Confessions of a Momentary Netflix Addict 

I felt like an addict last week, watching episode after episode of House of Cards. After each Netflix marathon, uselessness and emptiness troubled me. The entertainment value of this series wasn’t worth the hours I sacrificed. Although I hoped for something redemptive, each episode didn’t get better in the spiritually edifying sort of way. More untruth, compromise, and immorality were woven into the plot as the series progressed. 
At some point, I asked myself, “What am I doing?! I am wasting precious time, time that I am accountable to the Lord for.”

Psalm 24:1-2 and Psalm 50:10-12 tell us that God owns all things. According to authors, John Hay and David Webb, “God holds the patent on you, your neighbors, the animals, the seas, the earth, and the rest of creation…Most of us go through life thinking we hold the title to our lives and our possessions.” However, we are merely stewards

“A steward is a person who rules over, or is in charge of, property that belongs to someone else. The word steward comes to us from a pair of Old English words meaning ‘household’ and ‘keeper.’ A steward acts on behalf of the owner of a large estate…You see, the steward does not own the estate just as we do not own the money, the time, the talents, and all the other things that God, the Owner of all, has entrusted to our care.” (John Hay and David Webb. What On Earth Can I Do? Apologia Press. Pg. 68, 70 – 71) 

It’s not that I was engaging in anything “sinful,” by watching the series. However the Bible encourages us, “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” (Psalms‬ ‭90:12‬) 

In other words, I am to steward my time, endeavoring to grow in wisdom. Wisdom is valuable and pleasing to God. Yet how can I acquire wisdom if I am polluting my mind with content that chips away at foundational Biblical principles that I believe in? Do I really want to keep watching scenes of people lying, cheating, and engaging in sexual promiscuity? How does this repeated exposure encourage me to love God and obey Him? The answer is, it doesn’t. 

Thankfully, Edric came to the same conclusions as we sat through our Sunday service. He turned over to me and said, “I am going to quit watching Breaking Bad and House of Cards. I was convicted by the passage I read in Deuteronomy.” 

His conviction came from a different place, but it’s essence was the same. These are the verses he read: “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God:” Deuteronomy‬ ‭28:1-2‬ ‭

Edric explained that diligent obedience to the Lord is the intentional pursuit of a life that pleases God. It may sound like such a sacrifice to hold ourselves to God’s standard of goodness and holiness. And yet the amazing thing is that living to please God affords us with a lasting kind of joy, the quality of which is never reached through senseless fun and reckless abandon. Therefore it really isn’t a sacrifice to let go of activities that aren’t spiritually beneficial because the satisfaction they promise is temporal and fleeting. 

Was it fun to watch episode after episode of House of Cards? Of course! I enjoyed the plot. I sympathized with the characters and I appreciated the dialogue. However, after each show, I felt like I had injected myself with toxins that did more harm than good to my spirit. And I subjected myself to this for a ridiculous number of hours because it was so interesting! After a while, I actually felt depressed and sick. No real fruit came out of those wasted hours.

Years ago I may not have been compelled to stop watching a series like House of Cards. Yet the more I seek to know God, the more sensitive I become to what is edifying and what is garbage packaged to look enticing. Furthermore, if I can’t imagine watching a movie or program with my kids sitting beside me, then I know it’s got content in it that isn’t healthy for me to habitually watch either. Do I go around telling people that Netflix is a portal of the devil? No. That’s the sort of the legalism that turns people off. We are still Netflix subscribers.

But, I would much rather focus on the more important questions. Is it healthy for any one of us to invite anti-God philosophies, images and ideas into our hearts and minds by indiscriminately watching unedifying shows? What can we do with the precious time we have been given to steward so that we are purposeful and pleasing to God? 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have fun and be entertained. God delights in our enjoyment and pleasure. However, there is something wrong when the fun and entertainment stimulate in us an appetite for sinful pleasures. Furthermore, there is something wrong when we squander our time (even if it’s discretionary or “free” time), indulging in activities that do not honor God. But like I said, this perspective has to stem from a personal conviction. To most people these sort of reflections can sound like unattractive legalism. So I am going to quote what my dad said to me and my siblings when we were younger, “It’s good to have a high standard for yourself but don’t impose it on others.” If something is wrong for me, then I should follow the Holy Spirit’s prodding about it. But I am not to take the Holy Spirit’s role in another person’s life. 

It’s been several days since I abandoned nighttime series watching, and I actually feel liberated and happy about giving up my House of Cards drama. I am discovering all the better things to do in life then watch Frank Underwood manipulate, use people, deceive, and murder to get to the top and stay on top of the political food chain! 

Don’t Settle Now Because It Will Matter Someday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Grade Curriculum

Tiana started First Grade this September and I have customized her curriculum based on what she is inclined to and how she learns. She is still an emerging reader and she also needs grounding in her math skills. Plus, she has a short attention span when I read aloud to her. But she does great with workbooks, writing work and drawing. And she enjoys art a lot. 

