Care Room Sanitizer is for use on inanimate surfaces only and is not safe for use on your skin, and should not be exposed to your eyes.

Important to note: UV-Care Room Sanitizer is used to remove biological contaminants from surfaces. It is not a treatment for people or animals. 

Q: Is UV-Care Room Sanitizer dangerous to people?

A: Very close and prolonged exposure can damage skin and eyes. Use caution to ensure that direct exposure is brief and distant from the light source.

Q: Why should I trust this appliance?

A: UV-Care Room Sanitizer ensures the quality components of its products and receive the highest quality products in the industry, backed by the best warranty and unsurpassed customer service. The product is laboratory tested by 3rd party laboratories.  

 
 
 
 

For Official Use Only

When we moved into our newly built home a year and a half ago, Edric and I dedicated it to the Lord. First of all, our house was finished through much prayer and God’s faithful provision, so it most definitely belonged to Him. Each month of the construction phase He supplied what we needed to complete it. My prayer always was, “Lord, please provide above and beyond what we need to finish and furnish our home.” (Up to this day, he continues to add to what we have so we can get pieces here and there to decorate our organically modern home.) 

Psalm 127:1 says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.”

When the monumental task of constructing our place loomed over us at the very beginning, Edric and I claimed Psalm 127:1 as both a promise and a reminder. Even though we had an amazing architect and contractor, we knew that God was our architect, contractor and designer. We also prayed that this would be a home where God’s presence would dwell and His purposes would prevail. 

Therefore each space was considered with ministry in mind…ministry to our family and ministry to others. How could we make areas that invited people to conversation and connectedness? How could we be hospitable with our home, and utilize it for gatherings where people hear God’s word? What configuration for the rooms would encourage family bonding and keep our kids close to one another? 

Shortly after our home was livable, we invited family and friends over. Our furniture wasn’t complete and the decor needed help, but we couldn’t wait to use our home to bless people. 

Some of the events we hosted were chaotic and crazy, others quiet and intimate. Some things were damaged and soiled, but we don’t have pricey furniture or decor, and we don’t own luxury goods or keep wads of cash at home. So I did not feel stressed when people were all over the house. There was nothing super costly to break or even to take! More importantly, God blessed us with this home to steward it for His use. Hence the title “For Official Use Only.” Or, more accurately put, “For God’s Use Only.” 

It deeply delights us when people come together in our home for fellowships, bible studies, activities and play dates. The joy outweighs the cost and the clean up that follows.

At the turn of the year, Edric and I decided to be more intentional. So the first event we hosted in January was for neighbors. We teamed up with our couple’s bible study group to invite their family and friends to a backyard barbecue. Because everyone helped out, decorating and setting up became such a fun bonding experience. Some baked cookies, others lent their tables and chairs or house help, others came early to string lights and style the tables, and still others contributed ice cream and dessert. We also prayed two weeks prior that neighbors would come.

To be honest, I had my qualms. Would neighbors be willing to show up at another neighbor’s house whom they didn’t know? And without alcohol being served to loosen everyone up? (Of course they didn’t know that alcohol wouldn’t be served when they were invited.) 

Well, the good news is that eighteen of the invited guests came, excluding the headcount for their kids. Most of them met us and one another for the first time. Edric got to insert a short talk on how to live in 2016, which centered on the principle of numbering our days. So our guests heard from God’s Word and they sat through the entire thing! Only one guy had to stand up and take a call. 

After the evening came to a close, I thanked the Lord for the privilege of having a home where we can host occasions like this. 

God tells us in Romans 12:13 to “practice hospitality.” It takes effort and monetary sacrifice to do so, but Edric and I remind ourselves that God built this home for the sake of the gospel. Yes, He also gave it to us to enjoy and raise our family in, but may it best be known as a home where people live out the gospel message of God’s love and forgiveness, and where people who step inside it experience how much God loves them!

Getting the backyard ready:

 

   

    
 

Praying as a team:

    
Preparing the food: 

    

  

  

The guests arrive (each person who invited someone sat beside their guests): 

   
   
   
Edric gives his talk:  

  
If you want to organize your own backyard barbecue, here are some printable homemade food labels you can use: 

   
  

  

  

  

  

  

    
  

  
 

Future Park

We just visited Future Park, an interactive technology-based play center for kids.The kids had a blast! There aren’t too many stations yet but the concepts were really cool!  They gave us a glimpse of what future play will be like. 

 
   

 

  


   

     

Sketch City was my personal favorite and it was designed by the Philippines! You add your own details and color to sketches of different forms of transportation and your final drawing is scanned and uploaded into a program that animates and displays your work.    

 

This board of lights sense your heat and changes color accordingly.
 The best days to visit are weekdays. It’s 200 pesos cheaper!  

“Future Park is the Philippines’ first digital interactive play space – a dazzling exhibit of games and installations powered by cutting-edge tech and your imagination!” (Source: Century City Mall)
 
   

Highlights of 2015

 

Before January gets really busy, I would like to thank the Lord for the year that was and thank you, my readers, for taking the time to visit this blog. Your comments, messages, and prayers have been a blessing to me, and a motivation to keep writing whenever I get lazy or tired. Many of you have come up to me in person, too, to take hold of my arm and whisper that this site has been a part of your life, and you can’t imagine how your words have brought me joy.

I slowed down a little bit this year with writing, primarily because it felt like our family lived two years in one this 2015. This was probably the most hectic year I’ve ever survived. Writing kind of took a backseat at times to give way to motherhood and wife duties, homeschooling, ministry, work, speaking, traveling, or much needed rest. But this site is still important to me and I haven’t lost the desire or drive to keep using this site as a means to reach out to people and talk about what God is doing in my life, marriage and parenting. This is what keeps me pressing on.

Indeed, He did much in 2015. I would even call it the best year I have ever lived. God is amazing in this way. Every year that I walk with Him, every year that I give to Him turns into the best year. This doesn’t mean that my family and I are free from problems or crises, but it does mean that His grace and faithfulness abound.

These were my personal highlights of 2015 and I hope that going through these will remind you that God is a loving Father who knows the needs of his children, the desires of their hearts, the purposes He has called them to, the mistakes they make, and the correcting that is painful but necessary along the way.

Our family capped off 2014 and welcomed 2015 with a trip to the U.S., where we survived a month without household help, the cold, and learned to serve each other through sleepless nights and endless chores. We came back to Manila in the second week of January recharged and ready to jump into 2015.

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One of my first challenges was running in a 21K, which I thought was going to be a killer but Edric and I got through it by God’s grace! (I actually finished ahead of him which was another surprise but I couldn’t have run it without him so he helped me “beat” him.)

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Soon after we had our family commercial for Cetaphil which was an unexpected blessing. Catalina acted up a couple of times which is why she wasn’t in the final video edit but they included her in the print materials. Edan actually had a fever that started the day of the shoot (look at the photo below and his eyes), but he was a real trooper and the team behind the production was very easy to work with. It’s been a privilege to be brand ambassadors for a product line we really believe in and use as a family.

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Shortly after, Meg Magazine featured my testimony. They asked me to talk about how God brought healing to my life.

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Our homeschooling had its highlights, too. Edan discovered an interest in botany. He grew his carnivorous plants for a season. Unfortunately they eventually died which was a lowlight but he continues to be interested in animals and plants. Looks like we will be buying more carnivorous plants again this year!

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Elijah graduated from elementary and moved on to high school! This opened a new chapter in our homeschooling, especially for me! More grace, strength, and wisdom needed from the Lord!

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Titus took his first achievement test and did well! He also excellent at math this year which I didn’t even know was a strong point for him. But praise God. He knows that I’m not the best math teacher. I also discovered that Titus has a God-given musical talent. He started harmonising at the age of 6 and taught himself to do this!

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My fourth child, Tiana, started to read which was a big milestone!

 

 Catalina, my youngest, became a real a chatterbug. She grew in her ability to express herself and comprehend, and has showed an inclination to learn and be part of our homeschooling. She got exiled many times because she was disruptive but I hope to include her as often as possible this year.

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One of the kids’ homeschool field trips was to Costales where they learned about organic farming. God saved Ethan (my nephew on the right) from drowning, too! He got sucked down a drain and it’s a miracle that he popped out the other end and my brother was able to pull him out!

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Over the summer the boys attended Coach Siot’s basketball camp, which they will be joining again at the end of this month. They learned to push themselves physically.

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They also enrolled in Ninja Academy’s Parkour course, which has been incredibly fun for them. What boy doesn’t want to learn to scale walls, jump over bars, free fall off a ledge, and swing from ropes?

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Tiana finally made it through her ballet classes without crying through them. She turned out to be quite a graceful dancer (most probably from Edric’s side of the family).

The boys improved immensely in their violin playing.

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We also got to fix our homeschool room which made a big difference in our kids’ daily learning.

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God opened up opportunities to be featured on television to talk about homeschooling. The first was on CNN’s Mommy Hacks.