If your child is similar, maybe this list will give you ideas for your first-grader: 

Bible Theology: The Ology by Marty Machowski (3x a week. Read aloud to Tiana and let her write a sentence or two in her Bible notebook to summarize what she learned) This is an easy and laid back way for me to introduce Bible concepts to her. It takes me about 15 minutes to read through each section or chapter (asking questions along the way to check if Tiana is listening), and then I ask her to write in her notebook and draw a picture to remember the topic and come up with her own application. 


Bible Reading: Tiana can do this independently or read aloud to me. (6x a week)

Math: Primary Mathematics by Rex Publishing available through Learning Plus. Cover 3 to 4 pages a day and supplement with Time4Learning.com (3 -to 4x a week.)

Science: (2x a week) Go through Discovering God’s World Science by Abeka Publishing and do Interactive Science Notebook



Tuesday night devotions: God’s Names by Sally Michael (Edric will read to all the kids on and discuss.) 

Language Arts (4x a week): a mix of Learning Language Arts Through Literature (the Blue Book), Sing, Spell, Read and Write (SSRW), and First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. 


Filipino (2x a week): Rosetta Stone program for all my kids. This is pricey but it can be used  for my five kids. 


Social Studies (2x a week): Listen to Audio CD Mystery of History Volume 2 with Titus. 


Art: Art Projects by Abeka Book Publishing and my own curriculum. 


Music: Piano lessons with Learning Plus

PE: Ballet with Learning Plus

Tiana takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to finish her homeschooling work. She is usually done by lunch. In the afternoon she has lots of play time and she practices her piano. 

S&R’s Biggest Sale Is Coming Up!

One of my favorite errands to do with my daughters is grocery shopping. It’s my bonding time with them. As often as possible, I take both of them. It’s also my way of educating them on what it’s like to run a household. 

Today, Tiana was hanging out with her cousin so she stayed behind and Catalina came with me. 

We went to S&R Membership Shopping where I prefer to buy my meat. First, it’s cleaner meat. Second, I need the big packs of Bounty Fresh Chicken  Thighs, which are easiest to find in S&R. Edric is really picky about grizzly bits in his ground beef, too, and the New Zealand ground beef doesn’t have these. 

I also purchase S&R’s large bags of vegetables because they come out cheaper for our family. Instead of getting a few onions, for example, I go for the huge bundles of onions. We go through a ton of onions in a week! Their lettuce is often more reasonable, too.

My favorite part about going to S&R is that I don’t feel harried or stressed because of its aisles and layout. I just get tempted to buy lots of stuff! Sometimes I go in and out of the aisles just to look at what’s new. 

Although there are days when it also gets packed full of people, on a Monday like this, it was relatively free. (Catalina ran around and enjoyed exploring.)

This Septemeber 30 to October 2 S&R is definitely going to be crowded, but for a good reason that you and I won’t want to miss! 

S&R will have its biggest nationwide sale of the year, their Member’s Treat Sale with 50% and buy 1 Take 1 Deals on selected products. Yeah! It’s that time of the year again!

 Top of my list will be more Lifetime Folding Tables, the heavy duty shelves for our storage room, towels, bedsheets, and Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough!

The sale will be at all S&R Branches:

– S&R BGC
– S&R Aseana
– S&R Congressional
– S&R Alabang
– S&R Shaw
– S&R Cebu
– S&R Pampanga
– S&R Davao
– S&R Imus
– S&R Nuvali
– S&R Davao

Visit to Saipan

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Saipan is one of those places you want to get lost in. Okay so you really can’t get lost. It’s a small island, part of the other 13 that make up the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

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It was my first time to this region of the Pacific Ocean, a zone with one of the most temperate climates in the world. Warm and sunny. There are occasional rains, but for the a good stretch of the year it’s like paradise to tourists coming from China, Korea and Japan. The joke is that it’s too small for the eye of any storm to see. Last year they had a major storm but it was the first one in over two decades.

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Edric and I were invited to review our stay from the angle of how it might appeal to Filipino families. We took Titus along because it was his turn to travel with us. It turned out to be the most suitable trip for a guy like Titus who enjoys adventure.

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We stayed at the Fiesta Hotel which had a great location and beautiful beach front. Plus, it had the best cultural show on the island — The Joyful Dinner Show. (Edric and I laughed so hard during this show during the audience participation part.)