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I was also interviewed about homeschooling for Mommy Mundo’s new show which should be airing soon!

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Throughout the year, the kids spoke with us during retreats, business speaking engagements, and other ministry activities. This was a great way for them to use their communication skills to bless people.

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Our homeschool Coop gave our kids the opportunity to develop some great friendships. I also enjoyed connecting with other homeschool moms and team teaching with them. By the end of the year, when we celebrated our Christmas party, we were nearly 100 people! We had to cater the party!

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Our coop covered culinary arts, art history and theory, speech, ethics, apologetics, science, social studies, history, and it culminated with a Kid’s Praise musical thanks to the talented moms who contributed their expertise for directing, teaching dance, singing, and designing the set. The kids performed for an audience of underprivileged children at Revelation Church in Sta. Mesa.

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TMA Homeschool did some much needed expanding this year. We did several roadshows to connect with homeschoolers around the Philippines…

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TMA Homeschool also moved into its new office to help serve parents better, and Learning Plus, our homeschool bookstore, opened to provide curriculum and homeschool-related materials to parents. Our guests from the U.S., Mike Donnelly of Homeschool Legal Defense Association, and Davis and Rachel Carman of Apologia Press graced the ribbon cutting.

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The portal, Homeschooling Solutions, became available for families who can’t come to the Learning Plus Bookstore because they live farther away or out of the country. Materials are delivered within 48 hours. A lot of non-TMA Homeschool families used this site for their homeschooling needs.

We had two big homeschool conferences this year. Set Them Up for Success and Ready for the World, where we partnered with Manila Workshops ,  The Learning Basket and HAPI. These events brought the homeschool community together.

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On the Family Ministry front, God provided an amazing team to mount three very special events —  The Before and After I D seminar for engaged and newly married couples, Family and Finance, and Counterflow. We intend to make these events a yearly thing for young couples and families who want to know more about biblical marriage, finance, and parenting.

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Here’s a super big one which was made possible only by God’s amazing grace! My book, When A Good God Allows Rape, got published and was launched at the Manila International Book Fair by OMF Lit Publishing. It’s now available in bookstores around the country like National Bookstore, Pages, OMF Lit, and as a online ebook via Amazon, buqo, and others.

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Writing the book opened doors for me to talk more about the Lord. On CNN Philippines’ Real Talk the hosts devoted the entire 45 minutes to asking me questions about my book and my faith in Christ! I was thrilled! My dream for this book is that it will inspire people to follow Jesus. May He get all the glory!

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We had some favourite family photoshoots over the year. The first was done by Mayad Studios, who ventured into lifestyle photography with their Mayad Beginnings. They captured our family so naturally. 

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Another one was done by Alex Adiaz, which we also appreciated very much. He shot this one in our backyard.

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Another super highlight was Elijah getting baptized. 

 Yet another personal favourite of 2015 was how God worked in our Thursday couples’ group. We grew closer to the Lord and to one another, and most of us got to attend The Executive Couple’s Retreat in Baguio Country Club, where we learned and re-learned marriage principles. Some of us also served by facilitating other couples’ groups.

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As a group, we put together a surprise wedding for the Avelinos. This really knit our hearts together in a special way.

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Our bigger discipleship group family grew, too! Unfortunately we didn’t get to see everyone as often as we wanted to because we moved far from the area where we used to meet every week. But, we got together for “trimester” fellowships. These people are our extended spiritual family for life and we love them dearly!

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The year had some sad turns. Steve, who was like family, died tragically a day before he turned 30. My grandfather, angkong to us, passed away at 96. Both knew the Lord so we shall see them again, but it was difficult to lose both of them.

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We didn’t do too well in the pet department. We lost three of our Siamese cats – one committed suicide off the top of our roof, and two got run over by crazy drivers. Our Myna bird fell over in its cage and expired, and several of our fish were found floating lifeless in their tank. We also had to give away two dogs to more deserving and caring owners. (They are still alive and much happier now.) We hope to have less tragedies with our animals in 2016.

  
Our family also lost a very loyal and hard working household help who went to work abroad. We gave her our full blessing and support but she continues to be missed.

A definite high was celebrating the wedding of Edric’s sister, Danie to Vince Valdepenas. 

(null)(null)I started sewing dresses this year. I sewed the dress I wore for the wedding and made 6 yards of mistakes in the process! Experience is the best teacher! Thankfully, the material was only P80/yard. Ssh.

Another endorsement fell into our laps when we were asked to do an online commercial for Vernel Fabric Softener as a family. We love these family endorsements! We are so thankful! It’s an undeserved bonus from God whenever we are asked to do these things.