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Saipan has got much to offer the adventurer and the photographer. I have chronicled our experience in photos for you to appreciate. (None of the photos have been edited. Most were taken with my iPhone)

Bird Island Lookout: img_1257

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Taking a submarine trip to view underwater life and World War II wreckage:

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Parasailing on Managaha Island: dsc05907

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The amazing Managaha Beach where you can go snorkelling or diving in pristine waters:

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World Resort as a perfect paradise for children. They won’t want to leave this water wonderland:

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Learning to do Banana Painting with the locals:

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The famous Grotto dive site:

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Ultra Terrain Vehicle driving through the streets and up to the highest point of Saipan thanks to Let’s Go Tour Company:
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The Sand Castle Magic Show at the Hyatt Hotel (Titus got force-volunteered by the magician and was a good sport about it.) Please be informed that some of the dancing and the outfits worn by the women are provocative. Photos weren’t allowed till the end, too:

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Lots of breathtaking sights where you can smooch your honey for a nice selfie:

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Here’s my honest opinion about traveling to Saipan…There are three prohibitive factors that I have to divulge. First, the cost to fly there is pricey. At 500 USD per person for a four-hour flight that leaves in the wee hours of the morning, it feels expensive, especially because you can fly to South East Asian countries for less. However the good news is the Philippine Airlines will be working out a more reasonable fair soon. Second, you need a US Visa if you aren’t a US citizen. Third, the hotels need renovating (especially their bathrooms) for the price they charge. (I’m kind of picky about details when it comes to hotels, so this is a personal observation.)

However, this doesn’t mean you should scratch Saipan off your bucket list. Saipan has got the cleanest ocean I have ever seen. It’s a diver’s dream. For the record I don’t dive but these islands are known for their dive spots. Huffington Post called it The Most Beautiful Place in America You’ve Never Heard Of.

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It’s also wonderfully underpopulated with just 55,000 residents. There is no traffic and the air is pollution-free.

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You can drive around in a Mustang and actually enjoy the top down. We had a blast doing this. What color do you want? Yellow, Pink or Red? (Apparently these are their most rentable colors.)

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Plus, there’s the aspect of its history. If you are into war history, this place has something to offer. The last command post of the Japanese was on Saipan. And the Hiroshima bomb was launched from an island just five minutes away by plane called Tinian. Furthermore, the Suicide and Banzai Cliffs tell an eerie tale of how the Japanese coerced locals to jump to their deaths before the US military took over the island, in an attempt to avoid capture and supposed torture.

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For golfers who like to play on a course with a spectacular views from ocean to mountains, there’s also the Lao Lao Golf Resort.

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In the next three or four years, Saipan will attract greater interest as businessmen invest heavily in its infrastructure, facilities and resorts. So there’s much to look forward to.

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At present, it’s one of those places that is perfectly contented to just be, very much like the people who inhabit it. It’s all about being chill and laid back. (People gamble in t-shirts and flip flops). Edric and I took a peek into the casino and I was amazed to see how underdressed people were.

For a ridiculously high cost of 1 million USD at the casino, you can also be invited aboard the luxury Grand Mariana Yatch. We got to check it out for free as “media,” which was a nice treat.

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Chinese, Koreans and Japanese love Saipan. They are practically sustaining the entire economy with their yearly visits. For them it’s an amazing getaway from their cold climate and crowded living conditions.

Personally, and this isn’t with bias because I was flown there, Saipan had a mysterious appeal to me. It felt like a good setting for a novel, the kind of place that evoked nostalgia for the 80s and 90s but made you wonder why it seemed to be stuck in that time period. Some of the buildings in the main city were abandoned, others needed a good repainting. And the streets were pretty empty, except for a few locals and tourists in their beach wear. For Manila folk, empty streets can feel like a rare, unnerving sort of thing, but I liked the quietness.

Edric and I got to speak to the head of the Mariana Visitors Authority who gave us a very interesting summary of Saipan’s history.

If you aren’t Chamoan or Caroliñan (the original people), you cannot own property in Saipan. But if you are a businessman you can do a long term lease on properties. Saipan’s status as a commonwealth of the United States is unique in all the world. They elected to be part of America in 1978 but with their autonomy preserved. People from CNMI look like people from Hawaii or the Mauri people of New Zealand, some of them even look Filipino.
Filipinos will feel an affinity towards the people, culture and traditions of CNMI. In many ways they are like Filipinos — familial, friendly, and easy going.

Perhaps in the near future, Saipan will also become a favourite tourist destination for Filipinos. In the meantime, Saipan will appeal to the traveler who isn’t looking for the atypical sort of adventure. It doesn’t have great shopping, or outstanding resort rooms, or cheap flights to it, but it’s one of those places that you will enjoy getting lost in, exploring the wonderful outdoors, especially if you need a break from the harried, hectic city life that can be so tiring for us Manila peeps! img_1610

For more information on Saipan, check out My Marianas PH on Facebook.

Letting Siblings Shine in Their Own Way

I used to think it was a great idea that our three boys were taking up the violin together. However, as our oldest son, Elijah, began to show significant ability as a violinist, Edan and Titus got left behind. It hasn’t mattered so much for Titus, who started off much later on than his older brothers. However, the disparity in talent became very evident between Elijah and Edan. As a result, Edan was less inclined to push himself. He liked learning to play the violin, but he fell under the shadow of Elijah.