 (null)The year ended with a number of parties and engagements (my last count was about 20) but my favourite part was being with family (Edric’s side and my side). The Mendozas were almost complete for Christmas this year. The Tan-Chis most definitely were which was extra special for all of us.

We left a spot for Edric’s sister, Nicky, who was terribly missed.

My sister, Carolyn and her husband, Joel, were MIA in this photo because she gave birth over the holidays. But we were together for opening presents on December 26th.

 

 

I am a pretty simple gal. Edric and I always have a lot going on, but my best memories of the year were the quiet ones… being at home, enjoying our house (we finally completed a year in it), exploring the outdoors as a family, getting to know our kids better and growing closer to one another, playing board games, curling up on the couch for some me-time, watching movies, going on dates with Edric, eating around our kitchen table…These are the moments that made up the best of 2015 for me.

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 When I take stock of this year, I am thoroughly amazed at God’s hand in everything. There’s no success mentioned here that can be attributed to Edric or myself. Everything that happened that was good was due to God’s grace. Everything that happened that was unfortunate was part of his grand plan. 

I’m posting this in the middle of our fasting week as a church, while I am praying for God’s direction and leading for 2016. A few days ago I began by asking Him, “Lord what is your will for me this year?” I expected answers like, “Say yes to this speaking engagement or say no to this one,” or, “Pursue this venture,” or, “Write another book,” or, “Do this for your homeschooling,” etc. Instead, this was the answer I received:

“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me, and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John 14:21

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done fore. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” John 15:7-11

We all want to experience a life of joy. I certainly do. And sometimes I mistakenly think that what I do with my abilities will determine how great a year I will have. But God simplified it for me when he said, “Love Me. Abide in My Love. Obey My commandments.” This is the path to a life of joy, a year of joy!

So my new year’s resolution is not a long list of things I would like to do or avoid. Instead it is dedicating 2016 to loving God, and abiding in His love by obeying His commands. How does God want you to live your 2016?

 

 

 

In Your Anger Do Not Sin

It’s rare that our household help will do things that aggravate me, but this past week they collectively made a decision that tempted me to fire them all. I came homeearlier than expected with the kids after a lunch appointment to discover that our home was locked up.     (Photo courtesy of freepik.com)

I was carrying Catalina who was fast asleep on my shoulder. Bags of groceries had to be unloaded from the car. So I told my kids to go downstairs to tell our household help to unlock the door from the inside. But my kids reported to me that none of them were around. 

Maybe they were upstairs cleaning? I tried calling their names but still, no answer. I must have stood outside our door for fifteen minutes, Catalina weighing heavily on my shoulder. I had no where to lay her down to go on an investigative hunt for our missing help. Then I tried contacting our household help via their cell phones. None of them were answering. 

By this time I was irked. no one was home to let us in. My suspicions were that my household help left to go on personal errands. When I finally got through to one of them, this is exactly what they confessed to me. Edan was standing next to me at the time and I raised my voice loudly over the phone and scolded them, “Why did you do this?! How are we going to get inside the house?!” I didn’t curse them or berate them but I was fuming. 

Anazingly, Titus, my mechanically inclined son, found a way to break into our home! (We know how to fix this vulnerable spot.) The kids and I got inside eventually thanks to Titus, and after I laid Catalina down on her bed, I stormed back down to wait for our help in the kitchen. 

I had to leave the house again but couldn’t do so because the girls weren’t home yet. This only exacerbated the situation for me. In my head, I played out the dialogue that I intended to have with them. The tone, the words, and my anger. And I even said to the Lord, “I am so mad!”

My help should haven’t left the house without telling me. And they shouldn’t have all gone, leaving the house together. They could have asked for my permission and I would have let them go (not all of them, because someone would have needed to stay to watch the house, but I would have let them do their errands.) Plus, I had just given them a bonus, lots of gifts and many days to relax over the holiday. It felt like they were taking my kindness and trust forgranted. 

God reminded me immediately, “In your anger do not sin.” (Ephesoans 4:26) Honestly, I wanted to fire all of them. I didn’t care at that point. I didn’t want to be merciful! But God’s command calmed me down. I also called Edric to express my frustrations to him. He listened very patiently, and he did not add fuel to my fire. In fact he encouraged me to ask our household help to explain themselves first before making any rash decision like choosing to let them all go. 

Furthermore, my dad used to tell my siblings and I, “do not make major decisions when you are emotional.” I was the epitome of emotional. My hormones weren’t stable because I was PMSing. I was in high stress mode because I had a major event I was preparing for in two days. 