Not too long ago, Edric and I decided that Edan ought to pursue piano playing. After all, he had expressed interest in doing so, and this would be an area where he could excel apart from his brothers, especially Elijah. Elijah wanted to take it too, but we told him, “You focus on violin for now because you are very gifted at it.”

Later on, we may allow Elijah to take up piano as well. However, we’ve allowed Edan to get a headstart to build his own confidence as a musician. In fact, Edan has been incredible at playing the piano. In the first two months, he exhibited so much progress, his teacher had to find him pieces to play that weren’t part of his piano curriculum. Edan felt accomplished and affirmed in this area of musicality. As a result, he dedicated hours every day to learn his pieces and practice, something he never quite did with the violin. While he still takes up the violin, he now has something that he can do well and better than Elijah at this point in time.

Recently, Edan performed on the piano for extended family and they lauded him for his talent. This encouraged him all the more to pursue piano playing.

Edric and I aren’t trying to advocate our sons’ competitiveness in a negative way. But we also want to give each of our kids the opportunity to shine. We believe they each have God-given abilities that should be explored and developed so they can be a blessing to others and glorify God. However, Elijah can intimidate his siblings and de-motivate them from trying because he is older and more advanced in many areas. Although we don’t compare them, we can tell that they compare themselves with one another. So it’s been healthy for Edan to grow in a skill where he sets the bar.


I’ve also had to tell my kids in the past, “You all have different gifts and abilities. Some of you will be better in one area than others and vice versa. So be thankful when your siblings are good at something. Each of you is good at something.”

I guess the tricky part is discovering what area our kids are good at, which takes careful observation and years of studying what they enjoy and where they excel. And sometimes, it takes some experimenting, like trying out different musical instruments or sports programs to see what clicks with them.

For a long time, I insisted on Edan playing violin because I believed in the cognitive benefits of learning this instrument. However, I also had to recognize that not all children fit the same mold and it’s our job as parents to help them uncover their uniqueness and talents. After all, our children will shine most and enjoy themselves most when they pursue what God designed them to. This means that we have to keep seeking God’s will for our kids and heeding it. It’s very tempting to insist on our dreams for our children, our wants. But our dreams and our wants for our kids cannot be better than God’s plans for them. Therefore, we have to prayerfully go to the Lord for the wisdom to discern what He wants for our children so we can encourage them in that direction.

I’m so thankful to the Lord that Edan has found something that he loves to do and something that he is good at. It brings me deep delight to see him enjoy sitting on the piano bench, engrossed in learning or playing his pieces. Our home is filled with a new kind of music. I also believe that someday, God will use this musical talent for His glory if Edan faithfully practices and hones his piano-playing skill. And maybe, if God should elect it for my kids, all of them will make music together, as a team, with each one providing his or her own unique musicality to the mix!

Speak Life Words to Your Spouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Arch Enemy to Friend

My daughter, Tiana, and her cousin, Teegan, are only months apart. Teegan is the big American version and Tiana is the petite Filipina one. There is something about those Arian bones! The difference in height and size between them is significant.

But I don’t really want to talk about genetics. I wanted to write about their journey to friendship.

Three years ago when Teegan came to the Philippines to live, she was excited to be with all her cousins, the majority of whom are based in Manila. Tiana was looking forward to Teegan coming too but when they encountered each other, things didn’t turn out the way we hoped.

Teegan came across very strong and dominant and Tiana was totally frightened by her imposing nature. Unfortunately, Tiana backed away and Teegan was bent on asserting herself all the more in the face of weakness. She semi- terrorized Tiana by scaring her with growling sounds that made Tiana cry. It was her attempt to play but she also knew it wasn’t the kindest thing to do. She intentionally terrorised Tiana to get a reaction out of her.

Thankfully my brother, Peter, and sister-in-law, Jennifer, tried their best to tell Teegan to stop bullying Tiana and they disciplined her when she did. Teegan began to improve.
Tiana also gained greater confidence as we let them play with one another more frequently.

The fighting between became more and more infrequent. It was good for both of them to learn how to adjust to one another. As for me, I had to relax as a parent and refrain from developing a critical attitude towards my niece or her parents. I love my brother, Peter, and sister in law, Jennifer. I didn’t want this issue to come between us. After all, Teegan was only 3 at the time and had a lot of maturing to do. So did Tiana.

For as long as Teegan wasn’t pushing her or hurting her I figured that they would both grow out of this and get along eventually. It was a team effort on the part of all the parents involved, too.

We used positive reinforcement. I would say things to Teegan like, “Tiana likes it when you share with her. That is very nice of you.” Or I would tell Tiana, “Don’t be scared of Teegan. She wants to play with you and be your friend.”

We also implored positive training. We demonstrated to both Teegan and Tiana how to relate to one another and play together.

It took about a year for them to get one another. And lo and behold, the two have become such good friends. They are together as often as possible and they have loads of fun! Teegan is such a sweetheart today. She embraces Tiana every time she sees her and makes her cards for her birthdays. They have make believe games and cute little conversations about girl stuff.

It’s a joy to see them relate to each other so well, especially because I remember the season when they were like arch enemies. I remember my mom sharing a principle to me that has always encouraged me about people and the capacity to change. She said, “Don’t see people for who they are today. See them for who they can become in the Lord.”

Whenever we encounter difficult, trying people, it’s tempting to reject them right away or avoid them to safeguard ourselves. Who wants to willingly make themselves susceptible to getting hurt?! However, not all difficult, trying people are beyond hope. And we may miss out on the opportunity to discover just how amazing these people can actually be, especially when the Lord gets a hold of their hearts.

Teegan changed significantly in terms of gentleness and Tiana changed significantly in terms of confidence because they are two young children who have a relationship with Jesus. He continues to transform them daily just as He will transform every person we know, including ourselves to become the persons he wants us all to be. But we have to believe that with Him in our lives and in the hearts of others there is hope for positive change.

Philippians 1:6 tell us, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” If the work is started by Christ we can be CONFIDENT that He is committed to making our kids, other people and ourselves more and more like Himself. So let’s be encouraged, and let’s not be ones who zone in on the things we don’t like about those around us. Let’s be the ones who recognize that Jesus transforms people!

Why Our Kids Don’t Play Pokémon Go

I don’t want to sound like a legalist who is imposing her convictions on others. However given the number of queries I have received about whether parents should allow their children to play Pokémon Go, I have decided to voice out my personal opinion. This is a take or leave it thing.

For our family it’s not even about whether Pokémon Go is an acceptable game for our kids to play. There will always be a game that becomes a fad that captures the attention of young people and well, grown ups, too who are into gaming.

The majority of apps and online games out there for entertainment purposes are not sinful per se. Rather it’s what these games do to us and don’t do for us that makes them questionable. My brother, Peter, has spoken to audiences about this on numerous occasions because he was a gamer. And he admits that there was a correlation between his productivity as a person, the health of his spiritual life, and his involvement in gaming. The seasons of his life when he was least productive and least on-fire for the Lord were the seasons when he was hooked on online computer games. Today, he gives talks on how to help children break free from addictions to computer games. He is still a techy guy and he still likes games, but he understands which games are unhealthy for him and he avoids these like the plague.

So let’s talk about Pokémon Go

Is Pokémon Go addicting? Yes it is. Just like any other game or activity that hooks a child in to a realm of make-believe, false power, and challenges that have no end, Pokémon Go will certainly capture a child’s interest and consume their attention. But Pokémon Go is addicting the same way other games are. It’s nothing special in this sense.

There was a time when my kids played Minecraft. Somehow, they convinced me that it was an educational game so I allowed them to play it. Not too many weeks into it, my kids started to act distracted and they had the classic, “game eyes” — the glazed over zombie look. In fact, Edan admitted, “Mom, even when I’m not playing Minecraft, I’m thinking about it. I can’t stop thinking about it.” Maybe Edan has more addictive tendencies, but if a game invades the spaces of my children’s tender minds like that one did, it’s clearly not healthy for them. So the boys agreed to delete the game and they’ve been very happy about that choice.

Is Pokémon Go demonic? Some articles have been circulating about the game being demonic. Personally, I don’t have the time to research all the characters behind the game, so I can’t assume they are. However, if there was even the slightest possibility that the influences behind the game could be demonic then why risk exposing my children to it? This isn’t about legalism. It’s about being wise.

The Bible tells us, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) Will I go around preaching to parents, “Why do you let your kids play a demonic game?” Probably not. But, it’s my personal conviction to keep my children spiritually safe. This might sound extreme to others but our kids understand that my intentions are for their good.

Will Pokémon Go help a child to grow in wisdom, stature, favour with God and favour with man? Luke 2:52 gives us a descritpion of how Jesus matured and flourished as a child. The passage covers the four areas of wisdom (the ability to make choices that please God), stature (the development of abilities and gifts, as well as physical growth), favour with God (learning how to obey God and live for Him), and favour with man (learning to be a blessing to others and get along with others). Since I want what is best for my kids and I want them to grow in Christ-likeness, then I would rather they pursue activities with their precious time that contribute to their total growth from a Luke 2:52 perspective. Time is a priceless commodity and I want my children to recognise that anything they do during their discretionary hours has an impact on the persons they will become. As Galatians 6:7 puts it, “We reap what we sow.”