It turned out to be a blessing that my household help took a while to get back. This gave me time to process my anger. The reason why I was so mad was because I focused on myself and the inconvenience and hurt my household help had inflicted upon ME. 

Perspective makes all the difference. Whenever I perceive myself as the victim in a situation — someone whose rights have been violated — I tend to think negatively about people and circumstances. However when I choose to lay aside my prejudices and see other angles of the same incident, I am less likely to lose my temper. Furthermore, when I consider that it is more important to glorify God with my responses, I lose the urge to prove myself and fight for my rights. 

Forty five minutes later our household help came back. They were very apologetic before I could even get a word in. Asking them to sit down around the kitchen table, I CALMLY requested them to tell me what happened. Afterwards, I expressed myself with “I feel” statements. “I felt upset,” I began, “that you did not ask me for permission. And then I felt hurt that you assumed that what you did was okay, leaving the house all together without anyone to watch it, and then making it inconvenient for us because we were locked out. Have you done this before? Is this something you do when I am not around? It concerns me because I trust you all very much. That’s the kind of relationship we have. I trust you.” Etc..etc…

They were sincerely apologetic and of course I forgave them. I used the mildest tone I could put on while explaining my frustrations to them, too, and corrected them with gentleness. Later on, Edan pointed out that I needed to apologize for shouting over the phone, so when the opportunity presented itself I did that, too. 

God gives us His grace to do the things that He calls us to. Not blowing up in front of my help was God’s grace! 

Managing household help isn’t easy, even when I am blessed to be able to say that the ones who work for us are wonderful. (I really do believe this even if I wanted to fire them when I was emotionally charged.) They make mistakes every now and then, big ones, small ones, but no mistake of theirs is worth losing my temper over or profaning God’s name so that they stumble spiritually. I must always choose to act in a manner that points the people who work for me and the people around me back to the heart of Christ. Why? Because it’s not about me. As Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” 

Does this mean I should let people trample on me and do nothing? No. But, it does mean that I don’t have to yell or scream or wound others with my words when they wrong me. There is a way to correct people without shaming them or belittling them. I praise God that I preserved my relationship with the ladies who work for me, but I praise God even more for what one of them said to me (and Edric) about a month ago:  “I have learned so much from you about the Lord and I want to thank you for your example.” I don’t want to destroy what God is doing in their lives and I very easily could if I was a bad example.

May God give us all wisdom when we find ourselves in these temper-testing predicaments with our household help or with others. We are accountable for drawing people closer to Christ or away from Him because of the things we say and do. May we be motivated to please Him and avail of the grace He promises to supply so that we can!

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrew 4:16

A recent party we held for our household help and our friends’ helps…  

First Day of Homeschooling

We kicked off January 2016 by cleaning and organizing the books in our homeschool room. The kids did most of the work.

Today, we officially started. I loved seeing all the kids are their “stations,” some struggling and others breezing through their new material. Okay, so there were tears half-way through. Quiet ones from Titus who had forgotten most of the Zoology content we read back in November. And loud ones from Elijah who was frustrated with himself for leaving a SIM card in the pocket of shorts that got thrown into the washing machine. Catalina interrupted whenever she could with her nose leaking snot down to her lips which she licked up a couple of times. Ew. 

   

  

  

  

  

 We didn’t cover much this morning. Just two or three subjects so I wouldn’t call it an amazing academics day. But being together again to learn was wonderful. The day ended with all of us folded over each other on the couch watching FoxHD’s Top Twenty Funniest Videos. Is it still called that? I can’t remember but there’s definitely a twenty and funniest in the title. 

Homeschooling has always felt like such a natural lifestyle for our family. I suppose this is partly because we chose to home educate our kids from the very beginning so they didn’t have to transition from any other sort of learning environment. To them learning was and still is a way of life and a worthwhile pursuit. It’s not without its challenges of course. Like I said, today we had some emotional outbreaks, minor ones, but still, these things do happen. But we weather the humps and bumps together and the journey becomes an adventure.

When I was asked by Edric to explain what I liked most about being a homeschool mom, I whittled down my answer to one major thing. T.I.M.E.

I have time with my kids. It’s uninterrupted. It’s quality and quantity time. This is such a treasure to me as a mother because my children will pass through this season quickly. And there’s a milestone everyday when you get to see the lives of your children up close. So many beautiful moments to enjoy together and to linger in. I am so thankful to the Lord that I don’t have to rush through them. It often feels like I have the bonus content version of a favorite movie, only it’s my children’s life stories that I am watching. 