Whenever there’s a game or app that my kids are interested in, Edric gives them the Luke 2:52 guideline. If our kids can’t truthfully say that the game or app celebrates the areas that God wants them to grow in, then they usually decide on their own that it’s not beneficial for them. But this has to come from a place of conviction — where kids value time enough to steward it and recognise that they are called to Christ-likeness. Sure, they may be unpopular for being clueless about Pokémon Go, but that isn’t a value they live for.

I just asked my sons, Edan and Elijah, “Why aren’t you interested in Pokémon Go?”

Elijah’s reply was, “Well, you chase around mythical monsters everywhere. It seems like a useless activity.” He’s saying this as he is programming an app. So it’s not as if our family is anti-gadgets or technology. Our kids use their gadgets to build things that they can eventually monetize, if God leads them in that direction. And yes, even the time spent doing these things can become an issue so we help them manage this lest that becomes an addiction, too!


Edan’s comment was, “Pokémon Go is mind-dumbing.” Honestly, he doesn’t know enough about the game to assert that. I’ve heard some positive things about it. Kids go outdoors, they learn geography, and collaborate with others, and they become adaptive to new technology. But I’m glad that Edan has an opinion that favours doing more “fruitful” things. After all, there are better ways to enjoy the outdoors. Go play outside, for goodness sakes. Travel to experience geography or research about places and countries. Join a cooperative to do collaborative work with other kids or let kids play board games together. And I don’t think adjusting to new technology is an issue for kids today so that’s not a real plus for Pokémon Go.


There is a sensitive line here that I’m crossing for sure. I might get some hate-comments but I hope you understand that this is not coming from a place of criticism. I don’t think parents are evil if they let their kids play Pokémon Go. However, it is necessary that we all evaluate the kinds of games our children are into, whatever games they may be. Are these adding value to their lives? Are these causing them to grow more in their love for God and for others? These are worthwhile questions to ask about any activity that takes up a lot of time in our children’s lives. Whatever occupies their time is sure to have significant influence and control over them as well.

 

When Disappointment is a Good Thing

I like to rescue my kids from consequences and problems, and this probably echoes the sentiment of most parents who are well-meaning. Who wants their child to suffer or experience pain? None of us.

Yet, children grow through disappointments. As my father used to tell me, “Disappointments are good for children.” He meant this in the context of not giving in to what they always want, and letting them experience failure, too.

A few weeks ago, the kids and I were at the bookstore. Tiana begged me for a certain toy. It was a stuffed animal, one that resembled other ones she already had. I denied her request and she met this refusal with a sad, pouty face. I left her alone to stew in her emotions. The boys picked out books but she came away with nothing. 


It was clear from her posture and the manner in which she hunched her shoulders forward and bowed her head down that she felt upset with me. She’s six now and I gave her time to think through her feelings before correcting her.

After several hundred meters of walking around the mall, she reverted to her chirpy self. It didn’t kill her not to have that toy. The disappointment enlarged her capacity to deny herself material things. 

At home, I commended her for changing her attitude and choosing to be positive even if she didn’t get what she wanted. She beamed as I told her, “I am proud of you.” 

Two Saturdays ago, I let the boys “fail forward.” They were supposed to join a science fair for homeschoolers. But they didn’t prioritize conceptualizing a worthwhile idea and seeing it through to the end. Although they tried two or three experiments, they surrendered when these didn’t pan out according to their expectations. Instead of pushing themselves to try again, they procrastinated and got distracted by other activities. As a result, they refused to join the science fair for lack of a mind-blowing project that they could be proud of. 

Initially, I felt annoyed with them. Why were they whimping out so easily?! Why didn’t they display more resolve to do their science project, ANY science project?! 

My next instinct was to rescue them and come up with something so they could participate and redeem themselves. But that would have interfered with a life lesson they needed to learn. 

When we got to the fair, Elijah was especially frustrated with himself. I talked to him privately and he admitted to me, “It was wrong that we gave up so easily. We should have pushed ourselves and tried harder.”

This realization proved to be a valuable lesson on how opportunities are squandered due to wrong attitudes and perspectives. The kids wanted to make something impressive but since they couldn’t in their first few attempts, they simply gave up and complained. 

Our kids may get a lot of affirmation and encouragement at home but they have to be prepared for the eventuality that not everyone is going to applaud their work, give them a medal, or thank them. They aren’t going to be appreciated for their efforts all the time. Therefore it’s beneficial for their character growth to experience disappointment and failure without Edric or myself running to save them every time they don’t get what they want or when they make mistakes. If their lives are in danger then of course this emergency would warrant their rescuing. Otherwise, there are a great many lessons to be learned that will toughen them up as they deal with the frustration that comes from blocked goals, unrealized dreams and wants, conflict, and unfavorable circumstances. 