Time also gives my kids the opportunity to explore their bents and passions. Most of the day is dedicated to this. We try to get through the academic requirements as quickly as possible so we can proceed to the “real” learning which happens outside of their subject studies. 

Here’s Edan’s newest project…ants:  

Elijah just built a website from scratch because he learned how to code. And he just jail broke an old IPhone! He studied how to do these things on his own. He is waaaay smarter than I am.

Most important of all, time affords me (and Edric) the power of influence. The more time I spend with my kids, the more open they are to listen to what I have to say and what I teach them. Time is a relationship-builder. And building relationships gives me special access passes into the hearts of my kids. This is why I don’t mind the humpy and bumpy parts of being a homeschool mom. The sacrifice is worth the gift of time. 

 
“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.” (Barbara Bush)

The Best Birthday Gift

BaguioChristmas2015-7087I am married to a romantic guy who likes to surprise me for special occasions and holidays throughout the year. His gimmicks range from elaborate to simple and sweet. Some of his more notable accomplishments as a creative gift-giver are the following:

  • Cooking up a feast wearing a chef’s hat when he doesn’t cook at all! (He and the boys crushed graham crackers on our dining table to make a cheesecake for me.)
  • Hiring artists to paint and draw my portrait.
  • Wrapping himself in a large refrigerator box and jumping out holding  a stuffed teddy bear.
  • Leaving a set of pajamas for me in the mailbox.

I could go on and on but the best gifts he has presented to me are his letters, which he faithfully writes every birthday, anniversary, and mother’s day since we got married. They often make me cry, which is the effect he hopes for!

This is the first time I decided to show the content of one of his letters (with his permission and with the omission of some private parts). I hope it won’t sound like I’m tooting my own horn by posting what he wrote to me. But I thought of how meaningful it is when a husband takes the time to appreciate his wife. (Maybe it will encourage all the husbands out there to do the same. Women like letters that tell us we are appreciated, right, ladies?! And wives, we can do the same for our husbands!)

I felt like I lived two years in 2015. And the one highlight (besides the faithfulness of God and my wonderful kids) has been walking alongside the love of my life, whom I have every intention of growing old with and celebrating every birthday with until the Lord calls me home. Here’s a little peak into his heart and why I feel very blessed and thankful to God that I belong to him…

 

December 23, 2015

My Dearest Joy,

I want to thank you for being the best wife and mother in the world. I really don’t know what I would do without you in my life. I think of the countless ways you serve me and the children, many times unnoticed, and often even under-appreciated by me because of my selfishness. But I see how you remain faithful anyway, preparing meals even in the wee hours of the night or morning, especially through my crazy (OMITTED) stint, waking up to deal with Catalina’s mood swings, dealing with the kids’ quirks as you homeschool them, addressing the drama that —by God’s grace— was quelled amongst the yayas and the driver, learning to deal with construction workers and electricians and all these people whom I know are not within your comfort zone, especially with what happened to you in the past. You are a faithful wife, my dear.

And I know what you’re probably thinking right now, “I’m not really that faithful. I have so much to improve on.” But you know what? That’s what’s even more amazing, is that through all this, you have a desire to continue to improve. So please, allow me to pay you this compliment without you having to downplay it. Instead, put on the other Joy response, “Oh really? You think I’m faithful? Praise God!” (otherwise known as your “showbiz” response hehe).

Seriously, I recently did a look back at 2015 and this was a tough year. I think this is the year I made the most mistakes in my life. By God’s grace, I can still say this was the best year ever, overall. But really, I committed a LOT of BIG mistakes, in my opinion. But what blesses me is that you have been right by my side, through it all, loving and supporting, rarely condemning (if at all). I love especially how you got my attention to the neglect I was doing towards the kids. If it weren’t for you, I would be spiralling further downward with the (OMITTED) hectic sched. I think about the walks and the talks we have, even as we’re stuck in traffic, and how you listen and laugh with me, and comfort me with promises of prayer, and even practical advice. Thank you, baby.

And as I look at the kids, our wonderful God-send miracles, kids we don’t deserve, I think about how you have been a HUGE factor in their turn-out thus far, by God’s grace. I see your signature JOY infused in all of them, even in our “masungs” Catalina. Even if each one has their quirk —Elijah’s frustration levels, Edan’s OC nature, Titus’ slack, Tiana’s logic lapses, they have a marked JOY. They are such a delight, and have a grounded-ness about them, one that is clearly from a relationship with Jesus, a fragrance of the Holy Spirit, but again, by God’s grace, one that they see in you. Elijah cited it recently, in fact, much to my personal chagrin, “Mom, you are my benchmark for godliness” (or something to that effect…you know my accuracy issues hehe). So it is so true, babes, that our kids have an innate JOY because you are a model of JOY. Praise God!!

I also thank God that this is the year He FINALLY allowed you to launch your book. This is a BIG deal, babes, and one that gives me deep delight, not just as your husband, but as your brother-in-Christ, because I know this is a BIG WIN for Jesus!! This early on, the 4,000 copies or so are being used to spread Christ’s gospel to countless others through the stories and shares and other permutations thereof. Go, go, go wifey Joy!! I am behind you 1000% baby. And don’t let any other person claim that they are your biggest fan, because that slot is reserved for me. Oh, and I am also the financier, coach, (OMITTED), and all the other stuff no one else can claim 😉

My prayer for you my darling wifey, is that God would continue to sustain you, and that you would allow Him to do so. I pray that you would not grow weary, and keep on remaining faithful as a Wife, Mom, and writer (and discipler, though I have not touched on that, and will improve in this area myself come 2016, so you can do the same). I pray that where people will fail you, including myself, you will continue on. Because I know that the devil is stepping-up his game, and wants to destroy the work you are doing for Him in these areas, so He will attack your soft-spots: your external beauty, your pride, your external beauty (did I mention this already?). Be strong and courageous, darling. Strengthen your defenses, by maintaining your spiritual disciplines, and guarding your eyes from the social media and other juju you might expose yourself to, especially in those late nights when you desire to “unwind”.

My continued commitment to you is that I will be right by your side, to love and guide you, and to provide everything you need to keep going, as the Lord provides. Of course, my ultimate prayer is that God would find us both faithful to the very end, holding hands with one set, and serving and doing God’s work with the other, until He literally —Lord-willing— calls us home to Heaven together.

In the meantime, what an amazing ride God has allowed thus far, huh? I love you with all my heart, my darling JOY, the JOY of my life (next to Jesus), the JOY of the kids’ lives (next to Jesus), and a JOY to countless others.

You are a wife I truly do not deserve, but am privileged and blessed to have.

Unto eternity, I remain yours, Edric.

What Does My Heart Look Like This Christmas?

Edan, my second son, is the kind of child whose expressions and actions have to be observed closely because he isn’t a talker. When I ask him what he’s thinking or feeling, he needs time to reflect before churning out an answer.

His two brothers are very different. Elijah likes to dialogue about his thoughts and feelings. Titus will simply say, “I’m not thinking anything.” (He’s a very uncomplicated fellow.) Edan, on the other hand, needs to be pried open cautiously. He doesn’t respond to confrontation, nor does he appreciate being badgered into giving an answer to people’s queries about himself. So I’ve learned to be patient as a mother and wait for him to unfold in his own way.

Every once in a while, however, I will catch him doing something that speaks loudly about the kind of person he is. And I latch on to these occasions and treasure them because they reveal what’s going on inside his heart.

Today, at church, a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in a while handed each of my kids money for Christmas. (She is ninang to my daughter, Tiana, but she generously gave my other kids money, too.) All of them were thrilled. Naturally, I expected them to think of buying something for themselves.

As the service went on, I noticed that Edan pulled out a tithing envelope. He carefully tucked his bills inside them. He held on to the envelope for a while and then turned around to whisper to me, “Mom, can you put this in the tithing box for me?

Surprised, I asked him why he wanted to tithe the money he just received. True to his nature, he didn’t give me an immediate answer. But shortly after, he managed to explain, “I want to give my money to Jesus.” When I prodded him further, he added, “I can’t explain it, I just like giving to Jesus.”

At first I thought, Whose kid is this?! Is this my 9 year old, Edan?!

Edan is better known in our family as a keeper of money rather than a giver of it. When we play board games, he likes to hoard the cash and pile it up. That’s his default strategy to beat everyone. It doesn’t always work but he, of all our kids, seems to have this bent towards business-mindedness. I suppose this is why it surprised me to see how willingly he parted with his money. His actions appeared incongruent with his personality and he got my attention. God used Edan’s example of a giving heart to teach me three important Christmas lessons.