Growing up, I appreciated the emphasis my parents put on perspective. Perspective is so important because what we think determines how we act and move forward in life. Here are some truths that our children need to have as anchors that will hook them back to right thinking and wise decision making when they go through life’s disappointments:

1. Relax. God is in control. My mom used to encourage me by saying, there’s always a God-ordained reason for the things that happen. We can trust that God is sovereign and at work. As a result, my mom wasn’t ever a stressed out person. Similarly, children need to relax when their plans don’t come to fruition and when they mess up. As Romans 8:28 says, God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”

2. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. There’s a difference between self-esteem (thinking you are so awesome) and God-confidence (knowing that your abilities come from the Lord.) Our children will face seemingly impossible situations that will overwhelm them physically, emotionally and spiritually. They have to remember that their strength comes from the One who is all-almighty. If He should will their success, then He can accomplish this through them. Nothing is impossible with Him! 

3. Success doesn’t come without trial, discipline, and struggle, so don’t give up! There’s no such thing as overnight success. Whatever is worth doing entails hard work and loads of effort. Keep going. My dad used to harp on this principle: Never say it can’t be done. Find a way. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” Ecclesiastes‬ ‭9:10‬

4. Don’t be entitled. Be grateful and content. When my kids told me one day, “Even our friends in Sunday School have cell phones,” my response was, “Well, isn’t it great that you guys are home schooled? You don’t need cell phones.” End of discussion.

As a parent there are occasions when I am tempted to give my kids what they want because I don’t want them to feel like they are “deprived.” But that is dangerous thinking. It’s called parent peer pressure! 

A wise parent must know when to withhold blessing even if it’s in their capacity to bestow it. God exemplifies this for us. He has infinite capacity yet he tempers material blessings according to our good. Similarly, we have to evaluate whether our kids really NEED something (in which case we should try our best to provide it), or if it’s merely a WANT that feeds self-centered thinking. Furthermore, just because other kids out there have toys, gadgets or privileges that our kids may not have doesn’t mean our kids are disadvantaged. Their happiness doesn’t have to be tied to material things. 

Entitlement in children is usually handed down by entitlement in us as parents. It’s a mentality that declares, I deserve this and that. I owe it to myself. People owe it to me. I can’t be happy unless I get what I want or what others have. If our kids don’t see us exercising restraint and self control when it comes to material things, or when they see us complain when we are inconvenienced, we pass on this same entitlement attitude to our kids. So we need to model gratitude and contentment. Otherwise, our kids will be derailed by disappointment when they are denied comforts, pleasures or material things that they want. 


When our kids have the right perspective on disappointment it can be a positive experience that prepares them for the challenging environments that they will enter into. Someday (and even now), when they aren’t always catered to, when circumstances are unfavorable or when they fail, they will be able to rise up with courage and resolve to pursue God’s plan for them and achieve the kind of success that glorifies Him. 

As the apostle Paul said, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body…Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” ‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:8-10, 16-18‬ 
 

Homeschoolers Conquer Science 

Homeschoolers tend to enjoy science because they have time to explore and learn about different fields they are interested in. Today’s event, Homeschoolers Conquer Science, featured various concepts and projects done by homeschoolers across the metro. Ideas ranged from urine as a power source to laser light that detects bacteria to homemade drones. I was amazed!  The best part for me was listening to the kids explain their projects. 

Check out there projects below…




I Just Want to Be With You, Mommy

 Girls, girls, girls. I’m not used to dealing with the drama of daughters. For a good many years it was just boys and their havoc-wrecking testosterone. Yet now that my two youngest girls are moving past the baby-ish stage, it’s evident that I’ve got two “emotionals” on my hand.


Growing up, I wasn’t an emotional child. I was feminine and girly, but I leaned towards processing circumstances cerebrally. Plus, moodiness wasn’t allowed in our home. My mom emphasized this often. She modeled it, too. Furthermore, I compartmentalized my emotions as a post-trauma method of coping with what I went through as a teenager (for those of you who know.) So I always believed that a person should be able to switch off the emo-button.

This has been both a good and bad thing. It allows me to focus on tasks. Yet the down side is, it makes me less sensitive to people’s emotions, which can be problematic when you are a wife and mom, and a friend! Edric has told me numerous times that I need to improve on listening and hearing him out, and not dishing out unsolicited advice, quoting Bible verses and telling him how he should process what he is going through. By God’s grace, I’m improving but I have to make a conscious effort to be more tender and gentle as a wife.

I have to tell myself…Be a blessing. How can you minister to Edric? How can I meet his need?

As a mom, I’m having to balance firmness and softness with my girls. They feel things so intensely and for longer stretches of time than my boys do. Tiana goes crazy over fluffy toys and animals. When I see her clasp her hands and breathe in deeply like something is the cutest thing she has ever seen while squealing in delight, I just don’t get it. Sometimes, I admit that I would love to be able to remote-control my girls into toning down their hysterics.

I remember telling Catalina the other day, “Stop crying. That’s enough.” She wasn’t being fussy, she was just lingering in the sentiment of being slighted by someone. Can a three year old really do this? Switch off? Apparently it’s difficult to do. In between her sniffling, she struggled to say, “Buuut I I I I can’t ssstttooop.” The tears kept falling. And then she just looked terribly adorable. (She is a toughie but like Tiana, she’s emotional).

Thankfully, I have Edric to help me change in this area and a sister like Candy, who is amazing at relating to people. She goes out of her way to make others feel appreciated, loved, and important. She used to be the one to elbow me (literally), or pull me aside and say things like, “Hey, I think you need to call so-and-so and reach out to her.” Or, “Hey, I think that person wants to spend time with you. You should connect with her.”

And I would be like, “Yes, you are right. I should.” She was like my emotional conscience! Well, she’s gone back to the U.S. so I’m slightly handicapped.

Yet, God is using my wonderful, emotional daughters to transform me. Praise God! There’s hope! Just because it’s not in my personality to be tender and soft, I must consider their needs as more important than what’s comfortable for me. This might mean extra hugs and kisses, and a milder tone of voice. It may mean sitting on the bed to read princess stories for the nth time. Or, it may involve extended craft times together. Sometimes it may also mean patiently waiting for them to work through their feelings and then processing circumstances with them after they’ve been given an opportunity to air their thoughts and opinions. Whatever it is, I’ve got to remember that they long to have a relationship with me in a way that no other human person can fulfill and that’s a precious, precious thing.

Plus, it’s not wrong to be an emotional person. I told this to a lady I have been counseling for a couple of weeks. God uses sympathetic and empathetic people all the time. They tend to be great at understanding others which is badly needed in this world.

My girls happen to need more TLC and it’s my role (and privilege) to make them feel secure and special. So last night, when Edric reported to me that Tiana was teary-eyed when she said, “I just want to be near mommy,” as he tucked the girls into bed, a stimulus-response light bulb switched on in my head. Stop what you are doing, Joy, and go to your daughter.

I was in the middle of a big project that I was stressed out about but God encouraged me. Your daughter needs you. She’s your priority.

Tiana is entering into some sort of phase as a girl. The other day I attempted to articulate how I was feeling about it to Edric by saying, “You know, I’m struggling with my role as a mom to the girls, especially Tiana. It’s like she’s looking to me for her sense of identity and I’m not sure what to do. It’s a challenge.”

Well, it doesn’t matter that it’s a phase that confounds me. I have to develop better parenting skills with my girls and I have to adjust. After Edric delivered Tiana’s message about wanting to be near me, I slid the laptop off my lap, got off my bed and peeked into the girls’ room. Tiana and Catalina were snuggled up under their covers but still awake. I went over to hug Tiana and lay by her side.

“Are you okay?”

She shook her head.

“Is something wrong?”

“I just want to be with you.” She had tears in her eyes.

“Okay, I will stay with you.”

She was relieved.

Across the room, I heard a heard a whimpering Catalina who wanted to be noticed. So I picked her up, held her in my arms and brought her to Tiana’s bed where I sat for a while. I stroked Tiana’s head to calm her down and prayed with the girls. When I was pretty confident that they were emotionally settled, I returned Catalina to her bed and kissed them both good night. Tiana requested for an extra hug, which I gladly obliged to. They slept soundly and woke up as their happy selves this morning.

My productivity may have been disrupted yesterday evening but I should never think of my kids as an interruption. They are my priority. Sure, there are seasons when I have to get projects done and I can’t drop everything for them. But as much as possible, and because I control my time, I can certainly postpone things like finishing a keynote presentation if my kids S.O.S. me for attention. And it’s amazing how even little doses of attention and affection deposit big feelings of love in the hearts of my kids.

I was watching my girls jump around playfully this morning and I thought to myself, I’m so thankful and grateful for them. Each of my kids is a gift from the Lord not only because children are so delightful, but because God uses each of their personalities – Elijah, Edan, Titus, Tiana and Catalina — to humble me and teach me how to live and love.

Love is not about what’s easy or comfortable for me. It’s about sacrifice and commitment to meeting the heart-felt longings of others. It’s about seeking to change and improve in order to grow in love. It’s not about controlling others for my benefit. It’s about being a channel of Christ’s selflessness even when it’s so much easier to be self-serving. It’s about waiting for people to bloom in God’s time and in His way, and leading them gently into this becoming.

It’s impossible for me to be this person if Christ wasn’t present in me. Time and time again I see that I am a work in progress as a mom. I want to be and I strive to be better, but often I fall short and it can be discouraging to be confronted with my imperfections. However, my hope is in Jesus who doesn’t let me be, who sends me sweet angels in the form of daughters to show me beauty, to show me love in a form that I’m learning to appreciate and recognise as necessary in this world.

But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14