First, Edric and I have come to recognize that anytime our children make the right choices it isn’t because we are such great parents or because our children are extra special. We can only go so far and do so much as parents to influence our kids towards Christ-centeredness. We are fallen persons, a mix of flaws that must be surrendered to the Lord daily. Furthermore, each of our kids is unique and fragile in their own way, with weaknesses and character issues that need supernatural fixing. So the miraculous transformation that we witness in them is a testament to the way God makes something beautiful out of our mess-ups, mistakes, and missed opportunities. While I would like to take credit and say, “Yep, that’s my kid,” I am more convicted to say, “He’s your child, Lord. That’s your handprint in his heart and life. That’s Christ in him. Please complete the work you have begun in him and make him into the man you want him to grow up to be, not for me, not for Edric, but for you and your glory.”

Second, everything we have been given is grace. Edan wasn’t an “official godchild” of my friend. Yet she handed him some money anyway, because she loves him as she does all my other kids. Similarly, God loves you and He loves me. He bestows upon us certain gifts, talents and abilities that speak more of who he is as a loving heavenly Father rather than how deserving we are. All of my kids had the opportunity to do something with their monetary presents, but they didn’t make the same choice Edan did. In the same way, all of us have the liberty to spend our gifts, talents and abilities as we choose. Will we keep these for ourselves or will we say, as Edan did, “Lord I give what I have to you?”

Third, the ability and desire to give what we have to God comes when we realize what He has given to us. Beyond the gifts, talents, and abilities, God sent us His Son, Jesus. Years ago, as a younger boy, Edan received Jesus into his life by faith. He understood that he was sinful and needed a Savior, and he believed in what Jesus did on the cross for him. Shortly after, it felt like Edric and I had a new child. Edan was vastly different from the previous version of himself, whom we knew to be grumpy, uncooperative, and temperamental. He became kind and tender-hearted and he developed a genuine love for the Lord.

At about the same time five years ago, Edan sang the song “Mary, did you know” before he went to bed one evening, with my younger sister, Carolyn, as his witness. They shared a room during our Christmas vacation because we were a growing family and couldn’t fit in one room with all our kids. Carolyn told me the song came to Edan spontaneously, as she turned off the lights so he could go to sleep. As she tucked him in, he said, “You know, Aunty Carolyn, I really love Jesus. He is my best friend.”

 I remembered this story as I thought about Edan holding on to the tithing envelope with his little hands. When he said he wanted to give everything that he had to Jesus it came from a deep gratitude he could not articulate, one which overflowed from experiencing the gift that is Jesus Christ.

This Christmas I pray we will spend time pondering upon God’s generosity to us. May the gift of His Son compel us to present to Him the gift of a giving heart – a heart transformed by Jesus that delights to offer everything to Him in return for who He is and what He has done.

 

 

Stinky Clothes No More

  My husband, Edric, has very sensitive olfactories. He can smell cockroaches and a host of things that normal people can’t.

On the one hand this ability can be a hero-like power. But sometimes this also means that he can’t deal with odors that are too fragrant. For example, he prefers that I don’t wear perfume.

One thing he especially abhors is the scent of clothing that stinks like it wasn’t dried properly. This drives him crazy. He will sniff around like a dog, making comments like, “Do you smell that? Something stinks. Oh man, it’s my jeans. I knew it! Can you please do something about this.” 

One time, I decided to boil the items that kept smelling badly, you know, to kill the bacteria from his sweat. Well, it was only a short-term fix and didn’t work in the long run.

I tried different kinds of detergents, too, until I discovered the products of Perwoll. At the time, my mom-in-law was using them for my father-in-law. (According to Edric, papa is also sensitive to odors.) 

Amazingly, some months later, our family was asked to do a commercial for Vernel, the fabric softener under the Perwoll brand! The ad agency interviewed us about our laundry experiences and was particularly amused by the boiling story. So they built the story board around the concept of “boiling clothes” to give an authentic portrayal of how the product works and has worked for our family. 

  
Watch the commercial here: Vernel Fabric Softener Presents the Mendoza Family

We have been using Vernel for a while now and Edric recently remarked, “My clothes are so soft and they smell great, babe!” Of course I beamed! Yeah! Whenever Edric praises me for managing the home well, it matters a lot. And being able to solve a problem like funky smelling clothes was a big deal for our household.   Thankfully, Vernel has been an effective solution to the bacteria that gets trapped in Edric’s sweaty clothes, towels, etc. I learned that most detergents and softeners with overpowering scents are usually the harshest on clothing and the skin. Apparently clothes start to fade when chemicals pull the threads apart in order to clean them. Imagine what their residue does to the skin! With Vernel (and other Perwoll products), color is preserved and bacteria is killed without ruining fabrics. Plus, it’s less toxic for our family. But the best bonus of all is that Edric’s hyper-sensitive nose is happy and that makes me happy!